Vin McMullen, Cafod's regional organiser for over 15 years and a much loved and respected figure in the Archdiocese, died at his home in Southport on Palm Sunday, 20 March. Originally from Wallsend on Tyneside, he grew up during the depressed 1930s, leaving school at 13 and working at the Swan Hunter shipyard on the Tyne; following national service he qualified as a teacher and worked in the north-east.
In 1973 he moved to the Archdiocese when he was appointed headteacher at St Edmund's Junior School in Waterloo. After taking early retirement he was made Cafod's first ever regional organiser, working first at the curial offices on Brownlow Hill and later at St Joseph's, Upholland. It was in Upholland's grounds that the Cafod Christmas fun run was to take place for many years, an immensely successful event established by Vin which attracted entrants from not only the north-west but further afield. The run continues to this day, though now elsewhere, and is very much a memorial to Vin.
Visits to El Salvador and the Philippines made a deep and lasting impression on him and increased his determination to work for justice for the poorest of the poor. His book 'Looking at the Philippines through the Eyes of the Poor' gives a powerful account of his experience there, especially living with those who scavenged for their very existence on the rubbish dump known as 'Smokey Mountain'. It was for his unstinting pursuit of justice and dignity for the poor in countries like the Philippines that he was awarded a papal knighthood of St Gregory.
Other books were to follow, notably an autobiographical trilogy which vividly tells his life story with complete candour and with his lifelong sense of humour. His faith and his family were all important to him and he was at his happiest when with Gill, his devoted wife of 56 years, and their close family.
Many priests and a large congregation attended his funeral Mass which was celebrated at Holy Family, Southport.