A Humble Priest
This morning I attended the Funeral of the Reverend Sir Hugh Dacre Barrett-Lennard, Bart, Priest of the London Oratory. He died on 21 June, just before his 90th birthday. I remember him well from my childhood (I attended catechism classes at the Oratory), and also as a young student, when he received me into the Brothers of the Little Oratory. Fr Hugh was a humble and utterly unassuming man, who often wore a shabby, stained cassock and shared St Philip Neri's sense of eccentric fun.
During the Second World War he served as a Captain in the Essex Regiment and was mentioned in dispatches. A convert to Catholicism, he was ordained at the Lateran in 1950 (one of the many others ordained that day was my uncle, Richard Stewart) and faithfully served as a priest for 57 years. May he rest in peace!
In 1977 he succeeded as the sixth Baronet Barrett-Lennard (a title dating from 1801), though this did not entail any great inheritance - indeed, the family home of Horsford Manor (Norwich) was sold some years ago and is now the head office of Anglian Windows.
During his last years Fr Hugh had lived away from the Oratory in a nursing home, but there was a sizeable crowd at today's Requiem. It was good to catch up with Fr Sean Finnegan, formerly of Valle Adurni, and to see the writer of Emitte lucem tuam carry Fr Hugh's biretta on a black cushion in the final procession!
I'm proving to be a rather unfaithful blogger as of late. Although things are supposed to calm down in the summer, life is hectic. Amongst other things, I'm preparing a retreat which I'm giving to some Carmelite nuns in August and I've fallen behind in preparing the sixteen hour-long conferences. Much of my spare time is spent doing this, but distractions continue to arise. Tomorrow, for example, I'm joining Year 6 of our primary school for their week's holiday on the Isle of Wight. I'm staying two nights and I doubt I'll be able to catch up on much work! So you probably won't hear from me now until the weekend.