Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Remembering Monsignor Terence Stonehill KCHS - RIP

Michael Rycroft reports on the death and funeral of his friend, Reverend Monsignor Provost EmeritusTerence Theodore Stonehill KCHS:


"Fr Terry or ‘TTS’ as he was known by many, was a much loved priest and friend.

He was born at Winton, Eccles, on 7 September 1925, one of three brothers and a sister to Henry and Alice Stonehill. They intended to call him George but instead he was named after the Parish Priest - Terence Theodore Kelly who had recently died. He was brought up in Winton, then Catford, South London,and then Chilslehurst.

He qualified as a Quantity Surveyor, but in 1951 he felt called to serve God in the priesthood. He studied at Osterley and St John’s Seminary, Wonersh. It was here that he was ordained a Priest of Southwark Diocese on 15 June 1957.

After ordination Fr Terry went to Our Lady of Ransom Parish, Eastbourne as an assistant priest (curate in those days!). In 1959 the Bishop (Mgr Cyril Cowderoy) requested that he go back to St John’s Seminary as Bursar and Procurator. He remained there until 1966 when he was appointed Financial Secretary of the newly created Diocese of Arundel and Brighton and moved to offices at Bishop’s House in Hove. Here he remained, (despite a few pleas from him to Bishop Cormac to go back to Parish life!) but he was just too valuable in this job with his numerous gifts, including his knowledge of Quantity Surveying and his easy ability to communicate with people.

Eventually in 1981 Fr Terry got his wish to be back in parish life when he went as Parish Priest to The Sacred Heart, Hove. For several years he combined the duties of Financial Secretary and Parish Priest. He was loved by his parishioners and became something of an institution in the area - and the Diocese in general!
Apart from his skills with finances, he was a master in obtaining money not just for parish projects, but also for the whole Diocese. He literally brought in millions over the years and helped keep the Diocese in the black! It was not difficult to understand why he could do this. Fr Terry had great charm and persuasion with kindness and humour. I would not think that anyone would have left his presence sad or upset, much more likely uplifted and smiling. He loved people, and also remembered them and their names, long after. He loved his priesthood and caring for the needs of his people. This he continued until a few days before his death when he was seen anointing someone in his nursing home and hearing the confessions of others.

In 1993 Fr Terry was appointed to the Parish of Corpus Christi at Henfield, and he left Hove to the dismay and sadness of the Parish. But Terry, being Terry, it was not long before Henfield was renamed by him as ‘Heavenly Henfield’ and it was here that he spent the last thirteen very happy years of his working life.

In late 2006 he retired and moved to St Mary’s House in Brighton, and in 2009 he went to the Nursing Wing of Holy Cross Priory, Heathfield. His much loved sister, Paddy, moved to a flat on the site - a joy for them both. At both Brighton and Heathfield he was lovingly cared for by the Benedictine Sisters of Our Lady of Grace and Compassion and it was at Heathfield on the morning of Sunday July 31, just before being taken to Mass, that he died peacefully.

A Requiem Mass for parishioners was held at Henfield on Thursday 11 August, and on 12 August, his Funeral Requiem Mass was held before a full Cathedral at Arundel. Bishop Kieran celebrated the Mass, together with many priests of our Diocese and other Dioceses. Letters were read out from Cardinal Cormac and Bishop Tripp, both unable to attend. Mgr. John Hull gave the homily and Archbishop Emeritus Michael Bowen performed the Final Commendation. Members of the Knights and Dames of the Holy Sepulchre, escorted the coffin.

He was buried among friends in Henfield cemetery the following day.

There are many amusing stories of Fr Terry and many tributes to him, but I will quote only one tribute in this article, written by a past manager of the Diocesan Pastoral Centre then at Maryvale. “Terence Stonehill was everything one would want a Monsignor of his generation (or any other) to be - a perfect gentleman. Not that this is a predication of the post, but he made it so. His kindness to us at Maryvale and his social charm shone out. Perhaps these are old-fashioned ways, and in many ways he was. Yet, in being himself he gave so much.”

May he rest in peace."

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