My very dear friend Father Gregory Winterton, former Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and champion of the Cause for the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, died peacefully at about 9.15am on Wednesday 18 January 2012, in the care of the Little Sisters of the Poor, in room 25 at their home in Harborne, Birmingham. He was 89 years old – the same age as his father, Major-General Sir John Winterton, and also the same age as Blessed John Henry Newman, who died in his room at the Oratory House, Edgbaston on Monday 11 August 1890.
I had the privilege as a teenager of attending the Ordination of Father Gregory to the priesthood in the Newman Memorial Church, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, Edgbaston, on 9 March 1963. I then worked closely with him on the Newman Cause from the mid-1970’s.
I saw Father Gregory Winterton for the last time at about 10.55am in his room at the Little Sisters of the Poor in Harborne, on Saturday 7 January 2012. His body was frail but his memory was remarkably good as he recalled events from the past. I gently held his right-hand for a moment. I said “goodbye” knowing it would be the last time that I would see him alive. Father Gregory replied: “Goodbye and God Bless You.” It was a deeply poignant and memorable moment.
I was in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia on Wednesday 18 January when I received the text from Father Paul Chavasse with the news that Father Gregory had died peacefully a few hours earlier.
I plan to publish a full Obituary including personal memories of Father Gregory Winterton.
Monday 23 January: 6.30pm Reception of Father Gregory’s body into the Oratory Church followed immediately by Solemn Vespers of the Dead sung in Latin.
Tuesday, 24 January, Feast of St Francis de Sales, Bishop, Patron Saint of Writers and Journalists.
8am Matins & Lauds of the Dead.
11.30am Funeral Mass of Father Gregory Winterton – Principal Celebrant Father Paul Chavasse.
According to a very old custom, no sermon or panegyric is given at the Requiem Mass of a Father of the Oratory.
Following Mass Father Gregory Winterton will be buried in the small secluded community graveyard at the Oratory Retreat, Rednal.
*Please note that all the pictures included are my copyright but may be used with due acknowledgement: “Picture by Peter Jennings.”