Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Abbot W.D. Hurley, Douai Abbey (1857 - 1940)

Photographs (Top to bottom):
1. War memorial and church 
St Joseph's Frizington Cumbria
2. St Mary's R,C, Church, Cleator (c.1900) 
The WW1 war memorial was dedicated by Abbot Hurley
3. Calvary & burial vault, St Mary's, Cleator (c. 1945)
Abbot Hurley was buried here on 31.12.1940
4. Calvary & burial vault, St Mary's, Cleator (2012)

Photographs 2 & 3 courtesy of:
The Talbot Library, UCLAN, Preston, Lancashire

For additional information click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

(a) Introduction

In the early part of the war the team of clergy at St Mary's, Cleator included the Right Rev. William David Hurley OSB, retired Abbot of Douai Abbey,Woolhampton, Berkshire. Before the First World War the then Father Hurley had served for ten years as Roman Catholic Parish Priest at the nearby St Joseph's Church, Frizington (seen in Photograph No 1 above). The Abbot was therefore well known throughout West Cumberland by the time he retired to Cleator in 1935.

Abbot Hurley had been elected as Abbot of Douai in 1913 and resigned in 1921. He later became the Titular Abbot of Bury St Edmunds.

During the time he spent at St Mary's, Cleator Abbot Hurley took an active part in the life of the parish and the wider community of Cleator and Cleator Moor. In 1935, at the age of 77 Abbot Hurley made it quite clear that he was not to be regarded as too old to help with the general work of the parish. Thus Abbot Hurley assisted the Parish Priest and Dean of the Catholic Deanery of West Cumberland, Dean Frederick Cuthbert Clayton, O.S.B. and Father Clayton's assistant, Father Francis Kevin McCann, O.S.B.

(b) Committal service of Cadet Pilot John Hogg, RAF (1936)

On 27 November 1936 a young 19-year old parishioner of St Mary's, Cadet Pilot John ('Jackie') Hogg, R.A.F. (No 7 Flying School, Peterborough) of 26 Queen Street, Cleator Moor was one of two airmen accidentally killed in a flying accident near Corby Station in eastern England. Jackie Hogg's body was returned to his home parish by train to Whitehaven (Bransty) railway station on Tuesday 1 December 1936. From there Jackie Hogg was solemnly escorted by a cortege to his home parish of St Mary's, Cleator. Abbot Hurley was among the clergy and large crowd for this sad homecoming.

There was a large congregation at Jackie Hogg's funeral at St Mary's, Cleator on Wednesday 2 December 1936. Father Kevin McCann conducted the funeral service while Abbot Hurley preached the sermon, basing it on the text of "From a sudden and unprovided death, deliver us, O Lord" (Raccolta, 637). The report of the funeral in the local newspaper, 'The Whitehaven News' also records Abbot Hurley conducted the committal service for Jackie Hogg at the graveside.

The community of Cleator and Cleator Moor had been proud of Jackie Hogg and he would be sorely missed by everyone. He had been educated at St Mary's infants and St Patrick's junior school before attending Whitehaven County Secondary School (i.e. Grammar School). He had been the first young man from the Cleator & Cleator Moor district to serve in the RAF. It is also believed he was the first serviceman from the area to lose his life since just after the First World War. There would soon be many more young men and women from the district to lose their lives in a Second World War.

Wednesday, 18 January, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

(c) The Catholic War Memorials at Frizington and Cleator

Abbot Hurley had helped many families deal with the loss of a loved one in the service of their country. In June 1918 during the First World War while Abbot Hurley was in his term of office as Abbot of Douai, he had travelled to West Cumberland and dedicated both the War Memorial at St Joseph's, Frizington (1 June) and the altar rails at St Mary's, Cleator (2 June) to the memory of those who had died in the war.

On the evening of Sunday 3 October 1920 Abbot Hurley returned to St Mary's, Cleator. This time it was to dedicate the brass memorial tablet listing the names of the Catholic soldiers of Cleator and Cleator Moor who lost their lives during the 1914 - 1918 war. Abbot Hurley's short but moving sermon records brought tears and tender memories to the large congregation. Abbot Hurley's sermon on this occasion to deals with remember 'The Fallen' of WW1 is nevertheless worth noting to understand the feelings of loss and bitterness of what had happened in that war.

"The Catholic lads in this, as in every other parish in the land, nobly responded to the call, that soul-stirring phrase, 'To defend small nations from their oppressors.' Thank God, they are spared our reflections, that they died not knowing the deceit of the politicians and statesmen, whose actions make us think that our lads died in vain. No, let us think of them as they were - heroes - ready and willing to face everything.

Need we follow them through the drudgery of barrack life, of the hardships and horrors of the battlefield? They had the true spirit of charity, Christian charity. If we all had one spark of their charity in their hearts we could do more to bring back peace to this poor old world than we should ever know."

As things turned out, in less than 20 years from this sermon there would be another World War and further casualties . As well as Cleator and Cleator Moor receiving evacuees from North East England, many of the young men of the district, as throughout the land, would once again leave their homes and loved ones. They went forth to face whatever they would meet. Before the war ended some of the young people would come meet a premature end to their earthly life.

Wednesday, 18 January, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

(d) Abbot Hurley: "A true man of God."

In life there is often a special connection between the very old and the very young. During his time at Cleator it is recorded that Abbot Hurley was especially popular with the children. As the official centenary parish history of St Mary's, Cleator records:

"In the five years he had been at Cleator the Abbot had won the affection of all, particularly the children. It was a common site to see him walking along with a line of beaming youngsters holding his hand."

Hence, when Abbot Hurley passed away at St Mary's, Cleator Priory on 28 December 1940 his passing was mourned by young and old. Abbot Hurley's coffin was taken to the church on Monday evening 30 December 1940 with the funeral service taking place the following morning (31 December 1940). A postcard view of this church, which has room for about 800, is seen in photograph No. 2 (above). In spite of the war and it being mid-winter, a large congregation attended the funeral service from near and far.

The main celebrant at the funeral service was the then Abbot of Douai Abbey, successor to Abbot Hurley: the Right Rev. Ignatius Sylvester Mooney OSB (elected 1929). War or no war, it was also a very ordered and organised event. Below is the description of the funeral service, taken from the official centenary history of St Mary's, Cleator:

"The dead Abbot's white mitre and chalice were on the coffin. Monks and priests chanted the Mass, for which Dean Clayton was assistant priest. Father J. Bond (Frizington) was deacon, Father A. Kervin (Whitehaven) sub-deacon, Father A. Lightbound (Whitehaven) and Father J.A. Dawson (Birtley) deacons at the throne, and Father F.K. McCann (Cleator) Master of Ceremonies. Dean Fleming (Carlisle) represented the Bishop of Lancaster, and the others present were Dean McKenna (Barrow) and nuns from Durrant Hill Convent and Botcherby Home.

Before the funeral service left the church Dean Clayton paid high tribute to the character and work of Abbot Hurley, who he called "... a true priest, a man of God." The coffin was borne by members of the K.S.C. to the vault at the foot of the Calvary memorial, where the committal service was read by the Abbot of Douai."

Wednesday, 18 January, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

(e) Conclusion

The vault where Abbot Hurley's coffin was laid to rest can be seen in photographs No 3 and 4 (above). In the years that followed, three further Benedictine priests of Douai Abbey were laid to rest in the same Calvary vault as Abbot Hurley: Father F.R. Aspinwall (died 1949), Dean F.C. Clayton (died 1956) and finally Father F.K. McCann (died 1972).

Dean F.C. Clayton who was assistant priest at Abbot Hurley's funeral was Parish Priest at St Mary's, Cleator during both World Wars. Father F.K. McCann, who was the Master of Ceremonies at Abbot Hurley's funeral succeeded Dean Clayton as Parish Priest at Cleator in 1956.

During the war Father McCann was the Chief Billeting Officer for the evacuees of Cleator & Cleator Moor during WW2. He was also the Catholic Chaplain for the Moota POW Camp near Cockermouth. Moota subsequently became a YMCA camp for Eastern European 'Displaced Persons' with Father McCann continuing to serve a chaplain for the camp.


Father Paul Johnstone
(Parish Priest)
Parish of St Mary's & St Joseph's
(Cleator & Frizington)

The Talbot Library,
St Walburge's, Preston, Lancashire.
(Library of the R.C. Diocese of Lancaster)

Cumbria County Archives & Library Service
(Whitehaven Records Office)

Wednesday, 18 January, 2012  

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