Diocese Mourns Death of Oldest Deacon in the Diocese
Deacon Ted Proclaims the Gospel at Mass to celebrate his hundredth birthday
Please pray for Deacon Ted Connelly who died recently at the age of 102, a deacon of Northampton Diocese who was living in the parish of Camberley and Bagshot in Surrey in this Diocese. Not only was he one of the first deacons in England and Wales, being ordained in 1976, but he was probably the oldest living Latin Rite Deacon in the world.
Ted was born 10th January 1914. The family joke is that his birth started the First World War. He was born to Hannah and John and was one of four boys. He lived in very poor conditions in the notorious “back to back” houses of Birmingham. Only 12 such houses remain as a museum near the city centre. The rest were knocked down as slums 50 years ago.
He was a bright boy and got a place in the Catholic Grammar School of St. Phillips which still exists today, albeit in a different form. He ended up as head boy and captain of football, cricket and athletics. He was academically very intelligent and his Bishop gave this poor boy a scholarship to Birmingham University where he got a first class honours degree in Chemistry.
He was courting his beloved, Dolly, when he moved to ICI Paints Division in Slough. They were married for over 50 years with two children, David and Mary. Ted absolutely adored her. He commuted back and forth to Birmingham whilst courting until they married just before the Second World War. As a research chemist working on camouflage paints for warplanes he was not called up and ended up in the Home Guard.
Ted was a senior manager in research and development at ICI. After 30 years he retired early and began his next career.
From home Dolly and Ted began making shopping bags and handbags. They designed and made the templates. Dolly did most of the sewing. The marketing was by word of mouth and friends and family were inveigled into becoming unpaid salespersons.....and so it continued for over 10 years.
And so to his last career! In his late fifties, Ted had a spiritual transformation where his religion moved from theology to an experiential relationship with God. He talked to his son David about meeting his “Dad” who was God the Father whom Jesus also called Dad (Abba). Quite amazing really when you understand the brokenness of his own biological father who had been an alcoholic and had abandoned his family to poverty. Fr. David Woodward called him to be a deacon and was ordained as one of the first permanent deacons in the country together with three others from the parish on 9th July 1976. He retired from active ministry when he was ninety!!!!! Ted officiated at marriages, funerals and baptisms. He was active in the SVP and was a regular hospital visitor. He also preached regularly and typed out every one.
Ted was a man of huge determination and iron will. He was also a gregarious, passionate man with a generous heart. As he has got older, he has grow ever closer to his Lord and you would find him reading the scriptures whenever people visited him. He delighted in Mass and the Eucharist which he received every day. He was loved by many. He was a great and a holy man “in whom the Lord is well pleased”.
A full life well lived. May he rest in peace.