Fr Theodore Young

Fr Theodore Young, known affectionately as Fr Theo, has died yesterday Monday 30 in the early evening at Ampleforth, very peacefully. He just stopped breathing quietly with his brothers and carers around him.

He was a monk of Ampleforth since September 1939 when he was not yet 18 years of age. He was after his noviciate in charge of the book shop and secretary to the then head master of Ampleforth Fr Paul Neville.

In the 1950’s he was sent on to the “mission” as it was called; i.e. he worked as a monk in his first Ampleforth parish at St Peter’s Seel Street in Liverpool. He had very good memories of that parish and wonderful stories as well. In the 1950’s he was transferred to St Mary’s Leyland and was there until 1983 for 27 years.

In Leyland was of immense help to many, especially the young with whom he had the ability to gain their confidence. For years he was the chaplain in St Mary’s Catholic High School. In many cases become like another Father figure, another “Dad” for them. This was particularly so when either there was no dad, or when the real dad was somebody who was unable to relate properly to his sons or daughters. Theo was particularly good with the young boys as he himself had the ability to understand their situations.

There are many stories about him in that period, and it would be good to learn of any from those who were supported by Fr Theo in between the late 1950’s and early 1980’s when Theo was serving the people in Leyland.

He was also much appreciated in other places. In 1983 he was sent to Knaresborough in the Leeds diocese to be the Parish Priest of the Catholic Church there, another Ampleforth parish. In Knaresborough he had a great team of laity to help and support him and he was involved with the diocesan clergy on days out with them, and to know the local clergy as they got to know him. He served as Parish Priest in Knaresborough for 15 years and both he and the people were sad when he left.

Then he went to St Austin’s parish Grassendale, South Liverpool where he served as an assistant priest for a further 13 years. He had many stories and much affection for both Knaresborough and Liverpool. In South Liverpool he was the chaplain to the local Catholic Secondary school that served the people of the area of the present St Wilfrid’s parish, and there too he had many stories. It has been said that he might have been the oldest priest still serving as a School Chaplain in the world. He continued until he was 89 in school and he was again much loved and appreciated by the young Liverpudlians. One Liverpool priest described the people loving the bones of the man. He too felt a special affection for the people of Liverpool and became an even stronger supporter of the Liverpool football club. He had at least two strokes and a heart attack while in Liverpool in this period.

Theo retired to Leyland in June 2012 and he remained here in St Mary’s Leyland as a sick and elderly man until 10 July 2017. He was too weak by then to serve the people remaining in the Priory house where he was looked after. He had carers, the staff in the Priory house and the monks looking after him with whom he struck up once again strong friendships. Many friends would call to see him both from Leyland and further afield, and it was a wrench of us and him when he returned to Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire. It was necessary as we were unable to give him the professional care he needed both day and night and Theo quietly succumbed to God’s will in obedience as he had done all his life

At Ampleforth he was under the excellent and professional care of the Matron of the infirmary Karen, and her wonderful staff who found him a delight to care for in the last 3½ months of his life and although he missed the people of Leyland he knew he was in the best place. In those past months he won the esteem and affection of those who looked after him.

May he rest in peace and as we pray for him we can be sure he will support us with his prayers from the home he has reached at last.

Fr Jonathan Cotton osb 31 October 2017

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