Tuesday, 7 March 2017


As readers of this blog and parishioners will know Una KRoll died on 6th January 2017.  In accordance with her wishes her funeral service took place at East Lancashire Crematorium on 3rd February.

Again, in accordance with Una's wishes I offered a Requiem Mass for her on 10th February.  This was attended by a small number of parishioners and a good number of her friends whom she had worked alongside over the years.

Below is the homily I preached at the Requiem Mass

Whenever I sit down with families who are bereaved to make preparations for the funeral liturgy I always ask them to tell me something about the person who has died.  I am often amazed at the number of things that they managed to pack into their lives.

Today we gather to offer this Requiem Mass and to pray for the repose of the soul of our sister Una Kroll: religious sister, medical doctor, wife, mother, grandmother, campaigner on behalf of the marginalised, ordained minister, spiritual director, confidante and friend to many.  Una certainly packed a lot into her 91 years for which we give thanks to God today.

As we gathered at the Crematorium last week one cleric made the comment ‘Una has brought us all together, hasn’t she?’  Una had that great ability to bring people together – and often people who shared very different views from her own.

Those of you who knew Una, and those of you who know me, will probably realise that we saw the world, politics and certainly the Church in very different ways!!!  As I stood here week by week preaching at Sunday Mass I was always conscious that Una was listening intently to what I had to say.  On some occasions she would raise her head and give me a hard stare.  I was never sure whether that was because I had given her a new insight into the scriptures, or a different way of looking at something – or simply because she disagreed with what I was saying!!!

Usually having had one of Una’s stares at Mass, there would be a following email thanking me for what I had said or on occasion, disagreeing with what I had said.  But even when disagreeing and at times, profoundly, there was always a respect and a courteousness for my role as her Parish Priest. 

Una’s decision to become a Roman Catholic sent ripples across the Anglican Communion – how could one who campaigned so ardently for the role of women and for their ordination to the priesthood in the Anglican Communion possibly take such a step to become a Roman Catholic?  There has to be more to it than she simply wanted to stand alongside her sisters in the Roman Catholic Church.  That ‘kindly light’ referred to by another convert, Cardinal John Henry Newman, brought her to a unity of faith within the harbour of our Holy Mother the Church.

In the laat few weeks of her life Una wrote an email Una to family and friends talking about her then forthcoming funeral.  In it she wrote  'I have also asked him [Fr Francis] to come to the funeral, if he can, so as to be there as a representative of my beloved Catholic Church.  He is a special person in my life as he holds very different views from myself as an ex Anglican priest, now a Catholic, but we have great mutual respect and are reconciled to one another's differences in God's Love where we find a unity, a unity that is not presently possible on earth. 

In the weeks before she died I visited Una at the Franciscan Convent in Blackburn.  At that time I was able converse with her about many things, both spiritual and temporal. I was also privileged to hear her confession and to celebrate with her, and for her,  the Sacrament of the Sick.  As we prayed together the prayers from the ritual I was reminded of part of that lovely poem entitled Septuagesima by Sir John Betjemen.  I think it sums up Una’s life of faith as well as giving us who remain something to ponder on.

And when it comes that I must die 
I hope the Vicar’s standing by, 
I won’t care if he’s “Low” or “High” 
For he’ll be there to aid my soul 
On that dread journey to its goal, 
With Sacrament and prayer and Blessing 
After I’ve done my last confessing. 
And at that time may I receive 
The Grace most firmly to believe, 
For if the Christian’s Faith’s untrue 
What is the point of me and you?

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