THE VERY REV. JOSEPH CANON PYKE

from The Tablet, Page 26, 22nd November 1902

The death of Canon Pyke, of the English Martyrs, Preston, is a heavy loss to the diocese of Liverpool in general, and to the Catholics of Preston in particular. Generally in the enjoyment of good health, serious symptoms some time ago declared themselves which about six weeks ago were diagnosed as calculus. An operation was judged necessary, with the result that the Canon came to London for the operation, which took place in a private hospital in Beaumont-street on the Wednesday. After the operation extreme nausea followed, and this unfortunately led to a complication in the intestines which involved a second operation. The result was that prostration swiftly followed and death ensued on Sunday morning, the 9th inst. Mr. Edward Pyke. J.P., the Canon’s brother, came up to town in response to a telegram, and remained to the end. When Father Clarke announced the news at the second Mass on Sunday at Preston, the congregation was grief stricken, and the scene was very painful. From this moment to the hour of the obsequies prayers were continually offered up for the repose of the soul of their beloved pastor. Reference to the Canon’s death was made at several of the churches, and people were much affected. One of the many proofs of the estimation in which the Canon was cherished was that at St. Thomas’s Church the Rev. W. T. Lake, Vicar, referred to the sad news and bore testimony to the high character of Canon Pyke, to his unvarying courtesy, his Christian candour, and his unfailing loyal respect for the convictions of others.

He was the son of Joseph Pyke, J.P., of Preston and Liverpool, and was born on June 13, 1842, at Liverpool. He was educated at St. Edward’s College, Liverpool, and at Ushaw. Before he was ordained priest his health broke down, and he went to reside in Rome for two years. Then he returned to Preston, and was ordained at the Church of the English Martyrs by the late Bishop Goss in 1868. He then became assistant priest of that church. Nils name was a popular one in Preston he had the advantage of the direction of that vigorous rector, Canon Taylor, and when the Canon went to Lytham, took up the work he left with that liberal spirit of enterptise, which was sustained with willing mind and open heart by his people, and generously helped by himself. It was in 1886 that Father Pyke was appointed to the old deanery of St Augustine’s, which embraces all the missions of the town and neighbourhood, and in 1896 he was made a Canon of the ‘Diocesan Chapter. Shortly after deatn the body was removed from the hospital to a private chapel, where it was watched by Sisters from Nazareth House. The coffin was of polished oak, and designed by Mr. Pugin. The inner shell was of lead.and oak ; the coffin was heavily mounted in brass, and contained the following inscription : “Rev. Adm. Dom. Jos. A. Can. Pyke, Die 13 Judi anno 1842 natus. Ordinatus ad Presbyt. Die 20 Sept., 1868. Sacramentis munitus obdormivit in Domino Die Nov. 9, anno 1902, Et in Ciminet apud Preston sepultus est die Nov. 13, anno 1902. R. I. P.”

On the Tuesday the remains were removed to Preston, accompanied by Mr. Ed. Pyke, J.P. (brother), the Rev. Father Pyke (Liverpool), Mr. Cuthbert Pyke, Mr. Jos. Pyke (nephews), the Rev. Father Cos grave (Rector of St. Augustine’s, Preston), and the Rev. Father Myers. cough (Rector of St. Joseph’s, Preston), and others. On the Preston platform a body of clergy from Preston and various parts of the Liverpool diocese and members of the English Martyrs’ and other congregations were assembled. A procession was formed, headed by the English Martyrs’ Men’s Guild. They were followed by the clergy. Then came the hearse, and carriages containing the relations, after which followed a large body of the male members of the congregation of the deceased Canon, headed by Councillors Myerscough and Hubberstey, and the Brothers of St. Vincent de Paul, headed by Mr. James Seed (president), and M. J. Crombleholme (secretary). At the church porch the Right Rev. Mgr. Carr, V.G., along with Fathers Clark and Wareing received the remains, which were conveyed to the foot of the altar.

The obsequies took place on Thursday the 13th inst. Pontifical High Mass of Requiem was sung by the Bishop of Liverpool in presence of the full Chapter of his Canons, a large gathering of clergy and a crowded congregation. The deacons at the throne were the Very Revv. Canons Beggan and Snow ; the presbyter assistens was Provost Hines ; the deacon at the Mass was the Very Rev. Canon Banks, and the subdeacon was the Very Rev. Canon Walmsley. Among those present in the sanduary were the Bishop of Phocaea, the Right Rev. Mgr. Gadd, the Very Rev. Canon Taylor, and the Rev. J Broadhead, of Ushaw College. The relatives present were Mr. Edward Pyke, brother ; Mr. Joseph Pyke, the Rev. E. Pyke, Mr. T. Walmsley, Mr. F. Walmsley, and Mr. W. Walmsley, nephews ; Mrs. Redmond Barry, Miss Edith Walmsley and the Misses Pyke, nieces ; Mr. Edward Pyke, cousin ; Mr. and Mrs. Cuthbert Pyke, Mr. and Mrs. Walmsley, Mr. MacDermott, Mr. James Charnock, and Mr. J. Hothersall. At the request of the.Bishop a sermon was preached by the Right Rev. Mgr. Canon Carr, V.G., who spoke from the words : ” The Holy Spirit of Wisdom conducted the just one through the right way and showed him the Kingdom of God, and gave him the knowledge of holy things. He made him honourable in his labours and He completed his labours.” In the course of his address Mgr. Carr said : He had known their pastor since his boyhood. He had known him as a child of blessed parents, who preserved the best and the noblest traditions of the Catholic spirit. He had a holy father and mother who decided that one son should be consecrated to God’s service and that two should remain in the world. Each had done his duty, and had not forgotten that home training. The one who entered the priesthood and whose remains lay before that altar was sent to one of the greatest colleges of the North into the atmosphere which had made saints and bishops, priests and martyrs. There he learned to love still more the glory of the Church of God. He learned to love holiness, and became filled with zeal for the salvation of souls, and for the Spotless Bride of Christ. He went to work with full devotion for the spread of His kingdom. He was distinguished by untiring earnestness and by carefulness in every duty of the priestly service. For 34 years he had been with them, and he had effected in that time vast improvements to add to the beauty of that church, and to make aboundingly manifest the love for God’s House which filled his people. Oh, his was a royal soul. He could not do things meanly or cheaply. Whatever the trouble or cost, he would have things done well and worthily. He lived in the world, but was not of it. He felt that it was the duty of a priest to go forward before the public, equal to any of them, helping where he could, and living in peace and charity, and friendship. Still, though he went out to help public associations and movements so much, who ever said that he was worldly Was he not ever the lowly priest of God, manifesting the spirit of goodness and truth,and virtue in all the relations of life ? When the epidemic of smallpox raged in Preston he would not allow his assistant priests to go to the hospitals to see the sick or dying, but took upon himself the duty fearlessly with a full desire to help those who were stricken. Should he not find mercy ? Surely ! He was always a lover of peace and concord. Their departed pastor was a patriotic and loyal citizen in the most eminent degree. He was guided by the Spirit of God, and he never limited his kindness to creeds or classes. He was not only a gentle and generous, but an industrious priest, administering his parish affairs with exactness, and comprehending the spiritual needs of his people, freely giving his services by day and night to attend the bedside of the sick and dying, rich and poor. He had passed away full of grace and honour. He asked the congregation to pray for their late pastor and never to forget that duty. The Absolutions were then given by the Bishop, after which the procession to the cemetery was formed. The cortege was a long one ; which included 200 representatives of the Catholic Guilds on foot and over 70 carriages. The last prayers at the graveside were said by the Bishop, R.I.P.

At the fortnightly meeting of the Preston Board of Guardians the Chairman (Mr. R. Woodhouse) referred to the death of Canon Pyke, who, he said, was chaplain to the Catholic inmates of the workhouse. Canon Pyke, he believed he was right in saying, held a most important position an Preston in the Roman Catholic Church. He was the head, he understood, in the town ; and he believed he was right in saying that the whole of Preston deeply regretted his demise.

Mr. Ormrod moved a vote of condolence with the relatives of the deceased. Canon Pyke, he said, was a gentleman who had done a most useful work. He sprang from a family who were highly honoured not only in Preston, but all over Lancashire. (Hear, hear.) Mr. Mason, who seconded the motion, said that in 1888 Canon Pyke laboured nobly during the outbreak of smallpox in Preston, and be had heard that he suffered in consequence of his exertions on that occasion. Mr. Alsup said a nobler man than Canon Pyke he never knew. He always acted as a gentleman towards all classes, and people of all religious beliefs loved him. His death was a serious loss to that neighbourhood. He should like to see more Christian clergymen work as Canon Pyke had done for their people.

The motion was carried, the Guardians standing.

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