Fr. Denis Keating RiP

We are sad to announce the death this summer of old Anselmian Fr. Denis Keating OP who was a pupil at the College from 1952-9 before studying English at Manchester University and was ordained a priest in the Dominican Order, both as a parish priest and as a missionary in Peru. Denis was an accomplished sportsman in his youth. May he rest in peace.


Matthew at the end of his gospel says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” 

Denis spent his adult life carrying out Jesus’ instruction working in at least 11 different parishes in England & Wales and Internationally in Australia, India, Goa and Peru as well as time spent in many Dominican houses in Europe and elsewhere.

Denis was born in Cork but grew up in Chester living in Blacon. I have known him since he was 11 when he joined me and a small group of students privileged to go to school at St Anselm’s college in Birkenhead.  

Even at school Denis was sure he wanted to become a priest but unsure which of the priestly communities he wanted to join. At the Manchester University Catholic Society Denis was present at a talk by Herbert McCabe, a very prominent Dominican. I think this is probably when Denis decided on the Dominicans

One cannot sum up Denis’ life without referring to his sporting prowess. He was expert at any team ball game, rugby, soccer or cricket. He played locally as a youth with the best team around at the time then after university where he represented the English Universities at both soccer and cricket, he went on to play in the football league for Chester City for a short while before joining the Order.

He was parish priest in two Dominican parishes. In Leicester including the University Chaplaincy and in Newcastle where he faced all the day to day difficulties of being a parish priest. He was also for a time prior of the Dominican house in Manchester and he spent his last years as a working Dominican priest in his birth city of Cork.

He wanted to take on some missionary work that was related to his interests in Latin America & justice issues and so in the late 1980 he spent 2 years in Lampa in Peru. Lampa is a town near the city of Puna on Lake Titicaca, 12000 ft up in the Andies. The parish had a number of village outposts even higher in the mountains connected only by dirt roads. His work in Peru was supported financially by many friends and previous parishioners. With their help and that of Aid to the Church in Need we were able to buy a proper 4-wheel drive vehicle for his visits to the outlying villages for use instead of the dangerously small and ancient vehicle he’d been left. Towards the end of his time in Peru Denis developed altitude sickness due to the lower oxygen levels at such a hight and he was called back to England to work.

As well as being PP in Dominican parishes Denis also worked in many secular parishes across England and Wales and seems to have been valued wherever he went. I was told that he was particularly popular with children at their Masses in Leicester and his visits to the elderly and dying in Cowbridge, a place Denis really loved, were so much appreciated that he was asked to go and carry out funerals long after he’d left.

The best summing up of this side of him comes in a letter from Mike McNamee a Professor of Ethics and a parishioner in Cowbridge,

“You should know that we were immensely fond of him in Cowbridge. He was a breath of fresh air.  His wit and wisdom, his honesty and democratic mindset was a challenge to some who clung to the old ways of the often- authoritarian church. Despite his age, he would have none of it.  He challenged people to think for themselves, to query, and politely and respectfully to challenge.   He did immense good to our church in trying to form a stronger community, more than simply a group of people who turned up to mass on a Saturday evening.”

What more could you ask of a Parish Priest? As we sang in the psalm earlier, he did what Yahweh asked of him, he acted justly, loved tenderly and walked humbly with his God. May he rest in peace.