Canon Dennis Kelly writes:
THE Bishop of Beverley, the Rt Revd Glyn Webster, was principal celebrant at a requiem for the Revd Ian George Brooks on 11 July in St Paul’s, Croxteth, where Fr Ian, who died on 26 June, aged 69, had been parish priest for almost 36 years.
Bishops John Gaisford and John Goddard were present, with 21 concelebrating priests, and others in the congregation. There were more than 200 people in church, and as many outside, in spite of rain.
Friends from London, where Fr Ian had begun his ministry, assisted the parish’s own servers. There was a procession for about 500 yards before the crematorium committal, at which Bishop Webster was assisted by Canon Ray Bridson.
Fr Ian had been received into church the previous evening, when Vespers of the Dead was followed by hourly masses until 5 a.m. The arrangements, for which Canon Bridson was mainly responsible, were at Fr Ian’s request.
He had been a chorister at the Savoy Chapel from 1957 to 1961. He was ordained priest in 1971, by Trevor Huddleston, Bishop of Stepney, in St Mary’s, Stoke Newington, after studying at Chichester Theological College and Selwyn College, Cambridge.
He was a curate in Stoke Newington and at St Anne’s, Hoxton, before moving to Liverpool to be Curate-in-Charge of St Paul’s, Croxteth, then a conventional district, in 1980, the year he and his wife, Audrey, were married; he became Vicar of the parish in 1981.
At the requiem mass, John Fordham, one of the London servers, referred in a tribute to Fr Ian’s articles in the Forward in Faith publication Forward Plus, which he edited: “Giants in the Land”. These were his accounts of the lives and ministries of dedicated and bold Anglo-Catholic priests, of a type that Fr Ian himself represented: heroic and devoted, although his long ministry in one parish was not, like so many of them, in the East End of London, but on a Liverpool housing estate.
A list of his involvements cannot convey the depth and nature of his ministry, but they can show how much work he put in. Among them, he was a member of the Society of the Holy Cross, and a priest associate of Walsingham, of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, the Guild of Servants of the Sanctuary, the Society of Mary, and a London-based Society of St George.
As a staunch member of Cost of Conscience, and Forward in Faith, he frequently travelled to London. After 1992, he kept alive the alternative Chapter of the Transfiguration in the Liverpool area. This year would have brought his 30th parish pilgrimage to Walsingham, but he was unable to go, because of retirement; and his presence at a Youth Pilgrimage, usually in August, will be greatly missed, both as organiser, and as chief caterer and cook.
Like many parish priests, he often ended did a great of the work himself, and, apart from a daily mass (meagrely supported), he was a school governor, who regularly went to the school to assist the children musically. A more-than-competent musician, he was gifted as a writer of hymns as well as tunes. In the community, he had set up organisations to help people who had drug and debt problems. He was never just tucked away in the vicarage.
His retirement had been announced on 10 April, and he and Audrey moved out of the vicarage to their retirement bungalow, about seven miles away, at the beginning of June. Very soon, however, it was announced that he was terminally ill, with only weeks to live. The news surprised and devastated him, his wife, and the congregation and the local community.
He will be much missed in the Church and the community, and Audrey, and Peter, his son, with his daughter-in-law and three grandchildren, will miss him more than anyone. May he rest in peace.