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Obituary: Canon Stuart Ramsden

02 February 2018

The Archdeacon of Pontefract writes:

HAVING recently celebrated his 84th birthday, and the 55th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, Canon Arthur Stuart Ramsden died peacefully in Barnsley Hospital on 28 January.

A local lad, he was educated in Dewsbury, and learnt the faith at Holy Innocents’, Thornhill Lees, when it was in its Catholic heyday. The youngest of three children, he was greatly loved by his two much older sisters. After training at Kelham, and National Service with the RAF, he was ordained in 1961 by Bishop John Ramsbotham.

Having served of his ministry in the old Wakefield diocese, Stuart is remembered for his disciplined prayer life — he said the monastic offices and the mass daily, and for his kindness and generosity.

His deep belief in God went hand in hand with a tremendous capacity for hard work, as was evident in his time as Vicar of Middlestown, when he led the building of a new church, and then later at Purston, where the parish produced several ordinands. At his institution and induction at St Thomas’s Purston, at Epiphany in 1977, when the time came for him to ring the church bell, he rang the Angelus. It rang every day while he was there.

Often game for a gossip and a bit of fun, he had a wonderful sense of humour, but was never cruel. His nicknames for his fellow priests were often spot-on, and one Bishop’s chaplain, who was not always that easy, was referred to as the Bishop’s “Domestos Chaplain”.

The Anglican Shrine at Walsingham was an important part of his spiritual life and wide network of friendship, and he felt especially honoured to be one of the Clerks of the Holy House.

Although very much a traditional Catholic, he befriended many women priests, and encouraged them in their ministry.

He is survived by a niece and by thousands whose lives he touched. His funeral will take place at St Peter’s, Barnsley, where he was once an assistant curate, tomorrow at noon, and he will be laid to his rest in the churchyard at Thornhill Lees.

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