Funeral of journalist Katie Jaffa

 The funeral of Kathleen (Katie) Jaffa took place on 24 March at St Joseph's Church ,New Malden. celebrated by parish priest Fr Peter Edwards.

Katie had been an oblate of Westminster Cathedral since 1992 and a reader for nearly thirty years and Monsignor Mark Langham, former Cathedral Administrator, now at the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, sent a fulsome tribute:

"One of the most familiar and beloved of our readers........she was unfailingly positive and upbeat and always found the best in them. As an example she not only exemplified the Christian virtues but was also a tower of strength to those who were tempted to give in to illness, age or weariness. Her voice was firm but gentle, her smile radiant and her laugh infectious....."

The Provincial of the Order of Carmelites, Very Reverend, Wilfrid McGreal also sent a message as she was a professed member of the Third Order since 1955 ".She was," he said "an indefatigable character. She lived in the presence of God and brought the presence of God to those she encountered."

Following the Requiem Mass the funeral cortege departed for Aylesford Priory where the coffin was placed on the Shrine in front of the statue of Our Lady of the Assumption and prayers were led by the Most Reverend Fr Joseph Chalmers, former Prior General of the Order of Carmelites and now sub -Prior at The Friars. He had adapted special Night prayers written by Fr Malachy Lynch, who had rebuilt the Priory in 1949 and early fifties, attracting creative people like Katie Jaffa to the apostolate of Aylesford.

She was then buried in the village cemetery in a plot she had bought many years ago to be close to the priory.

Born in Romney, Kent, on 7 March 1913, Kathleen Marie Theresa Mayer was of Irish, English and German lineage, and grew up in Highbury, London, and then in New Malden, Surrey when her family moved there in the 1920's. She lived there until fifteen months before her death when increasing frailty meant she had to reside in a care home in Surbiton.

Her father had been a printer at the Daily Express and eventually became editor and Kitty,as she was known to the family became a journalist. She worked briefly on Peg's Paper and other ladies ' magazines before the war .In 1939 she worked in Intelligence with the Americans at their embassy in Grosvenor Square. Following the war she worked on Reuters main news desk and spent some time in Berlin.

Subsequently she worked as sub-editor for Chambers' Encyclopedia and from 1950-1957 was secretary to eight editors at Picture Post, including Ted Castle,husband to Barbara Castle MP.

In 1965 she went to work for Woman's Realm and became fiction editor, frequently writing under the pseudonym of Frances O'Flaherty, taking her fathers' Christian name and her maternal grandmothers' surname.

In 1972 she married Harold Jaffa, a leading columnist with the Daily Express at Aylesford Priory. He died in 1976.

Katie, as she was known to her friends, wrote many articles for the Catholic press over the years.about Carmelite events at Aylesford and Allington Castle.

She was the oldest member of The Keys, the Catholic Writers Guild and was still writing at 90.

She was also a member of the Catholic Poetry Society and wrote religious poetry.

Share this story