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Ena Jenkins

13 January 2017

Teacher and clergy wife: Ena Jenkins with her husband, Dean Jenkins

Teacher and clergy wife: Ena Jenkins with her husband, Dean Jenkins

Canon Andrew Willie writes:

ENA JENKINS, who died on 4 December, aged 92, was the wife of the late Frank Jenkins, one of the most distinguished priests of the Church in Wales in the late 20th century. They had been married for more than 60 years, including his time as an Assistant Curate of Llangeinor, and then Minor Canon of Llandaff Cathedral; and then Vicar of Abertillery, Risca and Caerleon, in the diocese of Monmouth, before becoming Dean of Newport Cathedral.

She was always supportive of his ministry, and welcoming of parishioners, wherever he was, and is remembered with affection in all those parishes. Ena and Frank’s Christmas parties were always joyfully memorable occasions, and she tempered and complemented her husband’s proper seriousness with her own sense of fun.

They shared a deep love for the Sisters of the religious community at Ty Mawr, near Monmouth, of which she was an oblate. In addition, she was responsible for encouraging an artistic programme at St Woolos’s Cathedral, Newport. This included amateur performances of T. S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, and a performance by the English Opera Group of Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River.

She nevertheless had a life of her own, very much centred on the teaching of English, both in Newbridge Grammar School, in the Gwent Valleys, in Lliswerry High School, Newport, and also in the diocese at large, where she taught to Certificate and Diploma level the Lampeter Certificate in Theology. Her subjects for Lampeter tended to be on the cusp between literature and theology, and many were grateful for an encouragement and mentoring that ensured that, although previously they had had no formal education, they went on to achieve good degrees.

She also made a very valued contribution on the Christian novel to Initial CME (Continuing Ministerial Education) in Monmouth diocese, encouraging curates to widen their horizons. She herself went on to produce, for a Cardiff Master’s degree, a dissertation on the “Sixteenth Century Prayer Books in Shakespeare’s King Lear”, and one, when she was nearly 80, for a Lampeter Master’s on Mother Julian of Norwich. She was also a fine poet.

Her sons emigrated to Canada, but Skype helped with communication, and there were frequent visits to and from the family in Canada. Her funeral, in Buckinghamshire where her daughter lived, was attended by people from the parish, members of the dispersed family, and friends from south Wales. The congregation included a companion Sister from Canada, who accompanied the Reverend Mother from Ty Mawr.

Ena died on the day one of her great-grandchildren was baptised. She would have appreciated the symbolism of death to the old life and resurrection to the new. May she rest in peace and share in the glory of our Lord’s resurrection.

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