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Former Vocations Director and Parish Priest of St Helen’s, Crosby, for 24 years, Canon Albert Shaw, died on Tuesday 25 May aged 91 and in the 67th year of his priesthood. His priestly ministry fell into two broadly distinct phases: firstly, in priestly formation and the promotion of vocations, and then as a devoted parish priest at St Helen’s, Crosby, and was distinguished by a generosity of spirit, kindness and good humour.


Albert William Shaw was born on 20 January 1930 at Bamber Bridge, the son of John Aloysius and Amy Shaw (née Williams).  He attended St Mary’s School, Chorley, and Thornleigh College, Bolton.  At 18 he entered the seminary at St Joseph’s, Upholland, where he proved to be a popular member of the community.  He distinguished himself as a fine soloist in the various Gilbert and Sullivan productions that were staged and was a keen sportsman.  He was ordained priest in the college chapel on 12 June 1954 by Archbishop William Godfrey.


Following ordination, he was appointed as curate at St Robert Bellarmine, Bootle, where he served until September 1958.  He then returned to Upholland College to take up the post of Prefect of Discipline.  Monsignor John Butchard, a student in that period, observed that, ‘He was a very humane Prefect who did much to make our lives pleasant without challenging the status quo.  His spirituality shone through in a job that does not lend itself to that.’  


That spirituality found a more obvious outlet from January 1969, when he was appointed Spiritual Director at Upholland in succession to Father James English.  He remained in this post until July 1975, having been involved in the difficult transition period as the senior house moved to Ushaw and Upholland became exclusively a junior seminary.  Upon leaving the college he moved to St James, Bootle, combining his parish duties with the responsibility of being Vocations Director.


In September 1979 he was appointed for his first and only appointment as parish priest as he moved from Bootle to St Helen’s, Crosby.  He soon immersed himself in this busy and thriving parish and was renowned for his encouragement of singing during the liturgy.  His tenure also saw changes to the fabric of the church, with a new stone altar and ambo, and the building of a Lady Chapel.  Ecumenical activity was promoted in the parish, and the covenant establishing Churches Together in Crosby was signed in St Helen’s Church in the presence of Archbishop Derek Worlock and Bishop David Sheppard in 1984.


Many groups were established in the parish to represent the full richness of Catholic life.  By 2003 he had been the local dean for best part of twenty years and only increasing frailty forced his retirement.  Jim Dillon’s history of the parish, ‘80 Years On’, notes, ‘He was in his twenty-fourth year as parish priest and the parish was as lively and active as ever.  It was a warm, exciting and spiritually stimulating place to be.’


For his distinguished service in the archdiocese, he was appointed firstly as an honorary canon in October 1992 and then became a member of the Metropolitan Cathedral Chapter in 1998.

Throughout his retirement, until his final illness, he lived at Alston Court in Ainsdale.


His Funeral Mass was celebrated at St Helen’s Church, Crosby, on Tuesday 8 June followed by burial at Ainsdale Cemetery.

Obituary of Canon Albert Shaw

He was a very humane Prefect who did much to make our lives pleasant