Tributes to 'dedicated and witty' Catholic priest
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
CATHOLICS in Teesdale are mourning the death of a priest who served them for almost two decades.
Father Wilfred Elkin died peacefully at The Manor House care home, in Barnard Castle, on March 13, aged 85.
He had been parish priest at St Mary’s Catholic Church in the town from November 21, 2001, until his retirement in spring 2017. The priest was born to a large family in Gateshead on May, 2, 1935, and entered Ushaw College as a junior seminary aged 11.
Father Ian Grieves, who served with him for about nine years, said: “He was a conscientious and willing student who took part in all aspects of college life.”
Fr Elkin was ordained in July 1959 and went on to serve at churches in Sunderland, Newcastle and Consett before joining St Patrick’s Church, in Ryhope, in 1978.
He was so admired by parishioners in Ryhope that they successfully petitioned the Bishop of Newcastle and Hexham to extend his stay there, Fr Grieves said
He added: “In all of these places he worked hard to promote the Catholic faith, and for all of his parishioners. He loved the Latin mass, which we call the Extraordinary Mass. He was thorough in his preparation of first holy communion and confirmation.”
Fr Elkin had diverse interests ranging from walking and gardening to keeping up to date with modern technology and even wrote a regular
One of his blogs described how cranes were stealing goldfish from his ponds.
Fr Grieves said: “He loved his greenhouse and ponds. He was also very fond of The Castle Players and he attended their summer performances at The Bowes Museum.
“He was very quick and witty.” One the priest’s quips were: “I have to love my parishioners but I don’t have to like them.”
Despite being active in his community and being supportive of charities and missions, Fr Grieves described the priest as also being “a modest, private and reserved person”.
Another of his favourite pastimes was sailing and he and his father would often take their boat out at Seahouses and Seaham.
Aptly the boat was named Welkin, a derivative of his name Wilfred Elkin and a nickname he had picked up in seminary college.
A requiem mass will be held in Latin for Fr Elkin at noon on Wednesday, March 31, at St Mary Church.
The mass will be conducted by the Bishop of Newcastle and Hexham, Rt Revd Robert Byrne.
The service will be lived-streamed and people can join by following a link from the church’s Facebook page.