Friday, 21 April 2017

Father Liam Gavigan, Requiescat in Pace

Father Liam Gavigan, a priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto, died on Easter Sunday afternoon. His Solemn Requiem Mass, in the proper Rite of the Catholic Church, is today in Toronto at St. Lawrence the Martyr Catholic Church.  He died on Easter Sunday, there must be a message in that.

When the history of the restoration of the traditional Mass in Canada is written, Father Gavigan's name will be there with the greats who persevered and suffered. He is a hero and one of a "trinity" of priests, the late Father Mole in Ottawa who began the community that is now the FSSP parish and Father Normandin in Montreal, again where the FSSP now reside and serve. The same, for a short-time, was the case in Toronto. There was at time when these were the only priests in Canada offering the traditional Mass. They even pre-dated the Society of St. Pius X. 

Father Gavigan began offering the traditional rite in possession of a celebret from Rome which outranked the Ordinary's indult authority. He began on Friday nights at Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Toronto and eventually on Sundays at St. Edward's parish. Later, the Mass moved to St. Theresa Shrine where the FSSP's short-lived Toronto apostolate took over the Sunday Mass. Father Gavigan, who also started the community at St. Patrick's in Schomberg continued there and then a new one, now sadly purged by its Provincial, at the Carmel of the Infant Jesus in Zephyr. After the Fraternity left Toronto, Father Gavigan at the age of 77 offered three Masses on Sunday between 9AM and 1PM beginning in Schomberg, 40 miles to Zephyr and another 30 to St. Theresa in Scarborough. A true missionary. A crazy driver!

Whilst the norm was the Irish Low Mass, we coaxed out of him (as I was Schola Master at the FSSP) the Sung Mass. What an amazing voice he had, so hidden for so many years. The last Mass that I had the pleasure of assisting at with him, was a Requiem for Father Kenneth Walker, the murdered FSSP priest in Arizona. He sung a beautiful Requiem and we worked before Mass to find the right Latin for Kenneth for Collect and prayers.

When we organised the Pontifical Mass for the occasion of the late Msgr. Vincent Foy's 75th anniversary of priestly ordination with the Cardinal present, I said, "Father, did you ever think you would see this?" and he responded, "No, David, not in a million years." I then thanked him for "keeping the candle burning," to which he replied, "No David, I kept the pot boiling." It was as if one had entered the set of Going My Way to hear Barry Fitzgerald's Irish lilt, all that was missing was Too-Ra-Loo. 

Father Gavigan was a great confessor, He spoke often of Hell and it even got a few complaints directed to the Chancery. 

The only time I ever went to him, he said to me, "Do you know you can go to Hell for that?" to which I replied, "Yes Father, that is why I'm here," to which he retorted, "I want a decat of the rosary, now, and one every morning on your knees when your feet hit the floor until your next confession!" Well, that was the last time I went to him, but his penance seemed to be efficacious. 

Father Liam Gavigan had one purpose in life. To offer the Holy Sacrifice in the "better way" as he called it and to save his soul and everyones with whom he came into contact.

God rest you Father, and may the LORD have already said to you:
"Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." 
Requiescat in pace


Kathleen1031 said...

Aw, God rest your good soul, Fr. Gavigan. We need thousands more just like you.

John the Mad said...

I did not know Father Gavigan, (may Christ welcome him into His Kingdom) but I knew Father John Mole OMI in the early 1970s when he was acting as a padre for a coupe of summers at Camp Borden when I was a young lieutenant. Father Mole was a genuine intellectual, but he exuded a gentle holiness that drew young officers (in fact everyone who met him) to him.

He was an extraordinarily kind man with an almost child like joy in simple things. I recall the day when he was standing outside the officer's mess admiring my two-seater British sports car (an MGB). His eyes were alive with delight. I asked him if he would like to take it for a drive. At first he said he refused, but I knew he (as an Englishman) really wanted to drive my sports car so I pressed him on the point and he finally accepted my proffered keys with a grin. Off he went, with the top down, on a beautiful July day. Later, when he returned the MGB his grin was from ear to ear.

Father and I had good talks about our Catholic faith. He once gave me an article he had written. As I recall, it had to do with gnosticism in the modern Church, but I then understood little of it. It's hard to imagine now, how ignorant I was of what was happening in the Church, or the damage being done by zealots of the spirit of VII. I'd love to be able to discuss these things with him now. Father Mole was a good man and a wonderful priest. He died in 2004. May they both rest with Christ.

Anonymous said...

This is Panakhyda:


Only chaste and immaculate Virgin, who gave birth to God without seed, intercede before Him for the salvation of his soul.

Priest: Have mercy on us, O God, in the greatness of Your compassion, we pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Response: Lord, have mercy. (3) = Hospodi, pomiluy. (3)

Priest: We also pray for the repose of the soul of the servant of God, Presbyter Liam, who has fallen asleep, and the forgiveness of all his offenses, voluntary and involuntary.

Response: Lord, have mercy. (3) = Hospodi, pomiluy. (3)

Priest: That the Lord our God may place his soul where all the just repose.

Response: Lord, have mercy. (3) = Hospodi, pomiluy. (3)

Priest: Let us ask Christ our immortal King and our God, for the mercy of God, for the kingdom of heaven, and for the forgiveness of his sins.

Response: Grant this, O Lord.

Priest: Let us pray to the Lord.

Response: Lord, have mercy.

Priest: O God of spirits and of all flesh, You trampled death, You made the devil powerless, and You gave life to Your world. Now, O Lord, to the soul of Your servant, Presbyter Liam, who has fallen asleep, grant rest in a place of light, a place of verdure, and a place of tranquility, from which pain, sorrow and mourning have fled. As the good and loving God, forgive every sin of thought, word or deed he has committed. There is no one who will live and will not sin, for You alone are sinless, Your justice is everlasting justice and Your word is truth.


For You, O Christ our God, are the resurrection, the life and the repose of Your servant, the Presbyter Liam, who has fallen asleep; and we give glory to You, together with Your eternal Father and Your most holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and forever and ever.

Response: Amen.

****The dismissal is changed from Pascha (Easter) to the eve of the Ascension because Christ is Risen!****

Deacon (Priest): Wisdom!

All: Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord has risen upon you! Exult now and be glad, O Sion! And you, O chaste Mother or God, take delight in the resurrection of Your Son.

Priest: Glory be to You, O Christ our God, our hope, glory be to You.

All: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and to those in the tombs giving life.

Lord, have mercy. (3)

(Master,) Give the blessing.

Priest: Christ our true God, Who has power over the living and the dead, through the prayers of His immaculate Mother; of the holy, glorious and all-praiseworthy apostles; of our venerable and godly fathers; and of all the saints, will place the soul of His servant, the Presbyter Liam, which has departed from us, in the abodes of the just, and will give him rest in the bosom of Abraham, and number him among the just, and will have mercy on us, +for He is good and loves mankind.

All: Amen.

Priest: In blessed sleep grant eternal rest, O Lord, to the soul of Your servant, the Presbyter Liam and make his memory everlasting.


Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and to those in the tombs giving life.

Lord, have mercy. (3)

And to us He has granted life eternal; we bow down before His resurrection on the third day.

Source: Divine Liturgy: Anthology for Worship. Galadza, Rev. Peter, editor-in-chief; Roll, Joseph, associate editor; Thompson, J. Michael, associate editor. Copyright © 2004, 2005 2nd printing. Ottawa, Canada: Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, pages 1039-1053. 1150 pages. Imprimatur.


Anonymous said...

Not a single Bishop attended his requiem Mass. I would hope my boss attended my funeral.

Anonymous said...

Nope. Not one!

And other than the three Sacred Ministers and his old friend, the Pastor of St. Lawrence, there were only about five others, though one was the Monsignor Director of Priest Personnel.

Good old HR. Putting the fresh face on the whole corporation.

But I was impressed that teachers came from his hold high school and even some boys in uniform as representatives.

Teresa B. said...

I remember him helping out Fr. Roy with the EF when Fr. Roy was at
St. Elizabeth Seton church in Newmarket.
Just a note that many of the bishops from this area flew to Rome on April 21st as the Ontario Bishops Ad Limina goes from April 24-29.

Gary Halley said...

Father Gavigan was a bright light that led us to Tradition. I will always be grateful to him for this. He also buried both of my parents in the traditional rite, prepared my son for first holy communion,and baptised our youngest child. He will always be in our hearts and in our prayers.We love you Father. The Halley family

Anonymous said...

Dear Father Gavigan, I pray you will forgive me those many years ago when I rebuked you for doing the Novus ordo mass to please your family in Ireland. You spoke negatively of the new mass but then you said you did it for your family in Ireland. You left me in haste after that and never returned. Years passed and I forgot your name but could never forget my having offended you. I hope you will forgive me for hurting you. You were so kind to come to me to offer the Mass when I had no other. May God have mercy on your soul and may you and He have mercy on mine.