Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Last Jesuit

Father Hugh Thwaites SJ has died: pray for him, may he rest in peace.
Quite fitting he should leave this world during the Octave of the Assumption and on the eve of the feast of his beloved Queen and Mother.

Someone once described him as the last of the English Jesuits, some thought of him as a living saint, some of his Jesuit confreres would just roll their eyes at the mention of his name.

He was wonderfully eccentric, I remember a balding friend of mine being told by him to get a scrubbing brush and to vigorously scrub his scalp everyday, my friend thought it was advice to stop hair loss, but just maybe it had something to do with asceticism.

When the English Jesuits became austerely rational and embraced everything modern Fr Hugh in a very Jesuit agere contra way seemed to go to the other extreme. I only met him occasionally but he was an important influence on many mutual friends, he taught people to live by faith. I remember a terrifying experience of being driven by him in a dreadful battered patched car, I think one of the wings and a door were a different colour to the rest, he said it had been given to him a by a drug dealer, when I expressed surprise, he said, "He is not a very wealthy drug dealer but he is repentant".

I am told that his course for converts was basically teaching people to say the Rosary. He would come out with extraordinary statements like, "Creation: I suppose God did it to please Our Lady". Which on one level is pietistic and yet really is deeply profound, it fits into his vision of the absolutely generous God who for the sake of one poor sinner, let alone his Mother, would create a world and pour out grace upon grace upon grace.

He had the extraordinary gift of inviting people people to abandon themselves to God, for some it was a terrifying prospect for others a true invitation to holiness. My thoughts of the Cure D'Ars are I think much coloured by Fr Hugh, both disconcerting figures. In the age of the "new evangelism" Fr Hugh was a wonderful example of the old Ignatian evangelism: he would live his faith, purely and simply and talk to anyone and everyone about God.

I hope that today's Jesuit will remember him fondly and grant him the funeral he would have wanted, in the traditional rite.

see Fr Eamon's reminiscences of him and there is is extract from his war-time memoirs here

from the comments:
The funeral Concelebration Mass of Father Hugh Thwaites SJ will be at Corpus Christi Church, 757 Christchurch Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth BH 7 6AN on Friday 31 August at 12.00 noon


ServusMariaeN said...


I am grateful that you shared your memories of Father Thwaites SJ. I never had the opportunity to meet him but I so enjoyed his talks recorded over the years online. I have listened to them over and over. I shall continue to do so for many years. His talk on the rosary to me is priceless. Such simple wisdom.

Paddy said...

Lovely memories. You're probably already aware of this, but a large selection of Fr Thwaite's talks are available online at the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice site at

Anagnostis said...

I loved him, and will never forget him.

Santo subito!

Adam said...

I, like Fr Hugh, am also a convert and was very blessed to have been given some of Fr Hugh's wonderful talks which helped me very greatly with my conversion to the Faith. His love of Our Lord, Our Lady, and the Saints was truly an inspiration. May he Rest in Peace.

Anonymous said...

Father Ray,

The funeral Concelebration Mass of Father Hugh Thwaites SJ will be at Corpus Christi Church, 757 Christchurch Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth BH 7 6AN on Friday 31 August at 12.00 noon.
I understand concelebrants will be welcome.
Sadly I shall be celebrating a supply convent Mass that day. Somehow I hope to manage an EF Mass as well that morning for Fr. Hugh.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind link. Many of your readers visited.

Josemaria Paulo Jeromino Martin Carvalho-Von Verster said...

I Know of one Filipino Jesuit Priest(May he rest in peace) who promoted devotion to Our lady so much he was silenced by His superiors


Delia said...

Fr John Edwards SJ will celebrate a Low Mass for the repose of the soul of Fr Thwaites at Farm Street church at 2 o'clock on Tuesday, 11 September by permission of the (new) parish priest. Father promises some good anecdotes!

Delia said...

Father. If you want this blog to be authentically catholic, shouldn't you accommodate the odd robot in the comments box? If took
me 6 gos to get past the anti-robot barrier in my last comment and I very nearly gave up, but persevered because I thought the Mass needed advertising. But infuriating and ageist!!

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