Canon John Stapleton - priest, writer and broadcaster

Canon John Patrick Stapleton

Canon John Patrick Stapleton

Canon John Patrick Stapleton, a priest of Arundel and Brighton diocese died on 2 January 2011 at the age of 88. He trained for the priesthood at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh, Surrey where he was ordained on 31 May 1947. During his 63 years as a priest his ministry was widespread.
The first 12 years after ordination were spent as a teacher after which he became a radio producer at the BBC. He was assistant to Fr Agnellus Andrew, Catholic Head of Religious Broadcasting for a total of 11 years working both in London and Manchester. His career continued around broadcasting when he became a tutor at the Catholic Radio Centre Hatch End, and Head of the Communications Department at Wonersh Seminary. Many a priest still values the skills he taught them at both these places. His broadcasting interest was also international during his years as General Secretary to UNDA (the International Catholic Association for Radio and Television).

Whilst at the BBC he produced programmes from St Edwards Church, Sutton Park, near Guildford and remained involved with music there for many years. It was one of his great delights when he was appointed to be parish priest at St Edwards and he is now buried there.

Music was a great interest of his and when he became ill on the morning of his death he was preparing to play the organ for Mass at St Joseph’s residential home in Bognor, where he spent a very happy final year of his life.

He had many other strands to his life – work on Marriage Tribunals, chaplain to a prison and to several schools. He was very touched when he was invited to become a member of the Old Brotherhood of the English Secular Clergy for the London District. He maintained contact with many friends and family and was interested in a wide variety of subjects. One of his greatest passions was steam railways of which he had an extensive knowledge.

His liturgical skills and knowledge were considerable. He was responsible for a number of publications. He assembled the ‘Diocesan Propers’ with Masses and Divine Office for the diocesan saints. In 1990 he edited the very comprehensive ‘A & B Story’ on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of the diocese.

That same year he was asked by (then Bishop) Cormac to edit and launch the A & B NEWS in a newspaper format. It is tribute to his careful planning, which he displayed in all his various tasks, that the main pattern of his ideas and principles are still followed by the current editorial team. Canon John touched many people in the diocese, and beyond, during his life and he had many priest and lay friends.

May he now rest in the presence of the Lord he served so well.

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