An appreciation

Born 6th June 1954; Ordained Priest 15th July 1978; Died 21st January 2011

Father Stephen Cross was, perhaps, a man born in the wrong era, and I suspect he would have been most suited to the late Victorian or Edwardian period as his manner and interests as both man and priest were of times long since past. For example he had a great love of antiques, particularly clocks, and in his lounge and in other rooms would have many examples ticking away and all chiming at slightly different times. He would say, “I am dead trad you know,” in a Lancashire tone of voice.

He was ordained in 1978 and unlike most of his contemporaries was often seen in full black cassock and biretta. He also had a vast collection of classic vestments with matching chalice veils. In no sense was there an air of pretence or an enjoyment of dressing up, it was just that Stephen was proud of his priesthood and it was his way of doing things properly for God’s church.

Stephen had other keen interests, including bell ringing, and due to this interest he ensured that during his time at St Anthony’s, Preston the tower bell was regularly rung. On his transfer to Lancaster Cathedral in 1992 he oversaw the restoration of the bells there and rather enjoyed ringing them when he could. At Claughton, some years later, he ensured that the external bell was rung before mass. In many ways he was most suited to the parish of St Thomas the Apostle, Claughton; a small traditional church and presbytery in a rural area with a large garden. Stephen also loved gardening and he developed quite a vegetable patch in one part of the garden. He also kept chickens which seemed to meet all his own needs for eggs as well as the needs of many of the parishioners.

I will remember Stephen, my friend for 23 years, as a good priest and a man of great fun and humour.

Please pray for his soul.

Ian Mulholland

BB BellBoard
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers