Falkirk mourns loss of priest

Father Thomas Hanlon - 1927-2012
Father Thomas Hanlon - 1927-2012

Thomas Hanlon’s ministry as a priest of the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh was divided between the study and teaching of Sacred Scripture and pastoral ministry, primarily as parish priest of St Anthony’s, Rumford.

He was made a canon of the Cathedral Chapter in 1994 becoming provost in 1996.

Thomas Hanlon was born in Slamannan where his father was manager of the local co-op. He was educated at Slamannan Primary and thereafter at St Modan’s High School, Stirling, before he began his studies for the priesthood at Blairs College.

In 1946 he transferred to the Scots College, Rome, being part of the group who re-established the college community after the Second World War.

He was ordained a priest on March 29, 1952, in the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome. Returning that year to Scotland, he served for a year as assistant priest at St Margaret’s, Loanhead, and then went back to Rome to study Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute – the first priest from Scotland to do so.

He then taught Scripture at St Andrew’s College, Drygrange, and subsequently became chaplain at Craiglockhart College of Education.

In 1975 he became parish priest of St Anthony’s, Rumford, near Polmont, where he was responsible for building a new and bigger church building and even more importantly for developing a strong community of faith.

Eventually, at the age of 82, failing health forced him to retire. But he remained in the church house cared for by his faithful housekeeper, Ann McKiernan, whilst the parish came under the care of the clergy of St Francis Xavier’s, Falkirk.

Thomas Hanlon was a scholarly man who also had many practical skills, giving hands-on leadership when the new St Anthony’s church was being built in the 1980s.

He enjoyed shooting and fishing and for many years kept Kerry Blue dogs who would terrify any potential intruder. But first and foremost he was a faithful and diligent minister of the Church. He is survived by six nephews and nieces. May he rest in peace.

Mgr Philip Kerr V