Monsignor William Mitchell


Mass Offered in Loving Memory of Monsignor William Mitchell (August 2011)
Remembering Mgr William Mitchell on the Golden Jubilee of his Ordination (August 2011)
St Michaels Parish remember Mgr William Mitchell on his Golden Jubilee (June 2011)
A Memorial to Monsignor William Mitchell (April 2010)

2001 – 2008 Mgr. William Mitchell

Mgr. Mitchell was born in 1936, after an education in Bristol he left to study law at Oxford. This was followed by studying for the priesthhod at St Sulpice in Paris. He was ordained in the Pro Cathedral in 1961 and then went onto Rome to study Canon Law.On his return he spent ten happy years as Bishop Rudderham’s Private Ssecretary. After an appointment at St Bernadette’s Church, Whitchurch he returned to Rome as the Rector of the Beda College.

Pope John paul I appointed hime to Prelate of Honour (Monsignor) in 1978. He loved the eternal city. He returned to the Clifton Diocese in 1987 and served Bishop Mervyn Alexander as Vicar General. He served in a few parishes including St John’s Bath and Administrator of Clifton Cathedral. In 2001 he came to Tetbury where he remained until his death 29th August 2008. Bishop Declan appointed him Vicar Judicial and Espiscopal Vicar for Matrimonial matters. His funeral was held in St Mary’s the Virgin Church, Tetbury; as Canon Roche said at the weekend Mass of his desth that the priests alone would fill St Michael’s Church. His brother said that he never threw anything away especially his friends. My family first met him when I was a child in.1968. My elder sister kept in touch with him over the years, I met up with him on his return to Bath in the mid 80’s and he remembered my name straight away.

He was much loved by my family and the many people that he met over the years; he was very kind in friendship to both my first husband who passed away in 2001 and to Graham who passed away during 2022. Mgr Mitchell is buried with his parents in Holy Souls Cemetery, Bristol. May he Rest In Peace with our Heavenly Father whom he loved and served diligently.

Mass Offered in Loving Memory of Monsignor William Mitchell

Click here to read the Order of Service held on Sunday 28th August, 2011

Remembering Mgr William Mitchell on the Golden Jubilee of his Ordination

After leaving St Brendan’s College, Bristol; Mgr William studied law at Corpus Christi College, Oxford; appropriate due to us celebrating the Solemnity of Corpus Christi today. Mgr then attended the seminary of St Sulpice, Paris prior to his ordination to the priesthood on 25th June 1961. He was ordained at Pro Cathedral, Clifton, Bristol, by Bishop Rudderham. After his ordination he studied Canon Law in Rome until 1963; upon his return he became a curate of the Pro Cathedral. His next appointment in 1964 took him to St Ambrose, the Bishop’s House, as Private Secretary to Bishop Joseph Rudderham a position he held for over 10 years. Following a three year spell as Parish Priest at St Bernadette, Whitchurch, Bristol; he then returned to Rome in 1975 as Rector at the Beda College. In 1978 Pope John Paul I appointed him Prelate of Honour (Monsignor). His ability to converse in perfectly accented Italian was a considerable asset. He loved his time in the Eternal City and kept in touch with many of his former students, visiting them in places as far apart as Korea and Papua New Guinea. His fondness for pasta and Alfa Romeo cars, were legacies of those happy years.

In 1987 he returned to the Clifton Diocese and was appointed Vicar General by Bishop Mervyn Alexander; a position he held until 2001. During this time he was Parish Priest at St John’s Bath, St Antony’s Henbury, Bristol and St Mary on the Quay, Bristol. In 1997 Bishop Alexander appointed him as the Administrator at the Cathedral Church of SS Peter and St Paul, Clifton Bristol. A role he held until 2001 when he moved to St Michaels Tetbury as Parish Priest.

In December 2002 Bishop Declan Lang appointed him Vicar Judical and Episcopal Vicar for Matrimonial Matters following the death of Monsignor Joseph Buckley.

He was a priest member of the Holy Sepulchre; he served the Clifton Diocese as a Trustee for many years. The cause of Christian Unity was close to his heart and his contribution to the ecumenical life of the diocese was enormous. During his life he served as a Mayor Chaplin; was invited to preach at various locations throughout the diocese which included Mayor’s call of prayer in Bath.

Ten years ago he invited me to the Celebration at Clifton Cathedral of his Ruby Jubilee; he said that it would be a very small gathering; well I wouldn’t agree with that! Both Bishop Mervyn and Bishop Declan were present along with other priests of the diocese and many friends he made during his time in the diocese. His family celebrated with him on the Sunday; however, the occasion was marred with sadness, his cousin, her husband and children were killed on their way up from the south to Bristol. Both Bishops spoke of his enormous contribution to the diocese and no matter how busy he was, he would always sit down with anyone who had a problem.

Five years ago when it was his forty fifth anniversary, we here at St Michaels celebrated with him with a luncheon party at Maggie Marum’s home which I know he enjoyed; his brother Michael also attended and it was a glorious afternoon.

We all wish that he was still here with us to celebrate his Golden Jubilee but he is with us spiritually and I am sure he would despite of the changes that have been made he would want us to continue together as God’s family in the parish he enjoyed for seven years.

We all have our memories of him but what shone through were his wonderful homilies, his ability to talk to people what ever their circumstance or tongue, he never turned away anyone in need. A warm and gentle man, with a twinkle in his eye; he loved children and retained a bit of a child in him.

He suffered with his heart for many years after his first heart attack many years ago, but he never complained. Today we give thanks for the many years he was a priest of the diocese and especially here in Tetbury for the last seven years of his life; he loved the countryside and the people of Tetbury.

Fifty years ago at his ordination he promised to preach the word, administer the sacraments and give pastoral care to those in his charge; he carried that tasked out well. Mgr William Mitchell is now in the kingdom of God out of pain and suffering. Good night, God Bless to a wonderful priest and friend until we meet again.

St Michaels Parish remembers Mgr William Mitchell on his Golden Jubilee

Our Parish Mass on Sunday 26th June 2011 was offered for Mgr William whose anniversary of his ordination was on Saturday 25th June 1961. Fr Pat O’Donovan was celebrating Mass for us in Fr Michael Davies absence; he started his homily talking about his friendship with Mgr William confirming to us that he was a kind and gentle man. With that the organ made noises, the organist did not touch the pedals or keys, he looked at it and turned off the switch and it made a couple of small noises and then stopped. Fr Pat looked up above and said “Ok, Bill we know you are listening to us”! This proves that our loved ones who have passed away are still with us every day. Knowing Mgr William he was probably looking down on us and having a good old laugh. Please click here to see the order of the service.

A Memorial to Monsignor William Mitchell – RIP

Mgr William Mitchell, also known as Father Bill to many who knew him was a much loved priest of St Michaels Parish in Tetbury, Gloucestershire for 7 years. His untimely death in 2008 was a shock not just to our parish and his family, but to the town of Tetbury and the Diocese of Clifton. The students studying to become priests at The Beda Seminary in Rome where he was Rector for nine years and his many friends and parishioners of previous parishes he had served throughout the Clifton Diocese.

My family have known Mgr for over 40 years; he was a true friend to us all especially during difficult times, as well as celebrations. Mgr was a great support to me when my first husband Terry died in 2001. He also concelebrated the funeral mass for my father at the church of Our Lady and St Alphege, Bath. He was delighted for me when I met my husband Graham, that I had found happiness again. He attended the Blessing of our Marriage in Bath in 2007. He was due to perform the Ceremony of Convalidation of our Marriage, after Graham’s annulment had been granted, on return from his holiday. He often joined us for dinner and even attended a family BBQ where Graham’s family took him to their hearts. It was after Sunday Mass, when we had a birthday cake to celebrate his 70th Birthday that Maggie said we should have a birthday dinner, Graham was only too pleased to offer and we were delighted to hold a dinner party for Mgr’s 70th Birthday at Graham’s home in Malmesbury. I gave him a balloon with ‘70’ on to take home; I did think about tying it to the gate at St Michaels but thought better of it!

Mgr William was held in such high esteem that the funeral had to be held in St Mary’s because as Canon Roche said the priests alone would fill St Michaels. Due to his contribution to the ecumenical life of the diocese which was enormous, it was very fitting that his funeral was held at St Mary’s Parish Church. Mgr was a very humble man, he never forgot anyone and as his brother, Michael said he was not of the throw away society especially his friends.

Mgr was a very hard worker in whatever task he took on but he was never too busy to speak to anyone and would always sit down and chat if someone had a problem. He had a wonderful ability with words; his intelligence and deep faith shone through his homilies. Always with a twinkle in his eye he retained a bit of the child in him, when I was tidying out his desk drawer after becoming Parish Administrator I found some conkers, a hobby of his going back years! I also came across a big black spider made of felt; I jumped yards and threw it to the bottom of a book case! I am sure he was looking down at me laughing! Michaels’ words were very true when he said he did not throw anything away; you wouldn’t believe the amount of paperwork that Carol and I found that was ‘filed’ away just in case!

There were many memories of Mgr William on the Diocesan website after his death including messages from Bishop Rudderham’s family with whom he had kept in touch and attended family weddings and Christenings after the Bishop’s death.

Here are some of the kind words written:

  • “Mgr’s unfailing gentleness, his kindly spiritual counsel and help, his pastoral skills and deep-seated theological learning and above all the sanctity that so evidently shone from him must qualify him for a very high place in heaven.”
  • “You were always sure of a good welcome – hospitality was a gift he had in abundance.”
  • “His passing was a shock, our loss hard to accept. His sermons were a joy to hear and be informed. In my life I count him among the best we have had in this Diocese.”
  • “It is five years since I first met Fr Bill but it feels as if he has always been there. Kind and gentle but with a wonderful wit that graced our table on a number of occasions. He has been a wonderful friend who has supported and inspired me. We will miss him deeply but who could ever forget such a man, he is truly a man of God.”

Many people have a lot of memories of Mgr William, a wonderful priest and friend to many and whilst we have these memories we will never forget him and neither should we. We should always give thanks for all that he has given to us, this parish, his previous parishioners, the diocese, the Catholic Church as a whole and not forgetting his family and many friends.

As we remember Mgr William Mitchell, perhaps with sadness let us also remember that he is now at peace and out of pain enjoying a well earned rest with God whom he loved and served diligently in the kingdom of heaven.

Eternal rest grant unto Him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in Peace, Amen.

Elaine Wright
Parish Administrator
30th April 2010