Obituary: Fr Christopher Farwell SJ

The former Jesuit headmaster of Donhead Preparatory School in Wimbledon, has died at the age of 94. Father Christopher Farwell SJ passed away peacefully at Nazareth House in Hammersmith, where he had been resident for the past three years. Chris Farwell was born in Roehampton, Middlesex, in 1910, the son of Catholic parents, and studied at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire before entering the Society of Jesus in 1928. He served his noviciate at Manresa House in Roehampton, and continued his studies at Heythrop College (then in Oxfordshire), Tullamore in Ireland, and St Beuno's in north Wales. Fr Farwell taught at Wimbledon College between 1935 and 1938, and after his ordination in 1941, at Hodder Place Prep School, Stonyhurst.

In 1945, he took up the post of Headmaster at Donhead, the prep school for Wimbledon College in southwest London. After four years, he moved to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), which, at that time, was part of the British Province of the Society of Jesus. He taught at St George's College in Salisbury (now Harare), before taking charge of the Prep School (1957 - 1972).

When the Zimbabwe Province was formed in 1978, Fr Farwell became a member of the new province, but returned to the UK two years later for medical treatment. He served as parish priest at the church of the Sacred Heart and St Ia in St Ives, Cornwall, from 1981 until his retirement in 1989. Fr Brendan Callaghan SJ, the Superior of the Wimbledon Jesuit Community, says Chris was always pleased to join his fellow Jesuits at celebrations, and his after-dinner speeches were always well worth hearing. "Chris's tour de force was delivered (I think) on his 90th Birthday," said Fr Callaghan. "It was a panoramic view of life under 'Five popes, four Jesuit generals, and six monarchs.' To the end he remained interested in people - in his brother Jesuits, in his wide circle of friends, in what was happening at Nazareth House - and visiting him was always a boost for the spirits.

He knew that he was approaching his death  'After all, I am 94!' - and remained peaceful in the face of it, offering a wide and welcoming smile to his last visitors a few hours before he died." Farwell House at Worth School in West Sussex is named after Chris' brother, Victor, who was the first Abbot of Worth Abbey, serving three terms between 1965 and 1988. The Requiem Mass for Fr Chris Farwell SJ will be celebrated at Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon, at 10am tomorrow.

4 OCTOBER 2004

Source: Jesuit Communications Office

Share this story