A special Mass of Thanksgiving to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the priestly ordination of Mgr Tom Gavin, who organised the visit of Pope John Paul II to Coventry in 1982, was held at St Thomas More Parish, Coventry on 22 June the Feast of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, writes Peter Jennings. Coventry-born, Mgr Gavin, who was ordained for the Archdiocese of Birmingham 60 years ago, in July 1946, masterminded the visit of Pope John Paul II to Coventry, on Pentecost Sunday, 30 May 1982. Despite the uncertainties caused by the shooting of the Pope in May 1981 and the Falklands War, the visit to Baginton Airport in Mgr Gavin's parish was a great success. More than 350,000 people attended the Papal Mass on the third day of Pope John Paul's Pastoral Visit to Great Britain. Mgr Gavin's Diamond Jubilee Mass was attended by many friends, colleagues and former pupils, including the principal concelebrant, Bishop David McGough, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, and Bishop Kieran Conry, of Arundel and Brighton, (a son of Coventry) who were both taught by him at Cotton College, Staffordshire, the junior seminary for the Archdiocese of Birmingham. Bishop Leo McCartie, former Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, and Emeritus Bishop of Northampton, who taught on the staff at Cotton with Mgr Gavin, preached the sermon. Canon Garry Byrne, Catholic Dean of Coventry, gave a tribute to Mgr Gavin on behalf of the Catholics of Coventry. Mgr Gavin studied at Cambridge University, graduating in 1949, and in the same year played rugby football for Ireland. He met a young Benedictine monk, Dom Basil Hume, and spent a year, 1949-50, teaching at Ampleforth College, where Fr Basil was a member of the monastic community. He was appointed to the staff of Cotton College in 1950 and became headmaster in 1967. He retired from teaching in 1978, and was appointed parish priest of St Thomas More where he served for 26 years until his retirement in 2004. Fr Timothy Menezes, former Secretary to Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who succeeded Mgr Gavin as parish priest of St Thomas More Parish, said: "This is a day of thanksgiving for all of us in the parish, and a day to marvel at all that Mgr Tom Gavin has achieved in his amazing 60 years as a priest." Fr Menezes added: "Mgr Gavin's dedication and commitment to the Catholic Church in our parish and the Archdiocese of Birmingham is legendary. We thank God for this example of priestly ministry, especially in Coventry."
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