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Ampleforth Abbey’s oldest monk dies aged 98

Abbot Patrick Barry

Ampleforth Abbey’s oldest monk has died, just two months after celebrating his 98th birthday.

Abbot Patrick Barry OSB died in the monastery infirmary on Sunday, after 80 years as a monk.

His death was marked with the traditional tolling of the bell in the abbey church tower, with one toll for each year of his life.

Born in Wallasey on December 6, 1917, Patrick Barry went to Ampleforth College and was professed as a monk on 23 September 1939. After studying at St Benet’s Hall at the University of Oxford, he returned to Ampleforth and became school librarian and Senior Classics Master. From 1954 he became Housemaster of St Wilfrid’s House and Deputy Head, and in September 1964, he was appointed headmaster of Ampleforth College by Abbot Basil Hume. He also became chairman of the Headmasters’ Conference, an influential professional association of heads of the world’s leading independent schools.

He retired as headmaster in 1980 and in 1984, after a sabbatical, was elected the sixth Abbot of Ampleforth. Re-elected in 1992, he retired from office in March 1997.

After spells in the United States and Chile, Barry returned to Ampleforth Abbey at the aged of 91, where he lived in the monastery infirmary and took an active part in community life.

A renowned author, among his works are St Benedict’s Rule: A New Translation for Today, which was published in 1997 and remains one of the most popular contemporary translations; Wisdom from the Monastery: the Rule of St Benedict for Everyday Life, and St Benedict’s Prayer Book.

His death came only a few days after that of another Benedictine monk of Ampleforth Abbey, Fr Aelred Burrows OSB, who passed away on February 18 at the age of 76. He joined the community in September 1965 and was ordained in 1968.

In 1996 Fr Aelred, nearing 60 years of age, moved on to parish work and worked in the parishes of St Austin’s, Grassendale, and St Joseph’s, Brindle, in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, and also built strong relations with the Church in Romania.