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Obituary: Canon Paul Rose

04 June 2021

The Rt Revd John Flack writes:

CANON Paul Rose died on 14 April, aged 88. After a heart attack in 2015, he had to retire from active ministry, and he spent his last five years at the College of St Barnabas, Lingfield. Before that, he had exercised a long, committed, and demanding priestly ministry.

Born in Derby in 1932, he was sent to prep. school at St Michael’s, Otford, in Kent, where he learned the Catholic Anglican faith that was the hallmark of his life. He then went to Christ’s Hospital, Horsham, before undertaking National Service with the Royal Signals. He then went up to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, on an organ scholarship. Bach, Brahms, and Elgar were his passion.

After a year teaching at St Augustine’s, Penhalonga, in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), he came home to marry Judith Linton, whom he had met at Cambridge. They moved to Westcott House so that Paul could train for ordination. He was ordained deacon by Bishop Mervyn Stockwood at Southwark in 1959 and priest a year later. He served his title at St Anne’s, Wandsworth, followed by a second curacy at All Saints’, Torre, in Torquay. Their three children, Andrew, Helen and Edmond were born during this time.

In 1964, Paul took Judith and their young family back to Southern Rhodesia, where he served as priest-in-charge of Christ the King, Daramombe, helping to prepare the parish and the diocese to face the challenge of majority rule.

By 1967, they needed to return home for the children’s education, and, in recognition of his musical talents, Paul was appointed Precentor of Peterborough Cathedral. Both at Peterborough and at Canterbury (where he was later Precentor), Paul combined his love of music with his lifelong vocation to priesthood. At Canterbury, he was responsible for planning the enthronement of Archbishop Robert Runcie in 1980 and the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1982.

Paul also cherished his ministry as a parish priest. Between his time at Peterborough and Canterbury, he served as Vicar of St John’s, Hyde Park, in London, and, after Canterbury, came back to the East Midlands, as Vicar of Holy Trinity, Rothwell, near Kettering. In both parishes, he and Judith are fondly remembered for their imaginative leadership and their pastoral concern. One former parishioner recently wrote of Paul, “his understanding of what makes us all both human and yet children of God made him such a good priest.” This priestly ministry was eventually shared at home and in the parish, as Judith was herself ordained priest in 1994.

Paul’s pastoral ministry was forged in a life that had its own significant sadnesses. Paul’s father died when was six, and his mother when was 15. He and Judith had a stillborn child early in their marriage. Their elder son, Andrew, died at 19, a victim of schizophrenia. In 2007, Judith died after a long and debilitating illness. And Paul had retired to Lingfield when his daughter, Helen, had died just four years ago.

Paul is survived by his younger son, Edmond, and his much-loved grandchildren. The sadnesses of his life were expressed in Charles Wesley’s words at his funeral: “Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee, leave ah leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.”

Paul will be remembered as much more than a “churchy” priest. His interests included railways, exploring the wider world, the local Probus Club, charities, and rural-promotion agencies. He visited Germany many times for musical events and was delighted as that country rebuilt itself after the war. At home he was an enthusiastic participant in musical festivals at St Endellion and Edington.

All his life, Paul practised a disciplined spiritual regime. This was especially true during his retirement years at Aldwincle and in Peterborough. He read voraciously, his house on the Sugar estate being crammed with books. He ministered in Oundle deanery both as a priest and an organist. He prayed the daily offices and the eucharist as he had always done. He gave and received spiritual direction, a regular penitent to the end.

Paul could not have known how many people’s lives he strengthened by his humility and humanity. Along with many others, I give thanks for him. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

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