1930 Born Uddingston
Our Lady’s High School Motherwell
1945 St Mary’s College Blairs Aberdeen
St Peter’s College Cardross Dunbartonshire
National Service with the RAF
1952 – 1956 St Sulpice Paris
1956 29 June Ordained in Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral Motherwell
by the Bishop of Motherwell
St. Teresa’s Newarthill
St. Peter’s Hamilton
1966-1972 St. Joseph’s Blantyre
1972-1999 St. Ninian’s Hamilton
St. Teresa’s Newarthill (Second Time)
St. Joseph’s Blantyre (Second Time)
Retired to St Mary’s Hamilton
Retired to St Peter’s Hamilton
2004 – 2006 Little Sisters Robroyston
Bishop Devine preached the following homily at the Funeral Mass for Fr. Darroch in
St. Joseph’s Blantyre on 17th September 2009:
At 9 a.m. last Friday morning, 11th September, here came to an end in earthly terms, the life of our brother, Fr. Francis Darroch, well into his 80th year of life, a life that had begun in his native town and beloved parish of St. John the Baptist in (Uddingston on 16th May 1930. After his primary education in his home town, he attended Our Lady’s High School in Motherwell before going to the national junior seminary in Blairs in 1945 where he was to remain for the next three years. He must have done well there, for he was the subdecano in his final year in Blairs in 1948. He then went to St. Peter’s College, Cardross before leaving the seminary for a couple of years, doing his National Service with the RAF. But by 1952 he was back as a seminarian again, becoming a student at St. Sulpice in Paris for the next four years, then being ordained for the Diocese of Motherwell on 29th June by Bishop Scanlan in 1956. Of the eight priests ordained for the diocese that year, four are still with us, and for some time have been retired priests of the diocese, namely Mgr. Jack Burns, Mgr. Henry Docherty, Fr. Michael O’Leary and Fr. Brendan Smith.
Frank’s first pastoral appointment was to the new parish of St. Teresa’s in Newarthill, his parish priest being the late and great Mgr. Jack Gillen who was the Vicar General here (from when I came to the diocese and for the next eleven years until his retirement in 1994). Both of them had a huge affection for the place, as will become evident a little later in the life of Fr. Darroch. In fact, Mgr. Gillen never wanted to be anywhere else but in Newarthill for the rest of his life, although he did manage to find a lot of affection for St. Columbkille’s in Rutherglen over the final decade of his ministry in the diocese.
(The point that I am trying to make here is that my predecessor, Bishop Thomson would often tell me that the worst day of his life each year was when he had to make changes. That still remains a great challenge for me. That is why I have had a mind to make as few changes as possible over the past few years when we have had so few new priests.)
After nine very happy years in Newarthill, Frank was transferred to a rather more difficult appointment as an assistant in St. Peter’s in Hamilton. He was there for a year before being assigned for six years to St. Joseph’s here in Blantyre from 1966 to 1972. I wanted to highlight these appointments for a special reason, as Frank would return to both of those parishes at a later date. He then spent seven years in St. Ninian’s, Hamilton.
He received his first appointment as a parish priest of the Diocese in 1979, then going on to one of the more senior parishes of the Diocese, Our Lady and St. Anne’s in Hamilton, where he was to remain for the following thirteen years. In the main he much enjoyed his time there and that was where he was when I came here twenty-six years ago. At that time he was also the Diocesan Pilgrimage Director, a role that he greatly enjoyed, and for fourteen years he also served as the Diocesan Treasurer.
But then about nine years after coming to Our Lady and St. Anne’s, Frank began to tell me that he had some medical issues and that the demands of looking after such a big parish as St. Anne’s were becoming too burdensome. He asked me to send him back to Newarthill. I did so, but it was not such a good choice, as the Newarthill that he had remembered from thirty years before no longer existed.
To be fair to him, Frank also acknowledged his mistake in asking me for such a change. He then made one final request — to send him back here to Blantyre, a parish and a community for which he had great affection, not least as the Order of the Knights of St. Columba have such a strong presence here. Tragically, it was here that there began to be evident that something was very wrong for Fr. Darroch, leading to his early retirement from the active ministry as far back as 1998.
He then spent a couple of years of early retirement with the late Mgr. Alex Devanny in St. Mary’s in Hamilton, before going on to do the same with Fr. Leo Muldoon in St. Peter’s for the next four years. He then became chaplain to St. Joseph’s Home in Robroyston from 2004 — 2006. It was in 2006 that his faculties began to become visibly impaired and he had to resign from his role as chaplain to St. Joseph’s Home quite soon after what would have been the last memorable day for him when he celebrated his Golden Jubilee of ordination in the church of St. Columbkille’s in Rutherglen towards the end of June of that year.
I wanted to specify the church so as to express my thanks to Canon Gibbons for all the many times over the past decade or so when he brought Frank for lunch to St. Columbkille’s virtually every Tuesday which continued until Frank was in no position to go anywhere anymore.
Our readings for today illustrate something of the pastoral service and ministry that Frank offered to the diocese for 44 years. He touched the lives of many thousands of people and touched those lives with grace and gentleness, for Frank was ever a gentle and courteous person. He lived out the values of the eight Beatitudes in an exemplary manner, for Frank has little or no interest in wealth or power. He was a meek and gentle person, someone who had a preferential willingness to be ever on the side of the poor and oppressed. It was so fitting that he died in the Care of the Little Sisters of the Poor. On behalf of the Diocese, I thank all who had a care for him in Robroyston over the past five years.
Of course, I will remember him for other things, not least his great affection for the Grotto in Lourdes and for all those who worked hard to send new pilgrims to Lourdes, especially those who would go there for the one and only time. For sure, like all the priests ordained from France, now a very small number, he had such a great affection for France and not least some of its more famous wines!
Finally, I offer our condolences to his sister Patricia and younger relatives and to all who knew him best and loved him most.
As ever, I end by commending his good soul to the Lord as together we pray:-‘Eternal rest grant unto him, 0 Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace’. Amen.