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Bishop Ambrose Weekes

2012 April 25
by Gordon Reid

At the age of 93, Bishop Ambrose Weekes has died at the Charterhouse in London.

Bishop Ambrose is the reason I am Rector of St Clement’s Philadelphia: it was at my own birthday party in London in January 2003 that he suggested that I might like to be Rector of St Clement’s.

Sounds unlikely, doesn’t it? But it is true: this is where two strands met. First, I was at that time Archdeacon of Italy & Malta for the Church of England and also Vicar-General of the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe. Bishop Ambrose had been my predecessor in the latter post, and also in that we had both been Dean of Gibraltar. So I had known him for ten or more years.

The second strand was that Bishop Ambrose had been Chaplain of the Fleet & Archdeacon of the Royal Navy (The C of E loves grand titles!) and therefore knew Father Peter Laister, who was a Royal Naval Chaplain for much of his ministry. They became great friends, and when Fr Laister became Rector of St Clement’s, Bishop Ambrose would often visit. On his visits he would often be put to work presiding at Mass from the Throne, and taking confirmations.

So there you have it: he knew me and he knew St Clement’s and he liked us both. So he thought we would do well together. When I eventually accepted the call to St Clement’s, he was the first person to write and congratulate me, knowing very well that he had instigated the whole thing!

Whenever I have been back in London, I have either had Bishop Ambrose to lunch in the Carlton Club or he has entertained me in his club, the Army & Navy. He was a small man but with a fine voice, and we were no sooner through the door of the Club bar than he would boom out to the barman “Two pink gins – Catholic size!”

Now he has gone to join Fr Laister and all his friends and loved ones beyond the grave.  I will offer a Requiem Mass for Bishop Ambrose on Wednesday, May 9th at 12.10 p.m. There will be other Requiems in Gibraltar Cathedral and in London, and in St Andrew’s, Tangier, which he loved to visit, just across the water from Gibraltar.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

15 Responses leave one →
  1. Rev'd. Fr. Cyril Crume permalink
    April 25, 2012

    Requiem aeternam dona eo, Domine. et lux perpetua luceat eo.

  2. Jeff Ezell permalink
    April 26, 2012

    A very sweet and endearing man whom I remember from our time at All Saints Margaret Street, where Bishop Weekes was often present in the years after his retirement. May he now have light and refreshment in the greater presence of Christ our God.

  3. Norwich Vice-Dean permalink
    April 26, 2012

    He was a great priest, a steadfast witness to the Catholic faith in the Church of England, a loyal and supportive friend and an amusing raconteur. He will be missed in this life but I pray we will “meet right merrily in heaven.” May he rest in peace.

  4. Mark Frost permalink
    April 26, 2012

    Many thanks for your fine comments about ‘Uncle Ambrose’. I just want to update your details in that he actually passed away on 24 April 2012 the day before his 93rd Birthday, in Charlotte House Care Home, Isleworth, London.

    Many thanks
    Mark Frost, husband to Ruth Frost his Great Niece

  5. April 26, 2012

    I am sad to read this news but glad to have known him. He goes to meet the Lord – may he be welcomed in Paradise.

  6. Hon. James G Colins permalink
    April 26, 2012

    A very touching tribute. I am sorry that I never had the opportunity to meet the Bishop.

    Jim Colins

  7. Stephen permalink
    April 27, 2012

    I used to attend the 615PM Low Mass at Saint Clement’s. I had the honor of meeting Bishop Weekes before Mass on one of those occasions. I only met him one time, but he was such an unassuming person and such a gentle soul that I remember that meeting so clearly more than two decades later. I remember thinking that he was exactly the type of person Christ would want as a bishop in His Church! May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace! Amen.

  8. Fr Ray permalink
    April 28, 2012

    I have fond memories of the delightful Bishop Weekes. A real gentleman and a real pastor. He served a curacy at S. Luke’s, Gillingham, Kent (before I was born), and when this became my parish church he was still spoken of with great affection by those few who remembered him from 60 years previously. ‘Well done thou good and faithful servant.’

  9. Roy Simons permalink
    April 29, 2012

    It was a great pleasure to meet Bishop Ambrose when he visited St. Andrews Romford.

    We were able to recall Archdeacon Leonard Coulshaw a previous Chaplain for the Fleet whom we both new.

    Leonard Coulshaw had started his ministry as a curate at St. Andrews, after serving in the Army during WW1.

    My contact with Leonard Coulshaw relates to his home parish of St. Alban Westcliff , where he celebrated whenever he was at his home. We both went to the same school albeit a generation apart.

    I remember discussing how he adjusted his Anglo Catholic views with the requirements of the Navy and he said that he always said ‘High Matins.’

  10. P. King permalink
    May 2, 2012

    I really got to know Ambrose on my daughter’s fourth birthday, the day Miss Tidey was celebrating her hundredth on 10 May in Montreux and he, recognizing that it was difficult for any small child to be suddenly taken out of the limelight when more important celebrations were about, took off his magnificent amethyst ring and gave it to her to look after. She did so proudly and carefully for the remainder of the day. That was Ambrose for you! Caring and sensitive.

  11. Fr. David Murfet permalink
    May 4, 2012

    I have just caught up with the news of Bishop Ambrose’s death, and am so grateful for your generous and sympathetic picture of a great priest. My memories of him, like yours, begin in the Mediterranean, where he was a good friend: here, in England, we met infrequently, but he always had a greeting and exchange of news. We are all the better for his sanctity and humour.

  12. May 5, 2012

    I got to know Ambrose well in the 1970′s when I was a student in London and worshipped at All Saints’, Margaret Street. I always enjoyed serving his Masses, as you could always get away with a few extra Catholic features! My abiding memory of Ambrose was his Episcopal Ordination at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich in 1977. The Principal Celebrant was the very Low Church Bishop of London, Dr Ellison, and Ambrose conducted himself perfectly during the service, being vested in scarf and preaching bands etc. After the service he hosted a reception in one of the bars, and we were all asking where on earth is the new Bishop – is he feeling ill or something? He turned up about 10 minutes later looking every inch a Catholic Bishop – Roman Cassock and zucchetto etc, apologising to us all for his terrible Tudor attire during the service. Dr Ellison was not invited to this part of the proceedings!

    By the way, you may be interested to learn that I am now an Honorary Assistant Deacon at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Inverness. What a small world!

    • May 5, 2012

      I wish I had seen that, but I can imagine Ambrose’s grand entry!

      Good to hear you are at the Cathedral: I loved my time in the Highlands, and hope you do too. I saw that dear Maureen Crawford died recently. she was a character!

  13. Colonel Ian Rouse permalink
    May 10, 2012

    Bishop Ambrose was a firm and active supporter of Rochester Cathedral Friends and the Old Choristers Association of which he was a frequent dining member.he was well loved by members and will be remembered for his Spirituality and keen humour.his annual letter of support was always well received and heralded a visit.
    Ambrose was such a good priest and firm ambassador of the Anglican Church.

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