Memory Eternal, Fr Christopher!
With deep sadness we announce the repose in the Lord of the servant of God and priest Christopher (Neill). At the time of writing, the coroner has not yet reported, but it appears to be the result of a fall in his house boat.
Fr Christopher was lured out of retirement to serve the parish of St Ignatius in Belfast earlier this year, and served once a month since then. Indeed, his final visit was the second visit of October. During this time, there has been a growing bond with the parish. Officially, he was not the parish priest, but we regarded him as “our priest.” He had started to introduce liturgical improvements, was leading our thinking in our quest for a home of our own. He thoroughly enjoyed his time with the parish and was flourishing in his priestly ministry.
He was ordained as a priest in Manchester on 29th April 2012 by Metropolitan John (now Patriarch John X). It was typical of him that the first picture from his ordination that he posted on Facebook was a photograph of his ‘couch-surfing’ friends with the Metropolitan and the newly ordained priest. And he then posted “Just served Vespers for the first time. I DO love being a priest.” He was a very down to earth priest and, despite his RP accent, rather blokish.
Fr Christopher carried a very deep concern for the poor. While this sometimes led him into political controversy, this was no mere placard carrying activism, but practical assistance through the maze of our welfare system.
He carried the burden of the loss of his dear wife, Jackie, some ten years ago. We remember their son, Duncan, at this difficult time.
May his memory be eternal.