Church in shock over priest's death

FELIXSTOWE'S Catholic community was in deep shock today after their parish priest died after collapsing while conducting a funeral service.Nurses in the congregation immediately went to help Father John McNally, who is believed to be in his 60s, after he fell ill during the requiem mass at St Felix Roman Catholic Church.

FELIXSTOWE'S Catholic community was in deep shock today after their parish priest died after collapsing while conducting a funeral service.

Nurses in the congregation immediately went to help Father John McNally, who is believed to be in his 60s, after he fell ill during the requiem mass at St Felix Roman Catholic Church.

An ambulance was called to the church in Gainsborough Road and Mr McNally was taken to Ipswich Hospital, but died shortly after arrival.

Yesterday afternoon's funeral - for 91-year-old Kay Thomson - had to be halted and was then cancelled.

Today tributes were paid to the priest, described as a great servant to God and a wonderful friend to all who knew him.

The resort's Roman Catholics are a close-knit community and Mr McNally's death has left them devastated.

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Parish communications officer Mark Jones said: “The news came as a great shock to his family and to all of us, since earlier in the day he seemed very well and his usual cheerful self.

“Fr John lived as a priest and died as a priest.

“He was a wonderful servant and a wonderful priest, and everyone in the diocese and the parish has lost a great friend. He was a fantastic man.

“We ask prayers of all for the happy repose of his soul. May he rest in peace.”

Felixstowe mayor Ann Rodwell said : “I am very shocked - we will all miss him dearly.

“He was a lovely gentleman, a real gentleman. I know his ministry in the town went far wider than just his church and he touched the lives of lots of people. He will be a hard person to follow.”

A member of the congregation said: “People just cannot believe he is gone. He was an excellent parish priest and he got on so well with everyone - people of all ages really loved and respected him.”

Fr McNally took up the post as parish priest for St Felix and the sister church of St Cecilia's in Trimley St Mary in 1999, taking over from Father Peter Leeming.

Previously he had served as parish priest at Brandon and in Cambridge.

He originally came from Ireland, where he has a large family. Funeral arrangements will be announced by the family and the Bishop of East Anglia later.

Pay your tributes to Father John McNally ­- write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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