The Archdiocese of Liverpool has posted the following notice: Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Tom Cullinan, who has died aged 83, was known above all in the archdiocese of Liverpool for the establishment of monastic life at Ince Benet, in woodland surrounding Ince Blundell, where he maintained the rhythm of prayer, work and study, supported by a loyal network of friends, for nearly 40 years.
Originally the plan had been to establish a small monastic house near Liverpool, with Tom as the superior. In the autumn of 1977 he and two other monks, Dom Aidan Gilman and Dom David Morland (later replaced by Dom Bonaventure Knollys), were offered the use of a converted coach house by the Whitlock-Blundell's at Little Crosby. There they had the privilege of establishing a monastic horarium unencumbered by the pastoral commitments of a parish or school. They placed the traditional monastic hours at roughly three hour intervals, with a magnum silentium from 9pm until 9am, and fitted meals, work and other activities into the gaps left.
As Tom himself observed, "People often ask 'What is your role?' or 'What are you doing?' To the former: do we have to have one? To the latter: we are doing very ordinary things, cooking, gardening, cleaning, binding books, writing, earning our keep; trying to create space to realise God amidst the ordinary." [The Ampleforth Journal, 1979]
During this time work began on establishing a new mini-monastery nearby, in the woods at Ince Blundell, but by the time of its completion Tom was the sole monk. What was conceived as a house for monks living a simple life structured by the Opus Dei, but open for people to share, was now developed by Tom and his friends. It was in this tranquil space that Tom continued to respond to issues of social justice and the environment. He also maintained the hallmark Benedictine hospitality, welcoming visitors from far and wide. It is fair to say, however, that not everyone was as enthusiastic as he was about the simplicity of Ince Benet.
Having invested so much of himself into the establishment of Ince Benet, and at a time when it was clear that he could no longer continue to live there alone, it was a perhaps a grace that God should call Tom to himself before he was forced to leave his beloved woodland home.
The funeral details are as follows:
Vigil Mass: St Helen, Crosby, on Thursday 31st January at 7pm [Bishop Tom Williams] Funeral Mass: St Helen, Crosby, on Friday 1st February at 12 noon. [The Archbishop]
Priests are welcome to attend, but there will be no concelebration in accordance with his sympathies. The burial will take place at Ince Blundell.
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