Much loved and respected priest of the people Fr William (Bill) Clancy died peacefully in Whanganui on March 12. He was 95 years old.
Many saw the fact that his requiem occurred on St Patrick’s feast day as appropriate, given Fr Clancy’s Irish roots.
Led by Cardinal John Dew in St Anne’s Catholic Church, where he was parish priest before retiring, the Mass was streamed lived to relatives and friends in Ireland and Australia.
Long-time friend Sr John Bosco Kendall, RSJ, delivered the eulogy. “While he wasn’t frightened to die, he would have loved to have lived to celebrate his 70th ordination anniversary on June 4, enabling him to give thanks to God and to family and friends for the blessings of a long priestly life,” she said.
“He did once come very near to a bishopric, inheriting a pair of Cardinal Delargey’s shoes and Bishop Snedden’s bearskin hat,” Sr John Bosco said.
Born in Callan in County Kilkenny, a newly-ordained Fr Clancy came to Wellington archdiocese at the invitation of Archbishop O’Shea initially, and remained in the Palmerston North diocese when this was formed in 1980. Naturally a parish “man”, he did hospital chaplaincy work as well.
“Looking after people and empathising with them has been special to my life as a priest,” Fr Clancy said at his 60th ordination anniversary. “My life as a priest had never been anything but a joy. Even in the hardest times, I had never wanted to do anything else.”
As a child he always wanted to be a priest like his uncle, who was a priest in the United States. He was always grateful for his stable and loving family and for being with loving people. His credited his ability to remember people’s names to his dad. Many memories were shared at a vigil the night before the requiem.
Celebrating daily Mass, which he did right up until a few days before
he died, was central throughout his long and generous priestly life.