Herbert Vaughan renounced a considerable inheritance and a warm, loving household to pursue his vocation as a priest. From a wealthy, established Catholic family that survived penal times, he was the eldest of 13 siblings and his entire life was marked by unstable health due to a weak heart.
He was painfully shy and upset colleagues and contemporaries with his apparent brusqueness. But he was a genuinely pious and holy man, spending two hours a day in prayer, and was painfully aware of his many faults.
He learnt his faith from his mother and missionary life fascinated him from an early age. He was overcome with the impulse to bring the Good News of the Gospel to those who were yet to hear it.
Vaughan was schooled by the Jesuits and Benedictines, and enjoyed a long association with the Carmelites. He was a man of the Victorian age, with a broad international view developed by travel. It seems that he was never a parish priest or even a curate. After training for the priesthood in Rome he became vice-rector at the new seminary at Ware, Hertfordshire, where he was generally esteemed and spent time investigating priestly training.
He co-founded a missionary society of diocesan priests, the Oblates of St Charles, and a new missionary order, the Mill Hill Missionaries. He absorbed himself in his first love – evangelisation – and the order grew and prospered under his care. He thought he had found his great mission in life.
But fate determined otherwise. Aged only 40 he was made Bishop of Salford, where he remained for 20 years, founding the Children’s Rescue Society and promoting countless similar initiatives.
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