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On leaving school he joined the novitiate and was clothed on September 19, 1948. First profession followed on September 29, 1949 and solemn profession three years later. He did his ecclesiastical studies at Douai and was ordained priest on May 22, 1955.
Whilst in the school he had been a leading treble in the choir, and studied piano and organ. Later as a monk he studied organ at Newbury Parish Church, and became the Abbey organist in 1960. To help with the introduction of English into the liturgy, Abbot Gregory Freeman appointed Fr Romuald choirmaster in 1970. He composed a large number of responsorial psalms for Mass and antiphons for the office, some of which are still in use. After the procurator, Fr Anthony Baron, died unexpectedly on Christmas Eve 1961, Romuald was appointed procurator in January 1962, a post he held until 1984. He was also caterer from 1962 until 1980.
In 1977 he was elected Inspector Rei Familiaris of the English Benedictine Congregation, a post he held until 1985. He was also Secretary of the Commission on the Economics of the Contemplative Life in England, Scotland & Wales, a Trustee of the Holy Rood Trust, a member of the Diocesan Committee for Church Music and Secretary of the Diocesan Liturgy Commission. In 1984 he was appointed Prior by Abbot Gregory Freeman. As prior he became superior of the community, after the death of Abbey Gregory in October 1989, and again after the sudden death of Abbot Leonard Vickers, until the election of Abbot Finbar Kealy.
In 1990 he was sent as Parish Priest to Stratford-upon-Avon. He returned to the monastery in 2000, and became Junior Master for one year until becoming Parish Priest of the local parish of Woolhampton from 2001 until 2005, when he was made Subprior, a position he held until his death.
In 2001 he was appointed titular Cathedral Prior of Coventry.
Fr Romuald’s health declined in recent years. On September 1, 2011, he suffered a fall which caused a broken hip. After two months in hospital he returned to the monastery and lived in the infimary. He was unable to walk without support and used an electric carriage to reach the refectory and the church for Sunday Mass.
In the final weeks his condition rapidly worsened and after admission to the Royal Berkshire Hospital on July 5, he died having received the Sacrament of the Sick and Viaticum.
John Anthony Stickland was born on June 4, 1920, and was educated at St Augustine’s Abbey School, Ramsgate, then at Douai School from 1934 to 38. At that time there were close links between Ramsgate and Douai, many pupils passing passing from one to the other, and several of the monks at Ramsgate had been in educated at Douai School.
On leaving the school in 1938, he passed directly into the monastic community and was clothed by Abbot Sylvester Mooney on September 18, taking the name, Augustine. Simple profession came the following year, and solemn profession on September 25, 1942. Following ecclesistical studies at Douai, during the war it was impossible to go to Europe, he was ordained priest on Trinity Sunday, May 25, 1945 by Bishop King in the Abbey Church. Then he went up to Oxford to read modern languages, and received his BA in 1948. He spent some time at the Abbey of St-André near Bruges, Belgium, to perfect his French, which he was to teach in the school. When the house system was introduced in 1951, Fr Augustine was appointed the first house master of Samson. The following year, he was sent to the Junior School at Ditcham Park, near Petersfield, Hampshire, where as well as teaching, he coached cricket, ran the choir, established an annual chess tournament, took charge of the lawns which he greatly improved. Gardening was always one of his interests. He also set up a model railway for the delight of the boys. He remained at Ditcham until 1963, and these were probably his happiest years. He always spoke with affection of Ditcham, and had many anecdotes, which he loved to recount in later years.
In 1963, Fr Augustine was called back to Douai, to become, for a second time, housemaster of Samson, a position he held until 1971. In addition he taught French and was games master and groundsman, as well as looking after the garden in the school quadrangle, with Fr Gregory Freeman. In January 1971, he was sent to do parochial work as curate, first at Cheltenham and then in 1973 at Malvern, becoming parish priest there in 1979, before going as parish priest to Coventry, 1980 – 87, and then to Studley where he remained until retiring in 1999. For some years from 1974 he was an abbot’s appointee on the Council of Seniors. During the last years of his life he suffered declining health and died on the morning of St George’s Day 2010.
Father Leo Arkwright, 'Jimmy' to his family was born in Wigan, the only son of James and Annie Arkwright. His three sisters predeceased him. He was educated at Wigan Mining and Technical College. During the latter stages of the Second World War (1943-46), he worked as an electrician in the Royal Navy.
After leaving the navy, he felt a call to be a priest, and so began preliminary studies for the Church at Campion House, Osterley (1946-48). He was clothed as a monk of Douai in September 1948 and professed the following year.
After solemn profession Leo was sent, from 1952 till 1954, for some of his theological studies to the University of Salzburg. Austria, at that time, was still occupied by American forces. He was ordained there on July 11, 1954.
On returning to Douai, he took over the printery from Father Robert Richardson, and remained as printer until 1986. Throughout his life, Father Leo played the organ and piano and gave occasional recitals. He was awarded his Amateur Radio licence in 1970.
Quite late in the day (1983), he attained a BA in Mathematics from the Open University. Most of his monastic life was spent teaching Maths in Douai School (1954-87), where he was well known to generations of boys as a stern disciplinarian, efficient teacher, and was remarkable in getting even the slowest wits through their Ordinary Level Elementary Maths exams.
Meanwhile, from 1955 — 1976, he acted as curate in Thatcham parish, celebrating Mass each Sunday at Hermitage military base. For many years, he was confessor a the Carmel in Reading and to the Sisters of Mercy in Woodley. For ten years (1973-83), Father Leo was monastic infirmarian, and acted as Economus of the Mission Fund (1974-92).
In 1992, he was sent to surrender the parish of St Cuthbert's, Cowpen, Northumberland, to the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, and then he became parish priest at St Elizabeth's, Scarisbrick, Lancashire.
Ill health forced him to relinquish the parish of Scarisbrick and retire back to Douai in 1996. He spent the remaining fourteen years living in the monastery, faithfully attended choir as long as it was possible to do so. Until the middle of January, he came every day coming to the refectory using his zimmer, and went to the calefactory each morning to read the paper and photocopy the crossword, which he then completed assiduously in his infirmary room. On the feast of St Benet Biscop he suffered a collapse and had a spell in hospital, but returned to Douai, where he died from pneumonia on the morning of February 10 2010.
James Richardson, known as ‘Jim’ to his family and friends, was born on April 10, 1912 at Acocks Green, Solihull. He was baptised in the chapel of the French Nuns, which was acting as a parish church at the time. In 1917 he and his family returned to Coventry, taking up residence near the site of the proposed Catholic Church of All Souls at Earlsdon, but still at that time in St Osburg's parish.
His Catholic ancestry is traceable in the Catholic register at St Osburg’s Coventry as far back as 1808. His father, James Alfred Richardson, was from an old Catholic family of watchmakers in Coventry. His mother, Nellie Elizabeth née Jones, who was born in Aston Villa of a Welsh father and German mother, was received into the Catholic Church from Welsh Independent at St Osburg’s Church, shortly before her marriage. She was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin Mary to whom she dedicated all her children.
After primary education in St Osburg’s School, James attended St Philip’s Grammar School, next door to the Birmingham Oratory, commuting each day from Coventry by train. In 1928 he followed his younger brother Joe, (later Fr Jerome) to Douai School as a candidate for the priesthood. There he studied Latin and French for the Higher Certificate.
In 1931 he entered the novitiate, taking the name, Robert; he was solemnly professed in January 1936 and ordained priest by Bishop Cotter on April 24, 1938, along with Frs Matthew Hulley, Edward Fairhead and Mark Ackers. At that time all the theological studies were taught at Douai, and Robert was recommended to go forward to study for a D.D., by the noted scripture scholar Fr Hugh Pope O.P.
However, at that time the world was full of turbulance and foreboding as war with Hitler’s Germany became inevitable. In 1937 he had joined the local Red Cross Reserve. When World War II did brake out in 1939 such local groups were aggregated by the government into Civil Defence Rescue Squads. Also, he was a war-time fire watcher. Later after the war, at the time of the Berlin airlift in 1950, he and others at Douai were secretly called back to the Civil Defence to begin training as instructors, in case war should have broken out with the U.S.S.R. Such experience proved useful in his later lectures on the morality and workings of nuclear weapons.
Fr Robert taught Elementary Maths for many years in Douai School, and ran the school chess club. He founded the Abbey Printery in 1934, and continued to run it until 1954. The press was of great value, producing all the small items required by abbey and school, letter heads, invoices, programmes, circular letters and many other items. It was always the aim to produce the The Douai Magazine on the press, but this was never achieved.
During the war Fr Robert had celebrated Mass for the airmen stationed at the neighbouring bases in Aldermaston and Tadley. This ministry subsequently developed into the present day parish of Tadley.
In 1954 Fr Robert began a period of parochial ministry first as assistant priest to Cheltenham, then moving to Coventry as assitant in 1959. He became Parish Priest of Alcester in 1961 and, in 1964, of Stratford-upon-Avon, where he had the parish church consecrated, built a chapel-of-ease at Shottery, and bought a redundant Baptist chapel at Tiddington to serve as another chapel-of-ease, as well as turning a former convent into the presbytery, dividing the existing presbytery into three flats. In 1979 he went again as assistant to Coventry. For several years during this time he served on the Abbot’s Council.
The devotion to the Blessed Virgin that he had inherited from his mother was able to bear fruit in organising or taking part in pilgrimages to various Marian shrines, including Lourdes, Banneux, Beauraing and La Salette. La Salette was of particular significance to him because the first Catholic church at Stratford-upon-Avon had had this title as its dedication, and the statue of the Blessed Virgin in the present church of St Gregory is that of Our Lady of La Salette.
After his return to the monastery in 1983, because of ill health, he became accountant for the Woolhampton parish, chaplain to the local branch of the Catholic Women’s League, confessor to the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary at Cold Ash, as well as doing many jobs for the community, and undertaking several research projects as requested by the abbot. He was interested in all aspects of the Church’s Mission to “go and teach all nations”. Matt xxiii 19-20 especially in England and Wales. Fr Robert had a clear scientific mind. During his retirement he produced several papers on the future of the monastery, how its buildings might be adapted for new uses, its mission and how to attract vocations. He was opposed to the new library.
His interests were quite varied, until his death he was a subscriber to The Railway Magazine, Rugby World and Cycling the magazine of the Cycling Tourist Club of which he was the life member and the longest living subscriber. Until middle age he regularly took a fortnight’s cycling holiday each year, visiting various parts of the British Isles. His well used and anotated collection of maps has gone to the monastery library.
Fr Robert’s life was the model of detachment and frugality, when the time came for him to move from his monastic cell into the infirmary he carefully divested himself of all unnecessary books and things. His papers were passed over to the archivist, all in good order and well arranged. It was typical of him that in his last memo on the future of Douai, he expressed his thanks for "the kind tolerance and forbearance of the community towards my efforts. I hope they have helped towards the furutre. I must admit that I have enjoyed writing these notes, especially after the advent of the Amstrad. The attempted solving of problems (others besides crosswords!) is very congenial in more ways than one. It also helps to clear my own wandering mind both by practical testing and by expression in concise(?) language. Oremus pro invicem semper. And may the prayers of Our Lady of Good Counsel help us to appreciate the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to follow it faithfully."
When walking became difficult he took to an electric carriage to drive himself to the refectory and around the grounds. The last few months of his life were spent in the newly refurbished infirmary, as he grew increasingly incapable, he remained ever patient and his was well cared for by the infirmarian team and daily visits from professional carers. He spent a long time preparing for death; the end came peacefully in his sleep during the night of January 7/8, 2009.
In 1968 he became an army chaplain under Bishop Tickle, also a former pupil of Douai School. He served in Germany, Singapore and Northern Ireland and in 1976 he became chaplain at R.M.A. Sandhurst. He left the army in 1984 and became parish priest of Cheltenham until 1998, when he was moved to the parish of Kemerton where he remained until a few weeks before his death. He was elected by the community to serve on the abbot’s council for some years.
Paul Harold Sollom had been born on May 31, 1926 at St Mary Cray in Kent, the eldest son of Harold Wilfrid and Amy Maria Sollom (née Greene). He had two brothers, both of whom predeceased him. His earliest education was at The Abbey School, Ramsgate, which introduced him to Benedictines, and whence he won a scholarship to Douai School where he was a pupil, 1940-43. He was awarded a state bursary to Imperial College, University of London, where he became an undergraduate, receiving a BSc in Engineering in 1946.
From 1946 to 1949 he did his National Service in REME rising to the rank of 2nd Lt, acting Captain. He worked with radar at Arborfield. and then was posted to Ceylon where he became, first, a staff instructor in radio and, then, engineer in charge of Radio Ceylon, a position he held for a further two years after leaving the army.
In 1951 he returned to Imperial College, London, to do research for a PhD on 'a microwave spectrometer'. He gained his PhD in 1954 and received a diploma of membership of the Imperial College. By this time he had already been clothed as a novice at Douai Abbey on October 10, 1954. First profession followed on the feast of the Motherhood of Our Lady, October 11, 1955, solemn profession in 1958 and priestly ordination on May 11, 1961.
From his earliest days at Douai his skills in engineering and communications technology were of considerable help to the community. Indeed, before he joined the community, he had constructed and installed in the theatre a 'state of the art hi-fi' system for the school music society. During his novitiate he designed the large open barn and tractor garage and supervised its building by the whole group of novices. Then he was asked to design and install, with the aid of fellow novice Br Swithun McLoughlin, the first internal house telephone system, which served the community for some thirty years. Later he designed and installed the electric bell system for both monastery and school. Gradually over the years he gained an unrivalled knowledge of the water, drainage and electrical systems throughout the school and monastery, all of which had been installed piecemeal and without any overall plan over many years. After the completion of the Abbey Church he was responsible for preparing the roadways for it and the car park, as well as erecting the fencing along the front of the church grounds. In the church he had constructed the shrine for Our Lady utilising the Portland Stone from the old ambo, and he made the consecration crosses. He was always in his element when designing or building something, whether it was combined desk, bed and storage facilities for the school dormitories or, just recently, the new heating system for St Mary's Parish Church. He was responsible for constructing the monastery website, remaining webmaster until his death and served on the EBC Internet Commission.
The happiest phase of his life was his last appointment as assistant bursar with responsibility for buildings which he held from 1987 until his death. Of all the positions he had, it was in this that he felt most at ease and fully qualified. When he was able to find time, he continued his radio research and wrote many articles for technical journals for which he had received several awards from the Radio Society of Great Britain.
Naturally Fr Wilfrid's talents were required for teaching in the school attached to the monastery. After solemn profession he taught chemistry and physics, until having to take over as head of the physics department in January 1966, upon the sudden death of Fr Paulinus Cunningham OSB. He held that post until April 1975 when, in another crisis, he was appointed Headmaster of Douai School, a position he held until August 1987.
For many years Wilfrid was a member of the abbot's council and he had served the community as its delegate to General Chapter. He had been director for the building appeal when the monastery was being being built in the sixties. He had served at various time as economus of the Mission fund, as stage manager for the school drama productions and as monastery choirmaster.
Although he had no particular theological training beyond his ordination course, he had welcomed the changes that Vatican II brought, though its deeper implications often evaded him. He served in an editorial capacity for the series of illustrated Pastoral Leaflets that we produced at that time, making the basic teaching of the Council available for ordinary people in simple language for which purpose he made a careful analysis of the council documents. He became a member and secretary of the EBC Theology Commission which produced the book, Consider your Call, in response to the Vatican Council's request for religious to re-discover the charisms of their founders.
Wilfrid had a simple but deep spirituality. He was attached to his priesthood and to the practice of concelebration, and could not understand why others did not share his view. During the last year of his life when he was unable to rise early for Matins and Conventual Mass, he faithfully celebrated Mass each day in the monastery infirmary for the elderly fathers who resided there. He had a deep devotion to Our Lady; he claimed to owe his vocation to Fatima, whither he had gone on pilgrimage in 1953. He had his ordination chasuble decorated with embroidery depicting Our Lady of Fatima. He was pleased to have been asked to lead Marian Retreats as part of the Pastoral Programme, and he put a great deal of work into preparing them. Although a very shy and private person, he also felt great love towards the brethren, but which he was not always able to express as much as he would have wished.
He had his first heart attack over a decade ago, and subsequently took up an exercise regime, which he hated but he persevered with. Last year, whilst on holiday in North Wales he suffered another attack which left him in a permanently weakened state, but he never gave up and continued working, although frustrated he could not do as much as he would have liked; on the morning of the day he had his final attack he had attended a meeting of the bursar's team, and in the afternoon had sought to rectify an electrical fault. His final attack came in his workshop, an air ambulance came, and took him to hospital but he never regained consciousness. Only three days earlier he had returned from holiday in Wales, a holiday he thoroughly enjoyed in the company of Fr John Bolton OSB.
To the end Fr Wilfrid continued to show interest in everything the community and its members did, for example, although in the last year he usually retired to bed at Compline time, he always stayed up when there was a community meeting and took a full part in the discussions, and whenever there were oblate ceremonies after Compline, he always came and stayed on for the celebrations afterwards to show his support for the oblates.
Wilfrid's contribution to the community was enormous. He gave an example of edifying fidelity to community prayer, his stall was rarely empty, the common life and personal detachment. He would always undertake whatever he was asked to do even when, as, for example, taking on the headmastership at a time of crisis, he found the task uncongenial and not something which came easily to him. He will be greatly missed.
Daniel Donovan had been born in Day-y-Graig, Swansea, South Wales on June 2, 1917. At that time the parish there was served by Douai monks and so he came to be educated at Douai School from 1929 to 1936. From school he joined the monastery and was clothed as a novice on September 20, 1936. The following year he made his first profession and was solemnly professed on September 25, 1940, and was ordained priest on June 3, 1943, the day before the fire which destroyed his room, along with those of several other monks.
From 1939 until 1950 Fr James served the community as Master of Ceremonies and was assistant bursar from 1942 till 1950. He also did some teaching in the school.
Most of Fr James's life was spent in parish work. He was assistant priest in Morpeth, Northumberland, from 1950 to 1961, when he was appointed parish priest of St Gregory's Cheltenham, where he did his major work, remaining there until 1984, and establishing two Mass centres as well as opening St Benedict's secondary school. He was also chaplain to the race course. The Bishop of Clifton appointed him to the diocesan Education Council.
In 1984 he was recalled to the monastery to become bursar, a post he held until 1987. Then he was sent to Coventry by Abbot Gregory Freeman to be superior, but not parish priest, during the short lived experiment of having an urban monastery there. In 1989 he went as parish priest to Scarisbrick, Lancs, until being recalled to the monastery again in 1992 to become subprior. He also assisted in the local parish, serving Pangbourne and Theale until 1994.
For many years Fr James had been elected by the community to serve on the abbot's council of seniors. In 1984 he was given the title of Cathedral Prior of Winchester.
During his last years Fr James had been ailing. The saddest occasion for him was when he had to give up his regular game of golf, when he no longer had the strength to play. Gradually he became more and more confused, but he never complained, and always expressed gratitude for any help given him, however small, by his brother monks. If he had to ask for some assistance such as finding his way back to room when he had forgotten where it was, he always began "I'm sorry to be a nuisance but could you just show me where to go?" To the end he remained cheerful and was always happy to talk with guests, even speaking with the oblates on retreat the day before he died.
Until his last day Fr James remained faithful to prayer and the common life. He always wished to be in the right place for the next community event whether in church or refectory. When he was no longer able to read he spent many hours praying the rosary; often during the day and sometimes the night as well, he would be seen sitting in church with his rosary beads in the his hands, and this was a source of great comfort to him. His familiar figure was of great edification to the community and we pray that when he meets the Lord, he will greeted with "Well done, good and faithful servant."
Thomas "Dixie" Deane was born on September 6, 1914 in Bedlington, Northumberland of Irish parents. The parish of Bedlington at that time was run by Douai monks and so it was not surprising that Thomas was sent to Douai School in September 1928. At school he was a keen sportsman and was eventually selected to play Rugby Football for the school in the 1st XV and Cricket in the first XI.
On leaving school he joined the community and was clothed as a novice by Abbot Sylvester Mooney on September 18, 1932, being given the name Vincent. Temporary Profession followed the next year and he made Solemn Profession on September 25, 1936. He was ordained priest by Bishop Cotter on April 16, 1939, Low Sunday.
Fr Vincent studied Mathematics at the Universities of Oxford and Reading, graduating with 2nd class honours in 1940. He was then appointed to teach senior Mathematics at Douai School along with Fr Aelred Eckersley OSB.
Early in the war he joined the group of monks who were acting as chaplains to the American Air Force men, serving at the various bases in the vicinity of the monastery. This was something which made a great impression upon him and which he was to recall several times in the final year of his life.
Fr Vincent's first love was for pastoral work rather than teaching, and so he was delighted to be appointed as assistant priest to Ormskirk, Lancashire in 1952. In 1962 he went as parish priest to Stratford-upon-Avon and two years later to St Osburg's Coventry, where he remained until 1980. His final appointment was as parish priest of Frizington in Cumbria, where he stayed until his retirement in 1993. He then went to assist in the parish on Walney Island, Cumbria, until returning to the monastery in 1995.
As long as his health premitted Fr Vincent continued to assist in pastoral work in the local parish of Woolhampton, and with the nuns at Cold Ash convent. He enjoyed being back with the community and became a keen member of the crossword group in the calefactory. He also enjoyed frequent games of golf with local clergymen and with parishioners.
Sadly the last year of his life was one of rapidly failing health. He became increasingly confused and had to be hospitalised in December 2001, first at Fairmile and later at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, where he died on April 10, 2002.
Fr Matthew Hulley passed into eternal life on Sunday October 7, 2001 at 2pm.
Herbert Hulley was born in South Wales in 1911. He was sent to the Jesuit college at Stonyhurst, but transferred to Douai School for the sixth form. After leaving school he entered the novitiate at Douai in 1931, making his temporary profession the following year and solemn profession three years later.
After ordination by Bishop Cotter on Low Sunday, April 24, 1938, he was sent as assistant priest first to Blyth and then to Bedlington in Northumberland. After the war in 1949 he was recalled to the monastery to teach Moral Theology and Church History. In 1953 Abbot Sylvester Mooney appointed him Prior of the monastery, a position he held for twenty years until 1973, and again from 1977 until 1984. At various times he also held the offices of sacristan, MC, Junior Master and Novice Master. He welcomed the reforms brought about by the Second Vatican Council, and Abbot Sylvester Mooney made him Chairman of the Liturgy Commission which oversaw the changes to the community worship. In 1973 he was appointed Cathedral Prior of Peterborough. From 1973 till 1977 he served as Parish Priest of Birtley, Co Durham, and assistant in Cheltenham, Glos.
Fr Matthew was a good preacher and many of his homilies are still remembered. He was a person of quiet determination who sought perfection in whatever he did. The version of the Martyrology he wrote for the community in 1973 is still in daily use here and has been taken over by a number of other communities.
During his last years he suffered a series of debilitating strokes which impaired his walking, his speech and his eyesight. Although he was frustrated at times in not being able to make himself understood he bore his infirmity with gentleness and acceptance. Until a few days before his death he continued to drive to meals in the refectory in his electric carriage and to read The Times. During the last few days completely worn out, he waited patiently for the Father's call.