Norwich - Monsignor Willis W. West Jr., 76, retired priest of the Diocese of Norwich, died Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Willimantic.|
Monsignor West had served in several parishes in the diocese, including as assistant pastor at St. Mary Star of the Sea in New London, St. Patrick in Mystic, Cathedral of St. Patrick in Norwich, and as pastor of St. Phillip in Warrenville and St. Joseph Parish in Willimantic where he served as pastor for 23 years prior to his retirement in 2007.
Monsignor West was born in Rockville, July 14, 1937, son of the late Connie M. (Phillips) of Rockville and of the late Willis W. West Sr. A graduate of Assumption College, Worcester, Mass., he received his theological training at St. Bernard Seminary, Rochester, N.Y. and Christ the King, St. Bonaventure, Olean, N.Y.
Monsignor West was ordained to the priesthood on May 23, 1963 by The Most Reverend Vincent J. Hines, D.D., Bishop of Norwich at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick, Norwich.
Among his many distinguished diocesan assignments were his appointment as dean of the Willimantic Deanery, the board of directors of Domus Vitae and diocesan director of cemeteries. He is fondly remembered for his inspirational love for the church. As described by a former St. Joseph Church secretary, Monsignor West was "a priest's priest. Priesthood came first and church came first, everything else came second."
Monsignor West is also gratefully remembered as having been instrumental in the founding of the Saint Joseph Living Center in Willimantic, and for his service as president of the Board.
Monsignor West is survived by his brothers, Richard of Rockville, and Robert of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; along with his loving nieces and nephews.
The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, at Saint Joseph Church, 99 Jackson St., Willimantic, by the Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, D.D., Bishop of Norwich. The vigil for the deceased with reception at the church will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, following that ceremony, Msgr. West's body will lie in state until 5 p.m. at Saint Joseph Church, Willimantic. A Parish Mass will be celebrated for his repose at 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Saint Joseph Church, Willimantic. Burial will be in Saint Bernard Cemetery, Rockville.
The Bacon Funeral Home, 71 Prospect St., Willimantic, 860-423-1234, is in charge of arrangements.
Published in The Day on Feb. 22, 2014