News from around the Archdiocese of Liverpool



Cath Pic Jubilee Issue-1 Catholic Pic November 2021-1

Joseph Brendan Rice was born on 11 July 1942 in Liverpool, the son of John and Mary Rice (née Malone).  He was baptised by Father Thomas Mangan at St Michael’s, West Derby Road, Liverpool, on 26 July 1942.  


He attended St Joseph’s School and St Anselm’s College, both in Birkenhead.  When he was eight years old he wrote an essay entitled ‘What I want to be when I grow up’.  His conclusion was that he wanted either to be a priest or a lion tamer.  Upon leaving school he initially took neither option, but began work as a brewer’s clerk, eventually gaining promotion within the company at a new brewery in Runcorn.  His journeys to work took him past a church that had Mass at a convenient time and he began to attend Mass daily.  


Not surprisingly thoughts about a priestly vocation began to surface and he approached Father Kevin O’Connor, the curate in his home parish of St Michael’s, who told him that he had often thought of that possibility himself.  Brendan began training for the priesthood at Ushaw College in September 1976.  He was ordained priest at St Michael’s, Liverpool, on 18 July 1981.


Following ordination he was appointed as assistant priest at St Alban’s, Warrington, where he was to remain for seven years.  He then served briefly in the North Liverpool Team ministry based at St Sylvester’s, Liverpool.  In August 1989 he received his first appointment as parish priest as he moved to Saints Peter and Paul, Kirkby.  After nine years he returned to the city in September 1998 to take up an appointment as parish priest at St Oswald’s, Old Swan.  Four years later he took on additional responsibility for the parishes of St Brendan and St Cuthbert in Old Swan.


In September 2007 he left parish ministry to become part of the Irenaeus Project – a project set up in the archdiocese to help people recognise the presence of God in their lives by providing opportunities for prayer and reflection.  He spent eight happy years engaged in the work of parish missions and retreats, days of reflection, spiritual direction and many other activities promoting spiritual development.


Following his retirement in 2015, due to ill health, he moved to Rockmount Close, Woolton.  In the last few years he loved his chaplaincy role with the Notre Dame Sisters and being near to his family.  He died suddenly on Friday 17 September 2021 aged 79 years and in the 41st year of his priesthood.


Blessed with an extrovert personality, he loved people and was never happier than telling stories and laughing at his own jokes.  He delighted in meeting new friends and keeping in touch with old ones.


Brendan had a particular rapport with young people.  His irreverent sense of humour and his willingness to listen to their stories without judgment or condemnation made him very special to them.  Underlying his outgoing personality lay a deep wisdom and he was much sought after as a spiritual guide.  He will be much missed by those who knew and loved him.


Father Stephen Pritchard remembers his work with Animate Youth Ministries, ‘I first got to know Brendan as a young person of 16.  He was a mentor, guide and friend.  I lived with him in St Oswald’s and he came to live with me and the Animate Team at Lowe House.  He had an amazing gift with young people, whether in Lourdes, at World Youth Day or through Animate.  He would often say, “I don’t know why these young people keep in touch with me?”  But was always delighted when they did.  A group of young people in Cologne raised £100 in tribute to Brendan after learning that he had died.  He continued today doing what he did for me decades before.’


Father Brendan’s body was received into St Michael’s Church, West Derby Road, on Monday 4 October with Mass celebrated by Archbishop Malcolm.  His Funeral Mass was celebrated by Bishop Tom Neylon on Tuesday 5 October at St Oswald’s Church, Old Swan prior to burial at Yew Tree Cemetery, West Derby, Liverpool.

Obituary of Rev Brendan Rice

He loved people and was never happier than telling stories and laughing at his own jokes

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