A secondary school in Bexhill has paid tribute to a well-loved priest who suddenly died between church services, aged only 45.
St Richard’s Catholc College said Father Seamus Stapleton SCA was an ‘integral’ part of the school’s community.
According to Pallottines Ireland, Fr Seamus had celebrated the 10am Mass at St Mary Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church in Hastings Old Town and went for a cup of tea with the parishioners.
He returned to the presbytery and when he did not appear for the 11.30am Mass, the deacon and some parishioners went to find him and he had collapsed in the kitchen.
The emergency services were called to try and treat Fr Seamus but he had already died.
Fr Seamus, who was born in September 1971, made his first consecration on September 29, 2002, and was ordained on June 11, 2006.
Tributes have since been paid to the popular priest by parishioners.
Doreen Cronin, principal of St Richard’s, said: “Fr Seamus was an integral part of our school community.
“During his time with us, he celebrated many masses with our pupils, including whole school celebrations.
“Recently in October, he joined us on our year 10 block day retreat to give a very engaging workshop on his vocation as a priest.
“He also prepared many of our young people from Hastings for their confirmation.
“On an individual level, he supported staff and pupils providing spiritual guidance with a gentle sense of humour, always showing understanding of the various needs of our young people.
“He was always willing to help and support the work of our lay chaplain.
“He will be sadly missed by the pupils, staff and governors of St Richard’s Catholic College.”
Fr Seamus leaves his mother Mary, his brothers John, Matthew and Liam, by his sister Anne-Marie, and his extended family.
He was predeceased by his father James.
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