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Walsingham Shrine to hold funeral of Fr Jeremy Davies

Fr Jeremy Davies, a priest of the Diocese of Westminster who was living in Walsingham, passed away in the early hours of Saturday November 5.

His Funeral Mass will be in the Chapel of Our Lady of Reconciliation, Houghton St Giles, on Friday December 2 at 1.30pm with Bishop John Sherrington presiding and Fr Angelus Houle of the Diocese of Brentwood giving the homily.

Burial will follow at St Mary’s Church, Little Walsingham. Priests who want to concelebrate are welcome and are asked to bring their alb and purple diocesan Mass vestments and to email their intention to:

“It is with sincere sympathy and prayer the Walsingham Chaplains, the Franciscans, the priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful mourn the passing of dear Fr Jeremy Davies,” writes Mgr Philip Moger, Rector of the National Catholic Shrine in Walsingham. “Fr Jeremy had a peaceful, gentle, prayerful and beautiful passing into Eternal Mysteries.”

“Fr Jeremy touched many hearts by his priestly witness of prayer and faithfulness,” added Fr Philip. 

Mgr Martin Hayes, Vicar General of the Diocese of Westminster, writes:

Fr Jeremy Ponsonby Meredyth Davies touched the lives of countless people because of his ministry as a priest and his writings, talks and witness. His specialist ministry, as a priest trained and mandated for ministry as an exorcist, brought comfort and healing to people over many years. Comfort and healing were given to his patients when Dr Jeremy Davies worked as a general practitioner before leaving that profession to commence formation for the priesthood. Born in Wimbledon, London on 25 March 1935 and ordained to the priesthood in Rome on 15 April 1974, Fr Jeremy died peacefully close to his beloved Walsingham in Norfolk on 5 November 2022 at the age of 87 having served as a priest for forty-eight years.

Jeremy Davies became a Catholic in 1966 at the age of 31 when he was baptised at the church of St Charles Borromeo, Ogle Street. His was a ‘conditional baptism’ because it was not known if he had already been baptised. His parents were not Catholic. His mother, Elizabeth, tragically died in a plane crash when Jeremy was 18 years of age when returning from a visit to her other son, Rhodri, who lived in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Jeremy’s father, Idris, was a successful garage proprietor.

Jeremy did well at school. He was educated at King’s School, Canterbury from the age of thirteen until he was eighteen when he went to St Edmund Hall, Oxford from 1954 – 57. He graduated in English Language and Literature. Along with studies, Jeremy enjoyed, and excelled at, sports especially rugby and tennis. He then took employment in the market research office of an advertising agency for two years. After this he took employment as an air steward with a commercial airline for a year.

These were not happy years for Jeremy. When he was about twenty-five years of age Jeremy had serious thoughts about becoming a Catholic. A good friend from university days had done so and gave Jeremy encouragement to do the same. In 1961 Jeremy began studies as a medical student at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London where he was based until qualifying in 1967. By then he was a Catholic, convinced then and since that joining the Church was the right decision, often recalling the date of his baptism, 21 October 1966, as the happiest day of his life.

Newly qualified, Dr Davies spent time overseas practising in mission stations. For the first six months of 1968 he worked as a House Surgeon at Redhill General Hospital in Surrey. His thoughts about becoming a priest developed during his time as a medical student. He spoke with friends and priests and was encouraged to complete his studies and then to pursue the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood. This he did and was accepted as a student for the Diocese of Westminster by Cardinal John Heenan and sent to Rome.

At the Pontifical Beda College, Rome where Jeremy was a seminarian from 1970 – 74 he was described by the Rector as ‘an outstanding person and excellent in all respects. He is of the highest integrity and takes a strict line in all things.’ The Rector expressed the hope that, as a priest, Jeremy would temper his strictness and tendency to scrupulosity ‘to the suitable requirements of persons and occasions.’

Jeremy recognized that, as a seminarian, his faith had become ‘more living and interior’ and he found this to be greatly satisfying. Above all, he saw his time in Rome as a time for discernment of God’s will for his life. On 15 December 1973 he was ordained to the diaconate and to the priesthood on 15 April the following year. Fr Jeremy was then appointed to Westminster Cathedral where he joined the team of chaplains from 1974 – 76.

His next appointment was to St Mary’s, Cadogan Street in Chelsea where he served as Assistant Priest for three years. He then went to St James’s, Spanish Place in 1979 where he served as Assistant Priest until 1997. It was during this time that Fr Jeremy undertook training for the ministry of exorcist, returning to Rome for this. He was mandated for this ministry by Cardinal Hume in 1987. Six years later he and others established the International Association of Exorcists.

While based at Spanish Place Fr Jeremy became increasingly involved with the Pro-Life Movement, giving support and encouragement to others in and beyond the Church who prayed and campaigned for the right to life for all people from conception to life’s natural end. In 1984 he established the annual Pilgrimage of Reparation and Prayer for the Sanctity of Life held in Walsingham. Fr Jeremy’s next appointment, taken up after sabbatical leave in the Scilly Isles, was to Puckeridge and Old Hall Green in Hertfordshire where he served as Parish Priest from 1997 – 2005. He continued his specialized ministry, making regular visits to London to minister to those in need.

In April 2005 Fr Jeremy moved to live at Our Lady Help of Christians, Castle Steet in Luton where he assisted in parish ministry and with time for talks, conferences and workshops. He travelled widely in Europe, America, Australia and Africa. He maintained contact with numerous people by writing letters, always by hand. In March 2021 he moved from Luton to Walsingham. He maintained close links with the Diocese of Westminster and he was grateful for the support he received from the Diocese and from his many friends. In February 2021 he wrote to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, ‘Thank you very much for your kindness to me and for your care of the ministry of exorcism. I’ve no doubt of its importance and fruitfulness in the life of the Church.’

On 24 September 2022 the Cardinal visited Fr Jeremy on the day of the diocesan pilgrimage to Walsingham. This gave a great boost to Fr Jeremy, by now very frail and aware of his limited time before going to God. In October Fr Jeremy moved from Walsingham to nearby Fakenham where his increased need of care could be met. On Saturday 5 November Fr Jeremy died peacefully, confident that the prayers of his friends to the God of mercy would accompany him to heaven.

Fr Jeremy will be remembered as a dedicated and faithful priest, concerned for the wellbeing of others physically, emotionally and spiritually. He was gifted with intelligence and the ability to bring healing and peace to those in need. He was a good and faithful friend to many before and since ordination to the priesthood. He was embraced by individuals and families over the years, enjoying sports, culture and holidays with others. Wisdom and compassion, a listening ear, dry wit and infectious laugh endeared him to many.

He earned respect as a man of prayer and discipline, seen by some as ‘in the world but not of the world’. To those who were close to him, Fr Jeremy was a friend, counsellor, teacher, mediator, guide and minister of God’s compassion and mercy. He could be forthright with his opinions. He was critical of yoga, reiki, shen and the enneagram and of those who promoted or allowed these activities and methods, malevolent as far as he was concerned, on church premises.

Over the years Fr Jeremy kept in touch with Church leadership with frequent letters, written by his own hand using a fountain pen and, always, blue ink. A friend commented that, for a doctor, he had helpfully clear handwriting! Also clear was his commitment to the protection of human life, as evidenced by his frequent attendance at pro-life vigils, marches and conferences, and his work as a member of the Catholic Evidence Guild. He believed in eternal life for those who strive to follow the teaching and example of Jesus, as he did.

May this faithful priest have eternal life with God in Heaven. May he rest in peace.

Pictured above is Fr Jeremy Davies