Obituary: Fr Michael Walshe SCJ

 Fr Hugh Hanley SCJ, director and chaplain of the 20-30s groups has sent us this sad news.

Dear All

I am sorry to have to write to you with the sad news of the sudden death of Fr Michael Walshe SCJ in Vietnam. Fr Michael had been our Provincial for the past nine years and he was the one who gave me the go-ahead to set up Project 2030, so he could be considered the co-founder. Many of you will have met him during your visits to Malpas - a tall, well-built man from Shepherd's Bush in London.

When Michael finished as Provincial in March he asked to spend his sabbatical year helping to teach English to our students for the Priesthood and Religious Life in Vietnam. He was very happy there, working beside Fr Jerry Sheehy. Unfortunately a couple of weeks ago he caught Dengue Fever, which is not normally fatal, but in Fr Michael's case there were complications and he died in the early hours of Friday morning, 12 September.

Michael was born in 1942 in London. His mother came from Staffordshire and his father from the west of Ireland. He studied at the Sacred Heart Seminaries in Newport, Shropshire, and Malpas, Cheshire. He took his First Vows in the community on 8 September 1964 and was ordained on 22 March 1969. In the 70s he was responsible for the Travelling Mission in Lincolnshire. He was also Superior at our communities in Gateshead, Dublin and the Youth Residential Centre, Dehon House, before coming Parish Priest of St John Vianney, Dublin.

One of Michael,s great loves as a priest was helping the missions abroad and churches in need. Coincidentally, last week a group went from England to visit the Sacred Heart Communities in Moldova. This was a committee which Michael set up to support this, the poorest part of Europe.

It was significant that Michael, after his years as Provincial, should finish his life while helping on the Missions. In our last Provincial Newsletter Michael wrote with enthusiasm about his experience in Vietnam, where our students loved him, considered him like their grandfather and are quite devastated by his death.

Tributes have been pouring in from the many people who knew Fr Michael. All speak of him as a good friend, someone who was full of humour, creativity and enthusiasm for life. Michael comes from a large close-knit family and our prayers and sympathies go out as well to his seven brothers and sisters.

In his Last Will and Testament Fr Michael wrote asking to be buried wherever he died, even if this was abroad, to save expense. The health insurance which we took out for him this year included repatriation of the body in case of death, so we decided to bring Michael back home. The reception of the body will take place at St Joseph,s, St Petersgate, Stockport, SK1 1EJ at 6pm on Monday 29 September. The Funeral Mass will take place at 10.30am on Tuesday, with the burial in the community graves at Malpas, Cheshire at 1.30pm. The family have asked for no flowers to be sent, but for those who wish to make a donation towards our mission in Vietnam.

May he rest in peace.


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