IN the long history of the Diocese of Leeds few priests have served it with more dedication and distinction than Monsignor Peter McGuire who has died at the age of 82.
Mgr McGuire was staying with friends in the Lancashire village of Parbold when he died unexpectedly but peacefully late in the evening of Tuesday, January 13.
Born in Selby in 1932, Peter McGuire was accepted as a seminarian by Bishop Poskitt and started his training for the priesthood at Ushaw College in County Durham.
On completing his studies in philosophy, he transferred to the Venerable English College in Rome. He was ordained priest in Rome on October 28, 1956; one of his classmates ordained in the same ceremony was Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, who was a close personal friend for more than 60 years.
Between 1957 and 1970, Fr McGuire served in a number of parishes in the diocese: St Marie’s, Sheffield (in the days before the Diocese of Hallam), St Theresa’s, Cross Gates, Leeds, and St. Anne’s Cathedral in the city centre.
In 1970 he joined the team at the Diocesan Catechetical Centre, established by Bishop Wheeler in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council. The following year he was appointed Chaplain to the University of Bradford and in 1974 became the Diocesan Vocations Director, resident at Our Lady of Lourdes parish, Headingley. He was appointed a Prelate of Honour by Pope Paul VI in 1975.
From the autumn of 1976 until 1981, Mgr McGuire was the Parish Priest of St Brigid’s, Churwell. In the summer of 1981 Bishop Wheeler appointed him as Administrator of the Cathedral and later the same year as Vicar General of the diocese. He was also appointed a member of the Cathedral Chapter. For the next 22 years he was at the heart of events both in the city and diocese of Leeds, and held in great esteem both by his own flock and by many people of other faiths and none.
During his time at the Cathedral, it became a spiritual home to countless people who came from far beyond the parish itself but who found there a place of worship characterised by an atmosphere of warmth and welcome.
In addition, his careful stewardship of the fabric of the building during these years laid the foundations for the restoration and re-ordering of the Cathedral completed under Bishop Roche in 2006. He was, without doubt, one of the great figures in the history of the Cathedral over the past century and more.
When Bishop Konstant came to Leeds in 1985 he asked Mgr McGuire to continue as Vicar General and this he did for the next 18 years. In 2003 he stood down both as VG and (by then) Dean of the Cathedral.
In recognition of his long years of service in both capacities he was appointed a Protonotary Apostolic by Pope St. John Paul II in June 2003. From 2003 until 2006, he was Parish Priest of the Holy Name in Leeds and it was here he celebrated his Golden Jubilee of Priesthood. In 2006 he became Chaplain to the Sisters of Notre Dame at their Provincial House at Parbold near Wigan where he remained for the next five years.
In 2011, he returned to the diocese and took up residence with the Little Sisters of the Poor at Mount St Joseph’s in Headingley, where he lived in retirement, keeping in close touch with his family and very many friends.
The death of Mgr Peter McGuire is an occasion of sadness, not to say grief, across the diocese. He was truly a faithful servant of the diocese and its people for the best part of 60 years and was held in deep affection by its priests, religious and lay people. His memory will live long in the history of the diocese and especially in the hearts and minds of all who knew him.