One of England’s best-loved priests will celebrate his 95th birthday on July 21. Known for his bright smile and infectious missionary spirit, Fr Hugh Thwaites is a symbol of what one priest’s unflagging commitment to evangelisation can achieve.
Fr Hugh knows what it is to convert to Catholicism. He converted from Anglicanism when he was a passenger aboard a troop ship bound for Singapore during World War II. He spent three punishing years as a Japanese prisoner of war, which gave him insight into human nature. “To see men in such extreme conditions is to see the very roots of their character,” he has said. In order to survive in the prison camp Fr Hugh sold his watch. After the war he was ordained a Jesuit.
The zeal of the convert has never left Fr Hugh and he first asks new people he meets: “Are you a Catholic?” If they reply “no” then he asks: “But you would like to be, wouldn’t you?” Fr Hugh is a champion of the Legion of Mary, an ardent supporter of the Extraordinary Form and renowned for his tenacity in spreading devotion to the rosary. In his startling booklet, Our Glorious Faith and How to Lose It, Fr Hugh links the abandonment of the rosary with losing the faith. He explains that Our Lady has asked us to say the rosary. “If we want in any way to be like Jesus,” he says, “we must do what His Mother asks. If we do not, can we expect things to go right? We cannot with impunity disobey the Mother of God.” Fr Hugh may be advanced in years and describes himself as “living on the edge of eternity”. But his many talks are available online and blogs are buzzing with lively discussions about how he brought new people into the Church.
Link (here) to read about ten amazing priests at The Catholic Herald