The Hartlepool man who had an Ethiopian mission

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IN 1959, Rev Father Patrick Redmond had around 2,800 parishioners at St Teresa’s in Hartlepool.

But his ancestor Daniel O’Connell had led the way when it came to achievements. He was Ireland’s first MP and the man who won Catholic emancipation for England in 1829.

It all meant a history to be proud of but Father Redmond had achievements of his own.

Not many people get to meet a country’s emperor as well as a Pope. Father Redmond did in a career which started in the North East, headed round the world, and then came closer to home again.

After training at Ushaw College in Durham, he went to the Venerable English College in Rome where he obtained his degrees.

Next came a period as secretary to Bishop Thormon who was Bishop of Hexham and Jarrow.

He was later appointed curate of a church in Jarrow. He stayed there throughout the Second World War.

He then became an Army chaplain and a liaison officer who worked with the internees and prisoners of war in Palestine.

By the early 1940s, he was in Ethiopia as the representative of Pope Pius XII and it was down to him to make new arrangements for the Catholic church after the expulsion of the Italians.

Hundreds of Christian priests were needed in the country to help restore Christianity to a people cut off from the main body of the church.

But this was no easy task and a meeting at the highest level was needed.

Permission for Christianity to return could only come from Emperor Haile Selassie and Father Redmond was granted an audience with him.

He did well. Our Northern Daily Mail report on Father Redmond, in 1959, said: “An amicable agreement was reached.”

But his mission hadn’t ended. He was still part of a world at war and was part of the Italian campaign which had an ironic end to it.

He was part of the 61st Infantry Brigade which was one of the first to enter Rome and take possession of the English College - the very same college where he had studied not long earlier.

When he arrived in Rome, he was given an immediate private audience with the Pope and was able to report on his mission in Ethiopia.

As the war came to its conclusion, Father Redmond ended Army life as a senior chaplain and returned to Ushaw College where he became a professor of scripture and theology.

He also spent a month as a relief curate at a church in New York and then moved to Owton Manor in Hartlepool, at a time when the area was expanding.

Can anyone recall Father Redmond and his many achievements. We would love to hear more about him.

Get in touch by contacting Chris Cordner on (01429) 239377 or email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk