‘Model’ priest Canon Ashe dies aged 88

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A RETIRED Motherwell priest has died following a battle with cancer.

James Canon Ashe died at the age of 88 in the early hours of yesterday (Tuesday), having moved recently to St Andrew’s Hospice from the priest’s house at St Bernadette’s Church.

A cousin of movie star Gregory Peck, Canon Ashe retired in April last year following almost 60 years of pastoral study.

Originally from Kerry in Ireland, he was appointed to the Diocese of Motherwell in 1953 soon after graduating from All Hallow’s College, Dublin.

His first charge was St Ignatius’s in Wishaw and he moved to St Benedict’s in Easterhouse before arriving in Motherwell 30 years ago.

He first served the parish of St Brendan’s in Muirhouse until 1992 when he moved to St Bernadette’s in Logans Road. He became a canon in 1996.

At the time of his retiral he said: “The only job I ever wanted was to be a priest and I have very much enjoyed all my years in the priesthood.”

Bishop of Motherwell Joseph Devine paid tribute, saying: “Canon Ashe was a good, loving, caring man who lived his Christian faith with great joy and cheerfulness. He gave so much to so many for so long with no regard for self – the model priest in every respect.

“Had Hollywood discovered him – as it did his cousin Gregory Peck - he would have been cast in every movie requiring the role of a priest.

“The world is a better place for his contribution.”

Arrangements are being made for Canon Ashe’s funeral service, after which his body will be taken to his native Ireland for burial.