" I now begin to know what happiness it is to live and die a Redemptorist. Oh, let us love our vocation and strive to persevere in it! "
Bl Francis Xavier Seelos C.Ss.R
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Rev Father Joseph Gibbons RIP

Father Gibbons, who was born at Fairfield, Co Durham, went to St Mary’s Training College, Hammersmith; in 1915 he joined the Royal Field Artillery, serving in Egypt and France, where he was wounded during the battle of the Somme.

He taught at St Joseph’s school Sunderland, from 1919 until 1922 and afterwards entered the congregation. He was ordained in 1928, served for a short time on the Parish at Clapham, and was sent to South Africa in 1931. He spent most of his life working on the Bantu mission stations. He was largely responsible for the development of the missions at Gaarsfontein and Eersterust. In 1952 he was transferred to the Rustenburg district and he did a large part of the building work himself, spending day after day in the African sun laying bricks.

Father Gibbons never returned to England and so was unknown to most of the confreres in the UK.

He suffered a heart attack at Zeerust and was taken to the hospital in Modimong (which means God's own place},  run by the Sisters of Selly Park. He died on September 5th  1961 and was buried at Modimong, near the shrine of Our Lady of the Bushveldt which he built himself RIP


(Obituary based on that published in CSsR News)

Fr John Howard 

On Wednesday, December 28th 1960, Father John Howard died in hospital in Birmingham. He had suffered a fall the day before that caused him to be admitted to hospital. Father Howard, at the time the oldest Father in the Province,  was in his 86th year of age. His great charity and consideration for others was manifested when, a little while before his death, he wrote a brief account of his life. With a blessing on him for his thoughtfulness, we reproduce the account just as he wrote it.

“In the event of my death, which cannot be very far off at the age of 85, to save trouble to the chronista of the house I thought it well to put on record the main facts of my life which are as follows.

Born 20th March 1875, at Derry-villane Rockmills, Co. Cork, Ireland,  my parents, Timothy and Margaret Howard (O’Keefe) were of the farming class. I was the second son in a family of nine children, four boys and five girls. As a child, I was sent to the national school at Ballingdangern and later to the Christian Brothers school at Mitchelstown. At the age of 17 I entered the seminary at Mount Mellerey to study for the priesthood. In 1896 I applied at Mount St Alphonsus, Limerick and was accepted for the Redemptorist Congregation. That same year I entered the noviciate at Bishop Eton, Liverpool. In December 1896 the novitiate was transferred to Perth Scotland, and on August 15th, the feast of Our Lady’s Assumption I made my perpetual vows.

From Perth I went to the House of Studies of the English Province. The Irish Province had not yet been formed. After two years at Teignmouth, Devon, I volunteered to remain a member of the English Province when the Irish Province was formed.  I was sent with the English students – who were too few to form a House of Studies of their own – to Beauplateau, in Belgium. After two years in Beauplateau, we were transferred to the House of Studies in Mautern in Austria where I was ordained priest on July 31st 1902.

Owing to my poor state of health it was arranged by our Father Provincial that I should return to England immediately after ordination and continue my studies under the guidance of Father Stebbing, Rector of St Benet’s Sunderland.

From 1903 to 1948 I had been engaged giving missions and retreats from the various houses of the Province with the exception of a short break when I was chaplain to the forces for three years in the First World War. I spent three years of my missionary life at Heathfield in South Africa.

For the past years I have been stationed at this our House of Studies. “Only a brief moment now when He who is coming will be here and He will not tarry on the way”. Yes, the time of preparation for the greatest event of all is now short, at the age of 85, so I must make the most of it. St Joseph’s Hawkstone is an ideal house for such preparation where all is peace and tranquillity. With more than fifty confreres consecrated to God and serving Him from early morning to late at night, while the grand work of preparing young men for the Priesthood goes on day by day. I can never be sufficiently grateful for the privilege of ending my days in such holy company. Deo Gratias et Mariae”

Father Howard was moved from Hawkstone to Birmingham just a few weeks before his death During his short time in Birmingham, his sister 'Sister Philomena Howard' of the Sisters of Charity died.

His requiem was on Tuesday, 3rd  January at Erdington Abbey, and he was buried in the cemetery there on that day.

(Obituary based on that published in CSsR News

apologies for any transcription errors re placenames.)


Fr William Raemers (1885 - 1966)

Popular estimation has already canonised William Raemers so penetrating was the effect of this extraordinary man.

He was born on April 26th 1885 in Norwood, London and was educated in the Redemptorist Juvenate, then at Bishop Eton, Liverpool. At no time in his life did he enjoy good health: at the early age of 16 he was seriously ill with phlebitis and underwent three operations for this complaint. He made his novitiate at Bishop’s Stortford and was professed in 1906. During the course of his studies for the Priesthood at Kinnoull he was so seriously ill that he was anointed twice. In 1911 it was decided that his left arm would have to be amputated but a Doctor Cosgrove, who was staying in the monastery at the time, persuaded the surgeon to remove only the two middle fingers of the left hand. His mother had been praying earnestly to Pius IX for a cure ad sent a relic of this pope to her son.  A few weeks later it was decided that a further operation would be necessary and the two remaining fingers were removed, leaving only a remnant of the index finger and half the thumb. The more serious problem remained to be settled. Because of this surgery, would it be possible for him to be ordained or must he now abandon all hope of becoming a priest? Two Canons of the diocese were sent by the Bishop to examine the young Redemptorist and discover if it would be possible for him to say Mass with a mutilated left hand. These were anxious weeks for all concerned and it was with great joy that Rome granted him a dispensation from this impediment and allowed his ordination to proceed. He was ordained to the Priesthood on Dec 21st 1911 and so began his extraordinary apostolic career.

He spent almost all his first 18 years as a priest at Bishop Eton. From the beginning he demonstrated his ability to captivate children and by 1920, when he addresses 5000 children in St George’s Hall Liverpool, he was already well established as a master in this field. He pioneered the use of visual aids for religious instruction and accompanies these with a flood of pamphlets written especially for children, especially his ‘King’s Series’

In 1936 he kept the  Silver Jubilee of his ordination at Erdington Abbey. He had kept up his writing and published very many pamphlets for the Catholic Truth Society notably his one on Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. During these years he was in and out of hospital, often confines to bed for months at a time and in 1957 his left hand was amputated completely. Yet somehow or other he managed to get through an arduous programme. Despite his illness and disability, he gave over a thousand missions and retreats. Towards the end on 1965 he was again admitted to hospital but rallied and was able to say his Masses on Christmas Dat. Exactly a month later he said Mass for the last time and collapsed in great pain afterwards. He was taken eventually to Mount Vernon hospital in Middlesex where cancer of the bladder was diagnosed.  On March 28th he was transferred to Calvary Nursing Home staffed by the nuns of the little Company of Mary. Here he was well known for he had often given retreats there in previous years. It was here amidst the murmur of their prayers that he died peacefully on April 13th. He was buried at St Joseph’s Bishop’s Stortford and crowds of priests, nuns and people gathered for the requiem.

Fr Raemers was a man of single-purpose- the honour and glory of God. He had a childlike simplicity, unwavering faith and deeply rooted habits of piety He was essentially a man of prayer. His single-mindedness in God’s service would only be equalled by his zeal in spreading devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. For, without doubt, no Redemptorist could have done more than he, to make this good Mother known and loved. He was a living example of what St Therese of Lisieux had said: “Holiness does not consist in extraordinary things, but in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well”. May his great soul rest in peace.

(Obituary based on that published in CSsR News in 1966)

Brother Martin Caine

On Nov 10th 1964 Bro Martin died in hospital in London. He was professed in 1926. His office for the greater part of his life was the porter, and his work brought hm into contact with many people. He was particularly well known to the people of St Benet’s and St Mary’s Clapham where he worked for many years. He was always kind and patient and quietly most efficient, whether he was receiving a Bishop or a poor man asking for an alms. He will be greatly missed by us all but especially by the poor who came regularly and were always received by him with great charity. In an earlier edition of the CSsR newsletter, Brother Martin was asked to write something on the Brother’s Vocation. Let it be his own epitaph …

‘The Redemptorist Brother’s life has a distinct purpose. Humble it may be, incomprehensible to many it will be; but to those who wish to serve God humbly and love our Lord personally, it is the answer.’

(Obituary based on that published in CSsR News)

Brother Adrian RIP

On Nov 15th 1964 Brother Adrian died at Cape Town, South Africa. Although born in this country he emigrated to Australia as a young man and there entered the Congregation. He was professed in 1927 and in the early years of his religious life was stationed for some years in the Philippines. He returned to England to join the English Province. For a number of years he was stationed at Erdington looking after the garden. From there he was moved to South Africa in 1958. He was a good Brother ad most exact in the exercise of his duties. Perhaps his most outstanding virtue was discretion.

(Obituary based on that published in CSsR News)

Brother Gilbert (Matthew McDonnell) 

Brother Gilbert, at the time the oldest member of the St Mary’s Clapham community died on Feb 10th 1964 he was in his 74th year.

He was born, Matthew McDonnell, in the village of Kelloe, Co. Durham in 1890. On leaving school he went into the pit and worked as a miner for the best part of twenty years.

He was 36 years of age when he entered our Congregation as a Brother; but from the very beginning, he inspired all by his enthusiasm, his readiness for hard work, and his constant striving for holiness. He had an old fashioned sense of humour, which stimulated but never wounded. He was not a plaster saint, lacking in vitality or charm – there was nothing he enjoyed more than a good boxing match – but this was his own relaxation. Though crippled with arthritis in his latter years, he could always be seen in the Community Oratory, making the Way of the Cross, or his visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or saying rosary after rosary; not just one day, but every day.

(Obituary based on that published in CSsR News)

Fr William Locke 

Fr. Locke, a member of the Bishop’s Stortford community died suddenly on the 1st September 1964, in the Isle of Wight. He had gone there to recuperate after a coronary thrombosis earlier in the year.

He was professed in 1920 and ordained in 1925. He spent most of his life-giving missions and retreats all over the country and his charm and kindness won him a host of friends. He was well known to the people of Clapham where he has been Rector and in Bishop Eton and Bishop Stortford

Fr George Lindsay

Shortly after the death of Fr Locke the Bishop’s Stortford community sustained a second loss with the death of Fr George Lindsay. He fell victim to a coronary thrombosis and it soon became apparent to the doctors that the damage to his heart was too severe to hope for recovery.

Fr. Lindsay’s early life was spent in St Benet’s Sunderland. He was professed in 1925 and ordained in 1930. He taught for a time both in the Juvenate and the house of studies (Hawkstone) and assisted also in the formation of novices. The latter part of his life was spent mainly in parish work at Erdington and Sunderland, before coming to Bishop's Stortford seven years ago. He was the brother of the late Fr John Lindsay. He was a good priest, and would want no better epitaph.

(Obituary based on that published in CSsR News)

Fr Thomas Pickering RIP

Fr Thomas Pickering died on April 18th 1964 at Salisbury, Rhodesia. He was 64

Professed in 1922, Ordained 1927 he worked for many years at St. Mary’s Clapham. He went to Africa in 1948. May he rest in peace

(Obituary based on that published in CSsR News)

Fr William Bradley

Fr William Bradley died on October 27th 1965. Born in 1888, he was professed in 1908 and ordained in 1913, He was a fluent Gaelic speaker and worked for many years in the Hebrides until his retirement to St Mary’s Clapham where he kept his Golden Jubilee of Priesthood two years ago. RIP

(Obituary based on that published in CSsR News)

Fr Thomas Nolan RIP

On Monday, October 17th 1960, Father Thomas Nolan died suddenly at Clapham aged 63.

Father Nolan was professed 15th October 1917, and was ordained September 24th 1922. During his priestly life he was active in giving missions and retreats extensively in many different parts of England, Scotland and Wales. These last few years he was assigned to work on the parish of St Mary’s Clapham. A few days before his death he was under the doctor for treatment having complained of pain and numbness in his leg, but he seemed to have recovered from this when suddenly he collapsed and died about midday.


Brother Francis (Peter Graham) 1889-1983

Brother Francis died, aged 94 in St Raphael’s Nursing home Bromley Kent on Sunday 17th November 1983

He was born in Byermoor, Co Durham in 1889. He made his religious profession as a Redemptorist in 1918 at the age of 29. He spent the last 65 years of his life in the most unobtrusive way, praying and serving his brother Redemptorists and God’s people through humble service. For most of his life he was either cook or refectorian in many of our houses in Britain, though he did spend 9 years working in Pretoria, South Africa. His last community was St. Mary’s Clapham from where he was buried. May he rest in peace.

(Obituary based on that published in CSsR News)

Brother Gerard (James McMorrow) 1909 – 1984

Br Gerard died at St Mary’s Kinnoull on Tuesday 10th January 1984

Born in Cowdenbeath, Fife, he was a miner before joining the Redemptorists. He was professed in 1938 at the age of 29, and worked as a sacristan for the best part of his 45 years in the Congregation. The three principal houses in which he served were St Mary’s Clapham, St Mary’s Kinnoull and the church of Sant’ Alfonso, Rome.

The following is an extract from the Kinnoull house chronicles.

"Thus for twenty years, Gerard has been a devoted servant of this community. A man of strictness and punctuality, he suffered anything except confreres who would not try to live by the rule of the Congregation of which he was fond. He leaves a gap in our community that can never be filled. However, we know that we have another saint praying for us in heaven…"

His one delight (relaxation) was to play the mouth organ in his room – a talent he rarely shared. Another talent and part of his work as sacristan was flower arranging.

During his last weeks, Gerard got great consolation from knowing that Jesus had suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, and this was the theme of his praying in those last days. As his pain increased, he became a little irritable and on one occasion, Br Majella (his devoted nurse) said to him “You were never like this (irritable) before.” “Ah no”, he replied with a twinkle in his eye, “but I was never dying before1”

Both Bishop Logan and Bishop Hart attended the funeral of Br Gerard along with twenty priests who concelebrated Mass. May he rest in peace.

(Obituary based on that published in CSsR News)

Fr Patrick Kenny (1906-1984)

Fr Patrick Kenny died peacefully at St Benet’s Sunderland on Thursday, February 23rd, aged 77.

Fr Kenny was born in Willington Quay, Wallsend in 1906. After grammar school, he entered the Redemptorists and was professed in 1925 and ordained five years later at Hawkstone Hall, Shropshire on September 8th 1930. He studied for two years in Rome, where he obtained a degree in theology.

It was in Hawkstone, teaching dogmatic theology, that Fr Kenny spent the best part of his life – thirty years in all. The majority of the Redemptorist priests in this country (as of 1984) were his students.

After leaving teaching and Hawkstone, Fr Kenny went to Wales to work on the Travelling Mission for two years, before going to St Benet’s Sunderland in 1972 to work on the parish. He stayed there for the rest of his life except for two years in Bishop’s Stortford (’76 – ’78).

In 1980, he celebrated his golden jubilee of priesthood.

Fr Kenny was buried on February 28th after a splendid concelebrated Mass in St Benet’s at which  Bishop Owen Swindlehurst was the principal celebrant and Fr Frank Dickinson preached. The interment was at Mere Knoll’s cemetery, Sunderland

May he rest in peace


(Obituary based on that published in CSsR News)