Fr. William Matthew Roach
Father Roach died peacefully in the An Cala Palliative Care Unit of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, Sydney, on Jan. 15, 2015, at the age of 87. Born in Scotchtown, he was the son of the late Simon and Mary (MacInnis) Roach. Father Bill graduated from St. Francis Xavier University in 1950. He entered Holy Heart Seminary in Halifax and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Antigonish on June 12, 1954. In the years that followed his ordination, Fr. Bill`s notable leadership ability was evident in his role as pastor, spiritual advisor, educator, and social activist. His first pastoral assignment took him to St. Anthony Daniel parish in Sydney and St. Anne`s, Membertou. After several years Fr. Bill was appointed to the St. FX Extension department. In 1965, while on study leave, he obtained a Masters’s degree in sociology from Boston University. For a number of years, he taught sociology at Xavier College. In 1973 he was granted leave from the Extension Department to work with the Nova Scotia Housing Commission. He was involved with many housing developments in Cape Breton and on the mainland. Uppermost in Fr. Bill`s life during all these years was his commitment to economic and social development in Cape Breton, as was witnessed in 1967 when he played a significant role in organizing Sydney`s March of Concern to offset the impending steel plant closure. In 1977 Fr. Bill resumed full pastoral ministry at St. Lawrence parish, Mulgrave. In 1980 he was appointed parish priest at Sacred Heart Church in Sydney and in 1992 became parish priest at Immaculate Heart parish, Mira Road. For health reasons, he retired from active parish ministry in 1998. He greatly enjoyed hunting and fishing and later became an avid golfer and walker. While his reputation as a `take charge` person followed him throughout his life, Fr. Bill`s behind-the-scenes caring and compassion endeared him to his family and friends.
Fr. Bill is survived by his sisters, Ellen (Mrs. James Smith), Gainesville, Florida, and Eileen (Sr Marie Simone CSM), Antigonish, as well as his brother, Bernie (Jackie), Ottawa. He is also survived by sisters-in-law, Patricia (Tom), Halifax and Lucille (Angus), Ottawa, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by sisters Catherine, Sadie (Mrs. Joe Gillis), Christina (Sr. Mary Celesta SC) and brothers Henry, Angus, Tom, and Dave. He was also predeceased by sister-in-law Evelyn (Henry) and brothers-in-law Joseph Gillis and James Smith.
Funeral mass was celebrated at St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Church, Sydney, with interment in Resurrection Cemetery.