History

History of the Parish

In medieval times the manor and township of Pudsey formed part of the ancient parish of Calverley. Some historians suggest that there was a church there from Saxon times and the dedication of the church to St. Wilfrid, a Saxon saint, would seem to confirm this view. The Calverley family had resided at the hall in the centre of the village since at least the twelfth century. It was this family which was to play an important role in the subsequent religious history of the district. Following the religious changes of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, they were to play a principal part in maintaining the Catholic Faith in the area. Sir Walter Calverley and his wife Lady Anne were before the courts for their Catholicity in the 1570s. Their youngest son Edmund was ordained a priest at the English College, Rome in 1585 and the oldest son William, was imprisoned in York Castle for his Catholic Faith. In 1599 a Catholic named Robert Anson was captured on his way to France and, under examination by the Government authorities, admitted that he had attended Mass six months earlier at Calverley Hall.

Lady Anne Calverley was the daughter of Sir Christopher Danby of Farnley Hall some three or four miles from Pudsey; they too were Catholics who helped to keep the Faith alive in the district around the town. Lady Anne’s brother, Sir Thomas Danby, married Mary Neville, sister of the Earl of Westmoreland. He died in exile after the Rising of the North in 1569 failed to re-establish the Catholic Faith. Another local family, the Hoptons of Armley Hall, and who had intermarried with the Danbys, were also suspected of Catholicism in the early 17th century. However, by the early decades of the 17th century, most of these families had conformed through pressure of persecution, moved out of the district, or died out. For over two hundred years there are scarcely any records of Catholics living in the Pudsey area. For a few years in the middle of the l8th century, a Dominican priest, Fr. Hatton, was chaplain to Nicholas Tempest at Tong Hall to the south of the town, who had been converted to Catholicism in 1736.
With the growth of Pudsey in the mid-nineteenth century, what Catholics there were had to travel to Leeds for Mass, where a church had been established in the town since 1786. However, it was from Bradford rather than Leeds that the establishment of a Catholic Church in Pudsey was to come. The first Catholic Church since the Reformation had been opened in Bradford in 1825. This was St. Mary’s in Stott Hill, on the site of the present St. Mary’s School. Canon John Motler, who was the parish priest at St. Mary’s from 1865 to l88l, had taken an interest in the plight of the Catholics of Pudsey who were still having to travel to Leeds or Bradford to attend Mass, and had laid plans in the late 1870s to provide a chapel for the town. However, in l88l, Canon Motler left St. Mary’s to take charge of the new parish of St. Joseph’s in Bradford. He was succeeded at St. Mary’s by his senior curate, Fr. Thomas Simpson, who now put into effect the plan to build a Catholic Church in Pudsey.

  Fr. Simpson, later to become a Canon of the Diocese, was ordained a priest in 1867 and was appointed almost immediately to St. Mary’s, where he was to remain until his death in 1913. He it was who, in 1883, obtained a room in Hammerton Field where Mass was said for the first time. Meanwhile, he had obtained land in The Lanes and in that same year work was begun on a school chapel to serve the needs of some three hundred Catholics by now said to be resident in the town. The Foundation Stone was laid by Canon Motler and the following Spring, the work was completed. On 19th April 1884, the new chapel was solemnly opened by Dr. Robert Cornthwaite, the Bishop of Leeds. The Mass on that occasion was celebrated coram episcopo by the founder of the church, Fr. Simpson, assisted by the priests and choir from St. Mary’s. The cost of the first St. Joseph’s was £1,200. When fully opened out, the chapel could hold 4OO but was able to be divided from the Sanctuary by screens and to provide two school rooms, one of which was specially set aside for the use of the infants.
St. Joseph’s continued to be served by the priests from St. Mary’s until 1901, when the care of the parish was given to the Carmelite Fathers of the Dutch Province. It has not been possible to discover at present why this rather unusual decision was taken. In 1901 there were no Calced Carmelites working in England and it was to be another, twenty-five years before the Irish Province took charge of two parishes in Kent. No doubt Bishop Gordon, the Bishop of Leeds, found it difficult to provide sufficient priests to staff the growing number of new parishes that were needed. Moreover, there were already a number of priests from the Low Countries in the Diocese and it was perhaps through these connections that the Bishop invited the Carmelite Fathers to take charge of Pudsey. Father Paul Hurkmanns, O.C.C. and Father Vitalis Felix, O.C.C. took possession of the parish on 28th April 1901 and moved into a house in Pembroke Road, off Richardshaw Lane.

In his diary, Father Hurkmanns records that the first marriage to be solemnised at St. Joseph’s, was on 24th August 1901, between Michael Daly and Emma Rider. Before this, couples had to go to St. Mary’s for the wedding. In the following July the Pudsey Mission was formally transferred to the Carmelite Fathers, yet despite this decision, their stay was to be short-lived. In September 1903, the Provincial of the Dutch Carmelites, Fr. Lambert Smeets, came on visitation to Pudsey and questioned the suitability of St. Joseph’s as a place for the order. However, it was another three years before the Prior General of the Carmelites, Fr. Pius Mayer, came to the parish, “to see”, as Fr. Hurkmanns wrote, “if Pudsey was a suitable place and if there were any prospects to establish a monastery”. After his two days visit in August 1906, he decided against the venture and began arrangements for the Carmelites to return to Holland and by the end of the year they had withdrawn from the scene. Nevertheless, they had pioneered the establishment of an independent parish and had begun to see the results of that work.
Father Versteylen
Father Versteylen
For a number of months, the care of the parish appears to have reverted to St. Mary’s and it was over a year before the Bishop sent a new priest to St. Joseph’s. By a strange coincidence the priest came from Belgium but this time was a priest of the Diocese. Fr. Lawrence Versteylen was born in Turnhout in the archdiocese of Mechlin in l872. After his early education by the Jesuits in his hometown, he had entered the seminary at Mechlin. Wishing to work in an English Diocese, he had come at first to the small diocesan seminary in Nottingham but in 1892 had transferred to St. Joseph’s Seminary, Leeds, where he was ordained priest in July 1896. He was appointed as curate to the Cathedral and from there had often come to Pudsey to assist the priests, both before and after the Carmelites had left. He came to Pudsey as parish priest on 4th May 1908 and was to spend the rest of his life there.

Fr Versteylen soon realised the need for a church building apart from the school and in March 1913, obtained from Belgium a timber framed temporary church, which was to serve the parish for the next twenty years. It was always Fr. Versteylen’s ambition to provide a worthy church for the Catholics of Pudsey and on 17th September 1932 the Foundation Stone of a new church was blessed and laid by Bishop Cowgill.
Blessing of the foundation stone
Blessing of the foundation stone


A year to the day, the new church was opened, on l7th September 1933 - The church in rustic bricks and red-tiled roof, was built to the design of Charles Fox, a well-known architect of Dewsbury, who had designed a number of churches in the Diocese, including St. Peter’s, Bradford and St. Catherine’s, Sheffield. The High Altar was cut from Bolton Wood stone and the cost of the whole building was over £3,500. The account of the opening states hopefully, “there is a substantial amount outstanding”.

The opening was a memorable occasion for the Catholics of the district. Solemn High Mass was celebrated by their beloved priest, who had done so much for the building of the church. In the absence of the Bishop, the church was blessed by Fr. Vermeire of St. Patrick’s, Leeds and the sermon was preached by Canon Mitchell of the Cathedral.

Church Circa 1930's
The New Church, 1933
In the evening there was a special service, at which the preacher was Provost Russell of Keighley. Those who were present on this happy occasion could not but notice how frail the parish priest of Pudsey had become. His life work was now complete and only two weeks after the opening of the new church, Fr. Versteylen died, on 2nd October 1933, at the age of 61, having been parish priest of St. Joseph’s for twenty-five years.

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Fr. Patrick John Duane was born, 12th March 1889.  A native of Ballyshera, in the Diocese of Cloyne, Ireland. He had been educated at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Leeds and was ordained priest on the 27th July, 1913.   His first years as a priest were at St Patrick's (Ipswich), until July 1915 when he was recalled to join the Cathedral clergy in Leeds.  Throughout the difficult years of the first world war, he laboured in Leeds.  In October 1921 he became the Parish Priest of Carlton, where he stayed for the next 12 years.  In November 1933 he was appointed Parish  Priest of St Josephs, Pudsey.

During his time in the parish, the numbers of Catholics continued to increase. The school managers were reported to be approaching the L.E.A. with the request for extra teaching staff, because of the increased number of children attending St. Joseph’s School. In 1946 plans were put in motion for the building of extra accommodation for the school. Indeed, in common with many parishes, the major concern of the Pudsey parish during these years was the provision of adequate Catholic education for their children.

In January 1953 Fr. Duane was appointed by Bishop Heenan, to St. Mary’s, Selby.  He died there on the 21st November 1960.

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Fr. John Connelly was educated at Ushaw, where he was ordained priest on the 26th July, 1936. He then spent the next 4 years as a curate at St. William’s (Bradford).  Shortly after the outbreak of war, when chaplains were needed for the Forces, he offered his services and was soon on active service in the Middle East.  Afterwards he would relate how closely he had shared the gruelling life of the men of the 8th Army, throughout the North African campaign.

After demobilisation in 1946, he served at St Alban's (Denaby), St Austin's (Wakefield), St Joseph's (Dinnington) and then St. Thomas’s (Goole), before coming to Pudsey in January 1953.  All these changes he accepted without question in a spirit of simple obedience, being happy to stay or content to go wherever he was needed.

Sadly, he was to be here at St Josephs, only two years. He died suddenly on 28th March 1955, in St Luke's Hospital, Bradford, at the early age of 45.

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Father Connelly's Gravestone
The grave of Fr John Connelly, Pudsey Cemetery
Father Hewitt
Father Hewitt
Fr. Austin Hewitt was born in 1905 at Rathnally, Co. Meath and after being educated at Blackrock College and Mount Melleray Abbey, he then came to St Joseph's Seminary, Leeds for his theological training and where he was ordained on the 1st April 1933. He became a curate at St Francis (Holbeck), then St Marie's (Sheffield) followed by Sacred Heart (Goldthorpe).

Fr. Hewitt’s was appointed to St Josephs, Pudsey from 1955 to 1968, during which time he saw the extension of the presbytery in 1960.

In 1968 he was appointed to St Albans (Halifax) and in 1975 he retired to St Gabriel's (Horsforth). During the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of his ordination, in 1983 he was appointed Honorary Canon of the Diocese. He died on the 14th December 1985, in hospital at Ilkley.

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Father Horkin
Father Horkin
Fr Edward Horkin was born in the USA, November 1919, but came to live in England shortly afterwards when his family settled in Heckmondwike.  He was a pupil at Westminster Cathedral Choir School and served as an altar boy in the Cathedral.  He studied for the priesthood at Ushaw and was ordained at St Anne's Cathedral in Leeds, 28th April 1946.

From 1946 until 1953 Fr Horkin served as a curate, first at St Clare's (Fagley, Bradford), then at Christ the King (Bramley, Leeds) and finally at All Saints (Otley). In 1953 he became the secretary of the Catholic Missionary Society in London. He returned to Yorkshire in July 1955 and was appointed to the parish of St John Fisher and St Thomas More at Burley in Wharfedale. Moving to St Robert's (Harrogate) in 1960, then to Dunsop Bridge (Lancashire) and later to St Michael's (Konttingley).

Fr. Horkin was appointed to St Josephs, Pudsey in October 1968, and found himself faced with the task of implementing changes, which came about as a result of the Second Vatican Council.
Pre-Vatican Two interior of the Church
The first undertaking was the re-ordering of the church in accordance with the new decree on the Liturgy. A new Blessed Sacrament chapel was added to the north side of the sanctuary and a new high altar in Sicilian marble was placed some 12 feet forward of the position of the old altar. The work was completed to the designs of J.B. Langtry-Langton Partners of Bradford and the new altar was consecrated by Bishop Gerald Moverley, the Auxiliary Bishop of Leeds, 18th October 1970.

Nor were the needs of the school overlooked, in 1969, work was commenced on providing further new accommodation for the children, a four classroom block, to the designs of Mr. George Doyle, the Leeds architect.

The Parish has long had a branch of the UCM (Union of Catholic Mothers).  Since the 1980s this in turn became an independent parish based group, open to the women of the parish, and although it is still known as ‘the Mothers,’ the group welcomes all women, regardless of marital status. The Mothers group organises parish fundraising events, social outings, catering and continues to be relied on to support the parish in a thousand different ways! The Parish Drama Group which is very well supported, offering two productions each year, was in existence for the greater part of the twentieth century. It was re-launched very successfully in 1977 by Keith Harrison, at that time caretaker of the school, and already a well known actor in the local area. Freda Mortimer was co opted onto the committee to get things off the ground. In September 1983 the Golden Jubilee of the present church was celebrated with due pomp, and the occasion was marked by the presentation of the Bene Merenti medal to four worthy recipients: Dr Murphy, Freda Mortimer, Maureen Bland, and Violet Lay.

Fr Edward Horkin celebrated his Golden Jubilee of ordination in April 1996.  He then retired in 1997.  He remained living in the Stanningley area, where he died at home on the 23rd December 2010. His funeral, led by Bishop Roche, took place at Leeds Cathedral on the 6th January 2011.  The panegyric was preached by Fr Francis McGrath, who had served with with Fr Horkin at St Joseph's Pudsey, during the 1970's.

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Father Michael O'Reilly
Father Michael O'Reilly
Fr Michael O’Reilly was born on the 13th October 1934 in the Diocese of Cork and Ross, Ireland.  He graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Electrical engineering and found employment in Britain, working in Sheffield, Manchester and Scotland.  His vocation to the priesthood came to the fore and he was accepted as a seminarian by the Bishop of Leeds.  He studied at All Hallows in Dublin and was ordained there on the 21st June 1964.

In October 1964 he resided at the Holy Name presbytery, Leeds, whilst gaining his teaching qualification.  He then, in 1965, joined the staff at St Thomas Aquinas Grammar School, teaching Mathematics.  In 1972 he left teaching on medical advice.  Teachings' loss was to be the dioceses' gain.  He joined St William's parish (Bradford), as a curate and in 1973 he was appointed Assistant Administrator of the Diocesan Rescue Society.  In 1979 he became a Parish Priest for the first time at St Brendan's (Bradford).   Moving to Our Lady of Victories, Keighley, 1984 and then to Our Lady of Good Counsel (Leeds), 1987.

In 1997 he was appointed Parish Priest at St Joseph's Pudsey.  He formed the Parish Council and made much emphasis on lay involvement. The re–formation of the SVP in 1998 being one of his first achievements. Followed by the establishment of a Toddler group & the 1st Youth SVP of the diocese. To mark the start of the new millennium the new porch was built, the outside bell and bell tower were refurbished. The porch acts as a children’s room during Mass, and is also home to various parish displays and meetings. During Fr O’Reilly’s time the daily exposition of the Blessed Sacrament was begun, and various embellishments were made to the Sanctuary. A new school hall was built in 1997 and the church car park was also enlarged.

Fr Michael celebrated his Ruby Jubilee in June 2004. The Jubilee was an occasion for much thanksgiving.  In 2008 the parish celebrated the 75th anniversary of the church, and the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Parish.  Fr Michael retired from active ministry in 2009, shortly before his 75th Birthday and went to live at Mount St Joseph's, Headingley.  His later years were marked by ill-health and infirmity but this did little to diminish his gentle manner and good humour.  He died peacefully at home the day before his 82nd birthday, 12th October 2016.

His funeral, led by Bishop Marcus Stock, took place at Leeds Cathedral on the 19th October 2016. The homily was preached by Fr Gerald Creasey, who paid affectionate tribute to Fr Michael, highlighting how the early years of his priesthood were a challenging period in the Church, in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council. But as Fr Creasey pointed out, here was a man well able to adapt to changing times because of his innate calmness, his deep faith and his cultivation of an inner spiritual life. It was these qualities in Fr Michael that made him a much-loved and admired teacher, pastor and servant of the Diocese of Leeds.

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Rev Fr Solomon Gidu Bulus MSP (Missionary Society of St Paul), was born to the late Mr Bulus Gidu Kanu'ri and Mrs Wagada Bulus Gidu, of the tribe of Fali of Muchalla, on 3rd October 1970, in a very small village called Chambal-Muvur, in Mubi-North, Adamawa State, North-Eastern Nigeria, West Africa.  Fr Solomon is the eldest of nine children, having 2 brothers and 6 sisters.

He attended the village Primary school in Chambal.  His Secondary school was St Peter's Minor Seminary, (1985 -1991) in the State Capital, Yola, some 195 kilometres away from home!  He then applied to join the Religious Order of 'The Missionary Society of St Paul of Nigeria'. Whilst his application was being processed, he spent a year working at the Diocesan Parish Clinic, managed by Nigerian Nuns, the 'Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy' Congregation.  Upon the success of his application he began a nine year Priestly Formation at the National Missionary Seminary of St Paul, Iperu-Remo, Ogun State, Western Nigeria, October 1992.  Two years later, he went to the National Missionary Seminary in Gwagwalada, Abuja, where he was to spend the next seven years studying Philosophy and Theology. He graduated with a Certificate in Philosophy & a Degree in Theology, Affiliate of the Urbaniana University, Rome.

Fr Solomon became a Deacon (December 2000) and went on to be ordained as a Priest (7th July 2001). He was sent to the Diocese of Lafia, Holy Emmanuel Parish New-Karu for the traditional one year pastoral experience in a Nigerian Diocese, before any permanent posting.  At the end of the pastoral year, he was assigned to the National Missionary Seminary, Gwagwalada, Abuja. Where he held the post as Seminary Bursar (October 2002 - October 2008).  After six years as the Seminary Bursar, he was sent by the Mission to England, to join the Leeds Diocese at St Anne's Cathedral.

He arrived in London on 22nd June, 2009 and after barely a weeks orientation, he was escorted by the Mission Superior to Leeds on the 1st July.  Bishop Arthur Roche then asked Fr Solomon to go to St Joseph's, Pudsey and hold the fort! -  till the new parish Priest was assigned.  The out going parish Priest, Fr Michael O'Reilly was due to retire on the 13th of July, 2009. Barely two weeks after Fr Solomons arrival in Leeds, he undertook his first posting in England, at St Joseph's, Pudsey.

Father Solomon describes this as "like being thrown into a pools deep end! - but at the end, it served as a soft landing - because the Parishioners welcomed me warmly and were very friendly." He superbly served the parish for ten months, till the new parish Priest arrived, Easter April 2010.  St Joseph's, being Fr Solomons' first home in England, will always retain a special place in his heart, as he does in ours.

The Bishop then transferred Fr Solomon to St Joseph's (Pontefract) to assist Canon Lawrie Hulme, who was to be a wonderful mentor to him.  In September 2012, Fr Solomon then moved to the Parish of Blessed John Henry Newman, which was comprised of St Theresa's (Cross Gates), Corpus Christi (Osmondthorpe), and St Gregory's (Swarcliffe Drive), where he resided as assistant to Msg Philip Holroyd and later to Msg Paul Fisher.  In September 2014 the Diocesan Administrator, (now Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, London), Bishop John Wilson, appointed Fr Solomon to the Parish of St Mary's (Bradford), which is made up of St Columba's Church on Tong Street (where he currently resides) and St Peter's Church, on the Leeds Road.
Fr. Richard Carter was born in Keighley on 6th April 1952. He initially attended St. Anne’s School in Keighley and then transferred to his parish’s brand new school at Our Lady of Victories. The family moved to Bingley when he was nine and he subsequently attended St. Joseph’s School in Sacred Heart Parish, Bingley. His secondary education took place at St. Bede’s Grammar School in Bradford.  Having done some discernment in 6th form he went, after his ‘A’ Levels, to start training for the priesthood at Ushaw College, Durham, in 1970. He was sent to Durham University in 1972 and completed a General Arts Degree. During that time he decided to have time out for 2 years to consider his vocation. He joined the Civil Service in 1976 and ended up in Liverpool for over 5 years because as he says, he felt appreciated for his talents and was told he had a good career ahead of him.

However, in this time he had made links with the Benedictines and Cistercians and was considering a vocation to the religious life. He finally arranged to work as a lay assistant in the Benedictine Priory at St. Mary’s, Leyland as part of the process of discernment. He eventually decided to return to the Diocese of Leeds and completed his studies 1983/84 and was ordained priest on the 9th February 1985.

He served as an assistant priest at Immaculate Heart of Mary, Leeds [1985-1990] and then at St. Joseph’s, Bradford [1990-1992] before becoming Parish Priest at St. Joseph’s, Batley Carr [1992-1998]. It was from this parish that he was propelled into the Catholic Missionary Society [1998-2003], based in Golder’s Green, London, which specialised in Missions in schools and parishes throughout England and Wales. While there he also had experience as Director of the Catholic Enquiry Centre, Mission Secretary and Bursar as well as being part of other national forums such as RCIA. In his last year he started an MA Course in Christian Spirituality at Heythrop College and was awarded his degree in 2005.  On return to the Diocese in 2003 he was appointed Parish Priest of St. Aidan’s, Baildon, and Chaplain to St. Mary’s School in Menston. In 2009 he was diagnosed with cancer and had a year receiving treatment prior to being appointed to St. Joseph’s, Pudsey in April 2010.

Since arriving in the parish Fr. Richard has supervised repair and restoration work to the parish properties and site including a complete renovation of the Parish Centre. The Undercroft has been made into a meeting room for various parish groups, the interior of the church has been decorated, and the car park has been completely resurfaced. Fr Richard has provided several courses for the parishioners, and with the help of staff in the school he has initiated several parent/pupil devotions in Advent and Lent and greater parish/school links. Various annual events in the parish have been introduced, such as a service, in November, for the bereaved, the crowning of Our Lady’s Statue in August and the re-introduction of an annual Novena to Our Lady with Benediction. The outside bell, which last rung throughout the Gloria at the Midnight Mass to welcome the Millennium, has been reconditioned, and now rings to announce the Consecration, at each of the weekend Masses.
(18th January 1935 - 18th September 2013)

Father Mark was a retired diocesan priest who lived at St Joseph's presbytery from 2010 until his sudden death in 2013. He was a popular member of the parish, a wise counsellor and a man of many talents. He had a great knowledge of antiques and art. The presbytery garden which he designed and tended, remains his lasting memorial.

Fr Richards Homily, given at the Requiem Mass of Fr Mark Knowles, 2nd October 2013, St Joseph's, Pudsey.

There is so much one could say about Mark and I am sure many of you will have your own special stories and memorable perceptions of him. The one persistent theme that people keep saying to me, now that he has died, is what a truly gentle man he was and what a privilege it was to have to known him.

Mark was born on the 18th January 1935 in an army camp near Aldershot in the Ash Vale of Surrey, the second son of Cyril and Pamela Knowles. His mother apparently had 3 miscarriages after the birth of Andrew, his elder brother, before Mark was born. Mark used to often comment that his whole life was a miracle of survival and and mused on writing an autobiography called 'The Great Escape' : Chapter 1 being 'Escape from the Womb after 3 miscarriages'.

He was born blind and this became apparent after he started crawling and crashing into things. In 1937, Sir Tudor Thomas operated on a child and managed to salvage some sight out of one eye. He was pleased later in life when a young eye consultant said to him 'you must have a very clever brain'. Enquiring why, the consultant replied, 'your bad eye reacts bad to the tests, and does see something, but it is so bad your brain has learnt to exclude the message it receives'.

Mark's father was a Brigadier General in World War II and Mark often looked back with pride on his dad's achievements. Mark's family sent him off aged 7 in 1942 in Gilling Castle, the preparatory school for Ampleforth. At that time his family were living in the Welsh valleys. Mark used to say he left for school speaking with a strong Welsh accent and returned at Christmas saying 'Hello, Mummy' in his decadent Radio 3 voice as he used to call it. There are too many stories to tell of his exploits in Gilling and Ampleforth. Suffice it to say that aged 10 he was studying books on Antique Furniture and he pre-dated Harry Potter with his 2 pet owls, Aristotle and Plato.

Another great pattern in Mark's life was getting out of things he didn't like doing. He used his eyes to best advantage in school and later life. One of his recollections was that he often said he had bad headaches to avoid certain classes, but some teachers were rumbling him and started to make noises about referring him to doctors. Fortunately his parents took him to Lourdes and he was able to tell his teachers on his return that the headaches had gone and it was a miracle.

Mark was intelligent and intuitive but he was not an academic person. He never obtained an academic certificate beyond GCE 'O' levels at school. This sadly blighted his perception of himself as an adult, never fully believing people when they praised him for his intelligence and insight. It was a great joy to him later in life to be able to prove he could study and express himself intellectually, albeit for pleasure, and to obtain a BA, plus a Diploma in French, from the Open University in 2005.

Mark always wanted to be a priest from an early age. His uncle Gervase, a monk in the abbey, persuaded him to enter the monastery taking the religious name of Ignatius. He was later ordained priest on the 28th July 1965. Mark often reflected, with no blame on the monastery, that this decision to become a monk was a mistake. He later managed to undo the mistake by being incarnate as a secular priest in the Leeds Diocese, and he felt he had come home to his real vocation to be a priest.

Mark acknowledged that his time as a monk had shaped him in many positive ways, and also brought him many blessings in life, especially from friendships made. He did teach in the Abbey School, directed plays and dramas, acted as a scout master and even founded and ran a very successful 'Junior Society' for the boys to relax and socialise. He was a gifted listener and helped many of the young people in the traumas of their growing years. This gift of listening would be appreciated by many to the end of his life.

Mark served on several Benedictine parishes before joining the Diocese of Leeds in 1983. He was a curate in St. Mary's, Selby and St. Patrick's, Huddersfield. He then became Parish Priest of St. Thomas More, Dewsbury and finally of St Joseph's, Batley Carr before retiring in 2003. Even in retirement he offered great pastoral support to the parishioners of St. Aidan's, Baildon and latterly, if somewhat restricted due to health, St Joseph's in Pudsey.

Mark had too many interests. He would draw you into the joys of reading, collecting memorabilia, music, art, and his garden, just to mention a few. He had a great love of plants and animals, and had an innate ability to communicate with them. I remember one summer a bird accidentally flew into the house and froze with his big German Shepherd dog ready to real with this unwanted intruder. Mark gently moved onto the floor, held our a finger for the bird to climb on and released it out of the window. Mark had an affinity with all living things.

In later life he became interested in Buddhist teachings and particularly found a new prayer life in the art of meditation. He reflects in his diary, shortly before his death, how this brought him great consolation. Also in retirement he could pursue in more depth his constant quest for knowledge or wisdom. He was a great one for jotting down extracts from great writers that he thought captured the essence of life and existence, and he would burn with excitement to share these finds with you. His thirst and quest is summed up in a simple jotting from the Book of Ecclesiastes that he recently recorded: 'No man can say his eyes have had enough of seeing, his ears enough of hearing'.

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The Bene Merenti Medal is an honour awarded by the Pope to members of the laity for service to the Catholic Church.
Dr Murphy 1983
Mrs Maureen Bland 1983
Miss Violet Lay 1983
Mrs Alfreda Mortimer 1983
Mr Terence Harton 2018
1983 Benerementi Medal recipients
Dr. Murphy, Mrs Bland, Fr Horkin, Bishop of Leeds Rt Rev. Wheeler, Miss Lay, Mrs Mortimer, 1983