Obituary: The Right Rev Patrick Casey

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The Independent Culture
PATRICK CASEY, the former Roman Catholic Bishop of Brentwood, could never remember the time when he did not want to be a priest. During his 59 years in ministry he retained the heart of a gentle caring priest: he had a total lack of pomp and a self-deprecating, if mischievous, sense of humour.

Casey became a bishop just after the Second Vatican Council, and he brought to the diocese an approach of unassuming authority, very much in the style of the Council. His appointment as Bishop of Brentwood in November 1969 followed six years as the vicar general in the Archdiocese of Westminster and four years as auxiliary Bishop of Westminster.

He was one of the first Catholic bishops in England to be selected after consultation within the diocese. After the death of Casey's predecessor, the Brentwood priests conducted a survey in an attempt to formulate the qualities needed in a bishop. The results of the survey were fairly predictable - a pastoral, kindly and caring candidate was sought. There were, of course, many other qualities required - in fact, every virtue had to be included and every vice excluded. The only qualifier, as Casey commented when he read it over breakfast, was a canonised saint! A few days later Rome announced his appointment to the vacant see.

Not many Brentwood priests knew much about their new bishop, but subtle - and otherwise - enquiries from the brethren across the diocesan boundaries soon elicited the information that Patrick Casey was a much-loved and greatly appreciated man. Indeed of all the qualities for which Casey is remembered in the diocese by both clergy and lay people his kindness will be first. Anyone who had to face any sort of crisis, trouble or difficulty would always have the bishop's compassion and assistance. His kindness was also practical, as many individuals, parishes, societies and organisations could testify.

On the day of his installation Casey announced that he would remain bishop of the diocese for 10 years. He meant what he said. In the autumn of 1979 he submitted his resignation to the Pope. This was recognised as an unprecedented but courageous decision. Casey stated: "I am confident that in the best interests of the diocese, of priests and people alike, I should make way for a younger and more vigorous bishop to lead you forward."

Casey was born in 1913 in Stoke Newington, north London, and educated at St Joseph's Parochial School, Kingsland. He began his studies for the priesthood at the Westminster diocesan seminary at St Edmund's College, Ware, in Hertfordshire. In June 1939 he was ordained priest by Cardinal Hinsley.

Casey's first appointment was as Assistant Priest at St James's, Spanish Place, near Manchester Square in central London, where he stayed for over 20 years. In 1961 he became parish priest of Hendon. He was only there for two and a half years before being appointed Vicar General of the Westminster Archdiocese in 1963 by the then Archbishop, Cardinal Heenan. The following year he became a Domestic Prelate and a Canon of Westminster Cathedral. Casey had an excellent relationship with the priests of Westminster, among whom he was universally popular. He also had a great friendship with Heenan.

In 1966 Casey was consecrated bishop of the titular sec of Sular by Cardinal Heenan, and became one of the auxiliary Bishops of Westminster. After three years he became Bishop of Brentwood, following the retirement of Bishop Bernard Wall. He maintained his close links with Westminster and it was as Bishop of Brentwood, one of the suffragan dioceses of the Westminster archdiocese, that Casey was the principal celebrant at the funeral of Cardinal Heenan in 1975.

But it was the pastor in him that dominated. After his resignation as bishop in 1979, Casey again became parish priest, this time at Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More in Chelsea. He retired 10 years later to Leigh-on-Sea in the diocese of Brentwood. It brought him great joy to live next door to the local church and continue to assist in parish life.

Patrick Joseph Casey, priest: born London 20 November 1913; ordained priest 1939; Assistant Priest, St James's, Spanish Place 1939-61; Parish Priest of Hendon 1961-63; Vicar General of Westminster Archdiocese 1963- 64; Domestic Prelate and Canon of Westminster Cathedral 1964-67, Provost 1967-79; Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and Titular Bishop of Sufar 1966- 69; Bishop of Brentwood 1969-79; Apostolic Administrator, Brentwood Diocese 1979-80; Parish Priest, Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, Chelsea 1980-89; died Leigh- on-Sea, Essex 26 January 1999.