The Very Revd Jeremy Winston
A tribute by Fr Malcolm Lane
This tribute was given at his Thanksgiving Service on Saturday 21st January at St Mary's Priory church, Abergavenney
It seems only like yesterday ,when I first met the young Jeremy Winston. I was a young Banker and little did I know then that that after becoming his Bank Manager I would become probably his closest colleague and friend serving along side him as the Asst Curate in this very Parish Church and even allowed to Chair Parochial Church Councils’s during his periods of very indifferent health. But it was in Griffithstown, his home village, in about 1977 that we first met I was Treasurer to the Parochial Church Council of St Hilda’s and his mother, the late Irene Vera Winston - a member of that PCC - introduced me to her son Jeremy who was home from Oxford and playing the organ at the Sunday morning Mass.
This young theological student was to have a profound influence not only on my life but many other lives in the course of his ministry. His charismatic personality, his depth of spirituality, and his Benedictine Spirit in the true Catholic tradition aligned with his immense abilities and capabilities were to play an important part in the lives of thousands and in particular way for so many. The discernment of a true vocation to the sacred priesthood for so many. He had an uncanny knack of recognising what he would say “ Priestly qualities” He possessed an ability to persuade, to cajole and breathe confidence into a person so that he or she could almost reach out and touch the moon, if that was their wish.
How many people in this world has he influenced in the searching out and in the discernment of a call to that sacred priesthood and other ministries in the Church of God? How many journeys has he made walking alongside and in the shoes of those who found the road to ordination to be a thorny one in the least? Many I would say – indeed, some have gone on to become prelates.
I remember well his appointment as the Vicar or should I say Prior of Abergavenny. I was a member of the Patronage Board at the time .It was chaired by Bishop Rowan, when we interviewed the candidates for Yes! The Parish of St.Mary’s Abergavenny – Fr Jeremy among them. The Parish representatives were insistent that the parish of Abergavenny wanted and deserved a married man and one with a family taboo. Prolonged discussions went on and we did not appoint on that particular day I well remember the quizzical look on Bishop’s Rowans face when he said later “What do they want”?
He will do the work of several clerics and he will love them all! Well, thankfully Bishop Rowan did appoint Fr Jeremy,
who went on to become probably the most prominent cleric this parish has ever had the privilege of caring for them.
He was very much a “Priest of the People” and loved by the people and made this Parish Church not only a most welcoming one but a place that was to host many great parish, civic and ecumenical events.Hosting the Prince of Wales on at least two occasions and other Royals as well. If anyone could do it – It was Jeremy!!
His work is legendary – you only have to look outside at the Priory Centre and the Tythe Barn and not forgetting his governorship links with local schools serving as Chairman of Governors in several of the Schools.
Then there were the Parish Pilgrimages which we jointly led to the Holy Land, to Rome and Assisi, to Lindisfarne, to Walsingham and in the steps of St Paul. The sheer energy of the priest – we could hardly keep up with the Jeremy Winston route march!
And who can forget his culinary skills – how many priests do you know who can cook coronation chicken for 200 people,
or bake a gross of Vicar’s biscuits for the Food Festival?
I can tell you that he was a most self-effacing man. Back in 2002 when I was ordained Deacon in this very Parish Church, there was a very poignant moment just before the service in the Vestry when I was signing the various legal documents,
Bishop Rowan appointed Jeremy as a Canon of St Woolos Cathedral to sit in the stall of St Dingat- Jeremy said, “Thank you Bishop but we won’t mention it again this evening because I don’t want anything to detract from Malcolm’s ordination.”
Always others before self!! In the whole time I have known him, and that is almost 35 years, he never wavered from what he believed in. He was a respected traditionalist through and through and his non wavering integrity gained him international respect. He would always say, “Be true to yourself and always be natural and do not pretend to be what you are not!”
He was a magnificent Priest He was one of the oldest members of the The Society of the Holy Cross which was founded at the House of Charity, Soho, London and Its principal objectives are: to strengthen and consolidate the spiritual life of its members according to Catholic belief and practice; to maintain and extend the Catholic Faith and discipline, and to defend Truth against error; and to unite its members in a special bond of mutual charity arising from their common faith.
He ,as a member of the Society live under a Rule and attend chapters .and his membership of the Additional Curates Society spanned two decades where he served as a very prominent , hardworking Chairman for five years.
In his last days ,I was privileged to look after him at my home at the Rectory in Michaelston-y-fedw Cardiff with the support of my son Matthew and great and devoted friends Tony, Caroline, Philip, Verena and Glynis .
They were indeed special days with much sharing as my great friend prepared himself for what he knew lay ahead of him. His funeral instructions to me were explicit as far the Hymns, Music and Bearers were concerned and with instructions that I was to bury him with his Mother, but there was one proviso in the instructions and that there were to be no ugly people taking part.
Fr Malcolm Lane JP