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Tributes paid to former Abbott with East Anglia links

Former Abbott of Worth Abbey and Titular Abbot of St Edmund’s Abbey, Bury St Edmunds, the Rt Rev Stephen Ortiger, died on January 27, after a period of ill health.

Fr Stephen, aged 83 years, former Abbot of Worth, Sussex, was widely known in Catholic circles and renowned for his wisdom and knowledge.  Educated at Downside, he went on to study history at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. 

He was active in the Cambridge University chaplaincy at Fisher House and became president of the university’s student-run Catholic society.   

From university he entered Worth as a novice, taking his religious name of Stephen.  He was ordained a Benedictine priest in 1967 and taught in the Abbey’s secondary school, eventually becoming headmaster. 

His links to East Anglia were rekindled when he became titular Abbot of St Edmund’s Abbey, Bury St Edmunds.     

Local historian John Saunders explained, “A titular abbot is one who holds the title of abbot derived from a destroyed or suppressed abbey.  In this instance Abbot Stephen was offered the title of an ancient abbey and happily chose Bury St Edmunds.  A man of humour, Abbot Stephen defined the difference between a ruling abbot and a titular abbot as the latter having no trouble with his monks!  In this case the monks departed the town in 1539.”

Retiring as Abbot in 2002, he returned to Fisher House in Cambridge before resuming his monastic life at Worth and becoming Episcopal Vicar for Religious Life in the Arundel & Brighton Diocese.  In 2020 he became priest in charge of Our Lady Star of the Sea in East Preston, West Sussex.  His funeral will take place on February 17 at Worth Abbey.

Pictured above is Fr Stephen Ortiger. Picture courtesy of Diocese of Arundel & Brighton.