On this Remembrance Sunday, as we pray for the fallen in both world wars, in particular let’s not forget the priests who were chaplains to the armed forces who were killed in combat while bringing Jesus in the sacraments to the wounded soldiers.
The first Catholic chaplain believed to have been killed in the first world war was Fr. William Finn who was from Hull and the former assistant priest at the old cathedral in Middlesbrough. He accompanied troops in the Gallipoli landings in 1915 in which the allies attempted to land on the beaches of the Dardenelles peninsula. Unfortunately, the strategy went horribly wrong meaning the soldiers ran off the SS River Clyde, an old steam collier, into a hail of bullets. Fr. Finn defied orders to stay on the collier and went to minister to the dying troops. He was hit four times whilst giving absolution to a dying soldier. Fr. Finn was awarded the Military Cross and his brother later built the Sacred Heart Church in Hull in his honour.
We give thanks to almighty God for the dedication of priests like Fr. Finn who sacrificed his own life to prepare soldiers for meeting their Eternal Father.