John Williams was born 1935 in Hulme, one of 4 children to a Polish father and Irish mother.
At St Bede's, he was in same class at school as Matt Busby's son, Sandy and was coached by Johnny Carey for 6 years. He was selected to play for England Boys and his first game for England was at Old Trafford. While in 6th form, he became Captain of England Boys and led the team on a very successful tournament to Belgium.
John became very friendly with the curate at their parish church of St Edward's Rusholme. This was Fr Charles Mulholland who encouraged him and his two good friends to become priests. Ultimately, as Fr John says
I had to choose between signing for United or signing for the Bishop (Marshall)
He went to the seminary at Upholland and was ordained 11 June 1960. On the same day, he performed his first wedding for his good friend Terry Kelly. This was a coincidence as their invitations to each other had crossed in the post.
His first parish was St Mary's, Denton where a new church was being built. One of his first tasks was to help with the fundraising and did so with enthusiasm and persueded business donors to give some amazing prizes. The new church, which revelled in "Glass-in-concrete Windows" opened 25th June 1963.
( Fr K Walsh, Fr T O'Neil Elliott and Fr John Williams)
In 1964 he was moved to St Margaret Mary, New Moston where he joined Fr Vincent Sweeney who he had already known as a curate in his home parish. It only lasted 12 months. Bishop Holland arrived on visitation: He moved Fr Sweeney to St Chads and Fr Herbert Power bacame PP at St Margaret Mary's. This was not to be for long either. Sadly before major surgery, he had to take a months holiday. The plane crashed on the way to Tenerife and Fr Power and 2 priest friends were killed.
1967-71 Professor of catechetics at St Bede's College. He also played for staff football team and ran the Under 14's team.
We won every trophy in Manchester - completely swept the board in 4 years. Before I left the staff wanted to know the secret of my success. I came clean, unknown to anyone, I'd had Paddy Crerand & Nobby Stiles coaching them during those 4 years.
1971-75 Curate at St Bernadette, Whitefield. This was also his introduction in to running a club, and of course ran the boys' football team
1975-80 Curate St Mary, Levenshulme where the parish priest Fr Frank Occleston - known as the "Mad Occ" of whom there are many tales. Both the Fr Occ and the Irish housekeeper had a dog, a doberman and a boxer.
When parishioners came to put mass offerings through the letter box, the two dogs would set off down the hall to bite their fingers off.
Prior experience in running a club now came is useful again. The mainly Irish parishioners many of whom were in the bulding trade built the parish centr with Fr John buying all the building materials
1980-91 Parish Priest at St Bede's Church, Bury. Yet another parish known for its cabaret club. Another parish centre/club that needed major renovations at a huge cost with big loan all paid off before he was to leave. The parish included Faiirfield hospital, St Bede's school and St Gabriel's school all of which needed his time and commitment. And finally Bishop Patrick Kelly arrived on visitation. He admired the church, the presbytery and the club which is now a Parish Social Club. 12 months later he sends for him and an then asks him to go to St Luke's where the work is needed to be started all over again.
Fr John Williams arrived at St Luke's in 1991 to modern church with a leaking roof and in need of a new parish centre. Plans, negotiations with the diocese and funding all had to be managed before work could commence. The catalogue of building work and alterations has been extensive.
- Replacement of the church roof
- Re-ordering of the sanctuary
- Building of the new parish centre
- New school, expansion of the school and replacement of temporary buildings
- South and North stained glass windows
Fr John Williams retired from St Lukes 31st August 2018. At that time he was both the longest serving parish priest and oldest serving parish priest in the Diocese of Salford.