By F. A. FULFORD Requiem Mass for Canon Patrick Palmer, Ilford, whose death on May 5 we announced last week, was relayed to over 1,000 people overflowing neighbouring streets and grounds of SS. Peter and Paul on Monday.
Mgr. Doubleday, Bishop of Brentwood, gave the Absolutions Bald,short, thin, emaciated, Canon Palmer was never known to be robust since his accident of 20 years ago when he was knocked down in the street on his way to a sick call.
He wrote to me shortly before his last illness, saying: " I was born many years ago and will very soon be dead, for I am just a worn out old cab horse. I am stupidly shy; I spend nine hours in the confessional on Saturdays, and on Sundays never leave the church."
Two paragraphs that give you the quickest of vivid sketches of the mighty personality that for years held the loyal esteem of Ilford and of the diocese of Brentwood as well. He was the man who made the Church his hobby as he made of it his career and life-work. Catholics of Ilford have called him " holy."
AN OLD FENDER Well-known converts have been proud to admit they owed their entry into the Church to Canon Palmer, among them Dr. Messenger himself. I could count up to 16 priests, many of them illustrious, who directly or indirectly trace the seeds of their vocation to his planting, and I think Dr. Heenan himself would not mind admitting himself to be in their number.
Many years ago, when Ilford was barren, his friend, Cardinal Vaughan, Archbishop of Westminster, in whose diocese Ilford then was, said to Fr. Patrick Palmer: " Go to Ilford and start something." " What shall I take with me?" asked the young priest. The Cardinal looked about him. " There's an old fender here you can have." Fr. Palmer took it, and with that he started a mission, first rooms, then the usual tin-hut, eventually he built, and built, and built! A fine church at Ilford is his crowning achievement, but the missions at Becontree, Barkingside and Chadwell Heath are also his creations. The fender remained in his house, and he would point to it lovingly, remembering the great and close friendship that bound him to the Cardinal. Indeed he would often say how Vaughan had consulted him about the type of brick to he used in the building of Westminster Cathedral, and how he himself had finally chosen it. He was great as a priest must he ever a priest, yet ever human. Anorganiser of efficiency, of initiative
that was often remarkable and even breath-taking.