Napier mourns passing of Monsignor Hannigan

Napier’s longest serving priest, Monsignor Timothy Hannigan, 81, died on Sunday.

Parishioners watched in shock as he collapsed at the altar during mass, moments after baptising a baby.

A doctor and nurses in the church rushed to help but he died by the altar of the church where he had served for 34 years.

Originally from Ireland, he emigrated to New Zealand in 1956. He worked as a priest in Wellington, Levin, Palmerston North and Ohura before moving to Napier to become parish priest at St Patrick’s in 1979.

In the 1970s he and Bishop Peter Cullinane spent time working together at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre.

“He was a bright person who spread his brightness everywhere he went”, Cullinane said of Hannigan

“He was a big-minded man with a big heart – a man among his people and an inspiration to us all.”

For some time he was the he was Vicar General of the diocese. When Cullinane was out of the country, Hannigan, working in Napier, took care of the Diocese.

Cullinane said that when he came back home, Hannigan always had a few stories for him.

“He had that Irish story-telling rhetoric. It didn’t matter to him if it was slightly embellished.”

“His life was littered with stories and some of them actually happened.”

Hannigan was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2000 for services to the community, including his work with the sick and elderly.

Hannigan’s funeral will take place today, Friday 3 May at noon in St Patrick’s Church. Former St Patrick’s parish priest, Paul Kerridge said  brother and sister and two nieces will arrive for the funeral, which will be held at

Kerridge  said people would be coming from all over the country and the diocese had considered staging it at a larger venue.

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News category: New Zealand.

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