The Catholic Church across Yorkshire's historic West Riding since 1878

The Catholic Church across Yorkshire's historic West Riding since 1878

Rev Fr Gerald Thornton RIP

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Fr Gerry Thornton. He died peacefully on the afternoon of Saturday 6 April in St James’ Hospital Leeds.

Please pray for the repose of his soul and for his family and friends at this time.

Details of the funeral arrangements will be available in due course.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Fr Gerry Thornton RIP

Fr Gerry Thornton was born on 21 December 1935 in the Hunslet area of Leeds. The local parish of St Joseph was to play a prominent part in his life for the next sixty years. In the years before and after the Second World War it was a close-knit community of clergy, religious sisters and laity which sustained his faith journey and nurtured his vocation to the priesthood. Educated in the parish schools, which were led by the Sisters of Mercy, Fr Gerry later did National Service with the British army in Hong Kong. As a young man and into middle age he worked in the family undertaking business, which was well known in and around Hunslet. Away from work he was active in the parish, both spiritually and socially and he was a long-standing and devoted member of the Legion of Mary. Fr Gerry always regarded St Joseph’s as his home parish, and ‘a parish of happy memories’.

In his fifties Fr Gerry applied to train for the priesthood and was accepted by Bishop David Konstant. He studied at Campion House, Osterley, near London and then at the Beda College in Rome. He was ordained priest for the Diocese of Leeds, aged fifty-nine, at St Joseph’s, Hunslet on 1 July 1995 by Bishop Konstant.

From 1995-99 Fr Gerry served as Assistant Priest in the parish of St Augustine, Leeds and then moved to St Thomas More, Chickenley as Parish Priest, with responsibility also for St Anne’s, Thornhill. In 2002 he became Parish Priest of St Michael’s, Knottingley where he stayed until 2006 when he moved to the Holy Rosary parish at Chapeltown in Leeds. His retirement in 2010 coincided with the amalgamation of the Holy Rosary parish with the Cathedral parish to form the Parish of Mother of Unfailing Help, so Fr Gerry was the last Parish Priest of the Holy Rosary.

Following his retirement Fr Gerry went to live at Hinsley Court in the grounds of Hinsley Hall in Headingley. In 2017 he moved the short distance to Mount St Joseph’s Home in Shire Oak Road and came under the wing of the Little Sisters of the Poor. He celebrated the silver jubilee of his ordination there in 2020. With the impending closure of the home caused by the RAAC concrete crisis, in late March 2024 he moved back to Hinsley Court but was only there a short while before he was taken ill and admitted to hospital. He died at St James’s Hospital, Leeds on 6 April in his eighty-ninth year.

May he rest in peace.