Tribute for a life of service abroad

Preston-born missionary, Fr Fred Rigby, who spent most of his working life in Guyana, has died at the age of 63.

Son of the late Margaret and Frederick Rigby, Fr Rigby attended the parish school at St Joseph’s, Preston, before going to the Preston Catholic College.

He was taught alongside Patrick Kelly, the current Archbishop of Liverpool, who, with Fr David Smolira, will lead a Requiem Mass on Saturday.

Fr James Henderson, from St Wilfred’s Church, knew Fr Rigby for 30 years.

He said: “Fr Rigby was an outstanding missionary who dedicated his life very generously to the services of the church.”

After being ordained in 1968, he went to Guyana the following year to teach at St Stanislaus College in Georgetown.

For 12 years, he was a successful and well-respected teacher before being assigned to the mission territories on the borders of Brazil and Venezuela.

It was there that he arranged for three-monthly supplies to be flown out to the people at a cost of 750 a time.

The parishioners of St Wilfrid’s were so touched by his work that they collected almost 900 towards the cause in the 1980s.

He was appointed Superior of the Rupununi District and then Superior in the Pakaraimas mountains before returning to Georgetown.

He returned to England as frequently as he could and always made time to visit his family.

His sister, Margaret Hindle, said: “Even when his health was not good, he was still responding to letters and e-mails from all over the world.

“He even managed to send me a birthday card which poignantly arrived after his death.

“He loved the Guyanese people and even went back after his first operation.”

Failing health meant that he had returned to Britain last December and stayed at the Jesuit Mission headquarters in London.

He died at St Anthony’s Hospital in Cheam on Trinity Sunday, June 10, and will be buried at St Mary’s, Samlesbury. He leaves three sisters, Freda, Margaret and Catherine.

The Requiem Mass will be held at St Wilfrid’s church, Preston on Saturday June 23 at 12.15pm.

Fr Harold Wong, representing Guyana, will preach.