With the passing of Gerard (Gerry) Dunn on 24 September 2018, the British Region lost one of its most memorable characters.
Gerry was born on 15 December 1937 to a well-known Catholic family in Glasgow which had a mineral water business. He very much remained a Glaswegian at heart and in later years delighted in showing his fellow Columbans around his native city.
After his early education, Gerry followed his father into the medical profession.
Having qualified and practiced as a doctor in Glasgow for a relatively short time, he decided to embark on a different kind of healing ministry – as a Columban missionary priest.
He came to Dalgan in 1962 and was ordained on 21 December 1967. Because of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Ireland that year, ordinations did not take place in Dalgan. So Gerry became the first and only Columban to be ordained on Scottish soil.
After ordination Gerry was assigned to Korea.
Within a few years he returned home in poor health and spent the remainder of his Columban life and ministry in Scotland, having ministered for a short time in a Birmingham parish.
He engaged in mission awareness ministry, but gradually focused more and more on other ministries, such as promoting the Legion of Mary, leading pilgrimages to various shrines, and ministering to the small Chinese Catholic community in Glasgow.
He learnt enough Chinese to be able to celebrate Mass in that language.
When the Columban house in Glasgow closed in 2005, Gerry, along with Declan McNaughton, moved into St Gregory’s presbytery in Glasgow as the base for their continuing ministries.
The priests and people of the parish were very welcoming and supportive. Among the many ways Gerry endeared himself to the people in the parish was his preparation and distribution of large quantities of nutritious soup.
Gerry will be remembered as a lively conversationalist, witty storyteller and entertaining singer. We will also be remembered for his fearless promotion of the teaching of the Church as he understood it. Conversations with Gerry tended to be blend of serious discussion on some controversial issue and frequent amusing anecdotes.
Gerry was a wounded healer who courageously coped with poor health for many years in a spirit of great faith.
In 2013, he retired to the Nazareth House Nursing Home in Glasgow which is where he died.
A large crowd came for his Funeral Mass in the Nursing Home Chapel on 28 September 2018.
Gerry’s nephew, Fr Stephen, was the principal concelebrant and was joined by some twenty priests, including five Columbans.
In his homily, Dan Horgan, on behalf of the Columbans, thanked the Dunn family and others for the great care Gerry received and also spoke of Gerry’s unique gifts and admirable faith.
Gerry was buried with his parents in Dalbeth Cemetery, Glasgow.
May he rest in peace.