It is with great sadness that the Diocese of Leeds announces that Fr Gerald Creasey died peacefully in Mount St Joseph’s Home, Leeds, on the afternoon of Thursday 19th January 2023.
Please pray for the repose of Fr Gerry’s soul and for his family and friends at this time.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.
- Fr Creasey’s body will be received into Leeds Cathedral on Thursday 16th February at 7:00pm followed by Mass.
- The Requiem Mass for Fr Creasey will take place at Leeds Cathedral on Friday 17th February at 12.00 noon and will be followed by interment at St Edward’s Church Cemetery, Clifford.
- The Requiem Mass will be livestreamed via our YouTube channel, www.leedscathedrallive.org.uk
Rev Fr Gerald Creasey RIP
Fr Gerry Creasey was born in Leeds on 24th May 1934. He was one of two sons born to George and Margaret Creasey, who lived in the parish of the Holy Rosary. His brother John predeceased him. In 1945 Fr Gerry became a pupil at St Michael’s College in Leeds, a grammar school founded by the Jesuits in 1905. From there he went to Hatfield College at Durham University to study for a degree in history. After graduation, in 1955 he entered the Venerable English College in Rome to begin his studies for the priesthood. He studied philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and he was ordained in Rome at the Church of the Sacred Heart in the Piazza Navona on 29th October 1961.
A feature of his years at school, university and seminary was not only his academic ability but his prowess as a sportsman. He was a talented footballer and cricketer who was proud to have represented St Michael’s, Durham University, the VEC and his Cambridge college on the field of play.
After ordination Fr Gerry went to St Edmund’s House at Cambridge University to obtain a teaching qualification as a student of Christ’s College. In 1962 he joined the staff of the recently opened St Thomas Aquinas Grammar School for boys in Leeds. He was to remain there until 1979, by which time it had merged with the neighbouring St John Bosco School to form the present-day Cardinal Heenan High School. For much of this time there was another priest on the teaching staff at ‘Aquinas’, the late Fr Michael O’Reilly, who was not only Fr Gerry’s colleague but a wonderful friend.
During his years at ‘Aquinas’ Fr Gerry served as assistant priest at St Paul’s, Alwoodley (1963-68), St Mary’s, Horsforth (1968) and St Edward’s, Clifford (1969-79)
In 1979 Bishop Wheeler appointed Fr Gerry as parish Priest of St Paul’s, Cleckheaton. In 1988 he moved to St Francis of Assisi, Morley and two years later he became Parish Priest of St Joseph the Worker at Sherburn-in-Elmet. In 1992 he went to live at St Patrick’s, Leeds, assisting in the parish while serving as Chaplain to St James’s University Hospital. In 2000 he moved to St Michael’s, Knottingley as Parish Priest and in 2002 he became the Chaplain to the Little Sisters of the Poor and the residents of Mount St Joseph’s Home in Headingley.
Fr Gerry retired in 2009 on reaching the age of seventy-five. Since 2015 he had lived at Hinsley Court, adjacent to the Diocesan Pastoral Centre at Hinsley Hall in Headingley. His ministry in retirement remained an active one. He gave generously of his time in covering for parish clergy who were ill or away on holiday, and he maintained his long association with the Carmelite Sisters at Wood Hall. It was in their chapel that he celebrated Mass on the occasion of his Diamond Jubilee in October 2021 (prior to hosting a grand lunch party at Hinsley Hall).
Fr Gerry’s health deteriorated in the months after his eighty-eighth birthday in May 2022 and after a period in hospital he moved into Mount St Joseph’s Home to be cared for by the Little Sisters of the Poor. It was here that he died peacefully on the afternoon of Thursday 19th January 2023.
Fr Creasey completed his studies and was ordained to the priesthood a year before the start of the Second Vatican Council but he was later to be enthused by the sense of renewal in the Church that emanated from its deliberations and its teachings. Fr Gerry lived out his priesthood during an era of great change in the life of the Church and he is unique among the Leeds clergy of the time in the extent to which he has placed on record his memories of, and his thoughts about, the life of a priest in the late twentieth century. In 2001 he published ‘Ruby Thoughts – Reflections of a Year’, in which he brought together a series of articles written for the occasion by the men of the VEC (himself included) who had been ordained in 1961.
Almost twenty years later in 2020, and in the midst of the Covid ‘lockdown’, he wrote a very personal account of the priestly life in ‘ From Venerable to Vulnerable’. In addition, since 2016 the archives of the VEC have been in possession of the Creasey Papers, which comprise some 350 letters that Fr Gerry wrote to his parents in Leeds on a weekly basis during his six years at the College (when, as was the custom at the time, he only retuned home once while a seminarian, in the summer of 1958). They represent the largest single archival deposit by an alumnus of the College and in conveying not just personal news but accounts of events at the College and in the Eternal City they represent a precious record of a significant period in the history of the College and the Church.
Many people across the diocese will have their memories of Fr Creasey, as both priest and teacher. Fr Gerry was a singular individual. With him there was never any mistaking the fact that he was a Yorkshireman, with all that that entails. For many his passing will feel like the end of an era. In 2020 he wrote that “for the Christian death is central to our faith. This is not simply accepting that we all must die, it is much more than an acceptance of the inevitable; it is in a wonderful way a gateway to eternal joy”. May eternal joy be his rich reward for a lifetime of faith and nearly seven decades of commitment and service to the Bishops and people of the Diocese of Leeds.
May he rest in peace
- Our photograph above shows Fr Gerry on the day of his ordination in Rome, 29th October 1961
- A copy of Fr Creasey’s memoir From Venerable to Vulnerable can be accessed by following this link https://www.dioceseofleeds.org.uk/from-venerable-to-vulnerable-a-60-year-journey/
- The photograph below shows the VEC’s Class of 1961 at the Vatican with Pope St John Paul II, having concelebrated Mass with the Holy Father to mark their Ruby Jubilees in 2001. Fr Creasey is stood second from the right. (Click on the image to enlarge)