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Wilfrid Ardagh O.P. (1896-1980)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010
William Ardagh, who was born in Birmingham on 7 December 1896, entered the Dominican novitiate in Woodchester at the age of sixteen, receiving as his religious name Wilfrid: he made his profession a year later on 21 September 1913. Such was his youth that he had to wait seven years (rather than the usual  five) after profession before being ordained to the priesthoood soon after his 24th birthday (the earliest someone can be ordained priest) on 18 December 1920.
Having pursued higher studies in Fribourg, he returned to England to teach in Hawkesyard, moving to Oxford when the Studium there opened in 1929. After a four year spell in the Dominicans’ new house of studies in Stellenbosch (South Africa), he came back to Britain in 1936, going to St Dominic’s Priory in Newcastle (pictured left) where he was elected prior in 1941. Having served his term as prior, he was then elected to fulfil the same function in Leicester, after which he was able to return to teaching, this time in London, giving University of London extension lectures in theology and moral philosophy.

Ten years later, in 1958, he was sent out to the English Dominican vicariate in the West Indies to be parish priest at Bridgetown (Barbados), before travelling across the Atlantic again in 1961 back to Stellenbosch (pictured right) for a second spell of teaching there until his retirement in 1969. He then returned to England, living first in Cambridge before moving to Oxford in 1972. After a varied and fruitful apostolate, both pastoral and academic, in the course of over 50 years already spent in the Order, he found the changes brought in the wake of the Second Vatican Council at the end of his life difficult to get used to.

In his last months, he was nursed by the Sisters of Peace, and he died on 22 September 1980, aged 83, with 66 years of profession and 59 of priesthood.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace. Amen.

Gregory Pearson OP


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