The one centesimal year Of a existence Spent finding Its goal

Augustine Hoey left London aged ninety eight for a brand new existence in his proper vocation
Augustine Hoey in 2015 at the Slipper Chapel, Walsingham

Augustine Hoey in 2015 on the Slipper Chapel, Walsingham photo: AUGUSTINE HOEY

If all of us live, three days earlier than Christmas we’ll celebrate the one hundredth birthday of a remarkable man, Augustine Hoey. Aged ninety eight, he left a retirement dwelling in London to live a monastic life in Walsingham, Norfolk, devoted to prayer of intercession. it is there that he wishes to die.

His long existence is understated in define, and surprising in detail. He was ordained an Anglican priest in 1941 and joined the community of the Resurrection at Mirfield, showing nice abilities in parish work, in particular with “mission” weeks for working-type parishes. “i will nonetheless keep in mind that a few of Augustine’s preaching,” Fr Christopher Jackson writes of a Holy Week enactment of Christ’s ardour in the streets of Sunderland, “when Jesus met his mother (she regarded from the doorway of a pub).”

In 1994, aged 78, he become a Roman Catholic. He had now not notion he’d be familiar as an lively priest, as a result of his age, but, with the toughen of Cardinal Hume, he was once ordained in 1995 and lived a Benedictine horarium among the clergy at Westminster Cathedral, the place he become a familiar sight with a protracted overcoat over his cassock and a soup-plate hat in his hand. He led workshops on prayer and acted as a non secular director.

Punctuating his lengthy existence have been a collection of slim escapes from demise. As a baby of three he remembers folks round his bed and his mom bending over him as he lay ill with pneumonia. “I seemed to come out of myself and hover above them,” he recalls. “I don’t understand, but i feel I should have died.” yet he survived.

the details of his existence come from a biography with which he has helped, Trembling on the edge of Eternity by way of Antony Pinchin and Graeme Jolly, printed through St Michael’s Abbey press, Farnborough. it’s brief, artless and engaging.

the middle-type Leeds childhood of Kenneth Hoey (as he used to be known as before he took a monastic identify) virtually ended with a holiday in Filey. The 14-12 months-previous climbed the high cliffs, on the spot where a memorial marked the dying of a boy who had fallen into the sea within the attempt. Now Kenneth received stuck, the cliff putting over him and waves far below breaking on the memorial. A tuft he grabbed gave method. “abruptly I felt myself pushed upwards,” he recalled. “I lay gasping and terrified on the grassy cliff high.” He attributed the rescue to his guardian angel.

the primary of two more shut shaves came when a flying bomb devastated the church of St Mary of Eton at Hackney, where he was an assistant priest in 1944, demolishing a terrace opposite and burying Hoey in rubble, from which he was dragged with only a cut head. When peace got here, he was once preaching in a south Yorkshire colliery city when a large coping stone fell inches from him, on to the one spot now not occupied through a crowded congregation.

If Hoey was once spared, like Newman, for “some convinced service”, what was once it? The reputedly a hit parish missions? Later he reflected on that activism: “It was an entire waste of time.” Or the heroic years he spent in Africa, combating apartheid and lack of expertise? Or the tiny communities known as Emmaus he dependent in exhausting council estates in Hulme and Sunderland?

through all this an abiding need used to be to are living in solitude, devoting monastic prayers to intercession, for folk and for the therapeutic of the scandal of Christian division. back in 1937 he’d visited Walsingham. There he felt the call to pray more advantageous than any place. Walsingham, with its shrine of the Holy house, he wrote: “Will always be for me a place trembling on the threshold of Eternity.” that is where he’s now, providing his existence in Christian intercession.

Augustine Hoey left London aged ninety eight for a new existence in his proper vocation

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