Mgr Philip Holroyd, priest

Philip Holroyd, who has died at 70, was a significant figure in the Catholic Church in Yorkshire and beyond.

Monsignor Philip Holroyd
Monsignor Philip Holroyd

Born in Bradford in 1947, he was educated at St Bede’s Grammar there and at Ushaw College, Durham. He studied for the priesthood at the English College in Rome, in the years immediately after the second Vatican Council, and was ordained in 1971.

He was an assistant priest at St Joseph’s parish, in Handsworth, Sheffield, until 1974, when he went up to Oriel College, Oxford, to study for a Masters in Philosophy.

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In 1976 he returned to Rome as tutor in philosophy at the English College and went on to become its vice-rector. In 1982, he was appointed a Chaplain of Honour by Pope St John Paul II, later taking on the role of chaplain and administrator at the Villa Palazzola, the College’s summer villa on the shores of Lake Albano, outside Rome. There, he was responsible for a redevelopment which led to its emergence as a thriving retreat, conference and pilgrim centre.

He returned to Yorkshire in 1988 when Bishop Konstant appointed him parish priest of SS. Peter and Paul at Sandal in Wakefield, where he oversaw the construction of the new church, completed in 1992.

In 1995, he moved to Leeds to become parish priest of St Urban’s in Headingley, and then the first director of the new Diocesan Pastoral and Conference Centre at Hinsley Hall in the city, which he helped establish – translating the Bishop’s vision for a new diocesan pastoral centre into reality.

In 2005, he became a parish priest at Cross Gates in East Leeds, where he brought together three existing parishes – St Theresa’s, St Gregory’s and Corpus Christi – into the new parish of Blessed John Henry Newman.

Eight years later, he was appointed to St Wilfrid’s, Ripon, where he was heavily involved in leading a project to restore and refurbish the Church of St Wilfrid, one of the finest 19th century Catholic churches in the country.

Ill-health forced his retirement from there earlier this year.