Canon Galvin

When Canon Galvin came to Watford in 1945 he was already sixty-two. He was born in 1884 and ordained in 1915, and the early years of his priesthood were served as an army chaplain in the first World War. Afterwards he was for a time at Somers Town and at Ponders End where, as parish priest, he built the presbytery. In 1936 he was appointed parish priest at Acton, where he was throughout the second World War.

Fr. Galvin led an austere life, begrudging himself reasonable comforts and expecting his assistant priest to follow his example. He was somewhat shy and reserved and not given to mixing socially with his parishioners or making friends, but he was very fond of children and a constant visitor to the school. Fr. Galvin also showed great concern for those who were bereaved or ill, and for those who needed spiritual or financial help. He was a regular visitor to the maternity hospital and to the isolation hospital, making all his journeys either by bicycle or on foot. His devotion to his duty in adverse circumstances is remembered to this day by a parishioner. In January 1947, when the country was in the grip of an exceptionally hard winter, her sister was taken desperately ill with cerebral meningitis. Their doctor struggled through the snow in the middle of the night to reach the patient and have her removed to hospital. Awaiting her arrival, having walked through the snow because the appalling road conditions prevented him from riding, was Fr. Galvin, who made the trip daily whilst her life hung in the balance. In spite of his age Canon Galvin recovered from being knocked off his bicycle and from a major operation. These two events affected his memory, but he was such a good and methodical administrator that his work was not affected. Later in 1964, although ill, he insisted on carrying out the Palm Sunday liturgy, but on Maundy Thursday he had to be rushed to the hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth suffering from viral pneumonia. Although he was then eighty he eventually recovered, but his days at Watford were over and he retired to Twyford Abbey Nursing Home.

Fr. Galvin became Rural Dean in 1950, and he was appointed a Canon in 1951. He was parish priest at Holy Rood Church for nearly twenty years and was without doubt a very devout priest, full of compassion for those in trouble and very hard working, never sparing himself. To criticise, it could be said that except for having the church rewired in 1954, he failed to spend money on needed repairs and restoration to the church and presbytery and to provide reasonable comfort for an assistant priest, leaving money to accumulate in the bank. His reserved and shy nature resulted in him having little contact with the clergy of other denominations in Watford.

In the long period Canon Galvin was in Watford he had only one assistant priest, Fr. Norman Kersey. Fr. Kersey was born in London in 1918, educated at St. Edmund's College and ordained in Westminster Cathedral in 1945. At twenty-seven and only a priest for a few months he followed the Canon to Watford, where he resided until the Canon resigned in 1965. Knowing Canon Galvin's reluctance towards spending money, Fr. Kersey hit on the idea of collecting Green Shield Stamps from the parishioners and realising them for cash. With the money this produced he was able to purchase much needed Mass vestments in each of the liturgical colours.

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