Tenth Parish Priest and first member of the Cathedral Chapter. Francis was born in Coventry in 1925 and educated at Oscott and Cambridge. He was ordained in 1950. Before becoming Parish Priest of Longton he had been a Teacher, Vocations Director, Dean, Episcopal Vicar and a Parish Priest in rural or southern parts of the diocese. He was made a Canon in 1989 and also edited the Diocesan Directory. Despite Longton’s industrial image and having the new A50 constructed yards from the presbytery, Francis settled happily in the parish of 1400 souls and worked for 12 years without a curate. He retired when he was 78 and died in 2009. He is buried at Oscott College. During his short Ministry he:
Erected a statue of St Gregory as a memorial to Fr Donnolly Installed a much needed kitchen and meeting room. Re roofed the Church. Encouraged the formation of new parish societies; namely the Choir, team of Eucharistic Ministers, Ladies Guild, Youth Group and Parish Committee. Prepared for the millennium by redecorating the church, installing carpet and also a new organ. He also held the first Parish Mission for 40 years in 1998. He introduced and produced a popular item known as ‘The Yellow Peril’, his weekly newsletter. In his final edition he wrote: “Thank you for 12 of my happiest years. I would not have swopped for any parish in the whole Diocese. Honestly”
In 2004, Bishop Philip Pargeter wrote: “Canon Grady taught at Cotton College, North Staffs for over twenty years. During that time for a number of years he was Housemaster of Challoner house and for nine years Master in charge of the junior school. As might well be imagined, he was a good and popular teacher, but at the same time he always managed to find the time to encourage the boys in such extra curricular activities as rugby, drama, music and public speaking. In addition to his full timetable for a great many years, the Canon acted as special preacher and encourager of vocations to the priesthood. Each weekend he would visit different parishes in the diocese begging for money on behalf of the Ecclesiastical Education Fund so that students could receive proper training for their studies at Cotton, Oscott or another of the major seminaries. In this week-end task over the years he proved himself a splendid Diocesan Pardoner. Back at Cotton, each Monday morning, he would delight his colleagues with his often amusing tales of parish life and at second hand give us the opportunity to experience his hardships- damp beds and insubstantial suppers to name but a few. In doing this extra work Canon Grady gave but one example of the exemplary service he has shown in fifty four years of active priestly ministry. As a younger colleague on cotton’s staff, I am grateful for the inspiration he gave me and wish him well in his well earned retirement”.
The Ballad of Canon F. Grady - an irreverent tribute to a reverend
T’was autumn time in Longton When first Canon came to stay. To guide St Gregory’s faithful In following Heaven’s way.
Good Margaret was his mentor Housekeeper, cook and friend. And Rupert, his loyal Dalmation Swift his master to defend.
Now Francis was much travelled Of fatherly dignity known A man of prayer and learning And a melodious baritone.
The gloom and din of Longton He faced with courage amazing Growing a churchyard full of flowers And installing double glazing.
Rallying choir and cleaners He won support with skill And warders, servers and readers Were found to fit the bill.
Committee, Legion and Ladies guild Responded to his call And, with Eucharistic Ministers, Were ‘Canonised’ one and all.
He valued every sheep and lamb In his scattered Longton flock, And wrote them a mighty missive Given out each week en bloc.
In his awesome ‘Yellow Peril’ He championed many a cause And, unafraid to speak his mind Won victory and applause.
Parish life improved no end with gatherings face to face, and every November, a night to remember St Cecilia's Concert too place.
In missions, meetings and admin preaching, prayer and praise. Editing the year's Directory such was the rhythm of his days.
T'was early spring in Longton when Canon said farewell. And of his doings in the hills of Meir there'll be a tale to tell.
Last seen driving a dog cart piled high with assorted gear. Brave Rupert galloping in front while Margaret clung to the rear!