Wednesday, 28 August 2013

John Retreats from St Cuthman's

John with his Diocesan Medal
You could be forgiven for passing John Wells-Thorpe by in the street. This modest Anglican, in his 85th year, has decided to step down from his role as a member of the St Cuthman’s management committee. So what, you may ask?

Back in 1999 the St Julian’s Community - occupiers of the Jacobean house and 25½ acre estate and extensive lake – was looking to handover this property to a suitable organisation which would be able to carry on its mission in retreats and pastoral care. John, a distinguished architect of iconic buildings such as Hove Town Hall and a number of Catholic and Anglican churches, was asked to help model the future and to find a suitable successor.

As they say, the rest is history. Bishop (now Cardinal) Cormac Murphy-O’Connor was ready to take on the challenge. With the stewardship changing hands, it was decided to rename the house and estate after St Cuthman of Steyning. Today it is an important part of our thriving diocesan life, offering peace, tranquillity and pastoral care to the many who pass through its door – not only Catholics, but to a wide range of other denominations who share our Christian beliefs and some who have no belief at all.

To mark the occasion of John’s retirement, Bishop Kieran bestowed on him the St Philip Howard medallion (see picture), only one of four people to be awarded during the bishop’s time in the diocese.

After 14 years, John had to have the last say ‘I deeply value this award following my long involvement with St Cuthman’s – it is an honour I do not accept lightly. It will be a lasting reminder of my happy association with the retreat and the opportunity it afforded me to work with such dedicated and generous-spirited colleagues.

For those of us who know and appreciate the legacy he is leaving behind, we wish him well and, quite simply, say a big ‘We thank you and may the Lord bless you for the rest of your life. Amen’.

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