No. 187

OSB Logo The Old St Beghian
  January 2015


John Anderson (G 55-59) writes from Poland about Rev. Philip Bryan:

The death of Philip Bryan is an event which has shocked and saddened me.

In 2000 I ran my first Polish Summer School at St Bees for two weeks in the summer holiday, this based on an original suggestion by Philip Etchells.

There was a school each summer until the last in 2006, and they were extremely successful. The Polish children were all Catholic, some even nervous about going into the Priory just to see it. Philip put himself out from the first day to talk with them, answer their questions, and make them welcome. He arranged visits to see the Bell Ringers 'at work', and on one memorable occasion arranged to interview one of the Polish teenagers during the Sunday morning Family Service. I remember that once, St Mary's Day fell during the week, and he invited our children to a spoken communion in the Lady Chapel before breakfast. There were three or four villagers, and perhaps ten or twelve of my children. Philip explained what was going to happen and asked them to do their best to read the responses: "Don't worry about your English", he said, "Jesus was foreign as well"!

One evening, during the 2005 Summer School, I was talking with Philip and it turned out that when he was a young curate in the sixties, he was attached to the town church in Macclesfield. At exactly the same time, my wife and I had set up our first home in the town, and it was certain that Philip and I must have come together there on many Sundays.

I know there are many, in St Bees and elsewhere, who loved and respected Philip. I have heard it said that over his twenty-nine years of service in the parish, he may well have reversed the dwindling fortunes of the 'old village'. He was as much a part of the local landscape as his lovely Priory, and I hope to see a plaque to honour him there before long.



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