Father Mike Gwinnell, 1924-2020

Author: Georgina Livesey

Picture: Facebook

Father Mike Gwinnell, 1924-2020

Georgina Livesey remembers Father Mike Gwinnell, a wonderful servant of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, who died on December 13 2020 aged 96.

In 1991, Fr. Mike Gwinnell became our new parish priest at St Ann 's, Kingston Hill.

He brought with him not only his secretary and house keeper from his old parish at St Cecilia's, North Cheam, but also a substantial number of clients for his special ministry of ancestral healing. This took place in his presbytery, but he also travelled widely to pray for individuals and groups.

He was a busy man. Being a great friend of Myles Dempsey, he served as spiritual director to the New Dawn Conference, and of course the Celebrate conference. He was also in demand as a speaker.

The move to Kingston Hill marked a significant change in Fr. Mike's ministry. He planned regular Masses for healing of the family tree and, to assist him, trained a team of helpers.

This began, for me, a friendship and working relationship that lasted 29 years.

Ministering In The Area of Ancestral Healing

Retirement from parish ministry enabled him to pursue the special nature of his calling to minister in the area of ancestral healing, which he had developed earlier in his friendship with Kenneth McCall.

Now he went abroad for teaching conferences and ministry to individuals, communities and countries, dealing with the wounds of history, spiritual warfare and deliverance. The countries he visited included Portugal, France, Israel, Spain, Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, Finland, Germany, Northern Ireland, USA and Brazil.

Many of us owe a great deal of our spiritual growth and development to Fr. Mike's collaborative style of ministry as a parish priest. With him, we ran the Parish Project and Life in the Spirit seminars. We were one of the first parishes to run the Alpha course, as well as monthly healing Masses and a host of other activities.

A Fruitful Ministry

Most people will have encountered Fr. Mike at Walsingham, Celebrate, or days of renewal.

As well as being a fixture at New Dawn, his love for Our Lady of Walsingham inspired him to initiate, and fund, the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Reconciliation. This was based on Our Lady of Walsingham, which travelled throughout the UK, as a focus for healing and reconciliation within the communities that hosted it.

At the Celebrate conference in Ilfracombe, he served as chaplain and took charge of the liturgy. He also offered, each year, his own contribution through a Liturgy of the Unborn, for lost children through miscarriage, still birth or abortion.

He was an ever present at the Euston days of renewal, Jericho prayer M25 and Lift Jesus High, praying for the protection of London.

Throughout the time we knew him, Fr. Mike was always in great demand, and he had great difficulty in saying no. His love of Scripture made him a natural to chair The Catholic Bible School board of governors, as well as numerous other governor appointments and trusteeships.

Passion, Compassion And A Thirst For Knowledge

What sort of man was Fr. Mike?

His 68 years in the priesthood were characterised by a passion for liturgy and Scripture. He penned booklets on the Synoptic Gospels. He had a love of fellowship, possessing great compassion and generosity, tremendous hard work, a thirst for knowledge, allied to a desire to pass that on in teaching.

We can look back at his life crammed with experiences, from Vickers Armstrong wartime apprentice to teaching at the European Exorcists Conference. His legacy is the legions of people who have benefitted from his teaching, formation and ministry.

The last few years were spent in St Theresa's care home, Wimbledon, where he was much loved and well cared for.

Despite covid restrictions, we were able to visit him, in the garden, and take him communion and pray with him. We laughed and reminisced about our adventures together.

He was a much loved friend and brother in Christ.

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