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Father Barry Hughes RIP - Obituary

Father Barry Hughes, a former Parish Priest here at Our Lady of Lourdes, Lee, died on 28th March 2024 in The Princess Royal University Hospital, Orpington, in his 85 year and in the 41st year of his priesthood.


Obituary for

The Reverend Barry Hughes RIP

 18th October 1938 – 28th March 2024

Kevin Barry Hughes was born in Birstall, West Yorkshire on 18th October 1938. He as one of three children, a twin brother and a younger sister. His early education was in Birstall, Yorkshire. He was baptised a week after his birth at St Patrick’s Church, Birstall and confirmed there in 1951.

At a young age he felt a calling to Religious Life and went to Ireland in 1953 to the Salesian College in Ballinakill, Co Laois, Eire.  However, after two years he returned to England to complete his secondary education in Bradford. Upon leaving school he worked firstly as a local government officer for West Riding County Council before been called up for National Service in 1957 with the Duke of Wellington Regiment until 1959 when he then took on various occupations.  From 1961 until 1968 he worked as a journalist on a number of local newspapers.

In 1977, the call to religious life came to him once more and he joined the Carmelites and made his simple profession at Aylesford in August 1978. He then went to the Carmelite International College of San Alberto in Rome to commence his studies for the priesthood. After two years he discerned that religious life was not for him and so he contacted the Archdiocese of Southwark. He was accepted as a student for the priesthood by Archbishop Michael Bowen, who sent him in 1979, to the Beda College in Rome to complete his priestly formation.

He was proud of the fact that he was ordained as a Deacon at the Basilica of St Paul, Outside the Walls in Rome on 7th June 1981.  Having completed his studies, he was ordained in his home parish of St Patrick’s Birstall on 20th June 1982 by Bishop Howard Tripp who travelled up to Yorkshire to celebrate the ordination.

Father Barry’s first appointment was as an assistant priest in the parish of St William of York, Forest Hill. He served there until January 1984, when, due to ill health he asked to be relieved his duties and went to the USA where in a warmer climate he was able to seek pastoral work in the Diocese of Orange where he became an associate pastor in the church of St Norbert, Orange. He was subsequently appointed as associate pastor in the church of St Edward, Dana Point, also in the Diocese of Orange.

After a few years and with much improved health, Fr Barry returned to the Archdiocese of Southwark where he was appointed as an assistant priest in the parish of St Anthony of Padua, Anerley. He remained there until 1990 when he moved to take up a new appointment as an assistant priest at the Holy Ghost, Balham. He served for two years in Balham. In November 1992, Archbishop Michael wrote to Fr Barry to appoint him as parish priest of St Simon of England, Walderslade.  In his letter the Archbishop wrote “Thank you so much for all you have been doing in Balham and especially for your work in the school. I know you will be missed there. In his letter to Archbishop Michael in reply Fr Barry wrote, “My time at Balham has been very happy and, I feel, a good preparation for the responsible ministry that now awaits me”

He was inducted as parish priest of Walderslade on 8th February 1993 by Bishop John Jukes. He served as there for three and half years. During his time there he did much to introduce to the parish many different initiatives and was particularly dedicated to the work of the two schools in the parish.  During his time in Walderslade he was appointed as the Chaplain to the Council 418 Chatham.

In a letter from the area bishop, Bishop John Jukes following on from the parish visitation the Bishop wrote that “I want to acknowledge the good you have done and the progress you have made with the people of Walderslade.  I hope and pray that focussing the attention of the good committed parishioners upon the need to enhance the Mass attendance at the parish will eventually bear fruit and that future plans can be made for the development of the church in your part of the Medway towns”.

In April 1996 Archbishop Michael wrote to Barry asking him to take on a new appointment as parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, Lee.  He thanked him in the letter for “ the excellent work you have been doing in Walderslade during the past three and half years which has been widely appreciated”

Father Barry moved from Kent to South East London to take up his new appointment in Lee and was inducted as the parish priest on 10th October 1996 by Bishop Charles Henderson. He served here for the next 9 years, during which he had the church re-decorated and re-ordered, oversaw the appointment of two head teachers for the school, developed a pastoral outreach group to support the sick and the housebound parishioners, and developed the role of lay ministries in the parish.  He also acquired a Master’s degree in Theology from Heythrop College.

In April 2005 Father Barry approached Archbishop Kevin McDonald asking if he could step down from the parish to take a sabbatical. In his reply the Archbishop wrote thanking Barry and agreeing to his request saying “You have clearly achieved a great deal in your years at Our Lady of Lourdes, Lee, and I am happy to agree to you request”.  He left the parish in the summer of 2005 and went for a year’s sabbatical to the Institute of St Anselm, in Cliftonville and the Franciscan Study Centre in Canterbury.

In August 2006, Archbishop Kevin wrote to Fr Barry to appoint him as parish priest of St Columba’s Selsdon and he was inducted by Bishop Paul Hendricks on 15th April 2007. He served in this parish until 2012, during which time he again developing the parish and establishing the RCIA programme. He also did much to develop initiatives for young people, establishing a youth group and having the Guild of St Stephen erected in the parish and establishing a conference of the Society of St Vincent de Paul. 

In June 2012 Archbishop Peter Smith wrote to Fr Barry following his earlier request to him that he be allowed to retire as parish priest due to health issues and to thank him for his ministry to the people of St Columba’s Selsdon.  In September 2013, he came out of retirement to take on what was to be his final appointment as parish priest of St Michael and All Angels, Farnborough. During his retirement he had also helped out in the parish of Corpus Christi, Brixton Hill following the sudden and unexpected death of the then parish priest, Fr Tom Heneghan RIP.

He went to Farnborough but served there for just over a month as, given his age and his health he found that taking on a parish once again was just too much for him, and so with great reluctance he wrote to the Archbishop to offer his resignation.

Father Barry went back into retirement and was available for supply placements in the and around the diocese. He continued to keep in contact with the Diocesan Clergy and attended the On-Going Formation events.

He celebrated his Ruby Jubilee of Ordination in 2022.

He was a devoted and caring pastor and had a great love for the people whom he was sent to serve.  A priest friend of his wrote that “his whole life was charged with a great sense of humour which lightened the hearts of his many friends in the diocese and beyond”

Father Barry Hughes, a priest of the Archdiocese of Southwark who died on 28th March 2024 in The Princess Royal University Hospital, Orpington, in his 85 year and in the 41st year of his priesthood.

May he rest in peace and rise in Glory.

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