Priests and People
Parbold has been served by 13 Parish Priests, 7 Assistant Priests and 3 Administrators/Priests in charge. All have been monks of Ampleforth, seven were from Merseyside or Lancashire, three of the others were converts to the faith. Three died in office and are buried in the cemetery attached to the church.
JOHN PLACID O’BRIEN – 1884-1891
Father Placid was born in Liverpool, he came with a wealth of experience having recovered from typhus fever at old St. Mary’s, Liverpool although his fellow curate died. He possessed a fine voice both in speaking and singing and came to Parbold at the age of 59, from St. Bede’s, Clayton Green. He moved to St. Austin’s, Grassendale, in 1891 where he died in 1898 and is buried.
JOHN ILDEPHONSUS BROWN – 1891-1917
Father Ildephonsus was born in Wigan in 1836, he too had a varied career having succeeded Abbot Bury at Hindley and Archbishop Scarisbrick, O.S.B., at Seel Street, Liverpool. Much of the church panelling and statuary was installed during his years, notably the two altars of Our Lady and St. Benedict.
Fr. Ildephonsus is still remembered for his kindness and great practical charity and when he kept his golden jubilee of ordination, in 1913, the local vicar and Free Church minister as well as the village doctor all paid public tribute. He died in 1917, the four windows in the south aisle. Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. Laurence and St. Ildephonsus, being his memorial.
FR .BENEDICT MCLAUGHLIN – Assistant 1914-1915
Father Benedict was born in Carlisle in 1866 and was a graduate of LondonUniversity. He came to Ampleforth College as a lay-master, eventually joining the Community there in 1893 and was ordained in 1900.
For some years after ordination he again taught at Ampleforth College before coming out to serve on the Parishes in St Mary’s Warrington (1907-1909) and Dowlais, South Wales (1909-1912). In 1912 he went to Canada where, along with Father Wilfrid Darby OSB (Parbold 1915-1928), he was one of the two pioneers in a new foundation in Calgary, Alberta. Unfortunately due to political problems – of a religious nature – the Calgary foundation was abandoned in 1914 and Father Benedict returned to England to Parbold as assistant Priest to Prior Ildephonsus Brown (Parbold 1891-1917).
In 1915 he became incumbent at Goosnargh before becoming Parish Priest at St Alban’s Warrington from 1918-1919. In 1919 he became assistant at Brindle and Merthyr Tydfil. From 1922 until 1938 he was assistant at Warwick Bridge until he became a complete invalid. He died in Stillington, York on 28 August 1938 and is buried at Ampleforth.
JOHN WILFRID DARBY – 1917-1928
Father Wilfrid was born in Liverpool, Fr. Darby was 60 years old and relinquished the huge parish of St. Anne, Edge Hill to come to Parbold as Assistant Priest in 1915, before becoming Parish Priest in 1916. Pressure was put upon him to install a telephone but he resisted on the grounds that the parish could ill afford it. So a Whist Drive was held and the £3 that it raised was sufficient to pay for the phone and the first quarters rental. Several parishioners died in the Great War, Cyril Ainscough, Ralph Baxendale and Felix Fishwick, and stained glass windows were erected to their memory.
The church had a narrow escape from fire in 1925 but Fr. Darby’s erudition in dealing with the insurance resulted in a settlement that permitted the purchase of the present Christmas Crib. He died at Parbold, December 16th, 1928, and the windows in the north aisle depicting St. John the Baptist and St. Wilfrid are his memorial.
FR. FREDERICK AIDAN CROW – 1928-1941
Father Aidan was a native of Louth, Lincolnshire and came to Parbold at the age of 67. He had been Procurator of Ampleforth during the building of the new monastery about the turn of the century. He had also been secretary to Bishop Hedley and loved to recall the hours of their happy association.
The St. John Rigby window, gift of his co-lateral descendants, was blessed on June 15th, 1930. At about the same time the Lourdes window was donated by the polding family of Parbold. Originally belonging to Brindle, this old Lancashire Catholic family counted Archbishop Polding, O.S.B., of Sydney, among its members. Something must be said about Abbot Matthews of Ampleforth who presided at the parish golden jubilee celebrations, in 1934. His regard for Parbold was high, indeed some people believe him to have been born there.
Father Aidan Crow died in 1941.
SIGEBERT CODY – Assistant 1933
Father Sigebert was born in Bath in 1852 and was educated at Ampleforth where he joined the monastic community. Ordained Priest in 1877 he was immediately sent out to the “Missions” or as they are known today, the Parishes. He served in St Alban’s Warrington (1878-79 and 1891-97), before joining his brother, Father Elphege Cody a monk of Downside Abbey, at Fort Augustus Abbey in Scotland (1879-1880). He returned to Parish work at Bedlington (1880-1882), St Anne’s Edge Hill, Liverpool (1882-1890), Hindley (1890 -1891) and St Mary’s Cardiff (1897-1905). In 1905 he returned to Scotland to Blackwood until 1912 when he came to Brownedge, Bamber Bridge (1912-1917). His longest period of Pastoral work was at Warwick Bridge near Carlisle where he lived for sixteen years from 1917 until 1933.
Failing strength and growing infirmities saw him leave Warwick Bridge to come to Parbold as assistant to Father Aidan Crow (Parbold 1928-1941 in October 1933. Unfortunately deterioration of his health meant a move, in December 1933, to a Nursing Home, at Whalley Grange, where he died on 1 May 1934.
WILLIAM AMBROSE BYRNE – 1941-1942
Brother of the third Abbot of Ampleforth, Father Ambrose grew up at Rock Ferry on the Cheshire bank of the Mersey. He came to Parbold from war-stricken Cardiff but preferring activity to seclusion he moved to Brownedge, Bamber Bridge, where, we are told he put new life into everything. He died in 1950 and is buried at Brownedge.
JOSEPH GERARD BLACKMORE – 1942-1946
Born at Ilkley, Yorkshire, Father Gerard’s parents came from Bideford, Devon, and were related to the author of Lorna Doone. Educated at Ushaw before becoming an Ampleforth monk and ordained in 1913, Fr. Blackmore was curate in eight parishes, not because he was difficult to place but because of his patience and kindness with sick and aged priests. He came to Parbold from Knaresborough and later moved to Brindle, where he died in 1950.
HERMAN WILFRID ALEXIUS CHAMBERLAIN – 1946-1956
Born in Liverpool in 1887, Father Alexius was ordained in 1915. As parish priest of St. Mary’s, Warrington, 1929-1942, his numerous utterances and activities earned him the sobriquet “pulpit, platform and press”. He came to Parbold as Assistant Priest in 1944, before becoming Parish Priest in 1945. When he reached his monastic golden jubilee in 1955, he installed the two windows in the Lady Chapel at Parbold depicting his patrons, St Alexius and St Herman the Lame, a Benedictine monk credited with having composed the Salve Regina.
Fr. Alexius was a man of dominant personality and forthright speech. Yet he was always quick to recognise service rendered. He wrote from Parbold “I have been aided both in church and school by a small group of devoted workers”. Three of these were Robert Abram (1888-1965) who in the days before central heating came three times a day to stoke the church fire, all through winter. Another was Wilfrid Whittle (1896-1976) gardener, gravedigger, bellringer and collector. Both were baptised in the church and are buried in its cemetery. The third was James Cornwell (1904-1982). Illness compelled Fr Alexius to retire to Brownedge where in recognition of years of faithful service he was given the titular dignity of Abbot of St. Mary’s, York. He died in 1965.
ILLTYD WILLIAMS – Assistant 1947-1948
Father Illtyd was one of six brothers who were educated at Ampleforth. Born in Caerleon near Newport in Wales in 1887 he arrived at Ampleforth College in 1896. He joined the monastic community in 1905. In 1908 he was sent to Louvain to study French. Ordained Priest in 1913 Father Illtyd was appointed Housemaster of the Junior House at Ampleforth in 1926 where one of his last pupils was the future Cardinal Basil Hume OSB.
Ill health caused his retirement from Junior House in 1936 and six months later he became assistant Priest at St Anne’s, Edge Hill, Liverpool. Persistent ill health saw him retire to a Nursing Home from 1940 until 1947. In 1947 he was assistant Priest at Knaresborough, before he came to Parbold to act as assistant to Father Alexius Chamberlain (Parbold 1945-1956). After Parbold he was assistant for short periods at Grassendale and Warwick Bridge before becoming Parish Priest at Easingwold in 1948 where he remained until his death.
In 1961 Father Illtyd was appointed Cathedral Prior of Durham. He died in York on 9 April 1964.
ERNEST GREGORY SWANN – 1956-1957
Father Gregory was born in Merton, Surrey and educated at Lowestoft College and St Edmund Hall Oxford. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1909 and became a Benedictine Monk of Ampleforth in 1911. Whilst teaching chemistry at Ampleforth College he also held various offices, such as sub-procurator, and sub Novice Master as well as serving the local parish of Helmsley for eight years.
From 1927 until 1958 Father Gregory served on the Ampleforth parishes. Having been assistant Priest at St Mary’s Cardiff he became Parish Priest of Easingwold, Lostock Hall (1943-1957) and finally Parbold.
He made a plan and wrote an account of the Rose Window in the Church at Parbold (details of which may be found under the section Photographs – the Rose Window) on this Web-site. After only one year at Parbold Father Gregory retired to Ampleforth dying on 31 March 1974.
URQUHART AELRED PERRING – 1957-1970
Born at Highgate, London. Father Aelred was an observer in the First World War and a chaplain to the Royal Air Force in the second When he succeeded Fr Gregory Swann, Parbold was ceasing to be a remote community and its attraction as a place of residence to people whose professions take them to Liverpool, Manchester and beyond started to develop.
A new Primary School was built during his tenure. In 1972 he moved to Richmond in Yorkshire and in 1977 kept the Golden Jubilee of his priesthood at the Hill Chapel, Goosnargh.
LEONARD ALBAN RIMMER – 1970-1973
Born in Warrington in 1911, Father Alban was ordained in 1939 and after teaching in the school at Ampleforth until 1952, he served in Cardiff, Warrington and Brownedge and as parish priest at Aberford. During his two years in Parbold, he renovated the presbytery and developed lay involvement in the liturgy.
In 1974 he moved to Kirkbymoorside, near Ampleforth, to become Parish Priest. He ramained there until 1980. Father Alban died, in retirement, in Ripon on 22 May 1984.
DAVID HERBERT O’BRIEN – 1973-1990
Born in 1925 at Saint Annes, on the Fylde coast and educated by the Jesuits in Preston, Father David served in the Royal Navy for four years, 1942-1946. After four years in business he became a monk of Ampleforth and was ordained in 1958. He taught in the school and served in Cardiff and at St. Mary’s, Warrington, before his appointment to Parbold. In 1977 he was made Dean of the Ormskirk Deanery, by Archbishop Worlock. During his tenure, phase 2 of the school was completed and extensive renovations made to the church, cemetery and grounds. Unfortunately he had to leave the parish in February 1990 due to ill health brought about by stress.
He went to Saint Mary’s Brownedge, Bamber Bridge. In 1997 he returned to Ampleforth becoming Priest in Charge of Saint Mary’s Helmsley until July 2000. Father David died at Ampleforth on 26 November 2014 in his ninetieth year.
FATHER PATRICK FRANCIS VIDAL – Administrator during 1990
Father Francis was born in London in 1919. Educated at Ampleforth he entered the monastery there in 1937. Whilst a Monk studying at Oxford University he played for the University XV for two seasons. Returning to the Abbey he was ordained Priest in 1947.
Two years later he went to the Ampleforth Parish of Workington as assistant Priest to begin fifty years service on the Ampleforth Parishes. From Workington he went to Saint Benedict’s Warrington, nine years later to Saint Mary’s Harrington before being moved to Saint Mary’s Bamber Bridge.
In 1970 he was appointed Parish Priest of Our Lady and Saint Wilfrid’s Warwick Bridge, Carlisle where he remained for twenty years. In February 1990 he came to Our Lady and All Saints, Parbold, to act as Administrator until December 1990 when he became Supply Priest at Our Lady and Saint Gerard’s Lostock Hall. In May 1992 he retired to Saint Mary’s Bamber Bridge but still continued a very active life in the Priestly ministry – dying suddenly after his Sick Communion round on 18 February 2000.
FATHER JOHN BERNARD FRANCIS BOYAN Assistant Priest 1991-1992
Father Bernard was born in London in 1910. Educated at Ampleforth College he entered the Monastery there in 1928, being ordained Priest in 1937. For the next twenty seven years he taught Physics at Ampleforth and was a Housemaster from 1950 until 1964.
He then became the first Catholic Chaplain at York University where he remained for six years. In 1970 he went to the Ampleforth parish of Saint Mary’s in Cardiff where he was Parish priest. From 1977 until 1982 he became Vicar for Religious in the Liverpool Archdiocese. From 1982 until 1989 he was an assistant Priest at Liverpool Cathedral before retiring to the Ampleforth Parish of Saint Mary’s Brownedge, before moving to Our Lady and All Saints as Assistant in 1992.
Unfortunately a bad fall and a series of strokes meant that he had to return to the Abbey in 1993, where he died on 17 May 1997.
FATHER THOMAS CLAYTON LEONARD JACKSON Assistant Priest 1992-2000
Father Leonard was born and baptised in Our Lady and All Saints Parish, Parbold. He was Assistant Priest to the Parish at the time of his death on 23 February 1999.
Educated at Ampleforth, he joined the monastery there in 1937. During his early monastic career he had to serve in the RAMC as part of the pre War call-up before being released. He was ordained Priest in 1945 and spent the next fifteen years teaching Geography at Ampleforth College, being Chaplain to the Domestic Staff and running the College Kinema.
In 1960 he was sent to the Ampleforth foundation at St Louis Missouri USA where he became Deputy Headmaster. He returned to England in 1971 to become Assistant Priest at Our Lady and Saint Gerard’s Lostock Hall. In 1976 he was appointed Parish Priest of Saint Mary’s Bamber Bridge. In 1986 he retired to become Assistant Priest at Saint Austin’s’ Grassendale Liverpool. In 1993 he came to Our Lady and All Saints Parbold as Assistant – complete with his Cigarettes, Model Railway and Cups of Tea.
Father Leonard took ill in Parbold Village on the morning of 23 February 1999 and died in Hospital at Southport that evening.
FATHER DAVID MICHAEL PHILLIPS – 1991-1998
Educated at Ampleforth College. He entered the Monastery at Ampleforth in 1952. After studying at Oxford University he returned to the Abbey to be ordained Priest in 1962. For the next seventeen years he taught Physics at the College as well as being a qualified Rugby Union Referee. In 1979 he was appointed Procurator of the Abbey and College.
After holding this post for twelve years he was appointed twelfth Parish Priest of Our Lady and All Saints Parbold on 1 January 1991. In November 1998 he left Parbold to become Parish Priest of the Ampleforth parish of Our Lady Star of the Sea and Saint Michael’s, Workington.
FATHER DAVID GERALD HUGHES – Priest in Charge 1998-1998
David Gerald Hughes was born in 1929 and was educated at Ampleforth College. In 1947 he went to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst before being commissioned in the Royal Artillery. He served with the British Army on the Rhine from late 1948 until November 1952.
In 1953 he entered the monastic Community at Ampleforth and was ordained Priest in July 1960. He spent the next twenty-six years teaching at Ampleforth’s Preparatory School, Gilling Castle, including a brief period as Acting Headmaster.
For twenty years he worked on some of Ampleforth’s Parishes, including St Mary’s Cardiff, St Benedict’s Ampleforth Village and St Austin’s Grassendale, Liverpool.
From November 1998 until June 1999 Father Gerald acted as Priest in Charge at Our Lady and All Saints, Parbold.
He died on 31 August 2009 and is buried at Ampleforth..
FATHER ANTHONY MARTIN HAIGH Priest in Residence 1999
Father Martin was born in 1922. Having been educated at Ampleforth he joined the monastic Community there in 1940. Having studied at St Benet’s Hall Oxford, he returned to Ampleforth where he was ordained in 1949. At Ampleforth Father Martin taught Art and French as well as being Games Master and an Office in the Combined Cadet Force. In 1963 he became Housemaster of Saint Bede’s House, in succession to Cardinal Hume.
In 1977 Father Martin returned to the Monastery to become Junior Master and Guestmaster before moving to Saint Austin’s Parish, Grassendale, Liverpool, in 1981. In 1997 he again returned to the Abbey – this time to become assistant Priest in Ampleforth Village.
Father Martin is an expert Artist and is renowned for his talks on the Shroud of Turin. For thirty-two years he organised the Ampleforth Pilgrimages to Lourdes. Father Martin supplied at Our Lady and All Saints from June 1999 until the arrival of Father Gordon on 1 September 1999. Fr Martin died at Ampleforth on 31 January 2015 aged 93.
FATHER JOHN GORDON BEATTIE – 1999
Born in Lanark, Scotland, of a Scottish father and Irish mother, Father Gordon’s secondary education was at Ampleforth. He entered the Monastery there in 1959. From 1963 until 1967 he taught at Ampleforth, where he was ordained Priest on 16 July 1967. In September 1967 he went to St Alban’s Warrington. He taught in the Boteler Grammar School Warrington (where he was also Chaplain), was Chaplain to English Martyrs RC High School, assistant Chaplain to HM Remand Centre Risley and Chaplain to St Alban’s Youth Club.
In 1977 he moved to St Mary’s Leyland, although in 1978 he spent six months in the Benedictine Monastery in Nigeria. At Leyland Fr Gordon was Chaplain to HM Prison Wymott. In 1980 he left Leyland to enter the Royal Air Force as a commissioned Chaplain. The history of St Mary’s Leyland Parish states “Father Gordon got us singing”!
His twelve years with the RAF were spent at RAF Locking with RAF St Athan: RAF Bruggen: RAF Cranwell with RAF Swinderby and RAF Coningsby and two tours at RAF Kinloss with RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Saxa Vord. He was the first Chaplain to fly in a Tornado F3. Father Gordon served during the First Gulf War, in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrein and Kuwait.
From 1967 until 2002 he was the Editor of the Benedictine Yearbook, a Directory of all the Monks and Nuns who follow the Rule of Saint Benedict in the British Isles and their overseas foundations. On leaving the Royal Air Force he made a 50,000 mile world tour of all the overseas Houses in the Benedictine Yearbook to publish a historical geographical and photographic record of them in his book “Gregory’s Angels”.
In 1992 Father Gordon returned to Parish life at Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint Gerard Majella Lostock Hall. He has remained in contact with the RAF becoming Chaplain to 2376 Squadron ATC – Bamber Bridge. At Lostock Hall he re-organised the Church Sanctuary in time for its consecration by Cardinal Basil Hume OSB in 1995.
In 2003 he reorganised the Sanctuary and Church of Our Lady and All Saints Parbold.
Father Gordon is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists and a member of the National Union of Journalists.
FATHER WILLIAM CASSIAN DICKIE – Priest in Residence 2016-2017
Father Cassian was educated in Aberdeen and at Aberdeen and Edinburgh Universities. He became assistant Head at St David’s High School, Dalkieth. A convert to the Catholic Faith he entered the Benedictine community at Farnborough Abbey in Hampshire before entering the Ampleforth community in 1990.
A Housemaster in Ampleforth College as well as Junior Master and Master of Studies in the Abbey Father Cassian looked after the local Parish of Kirkbymoorside, before becoming Parish Priest of Warwick Bridge (Cumbria), followed by Knaresborough, and Priest in charge at St Austin’s Grassendale, Liverpool. Whilst a member of the community at St Benedict’s Monastery, Brownedge Fr Cassian came to Parbold to supply during Father Gordon’s absence, at Ampleforth, from 2016 until 2017.