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Father Pat's saying farewell to his flock; Popular priest is moving on to pastures new.

Byline: ANDY PASSANT andy.passant@eveninggazette.co.uk

A POPULAR priest who has helped the needy and entertained Teessiders with song is saying bye to the Boro.

Father Pat Keogh has been a familiar face in Middlesbrough and surrounding area for decades.

As well as helping "those who are hurting", he has officiated at numerous christenings, weddings and funerals.

He even travelled to Italy to conduct the ceremony when Teesside's Olympic long-jumper Chris Tomlinson married his actress bride Lucia Rovardi.

Originally from Limerick in Ireland, Father Pat has been in the Diocese of Middlesbrough for 39 years, most recently looking after St Joseph's and St Thomas More's.

Before that he was in Loftus and Brotton and also had a stint in Grangetown.

But he is now moving to Whitby, where is taking over at St Hilda's in Walker Street.

Hundreds of people were due to attend a send-off for him at Marton Country Club tonight.

He told the Gazette: "I am leaving St Joseph's after 18 years.

"Obviously it will be a big change for me because I love Middlesbrough.

"I really felt at home straight away.

I just think the people are fantastic."

Father Pat has shown a keen interest in Middlesbrough Football Club, and says one of his most memorable moments was being photographed with Boro legend Juninho.

He said: "I was always a big Boro supporter.

"When I came in '73 Jack Charlton had brought us up."

He has played on the hallowed Riverside turf during a charity game, and has also blessed the Holgate Wall.

Father Pat is modest about what he has achieved on Teesside, saying: "I am just a normal priest, helping people when they are hurting."

His dulcet Irish tones have also been heard as one quarter of the Chancy Brothers, four singing priests.

It may sound like a Father Ted spoof entry for the Eurovision Song Contest but "My Lovely Horse" is definitely not on their song sheet.

Instead their versions of folk songs have proved a hit with Teesside audiences.

Over the years they have played sell-out concerts and raised thousands for charity. But Father Pat once admitted: "I don't think we're up to X-Factor standards."

John Wilson, a friend of Father Pat's, said: "We think the Chancy Brothers have raised something like PS50,000 over the years for different charities.

"Father Pat is well-known for his natural rhythm on the tambourine."

He said Father Pat had built up a strong bond with the people of Middlesbrough.

"He will be missed by everyone as a friend, a priest and a supportive person."

John's wife Josephine is headteacher of St Joseph's Primary School and Father Pat has close links with the school.

Father Pat said he would cherish memories of his time on Teesside and would keep links with the area.

"I would like to thank all the wonderful people of Middlesbrough for their friendship and support."

CAPTION(S):

TIME TO GO: Middlesbrough priest Father Pat Keogh is moving on to Whitby. He is pictured with Juninho, below, and with The Chancey Brothers, above Main picture

gazettelive.co.uk/buyaphoto ref: 01290817

Main picture by IAN COOPER
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 5, 2012
Words:525
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