'Devastated' Hartlepool family denied permission to hold funeral at mum's Catholic church

A family were so upset at being refused permission to hold their mother’s funeral at her local Catholic church that they held the service at a church belonging to another denomination.

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 12:53 pm

Devout Catholic Doris O’Dell’s children wanted her final send off to be held at her beloved St Mary’s Church, on the Headland, where the family is from and where she had been a parishioner all of her life.

She died aged 91 on December 12.

Her son, Patrick O’Dell, says Father Michael Griffiths, who is in the head of Hartlepool’s Catholic community, stated the church was closed due to the pandemic and that the funeral would have to be held at St Joseph’s Church, in St Paul’s Road.

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Patrick O'Dell outside St Mary's Catholic Church, with a photograph of his late mum Doris. Picture by FRANK REID

The family were so upset that they held the funeral instead at St Hilda’s, on the Headland, which is a Church of England church.

Patrick, 56, said: “St Mary’s was her church. She was christened there, had her first communion there, she was married there.

"We all went to St Mary’s, all the family. It was her life really.”

He said mass still takes place there twice a week and that he attended a funeral at St Mary’s just three weeks earlier.

St. Mary's Catholic Church Durham Street, on the Headland.

Patrick claims: “I said ‘is there no compassion here?’ She never set foot in St Joseph’s.

“We wanted mam to go from the Headland because we are Headland people.

"The family are devastated. It’s really hurt us.

"We went with the Church of England because we had to.”

The late Doris O'Dell who was 91 when she passed away. Picture by FRANK REID

Doris had four children, six grandchildren, four great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

Up until the last few weeks of her life, Patrick would take her to St Mary’s from Rossmere Care Home, where she lived.

He said: “I used to take her in her wheelchair. It was the highlight of her week.”

Doris also previously raised money for the church by holding tombolas and raffles.

Patrick praised St Hilda’s for accommodating the family, adding: “Reverend Steve bent over backwards.”

The Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle declined to comment.

The Mail has also tried to contact Father Michael for comment.

A sign outside St Mary’s states that Sunday mass takes place at 11am with other services “as announced”.

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