Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Fr Cormac Rigby, R.I.P.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of a Westminster priest, Fr Cormac Rigby, who died yesterday morning at 8.30am, aged 67. He retired as parish priest of Stanmore four years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer and only expected to live for a couple of months. It was about this time that I first got to know him and visited him several times at his retirement flat in Oxford and, on one occasion, went to see The History Boys with him at the National Theatre (a play he saw 17 times). He made the most of the time left to him, which far exceeded his doctor's expectations, and cultivated his extensive group of friends. There is an interesting obituary in the Daily Telegraph, the Times and the Guardian; plus a tribute on Damian Thompson's blog.

Fr Cormac latterly became famous for his reflections in the Catholic Herald and his four volumes of sermons and (most recently) Stations of the Cross, all published by Family Publications. However, he was best known as the voice of BBC Radio 3, prior to his Ordination. According to the Telegraph, 'it was said that Rigby patented the Radio 3 voice: civilised, measured, knowledgeable, unflappable...Rigby's own presentation style was described by one admirer as "gentle and velvety-brown."' He continued to be an occasional announcer as a priest:
In 1989 Father Cormac, as he had become, was the celebrant at a requiem mass in Westminster Cathedral for the composer Sir Lennox Berkeley. When the BBC asked him to introduce a recording of the service, Rigby pointed out that he could not
do so because he was in it. Reassured that no one listening would realise this, Rigby stood in the vestry, clad in ritual vestments surmounted by a pair of headphones, setting the scene in which he would later play a central part.
As a priest, he had high standards; 'fussy liturgists irritated him as much as bossy lay people, fresh from theological courses, who thought they knew better than anyone else.'
As in his broadcasting work, Rigby took his priestly responsibilities at Stanmore extremely seriously, particularly when dealing with bereaved families, whom he always made a point of visiting at home in order to prepare for a funeral. Intolerant of other people's laxity, he believed that modern seminaries were producing many priests inadequately prepared for the ministry, and was particularly critical of what he regarded as laziness in some of his fellow priests, a malaise he felt affected the Catholic Church in Britain.
May he rest in peace.

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Blogger Paulinus said...

He sounds like a lovely man and a good priest. Requiscat in pace and God grant us more good priests.

7:18 pm  

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