Garstang Catholic priest dies aged 76

Fr David Elder who spent 14 years as parish priest in Garstang.
Fr David Elder who spent 14 years as parish priest in Garstang.
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A former Garstang Catholic priest, who also taught physics and coached rugby, has died at the age of 76.


Fr David Elder passed away at his home near Lancaster in the 51st year of his priesthood.

The Bishop of Lancaster, the Rt Rev Paul Swarbrick, said Fr David had “spent 14 happy and grace-filled years” as parish priest of St Mary and St Michael Church in Garstang before retiring in 2016.

In a statement to the Diocese, Bishop Paul said it was “with sadness” that he had to announce the passing of a dearly-loved priest.

Fr David was born in Blackpool and was educated locally at St John Vianney Primary School and St Joseph’s College which was run by the Christian Brothers.

He then went to Ireland to study philosophy at St Patrick’s College in Maynooth. And after three years he was transferred to Seminaire St Sulpice in Paris to study theology, where all the lectures were in French and he spent “four exciting years.”

Having been ordained to the priesthood at St John Vianney Church in June 1968, Fr David was sent to St Michael’s College in Kirkby Lonsdale where he taught physics and coached rugby.

From there he went to Chelsea College of London University and then on to St Joseph’s College, Upholland, to teach maths.

For seven years Fr David served as director of the Diocesan Catholic Caring Services based in Preston.

In an article later he wrote: “By this time I had been a priest for 21 years and had never served in a parish.

That changed when he became parish priest of St Gregory’s in Workington. He later moved to St Patrick’s in Heysham and then, in 2002, to Garstang where he remained until he retired.

Fr David’s reception and Deanery Mass will be held at St Mary and St Michael’s Church at 7pm on Thursday September 5, with a Requiem Mass the following day at 11.30am. He will be buried in the church cemetery.