Our Lady of the Wayside

Our Lady of the Wayside
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Thursday, 23 August 2012

Fr Hugh Thwaites RIP

Fr Hugh Thwaites at our wedding.
The great pro-life stalwart Fr James Morrow is behind him.
A few years ago, about 10 actually, Fr Thwaites accompanied my husband Stuart and I to Youth 2000 in Walsingham. It was not exactly his scene, to say the least, but he had been tempted there by reports of mass confessions and vocations.
There were many things he did not like about the festival - as you might imagine. He was only saying the Old Rite Mass by that time and so he said Mass everyday at the friend's house he stayed at. And, while praying each day in the marquee, he said the general goings on - loud music, loud sermons and so on - meant it was the most distracted praying of his brieviary that he had ever experienced.
But Fr Thwaites was always a gentleman and always looking for ways to bring souls closer to Christ. He also said the whole festival was totally geared to bringing forth vocations, which he loved. And he made himself available for confessions morning, noon and night. Not a bad effort in a damp field for someone in his mid eighties and definitely out of his comfort zone!!!
The most amazing thing for me was to see how everyone knew him. Here he was, an old man, often saying the Old Rite Mass alone in a private chapel, and here we were with a load of youngsters, mostly New Rite Mass only ones at that, and everyone knew him. And if they didn't know him personally their mum knew him, he had converted their dad to the faith, he had married their aunty and uncle or I don't know what. And they flocked to him.
He was overjoyed to meet seminarians and his advice to them was, if you want to always have enough money, always buy rosaries and have them in your pockets ready to give out. That way, he said, Our Lady would always make sure you would have enough money for more :).
I remember when he used to stand at the back of the Church at the end of Mass in Spanish Place when he was there. He would have a table laden with bottles of holy water, a large handful of Miraculous Medals and would be given them out wholesale. And he was wonderful with children.
He was a really saintly person. Someone who succeeded in bringing hundreds, probably thousands, to the faith. I look forward to the first good biography of him.
I wish I had a better picture of him. We always thought that you could see heaven in his crystal blue eyes.
It's hard to imagine him being anywhere other than in heaven, but no doubt he would be the first to ask for prayers for the repose of his soul.

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