Newsletter 36: June 2001
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Dear Pelicans

That iron man Gerry Taylor died in Nairobi on 5 June en route home. He was 81.

GT was one of the prisoners at Saint Denis 1940-44 and one of the golden boys ordained at Jedburgh on 3 June 1949. He went to Rome to study, began his teaching career at Broome Hall in 1952 and was one of the pioneers who opened Blacklion on 1 September 1955. You couldn't call him a great teacher but he made a deep impression as the kind of priest who strove patently for holiness even when playing the St Louis Blues on the piano.

He was a model of patience but not always. Fools he refused to suffer gladly above all when they were costing his side goals and more goals on the football field. He used to urge the glory of the Plain Chant ("This is a beautiful litany. It's a shame to ruin it.") yet always dreaded the day an expert in Gregorian might walk into the chapel at Broome Hall or St Augustine's and rumble us for the mediocrities Gerry thought we were.

The last time I saw him was on the snow at Totteridge about twenty years ago. I was waiting for Brother John Ogilvie to let me in and GT was out for a run. This blue tracksuit came panting up behind me. He was home from Africa with a skin problem.

May he rest in peace but I doubt if he wants to.

I was writing the above when I got news of the death of Brother Vincent Martin WF (Brother Dunstan) at Hammersmith on June 9.

Vincent was recruited by Tom Stoker while he was still in the Army and spent several years at St Columba's under Andy Murphy. We boys used to think he knew The Imitation of Christ off by heart. His catchphrase for every juvenile enquiry was: You'd be surprised.

He went out to Oyo but was not a success. He was appointed next to 264 Via Aurelia and gradually took over as the WFs' main wheel in the Vatican. Before Vincent had finished with Rome he had served more or less as Secretary of State to Paul VI, John Paul I (he told me how the Romans longed for a smiling Pope) and throughout the early years of the present pontificate.

Like Gerry Taylor, Vincent was another 1920 baby and 81 when he died. May he rest in peace.

Also dead is Liam Bermingham, brother-in-law of the late Kevin Wiseman WF and husband of Celia. He lived in Bourne, Lincs and I had the honour of meeting him one day a few years ago when I went to see Kevin home on holiday from B.C. May he rest in peace.

On 30 May Adrian Hastings died. He was a philosopher at Broome Hall 48-50, I think, but decided during his noviciate he wanted to offer his services directly to an African ordinary. He was accepted by Bishop Kiwanuka of Masaka and thereby hangs a tale. May he rest in peace.

Our fourth annual reunion at Bishops Waltham was as good as the best yet. This is a Pentecostal tradition I am determined to maintain. I don't think anyone could be warmer in his welcome than Fr Buckley.

(picture: Paul West - from the video)

Father Buckley, our host.

We began to gather at Tom Wilkie's on Friday 1 June. (Kate Wilkie, a very lovely lady, known to many of us, is still very ill in Southampton General and needs all the prayers she can get). The weather was top class.

On Saturday, a group set out for the Jubilee and Galley Down via St Peter's where we got a tour of the tower and onto the roof. We saw the bells and the clockwork which was a terrific bonus. I used to think that Broome Hall was unsurpassable in terms of English countryside but the Bishops Waltham area in sunlight is right up there with it now. After Mass on Saturday night, John Strain, who is to be ordained a priest in Guildford Cathedral on 30 June, gave us a marvellous little talk about his recent safari to East Africa. The poor fellow was all ready to begin when he realised he had left his slides at home. In fact, Mrs Strain 'phoned up when he was about 10 minutes into things to say they were on the sofa.

(Source: Michael Byrne)

Up on the roof of St Peter's at Bishop's Waltham.
Left to Right: Betty Mackle, Zelda & Eugene, Bernard Melling, Tom Mackle, Michael Byrne and Paul West.

(Source: Michael Byrne)

In the belltower with our guide (left, Tommy, Paul and Eugene).

(Source: Michael Byrne)

Zelda, Margaret and Bernard - at the Thai dinner in The Priory Inn on Saturday night .

(Source: Bernard Melling)

Left to Right: Zelda, Betty and Margaret — in the woods at Galleydown.

(Source: Bernard Melling)

At the Jubilee Inn, resting after a long walk through Galleydown.
Left from front: Tommy Mackle, Margaret Morton and Eugene.
Right from front: Michael Byrne, Betty Mackle, Zelda and John Morton.

(Source: Bernard Melling)

Left: Tommy Mackle in studious mode.
Eugene, at Galleydown.

(Source: Michael Byrne)

Left: Paul West, after one small shandy.

(Source: Bernard Melling)

Right: Michael Byrne and Eugene at Galleydown.

After Mass on Sunday we buried the ashes of Major John Burdett Clark under the crucifix in the little cemetery where so many heroes of the Priory's story are interred. At Verna's suggestion, we started Sweet Saviour Bless Us (Ere We Go) in the chapel and processed verse by verse outside until Fr Buckley saw John's casket into the earth where in death he had wanted so much to lie.

(Source: Paul West - from the video)

Salve Regina sung by The Pelicans, now an annual contribution to the Mass.

(Source: Paul West - from the video)

Some of John's family:
Left to Right: His daughters ——, Pauline Yeoman and Verna, John's wife.

(Source: Paul West - from the video)

At the graveside, with Fr Buckley officiating.

What about Dublin 5-7 October 2001? Yes, this is a goer and we should start getting organised for Cypress Grove. WATCH THIS SPACE.

I hope to make this the first of our Pelican newsletters to go out by e-mail but will of course use air mail and snail mail for those of us as yet not electronically up to speed. If you get this through the post but have an e-mail address, how about letting me have it?

Ideas for reunions in 2002 were discussed at the Priory. We will return to Bishops Waltham for Whitsun but there was a swell of opinion in favour of Dryburgh Abbey Hotel (me to organise) and/or Blackpool (Bernard to organise). Blackpool came up because I feel we now put too much of a burden on T O'D and Muriel at Preston. I'd like to go to Blackpool and take them with us.

I'm off to Ireland (first stop Blacklion) on 25 June and will not be back to the Pelican desk until 6 July.

Have a great summer yourself. Eugene

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