Obituary: Father John Muldoon, parish priest and communications director

Father John Muldoon: Parish priest who was a prime mover in setting up Flourish, the official journal of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow

Father John Muldoon: Parish priest who was a prime mover in setting up Flourish, the official journal of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow

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Born: 25 December, 1929, in Glasgow. Died: 17 November, 2015, in Glasgow, aged 85

The Rev John Muldoon, who has died peacefully at Saint Joseph’s Home in Glasgow, where he lived in retirement, was a prime mover in establishing Flourish, the official journal of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow. He was aged 85.

The late Cardinal Thomas Winning was anxious to have his own diocesan newspaper independent of the established Catholic press in Scotland and he allocated this task to Monsignor Brendan Murphy, whom he promoted to Vicar Episcopal for Communications.

Father Muldoon was a close friend and confidante of the monsignor, who was widely recognised as one of the then Archbishop Winning’s “fixers” and he became a director of the company set up to run the newspaper.

It was a major task putting Flourish on its feet in the face of apathy which was widespread amongst Glasgow’s parish priests, many of whom saw the sale and distribution of the newspaper through their church bookstalls as an additional burden and inconvenience on top of their many other responsibilities.

With a Papal Visit to Scotland on the horizon in 1982 and the newspaper struggling to survive after the sudden departure of a key editorial executive, Monsignor Murphy and Father Muldoon embarked on a mission to save the ailing publication.

Together they set out on a charm offensive which involved a great deal of persuasion through entertaining to recruit established Catholic journalists such as Tom Cassidy and the late Hugh Farmer and accountant Colin O’Hara.

These exceptional meetings took place mainly in Monsignor Murphy’s dining room at Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Cardonald and at St Peter’s in Bellsmyre, Dumbarton, where Father Muldoon was assistant priest to Father Nicholas Rowan.

Soon the two priests had the support of the parish priests to sell the paper plus journalistic volunteers with the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm to reinvigorate Flourish.

They did so in time to produce regular successful monthly editions and a sell-out souvenir issue reporting the first visit of a Pope to the United Kingdom in 400 years.

Over time, a number of up and coming priests nominated by Cardinal Winning, including Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, the current Archbishop of Glasgow, Fathers Joe Mills and the late Fathers Noel Barry and John McEwan, became contributors.

Personalities from the world of politics, Scotland’s First Minister-to-be Alex Salmond and the controversial George Galloway MP, contributed columns to the paper.

Father Muldoon did his Flourish “fixing” work quietly and without fuss or interference in the editorial content of the newspaper. He was Monsignor Murphy’s right-hand man.

He was born in Glasgow on Christmas Day, 1929, and ordained on 29 June, 1959, by Archbishop Donald Campbell at St Andrew’s Cathedral on Clyde Street, Glasgow.

Father Muldoon was educated at St Joseph’s Primary Glasgow (1935-1941); St Mungo’s Academy (1941-1946); Campion House Osterley (1951-1953); St Peter’s College Cardross (1953-1959), where he later became spiritual director from 1969-1971.

Father Muldoon had a long series of priestly appointments: 1959-1967 Assistant Priest St Andrew’s Cathedral; 1967-1969: Assistant Priest St Charles’, Kelvinside; 1971-1971: Assistant Priest St Saviour’s, Govan; 1971-1974: Assistant Priest Our Holy Redeemer, Clydebank; 1974-1987: Assistant Priest St Peter’s Dumbarton; 198701992: Parish Priest St Leo’s, Dumbreck, and 1992-1998: Parish Priest St Joachim’s, Carmyle.

He retired in 1998 and took up residence at St Joseph’s Home, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor at Robroyston, where the funeral mass took place on Tuesday, 24 November with burial thereafter at a family plot at St Kentigern’s Cemetery, Glasgow.

Archbishop Tartaglia said: “Father Muldoon was a well-liked and committed priest who served in parishes across the Archdiocese. His ministry was much appreciated by the people he served, even many years later. He will be greatly missed.”

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