Monday, 25 April 2011

Canon Reginald Cuthbert Fuller R.I.P.

The sad news has been announced of the death of Canon Reginald "Reggie" Cuthbert Fuller. Aged 102, Canon Fuller was the oldest priest of the Diocese of Westminster.

Born in 1908, Reggie was ordained by Cardinal Bourne in 1931. The son of the physician and medical author, Arthur William Fuller, he was born in London and brought up in St Johns Wood where his father practiced medicine. Initially he was sent to Ealing Priory School where he was to forge a life long friendship with John Bernard Orchard who subsequently became a monk of Ealing Abbey; they were both destined to make considerable advances in the study of Scripture. Reggie was a co-founder of the Catholic Biblical Association of Great Britain and a member of the Revised Standard Version Bible Committee and a Co-Editor of the first complete Bible translation in modern English for Catholics from the Hebrew and the Greek.

After Ealing he then went to Ampleforth College where he recalls with pleasure his involvement in the sporting life of the college, particularly rugby and cross country running. From there he went to Allen Hall Seminary, St Edmund’s College, Ware for five years. After Ordination in Westminster Cathedral he was sent to Rome to continue his academic studies where he gained a doctorate in sacred theology from the Angelicum University, a licence in scripture from the Biblical Institute and much later in life in the early 1960s he took up biblical research at Cambridge University where he earned his Ph.D.

Not surprisingly he was destined to lecture in Biblical Studies at Allen Hall, then at the teachers training college at St Mary’s, Strawberry Hill, and then spent three years at the University of Nairobi, in Kenya where he lectured in Old Testament studies. When one meets him it is clear that this was a much treasured period of his life. He got to know Africa really well and he told me that he has never really left Africa. There he indulged his passion as an intrepid mountain climber and came close on more than one occasion to losing his life.

No account of Reggie’s life could omit the deep friendship he was privileged to have with Group Captain Lord Leonard Cheshire, that great convert to the church whose powerful spirituality was evident to anyone who was lucky enough to meet him. His prayer life was so deep that when you were conscious of his presence at a Mass you were celebrating he made you celebrate with even greater devotion than was customary. Leonard Cheshire and his wife Sue Ryder were to achieve so much in their own life times and help so many people with the respective homes they set up; whatever part Reggie played in supporting and encouraging them must be part of his own legacy too.

Canon Reginald Fuller had the distinction of being the only Honorary Canon in the Diocese of Westminster, which was the result of a spontaneous act of kindness on the part of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, who decided he wanted to honour Reggie on the occasion of his 70th anniversary of Ordination in 2001.

"When I asked him about his long life as a priest and what he would want to impart to his brethren he said that it “was difficult to enunciate principles now” but that it was important to get them right at the beginning of priestly life. If someone sets out to “achieve personal advancement – forget it!” He was adamant that “we should enjoy the life the Lord has given to us as priests.” He felt that for the most part his nigh on seventy-eight years of priesthood were happy ones, sometimes boring, but most importantly he valued the friendships he had made." Canon Daniel Cronin.

The above text is taken from the book
complied by Canon Daniel Cronin and published by ST PAULS (2009).