A saint with his sleeves rolled up

 Catholics in Liverpool will honour a priest on Friday 4th May, who many in Merseyside regarded as a living saint. A memorial Mass for Father Francis O'Leary, whose compassion for a dying destitute woman on the streets of Rawalpindi, Pakistan led to the foundation of Jospice International, will be held 7.30pm at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. Father O'Leary, a Mill Hill Missionary, died aged 69 on his patronal feast day last October. In accordance with his wishes his funeral was held at Ss Peter and Paul Church Crosby, Merseyside where his family were buried. But those who squeezed inside the church were promised an occasion where more people would be able to pay tribute to a much-loved priest. Father O'Leary, who numbered Archbishop Vincent Nichols, of Birmingham and Bishop John Rawsthorne, of Hallam, as his cousins, was a saint with his sleeves rolled up. He was a cross between St Vincent De Paul and TV's Sergeant Ernie Bilko. The priest had nearly every episode of the hit series on video. It was in 1962 that Father O'Leary was asked to help a Mrs Jacob, a seriously ill woman in Rawalpindi. He carried her to an outhouse in the church compound and Jospice International was born. Today there are hospices in Pakistan, India, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico with its headquarters at Thornton near Liverpool and another hospice at nearby Ormskirk. Many people had cause to thank this impish priest for the compassion he showed to their dying loved ones. Many of their number will be flocking to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral on Friday night.

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