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Celebrating Priesthood - Dom John Lane Fox OSB

Saturday, October 31, 2009
One of the things Godzdogz is doing to mark the Year for Priests is a series on priests who have inspired various Dominican friars in our Province. As it is the Year for Priests, we've decided to ask not just the Dominican student-brothers but also our brothers who are priests about those priests - both real and fictional, as found in art, literature and cinema - who have inspired and influenced them and their priestly vocation.

The following reflection, which begins this series, is from fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, who was the 84th successor of St Dominic as Master of the Order, and who is currently a member of the Oxford community.

"The priest who baptised me, heard my first confession and gave me my first communion was my great uncle, Dom John Lane Fox. He was a monk of Fort Augustus, which had been founded by his father and his uncle to evangelise the Highlands of Scotland, and most of the first monks were his relations!

He was a tall gaunt figure, and had lost an eye and most the fingers of his right hand during First World War, when he was a chaplain. What struck me as a child, was his irrepressible sense of fun. One could see that religious life and the priesthood did not dehumanise one. I sensed that his vitality came from his faith. He had a relaxed attitude to rules, and considered that duck should be eaten on Friday. He enjoyed his claret, and used to return to the monastery with lots of bottles given by my father clunking his suitcase.

He was an important source of my own vocation. Recently I discovered that in the Great War he had been utterly loved by the soldiers because of his courage. Every night he would cross over into No man's land, between the opposing trenches, and look for the wounded, to anoint them and to carry them home and to bury the dead. No one believed that he could last a week. He went over the trenches with the men to give them the last rites if necessary. He was forbidden by the Generals to do this, but his love for those in his care overrode an obedience to rules. The soldiers gave him a chalice engraved with all the battles in which he participated, which he gave to me. He died at the age of 95, a man still filled with joy."

Lawrence Lew OP


Dermod commented on 30-Nov-2015 09:15 AM
Dom John Lane Fox was alive and well at the Abbey when I was a student there. He was a well liked priest, conveying to us student everything about fortitude in the face of difficulties.

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