Father Gerry Mulligan after being named Middlesbrough’s Citizen of the Year in 2002 – Photo courtesy Gazette/Teesside Live
Father Gerry passes away after 81st birthday

A priest who was named Middlesbrough’s Citizen of the Year for his dedication to the poor and marginalised at the town’s John Paul Centre has died four days after his 81st birthday.
Redemptorist Father Gerry Mulligan CSsR passed away in hospital in Glasgow on March 15 after a long illness.
Father Gerry, who was ordained in St Benet’s, Sunderland, on September 24 1966, was one of three priests at the John Paul Centre, a much-loved pastoral centre on Grange Road that closed in 2020.
It became a hub for community and voluntary services including groups serving refugees, asylum seekers, the homeless and other vulnerable people, as well as religious communities of several denominations.
On being awarded Citizen of the Year in 2002 Father Gerry said: “I’m delighted with the award, but I emphasise it is recognition of what the centre does. There are three priests here and 50 to 60 volunteers. I’m only one in a crowd.
“We operate an open-door policy, so we find many people coming in who are looking for friendship, acceptance or just someone to listen to them.
“We listen to them and try to offer help, whether it’s spiritual or practical. We try to shorten the distance between the Church and the needs of the people.”
Councillor Ken Hall added: “I am delighted Father Mulligan has accepted the award. It reflects the affection and admiration the people of the town have for him and his colleagues’ work.”
As well as a coffee shop and a chapel offering daily Mass for those visiting the town centre, the John Paul Centre provided a base to charitable organisations including the North East Refugee Service, Investing in People and Culture and homelessness charity De Paul UK.
During his time on Teesside Father Gerry was also chaplain to the Middlesbrough Team of Equipes Notre Dame, an international organisation for Christian married couples. 
“He hardly ever missed a meeting and gladly took his turn in hosting at the John Paul Centre,” said Peter Wordsworth, a member of the team. 
“He was a wonderful storyteller – usually against himself – and had us falling about laughing on many occasions. 
“We all adored him for his wisdom, tolerance, sense of humour and self-deprecation and we were very sad when he left us to move to St Mary’s Monastry, Kinnoull, Perth.” 
Father Gerry studied for the priesthood in Rome and after a period teaching at Redemptorist student house Hawkstone Hall in Shropshire, he was elected provincial superior.
He then joined the editorial team of Redemptorist Publications and later moved to Plymouth, before his appointment to the John Paul Centre.
His next move was to Kinnoull, in Scotland, where he served as rector and then vicar provincial.
Paying tribute at his funeral service, Father Gerry’s friend, Father Ronald McAinsh CSsR, said: “He was truly an extraordinary and outstanding man and Redemptorist priest, and the large crowd gathered here today – and from every sector of society – is a validation of this. 
“He was a man of the gospel. His compassion, for the marginalised and the poor at times was challenging for me, and for others in the community. How frequently I’d come in to find a gentleman of the road, sitting at table, scoffing a large meal and going off with a few pounds in his pocket. And I would say, ‘You know he’s going to use that for drink.’
“His response was forty years ahead of Pope Francis, who a couple of years ago said, ‘You know when you pass beggars on the street the tendency is to ignore them, or to think well if I give them money, they’ll use it for drink or drugs. You don’t know that! They might be genuinely needy in other ways – but of course they might use it for drink – a drink that might be their way of dealing with the awful pain they are in.’
“That was the philosophy of Gerry, and no one was ever turned away. Gerry was not naive. He was compassionate. He could see things through the lens of the wounded and the broken.
“He had this extraordinary gift of being able to touch the sensitive, painful part of a human being, and simply to be with them in these moments.”
Father Gerry’s funeral took place in St Mary’s Monastery, Kinnoull, on Monday March 25, before burial in the monastery grounds.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This