A moving farewell to Father Keith – from those who loved him dearly
FATHER Keith Gordon, Chaplain of South Tenerife Anglican Church in San Eugenio, has died after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
The immensely popular priest passed away on 4th June in hospital, having been in intensive care for over a week.
Rev Mike Smith, Chaplain of North Tenerife, said: “Keith had been on a life-support system and was surrounded by family, clergy and friends. The Dean ofGibraltaranointed and prayed over him before they said their goodbyes.”
A Funeral Mass was held on Wednesday, 6th June, in thechurch ofSan Eugenio, prior to his cremation.
The 63-year-old priest had won a previous battle with cancer, but, said Archdeacon David Sutch: “This time, the tumour and its complications won and Keith, having received the Ministry of the Church he loved and served, returned to the Lord he served so well. May he rest now in the Peace of the Risen Christ.”
Fr Keith was living and working inVenezuelawhen he first joined an Anglican church inCaracas.
Canon Ian Hutchinson-Cervantes, now inMadrid, was a priest there and Keith was a Server in the church. He encouraged Keith to follow his vocation, and he was ordained inVenezuelain 1998.
His early ministry was in South America, before he moved to the Diocese in Europe, where he took up the post of Priest-in-Charge ofTenerifeSouth in 2003.
Tributes have poured in for Fr Keith from clergy and friends alike. Norman Goodall MBE, a stalwart member of Tenerife Sur Lions Club for many years, said: “I was not a close, personal friend, but I met him on many occasions socially over the years, and I always found him to be especially amenable.
“He took a degree in hotel management and went to live inVenezuela, where he felt drawn to priesthood and took a second degree in Theology.
“He came toTenerifenine years ago and took over the Parish in the South, which included the Anglican churches in San Eugenio and Los Gigantes. He was always looking to expand the church and opened a third one in San Blas, Golf del Sur.
“The fact that he spoke fluent Spanish helped him considerably to integrate into the local Spanish community, and he had a good working relationship with the leaders of the different denominations.
“He had a strong personality, loved good wine and excellent service, which was probably a throwback to his earlier hotel-management experience. He was instrumental in naming the San Eugenio church “St. Francis”.
Normanadded: “His church made tithes to local charities, and he was especially fond of The Nuns of Arona, The Association deSan Juan, The White Fathers and The Living Room.”
Archdeacon Sutch recalled: “With a commercial training in cooking and hospitality, Keith will be well-remembered for showing great hospitality towards all, especially during our Archdeaconry residential meetings as they coincided with his birthday.
“He lovedTenerifeand had plans to retire there. Please pray for Keith’s brother and niece, his close friends and his Chaplaincy.”
Bishop David Hamid, of the Diocese inEurope, said: “I am grateful to all who were with Fr Keith at the end, and that he was surrounded by his family, parishioners and brother priests, who ministered to him.
“It is very sad news indeed. He faced his cancer with bravery, and always with an optimistic good humour. He fought a good fight. We shall all miss him dearly. May God open to him the Gates of Paradise and grant him peace.”
The Anglican Parish of St Laurence, in Lanzarote, sent the following message: “It was with tremendous sadness that we heard of the death of Fr Keith. He was a great friend to us all and our Parish.
“He will be greatly missed, but we have some wonderful memories from Archdeaconry Synods and his time spent with us in Lanzarote, which we will treasure forever.”
Father Tom Barnfather added: “I met Keith for the first time at Archdeaconry Synod and warmed to his very generous and open nature.
“I am sorry not to have been able to share in the ministry of theIslandswith him. God Bless you Keith, and Rest in God’s love and peace.”
And there were further tributes from among the many people he had befriended. Jon and Julia, at Atlantis Fm, said: “We will sorely miss Keith’s faithful contributions to the station every Sunday, his wonderful sense of humour, his honesty and, most of all, his friendship to us both.
“Not many people will know that he was a promising keyboard player, too! What a lovely man. Our love to everyone who knew and cared for him.”
June and Olive said: “Words cannot express how sad we feel. Fr. Keith was not just our priest when we were inTenerife, but our friend.
“No matter how long it had been since we had visited San Eugenio, he always met us with those big welcoming arms and beaming smile, which meant so much to us.
“His acceptance of everyone, no matter who or what they were, plus his genuine love and care, will never be forgotten.
“Tenerifefor us will never be the same. We are just so glad that his family and friends were there with him at the end. We will miss you. Our love and prayers to all at San Eugenio.”
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