Service Marks 40th Anniversary of Crosby priest in Northern Ireland Troubles
A special memorial service has been held to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of an army chaplain from Crosby in the Northern Ireland Troubles.
Former St. Mary’s College pupil Father Gerry Weston, who was killed by a bomb in February 1972, is buried at SS Peter and Paul Church on Liverpool Road.
Family, friends and former colleagues of Father Weston - including staff and governors from St. Mary’s and members of the school’s Combined Cadet Force - gathered at the church to pay their respects and lay a wreath at his grave.
Father Gerard Edward Weston, who was born in 1933, was ordained by Archbishop Heenan in 1960. He joined the British Army in 1966 as a chaplain, serving in Germany, the Persian Gulf, Kenya and Northern Ireland, achieving the rank of Captain.
During the height of the troubles, he frequently entered the difficult areas of Turf Lodge and Ballymurphy alone, talking with local people in an attempt to reduce tension.
This placed Father Weston in considerable personal danger, especially as a rumour had been circulating saying that a soldier was involved in military activities disguised as a priest.
For his own safety, his commanding officer eventually ordered his withdrawal. However, his actions were officially recognised when he was awarded the MBE for gallantry on 15th February 1972.
Just seven days later, Father Weston and six civilians were killed when a huge bomb exploded outside the Officers’ Mess of the 16th Parachute Regiment in Aldershot. He was just 38 years old.
The Official IRA claimed responsibility for the attack, in retaliation for Bloody Sunday three weeks earlier.
However, public revulsion at the bombing was in part responsible for the organisation calling a ceasefire three months later, and it subsequently disbanded.
St. Mary’s College Head of History and CCF Contingent Commander, Niall Rothnie, who has written extensively on military matters, said: “This event enabled us to pay tribute to a remarkable man and to remember the other victims of one of the worst atrocities of the whole Northern Ireland conflict.”
St Mary's and British Legion representatives are pictured with Father Weston's brother Paul Weston and sister Mary Tunney at the memorial service conducted by Bishop Tom Williams and Monsignor John Furnival.
A representative of St. Mary's College Combined Cadet Force lays a wreath at Father Weston's grave.