A PAGE OF JOY

 
        
It was the most gloriously bright and sunny morning as we drove to The College of St. Barnabas for Fr. Roger Davison’s Funeral Requiem.
The elegant building looked lovely, the lawns pristine and birds were singing in the surrounding woodland.
We three crossed the Quadrangle and went up the stairs to the fine chapel where we joined four other people from Higham Ferrers and various others from Higham in Kent and elsewhere, along with dozens of clergy, already seated.
The Requiem Mass was beautiful, full of praise, trust and thanks. Fr. Graeme Rowlands, one of Fr. Roger’s former curates gave a really apt Tribute, making us all nod and smile as he remembered Fr. Roger’s ways and teaching. He quoted Fr. Roger’s favourite funeral word picture of a ship sailing on it’s journey over the horizon, out of sight but still continuing safely to it’s home port.
All was done “correctly” – Fr. Roger would have been pleased, lots of incense, sprinkling, great hymns and singing, black vestments with gold trim, with his biretta, stole, bible and crucifix on the purple draped coffin. The Revd. Canon Howard Such, Warden of the College gave the Greeting and Introduction. The Rt. Revd. Alan Chesters, Bishop of Blackburn 1989-03, now Hon. Asst. Bishop of Europe, read The New Testament. Fr. Graeme read the Gospel and Fr. Richard Bolton led prayers of Intercession.
It was only when Fr. Graeme sprinkled the coffin, after communion, that I cried, as I remembered his first Mass after two years training by Fr. Roger, that very young and boyish priest is now a Prebendary of St. Paul’s Cathedral and a Guardian of the Shrine at Walsingham, and for the last 25 years Vicar of St. Silas, Kentish Town - now bidding farewell to his teacher, friend and spiritual guide.
After that, the congregation followed the cortege into the Quadrangle where the hearse waited to take Fr. Roger to the crematorium, in readiness for his ashes to be interred in the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham on Oct. 3rd. The Revd. Canon James Southward said the words of committal and prayers, the clergy sang a hymn, and the hearse drove slowly out of the grounds, in blazing sunshine with the scents of the garden and birdsong enfolding us. Then I cried again, this time for myself and the more than 50 years that have passed in the company and care, of such a dedicated and devoted priest.
We were all invited to drinks and refreshments in the Common Room, where there was lively and fond recounting of stories and memories with among others, Fr. Steven Leach and Sue, Richard Davies, Richard Bolton, David Lawrence-March, Fr. Graeme, the Vicar of Higham in Kent, the Bishop and the Warden of the College, who said it was good to speak to people who had known Fr. Roger when he was young, as when clergy came to the College and he got to know them – of course they were older.
It had been a beautiful day - blessed in all senses of the word.

+May Fr. Roger Rest in Peace - and Rise in Glory
 Joy Yorke