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

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

Very Rev Canon Joseph Smith RIP

It is with great sadness that we announce that Canon Joseph Smith died on the morning of 25 January in hospital.

Please pray for the repose of his 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.


Reception of Canon Smith’s body into St Patrick’s Church, Huddersfield, at 6.30pm on Thursday 29 February followed by Mass.

Requiem Mass for Canon Smith at St Patrick’s Church, Huddersfield, on Friday 1 March at 11am followed by cremation at Huddersfield Crematorium.

Very Rev Canon Joseph Smith RIP

Canon Joe Smith was born on 25 August 1938. He was educated at St Bede’s Grammar School, Bradford before entering the seminary at Ushaw in County Durham to study for the priesthood. He was ordained in his home parish of St Patrick’s, Huddersfield on 8 June 1963.

After ordination Fr Joe joined the staff of St Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds where he remained until September 1967 when he took up appointment as the Catholic Chaplain to the University of Sheffield. (This was prior to the creation of the Hallam diocese and Sheffield was still part of the Diocese of Leeds). Academically gifted himself, this was a role to which Fr Joe was well suited and he remained at the University for the next eleven years. He left in 1978 to become Parish Priest of the Holy Spirit parish at Stanningley, between Leeds and Bradford. At the same time Bishop Wheeler appointed him as Director of Adult Religious Education in the diocese.

In 1984 Fr Joe became the Director of the Upholland Northern Institute, in Lancashire. The Institute had been set up by the Northern Bishops following the closure of St Joseph’s Seminary at Upholland in 1975. Inspired by the teachings of the Second Vatican Council the Institute promoted adult Christian formation across the northern dioceses and the continuing formation of diocesan clergy. He assumed his appointment at UNI in January 1984, succeeding the then Fr Vincent Nichols, the present Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.

Fr Joe returned to the Leeds diocese in 1988, becoming the Parish Priest of St Matthew’s, Bradford, and Leader of the diocesan Ministry to Priests, a new provision for clergy welfare set up by Bishop Konstant. In 1992 he moved to St Joseph’s parish, Huddersfield and then to the Sacred Heart Bingley in 1998. From 2006 to 2013 he was Parish Priest of SS John Fisher & Thomas More at Burley-in-Wharfedale. He became a Canon in 2006 when Bishop Roche appointed him to the Cathedral Chapter.

In 1989, at the request of Bishop Konstant, Canon Joe had taken charge of organising the Diocesan Pastoral Assembly which was held at Trinity & All Saints College in May 1991 and was one of the key events of Bishop Konstant’s episcopate. In due course it led to the establishment of a new Pastoral and Conference Centre at Hinsley Hall in Leeds, which opened in September 1999.

On reaching the age of seventy-five in 2013, Canon Smith retired from active ministry and went to live in the Morecambe Bay area. His later years were overshadowed by ill health, and he was not well enough to attend the Celebration of Priesthood at the Cathedral in the summer of 2023, which marked the Diamond Jubilee of his ordination. His health deteriorated in the early days of 2024, and he died at the Lancaster Royal Infirmary on 25 January, aged eighty-five.

May he rest in peace.