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Getting to know you – Canon John Redford

Canon John Redford

Canon John Redford

Father John passed away on November 6th 2013.

Our loss is heavens gain.

R.I.P. Father John,

I wish I had met you in better circumstances, and earlier in my life.

You will be missed.

‘O God, who raised up Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman to be a model of those who seek for the truth and find it in full communion with the Catholic Church, graciously grant as a sign of his full sanctity the miraculous healing of Canon John Redford, who followed the same spiritual path, in order that he may continue his work of teaching and writing for your glory, who live and reign for ever and ever, Amen.’

In my entry
Still here – Another breath of life,

I touched upon my short stay in hospital due to being unable to breathe, and a bit about my treatment in there.
What I didn’t go into detail about, was my time on the ward, and some of the folks on it.

When I finally got moved from A&E to the Acute Medical Unit (about 11.00am in the morning , after a night on a trolley), there were a few characters already in residence, including one poor old man who didn’t seem to know or care where he was, having a conversation with the whole of the ward about his house and how who ever Henry was wasn’t coming anywhere near it, and amongst the other patients, an elderly gentleman in the bed next door to me, who introduced himself as Cecil, who was in for a suspected heart attack, which happily for him turned out to be a case of severe indigestion.

As most of my first day was spent either asleep or on a nebuliser to clear my lungs, I didn’t really take much notice, or have much of a chat with Cecil, apart from wishing him all the best when he checked out later that evening, and to wonder who was going to be next through the door and in to the bed to replace him.
This turned out to be a rather tall, loud, jocular,elderly, but very well spoken man, who looked and sounded like he was one of those people you either liked instantly or couldn’t stand.
He came over and loudly installed himself in to the bed, proclaiming that he “wouldn’t be long, he was only in for a “ procedure “ and that he should be out of the way by tomorrow “

There was something about this man, the way he spoke and what he was saying that made me pay attention, and instinctively I knew here was a fellow I could get on with.
He ( unprompted) told me that he was in for an “ exploratory procedure “ and had been recommended by a friend who thought he looked unwell, to go and see his doctor, who had  immediately sent him to hospital for tests for suspected pancreatic cancer, possibly terminal, and this operation was to see if it was operable.
He was quite accepting of his possible fate, saying that he was 76, he had a good life and that if it was his time then so be it.

As we were swapping our hospital stories, I realised that we hadn’t been introduced so I asked him his name, to which he replied “ John… John Redford, but you can call me Father John”
Ahh , a man of the cloth and a Roman Catholic to boot, God was indeed on my side, and had sent me my very own direct contact if things went wrong!

As we chatted, Fr. John told me all about where he had worked, what he had done earlier in life and that he was now working at a place called the Maryvale Institute, which is an International Catholic Distance-Learning College for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education, and that he was a Course Director there.
His whole demeanour throughout the conversation was cheery, with no sense of forboding from him as he told me about events leading up to his admission in to hospital, and about of his life’s work as a servant of God.
As we were chatting away, I saw the familiar dog collar of another priest, and assumed this was a visitor for Fr. John.

Well I was half right and half wrong, as it turned out that it was the hospital R.C. chaplain, and that he had come to see Fr. John and give him a blessing before his operation.
He was also our parish priest, a gentleman called Fr. Michael Ho, originally from Vietnam, a very inspiring man and also the priest that had conducted my Mum’s funeral.
He recognised me instantly, and though very surprised, greeted me with the words “ What are you doing here ? “

Resisting all impulses to give a silly answer, I gave him a quick resumee about the nights drama, and in return he gave me a blessing for which although I’m not really a “ practising “ catholic, I was very grateful to receive, before turning back to his original purpose of visiting Fr. John.
As they pulled the curtains round Fr. Johns’ bed for a modicum of privacy, I thought I would google Maryvale and find out a little bit more about “ Father “ John.

It turns out that “ Father “ John is actually The Very Reverend CANON John Redford ( which is considerably better than just a priest ) and that this Very Reverend gent was also a highly educated man, and an expert in his field, having published many books on his chosen subject.

After his blessing, and Fr. Michael had gone, we chatted some more before settling in for a night of what loosely could be termed sleep. The A.M.U. is like a short term general sorting ward where patients are put to get them out of A&E before they go on the ward proper, and as such is a VERY busy place , with patients coming in and going out to other wards ( or dying ) at all times of the day and night. The lights are on 24 hours, doors bang all the time, and in general it’s not a very relaxing place to be.

However, the next morning, we both awoke, one of us obviously more trepidacious than the other, and after wishing Fr. John good luck he was put under and  taken down to the operating theatre. When I awoke a few hours later, all his stuff was gone, and a new patient was occupying his bed…. ” How is  Fr. John? ” I asked nervously, just in case, you know…. ” Oh he’s ok said the nurse, we just moved him to another space because this one has got equipment that the other bed hasn’t got “

Phew.. that’s a relief, so I went over to see how he was getting on. When I got to his bed, there was a plethora of relegious folk there, Priests and Nuns, so I quickly asked him how he was,wished him all the best and told him I hoped his results were favourable. We said our goodbyes and that was it, off he went back home, off I went to my hospital bed for a few more days.

Because of the rush of Christmas, New Year and just living in general, whilst not completely forgetting about Fr. John, I had neglected to remember him, and for some reason today I thought I would have a look on the Maryvale website to check up and see if I could find out how he was.

To my utter shock and horror I was greeted by these words :

Novena Prayer to Blessed John Henry Newman for the Healing of Canon John Redford
Towards the end of last year, the seriousness of the physical condition of Canon John Redford was made known. He is suffering from an inoperable cancer of the pancreas, which the best medical opinion has informed us, if untreated, leads to death in six months, and if treated by chemotherapy would extend his life possibly for another six months.

The words in bold jumped out of the page at me, and I’ve been knocked bowlegged by this news.

Although I only had the pleasure of his company for a relatively short time, I liked this gentle old man immensely and I feel full of sorrow and regrets.
Sorrow for him, that he only has a short time left on this world, regrets that I didn’t meet him earlier, or keep in contact with him when I could have.
Fr. John himself would no doubt laugh at me, and tell me not to worry, he’s had a good life, we all have to go sooner or later,and if the Lord wants me to be with him sooner, then so be it.
The rest of the text follows on:

We would like to invite all who those wish to participate to pray for the healing of Fr John through a novena – nine days of prayer – for the canonisation of the Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.
The novena will begin on Friday 11th January, to end nine days later on January 20th. Prayers of course can be said anywhere, but would be most suitable during Mass. Perhaps a suggestion might be to begin with a Mass for the intention of a cure and for the canonisation of Cardinal Newman on January 11th, and with a Mass to end the novena on January 20th.

We will be saying the following prayer each day of the novena:
‘O God, who raised up Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman to be a model of those who seek for the truth and find it in full communion with the Catholic Church, graciously grant as a sign of his full sanctity the miraculous healing of Canon John Redford, who followed the same spiritual path, in order that he may continue his work of teaching and writing for your glory, who live and reign for ever and ever, Amen.’

With profound thanks to all who will be joining us for this novena.
Dr Petroc Willey
Acting Director, Maryvale Institute

Father John writes:
‘There is no question that the cancer as it now exists in my body is lethal, and treatment for it is only palliative, not with any hope of a medical cure.

Therefore, it seems clear, if by prayers offered to God asking for Cardinal Newman’s intercession, this cancer was cured, that there is no doubt that this would be a miracle.

The fact that there was no known cure, plus the coincidence of prayers for the canonisation of Cardinal Newman, would make this a miracle worthy of submission to Rome as one at least of the miracles required for John Henry Cardinal Newman Servant of God to be elevated to full sanctity.
‘I must insist (everyone who knows me will know that I would insist!) that we follow the doctrine of Holy Church here.

The Church is quite clear that such a miracle for which we pray is a gratia gratis data, ‘a grace gratuitously given’. It is distinct from a gratia by which we are saved, such as baptism and the eucharist.

Those are the blessings of the New Covenant in the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which will never be denied to any member of the human race who asks for such a grace, provided that a response of faith is given by the recipient.
‘On the contrary, a gratia gratis data is a purely gratuitous gift, like a vision or a private revelation (cf. CCC 66-67). That special gift will be given only if the Lord wishes so for his own purposes, perhaps a purpose which we shall never know on this earth.
‘If therefore our prayers for a miracle through the intercession of Blessed John Henry Newman are not successful, we may not conclude that there is something wrong (for example, and as is likely, with me!) It will be simply that the Almighty, for his own reasons, does not wish a miracle to happen through this means.

Perhaps he wants me to go fairly quickly to be with him, as Paul said so long ago, to the Philippian Christians:-
‘For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.’ (Phil 1:21-24)’

Which sums the man up so much better than I can.

I’m not a really a religious person, but if anyone deserves a miracle or help from up above, then Father John certainly does, so if you can spare a minute, and you don’t mind,  please just read the prayer at the top of this post.

I don’t know if it will make any difference, but it’s worth a try,

Thank you.

Canon John Redford

Canon John Redford

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