The founder of HCPT, Brother Michael Strode died today, Friday 27th December at the age of 96.
Doctor Michael Strode, or Brother Michael as he was called after he became a Cistercian monk in later life, was born in Woking, Surrey, on 5th June 1923. He trained to be a doctor at St Thomas's Medical School, London, qualifying in 1946. In September 1945 he was received into to Catholic Church. Michael began his National Service in 1947 serving as a a Surgeon Lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Towards the end of his service he contract tuberculosis and was hospitalised until 1950.
After his recovery Dr Strode served in several hospitals before he joined the Chailey Heritage foundation for children with disabilities in 1953. He worked at Chailey until his retirement in December 1988.
Michael made his first pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1951, travelling with the Birmingham diocesan pilgrimage. In 1954 he and his friend Peter Keevney took a group of disabled children from Chailey to Lourdes as part of the Birmingham pilgrimage. This was a great success and two groups visited Lourdes from Chailey in 1955, one with the National Schools' pilgrimage at Easter and one in July, again with Birmingham. In 1956 HCPT was founded and the first Trust pilgrimage took place in 1957. Michael was unable to take part because he suffered a recurrence of TB that year. This was soon overcome, and he was able to accompany the HCPT pilgrimage in the Lourdes centenary year of 1958.
Michael suffered a few health problems, notably an operation for a slipped disc in 1972 (when he attended the pilgrimage in a wheelchair) and a coronary thrombosis in 1986, which prevented him from coming on the pilgrimage. Happily he made a full recovery. During all these years Michael played a full part in the HCPT as Chief Medical Officer (until 1990) and as a Governor of the Trust. In 1975 he was awarded the KSG at the opening of Hosanna House. The last year in which he participated as a doctor with HCPT was in 1990.
In October 1991 Michael entered a Cistercian community as an Oblate. He took simple vows on 4th June 1995 and made his final commitment as an Oblate on 7th June 1998. Since 2016 he has lived in a care home in Cardiff.
Until the end of his life Michael played a very active role in the running of HCPT. He last travelled to Lourdes to join the 2013 Easter pilgrimage, during which he was awarded the prestigious Médaille Notre-Dame de Lourdes in recognition of his long dedication to pilgrims and pilgrimages to the Shrine.
HCPT announce on their website:
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Brother Michael Strode, the founder of HCPT.
At this time, we would invite you to pray for Br Michael, for his brother Peter and the entire HCPT family.
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon him, May he rest in peace. Amen.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
St Bernadette, pray for us.
For more information and to add tributes, visit: www.hcpt.org.uk/passing
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