Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Passing of a truly wonderful priest and confessor at Belmont Abbey

Father Dyfrig Harris
Monmouthshire Monk Priest, from Cwmbran, Torfaen. Requiescat in Pace

Right:St Dyfrig of Ergyng, Bishop of Llandaff


The Benedictine Community have lost one of their Brethren, to a stroke quite suddenly on 23rd of January. I drove down to the Abbey at Belmont today in glorious sunshine, and thought how fitting it was, that although extremely cold, the heavens were smiling on us, and on father Dyfrig. To my surprise I found he was christened Kevin Harris and attended Our Lady's church in Cwmbran, where he was Christened and  confirmed and then at Pontypool. certainly I would never have guessed he was from Cwmbran. Jovial, laughing and and extremely kind Confessor, with real concern for the faithful he served, he will be sorely missed by us all-his stints at Abergavenny during the penetential masses in particular, because these were where I cam into contact with him.

There was no room in the car park, and I walked back up through the graveyard to the Abbey Church and soon the procession of clergy entered, Abbot Paul being last . There were also representatives from the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which Father Dyfrig loved, having been to the Ukraine, and able to chant the liturgy. A sizeable number of the Ukrainian Catholics were also in the congregation. The Abbey church was packed with people standing at the back and sides and all the chapels full. During Father Abbot's moving homily, you felt a real sense of loss, echoed in the emotional letter written by his brother Michael later after the mass. Dyfrig was a Welsh priest from Madley just down the road from Belmont, who became Bishop of Llandaff. (no myth here-it is fact) The hymns chosen, 'Jesu Lover of my soul' , 'Soul of my Saviour' and 'Guide me ,O thou great Redeemer' were all well known and fervently sung, and the plainchant music written out for us in a beautiful booklet meant that most participated in the Ordinary of the Mass, which was largely sung. Father Dyfrig's brother and sister in law Jean and their families sat at the front, obviously distraught and our sympathy and love went out to them.

The gospel lesson from St John 14:1-6 was

'Do not let your heart be troubled
Trust in God still and trust in me
There are many rooms in my Father's house
If there were not, I should have told you
I am now going to prepare a place for you
And after I have gone and prepared you a place,
I shall return to take you with me
so that is where I am
you may be too
You know the way to the place where I am going.

Thomas said 'Lord, we do not know where you are going
so how can we know the way?'
Jesus said
I am the Way and the Truth and the Life
No one can come to the Father, except through me.'

The commendation was sung 'Receive me Lord and I shall live, and do not disappoint me in the promise you have given me'.

There followed the Byzantine Rite Commendation and the Christos Aneste, sung in Greek.

Finally, as the coffin was carried out from the church, the In Paradisum
In Paradisum deducant angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem.
Chorus Angelorym te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere, aeternam habeas Requiem.

As the Abbey church doors were open, the departing procession was bathed in bright sunlight, including Father Dyfrig's coffin- a great sign and a great blessing as a great priest, humble and human was carried out. I breathed the words:

'Well done, thou good and faithful servant'.
St Dyfrig         Pray for him
St Benedict     Pray for him
St David         Pray for him
St Winifride, Pray for him.
                                          Above Christ Receives Fr Dyfrig
 Left: St Michael

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