VERY REV. PATRICK CANON MOSS
Very Rev. Patrick J. Canon Moss
1926 - 2014
The following obituary for Canon Moss is taken from the 2015 edition of the Western Catholic Calendar.
Requiem Mass was celebrated for the repose of the soul of Canon Patrick J. Moss in St. Patrick’s Church, Aghyaran, Derry Diocese, on Monday 21st April 2014. The celebrant of the Mass was the parish priest, Fr. John Gilmore.
Patrick was born on 16th March 1926, the youngest of ten children (eight sons and two daughters), to John and Elizabeth Moss of Tullycar, Aghyaran. The death of Patrick’s mother when he was only ten years of age occasioned his enrolment as a boarder at the young age in St. Columba’s College, Derry and later in St. Kieran’s, Kilkenny.
On the completion of his studies he was ordained priest for service in the Diocese of Motherwell on 4th June during the 1950 Holy Year. The ordination took place in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny with the bishop of Ossory, Patrick Collier, as ordaining prelate.
Soon after ordination he made his way to Scotland to the parish of Our Lady and St. Joseph’s, Glenboig, in the relatively young Diocese of Motherwell. This was the beginning of a lifetime of service to the Church in Scotland which was to last over 60 years. His first parish priest, Fr. Patrick Kelly, had survived two world wars, losing a leg in the first when he was a chaplain to the forces, and bombed out of his parish during the Clydebank blitz in the second. Consequently, Patrick found himself immediately caught up in every aspect of parish life in the company of a veteran whose priesthood had stood the test of these experiences but had lost nothing of its zeal and enthusiasm. Many years later this same priest, by then parish priest in Holy Family, Mossend, was to renew Fr. Patrick’s acquaintance when Patrick was appointed to St Gerard’s which was a daughter parish of Holy Family.
For Fr. Patrick his five years in Glenboig had set the foundation for his approach to the appointments that lay ahead of him. His commitment to youth included enthusiasm for Scouts and Guides and the Boys Guild, all of whom enhanced the big occasions in the parish. The altar servers were trained with almost military precision and soon
He was eventually transferred in 1955 to St Barbara’s, Muirhead, a short distance from his previous parish and into the company of a new parish priest, Fr. Michael Little. In later years he had a fine repertoire of stories drawn from his experiences of those early appointments and their respective parish priests. When Fr. Patrick was in full flight it was difficult to known whether to laugh or cry.
His transfer in 1958 to St. Columbkille’s, Rutherglen marked a dramatic change from his two previous appointments. He found himself in a city parish and in the congenial company of another three assistants, Kevin Rogers, Vivian Hayes and Richard Higgins, all of them under the benign, if not always welcome, scrutiny of the Parish Priest, Canon John Rooney. Those of us who knew them are filled with admiration for the way in which they shared their responsibilities and dedicated themselves to the well-being of the parish. Since the Church and presbytery stood on the main road in Rutherglen, the parish attracted many visitors throughout the day.
After ten fruitful years in Rutherglen, and at a distance of eighteen years from his ordination, Patrick was appointed in 1967 first parish priest of the newly-founded parish of St. Gerard’s, Bellshill. It fell to him not only to establish the parish and engage actively in his chaplaincy of the primary school, but also to see through the endless tasks of supervising the building of a new Church, presbytery and hall, together with the challenge of bounding the new community together with a sense of its own identity. He proved himself more than equal to the task.
Those were not the easiest years during which to take charge of a parish. The directives of the Vatican Council were being published and promulgated throughout the Catholic word. It fell to priests of the calibre of Fr. Patrick to come to terms, not only with the decrees of the Council, but also with the responses of their congregations. His decisive and uncompromising personality marked him out of loyalty to the great traditions of the past but he proved a powerful asset in the many discussions and debates that followed every proposed innovation. Like every other Catholic diocese in the world, each day seemed to bring some new challenge between loyalty to the past and commitment to the future. Fr. Patrick is remembered for his judgement and enthusiasm for the renewal programme which was then in place.
On the occasion of his Silver Jubilee in the Priesthood, which he celebrated during the Holy Year of 1975, a testimonial was read which must have embarrassed someone as unpretentious as he was. After expressing gratitude for his ‘devotion to his parishioners and his unflagging zeal in attending to the people, and especially the sick and elderly,’ the testimonial continued: ‘Apart from your manifold virtues as a priest, we esteem your unfailing good humour in all circumstances, your gift of diplomacy in dealing with the secular authorities and the lueidity and common sense of your homilies.”
Soon after his Silver Jubilee he made two further moves in his pastoral ministry. The first was in 1977 to St. James’, Coatbridge and the second to St. Anthony’s, Rutherglen in 1981 where he was to remain for seven years. His final move in 1987 was to the parish of Our lady and St. John’s, Blackwood where, during 2000, yet another Holy Year, he celebrated his Golden Jubilee as a priest.
This landmark occasioned his decision to retire from active ministry in Scotland in 2001 and to return to his native Ireland. During that period he kept in touch with his former colleagues in the priesthood and classmates from his seminary days, often covering for them on as occasion arose. He continued to celebrate Mass with his usual attention to the rubrics and clear enunciation of the prayers and readings. His homilies were particularly appreciated throughout his entire ministry, not only for their content, but for his clear and distinct manner of speaking.
Canon Patrick drove his car as he drove through life itself. He had an insatiable interest in monasteries and pilgrim shrine. Holidays were never complete without as least a short stay or a retreat in a monastery. On occasion he was known to break the Grand Silence to bring a discussion to an acceptable conclusion. This was quite unprecedented in these islands, and much further afield, which he had not visited. In retirement he was a regular visitor to Roscrea, Co. Tipperary and Portglenone, Co. Antrim. These visits were combined with long walks often at Rossnowlagh beach in Co. Donegal, and to Bundoran town. Nearer home he was always most hospital to visiting clergy and friends, many of whom had shared his years of ministry in Scotland.
After a priestly life that spanned 64 years Canon Patrick died peacefully after a short illness, fortifies by the Rites of Holy Mother Church, on Good Friday, 2014. As usual his timing was impeccable. In his final days he was blessed with the affection of the surviving members of his family and the loving care of doctors and nurses in Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry.
The last word must lie with the summing up of Fr. Patrick’s qualities by the faithful of St. Gerard’s on the occasion of one of his Jubilees: ‘We shall always recall your memory with love and affection, thinking how happy we have been to have had a priest who exemplifies so well what Chaucer said hundreds of years ago:
‘But Christes love, and his Apostles twelve
He taught but first he followed it himself’
Canon Moss was laid to rest in vestments gifted to him by St. Gerard’s School, Bellshill, which he had helped to establish in close collaboration with the head teacher and staff, and his funeral took place in St. Patrick’s Church, Aghyaran. He now lies alongside his parents and family in the church yard adjoining his native parish church. He had always made it clear that he wanted no account of his achievements or failures and trusted in the Lord’s mercy and compassion. May he rest in peace.