Father John Cunningham, who served the Parish of St Brendan, Old Swan, for over 20 years, died at Ince Blundell on the evening of Tuesday 10 March aged 90 having served as a priest of the Archdiocese for more than 50 years.
John Cunningham was born in Liverpool on 23 December 1924, the son of Michael and Cecilia Cunningham. He was educated at St Anthony’s School and St Elizabeth’s Central School in Liverpool, and later with the Holy Ghost Fathers at St Mary’s Missionary College, Castlehead, Grange-over-Sands. During World War II he saw active service with the Royal Navy and participated in the D-Day landings. Following his return to civilian life he trained as a teacher and taught Classics at St Anselm’s College, Birkenhead.
Having applied to Archbishop Heenan to study for the priesthood, he was sent to the Beda College in Rome in the autumn of 1960 and was among the first intake to the newly-built seminary on the Viale di San Paolo. He was present for its solemn blessing by Pope John XXIII in October that year. On completion of his ecclesiastical studies he was ordained priest at the Basilica of St Paul-without-the-Walls on 14 March 1964 by Paolo Cardinal Marella, Archpriest of the Basilica of St Peter in the Vatican.
In August 1964 he was appointed assistant priest at St Teresa’s, Birkdale, where he remained for nearly four years. His naval experience was put to good use in May 1968 with his appointment to Atlantic House. Unfortunately his work there was short-lived as he was diagnosed with a back problem which meant he had to return to parish duties on medical advice. In November 1968 he was assigned temporarily to Holy Rosary, Old Roan, before a more permanent move to Our Lady Immaculate, Liverpool, in February 1969. After five years in Everton he switched to St Aidan’s, Huyton, in June 1974. In April 1978 he became assistant priest at St John’s, Kirkdale, transferring two years later for a brief stint at Holy Family, Halewood, in September 1980.
His final parish appointment to St Brendan’s, Liverpool, came in January 1981. Initially he was assistant to Canon Thomas Kennedy, but succeeded as Parish Priest on the latter’s retirement in 1983. For more than 20 years he provided pastoral care at St Brendan’s and continued to live in the area following his retirement in 2002. In the last months of his life he lived at Ince Blundell Hall.
His body will be received into Holy Family church, Ince Blundell, on Thursday 19 March at 7.30pm when Mass will be celebrated. His Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Holy Family, Ince Blundell, on Friday 20 March at 11am, followed by burial at Ince Blundell.