Tributes paid to retired Sunderland clergyman after his death at the age of 72

Tributes have been paid to a retired clergyman following his death after a long illness.

Thursday, 9th July 2020, 4:45 pm
Former Sunderland clergyman Father Bill East has died at the age of 72.

Father Bill East, who was 72, spent 11 years at St Luke’s Parish Church, in Pallion, Sunderland, from 1983 to 1994 before being received into the Catholic Church along with wife Betty.

He was ordained at Our Lady's in Acomb, York, and served in the parish before spending 18 years at St Joseph’s Church, in Pickering, where he became parish priest.

Vicar general Monsignor Gerard Robinson described him “as a true gentleman” and said: “It was such a sad moment when I heard Father Bill had died.

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“I spoke to him a couple of days ago and it was lovely to have a chat and for us to give each other a blessing as well and say we would keep each other in prayer.

“Bill was a true gentleman with a quick wit and it was always a joy if I knew that Father Bill was going to be on retreat with the diocesan priests.

“We will miss him and our thoughts and prayers are with Betty, Bill’s sons and the whole family at this sad time.”

An accomplished Latin scholar, Father Bill was asked by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) to work on English translations of liturgical texts.

Grateful parishioners held a party in his honour when he retired from St Joseph's in May 2018.

He and his wife celebrated their golden wedding with a trip to London with family and friends last August, followed the week after by mass at St Aelred’s Church, in York, where Father Bill Serplus presented them with a papal blessing.

Father Bill East died on July 1 and his funeral service will be at St Aelred’s on Tuesday, July 14.

Due to social distancing regulations, only be 30 people allowed to attend and it will not be possible to have a concelebrated mass at this time.

A memorial mass will be held for Father Bill at St Joseph’s when circumstances allow.

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