Brother Antony Hopkins born 12 September 1918 entered 12 June 1940 professed 12 April 1946 died 16 December 1985 Br Anthony suffered a heart attack and died peacefully in his sleep. Patrick Hopkins was born in Dublin in 1918, where he first experienced life in an orphanage. Later, he became part of the family, in County Kildare, with whom he lived and in which he received his training as a joiner and wheel-wright. The skill and craftsmanship which he was given so many opportunities to deploy in building the new monastery at Nunraw gave evidence both of the sound training he had received and of his own considerable ability. In 1940, he entered the Cistercian abbey of Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, and after profession as a monk was sent from here on the Scottish foundation in 1946. He always associated his call to this vocation with the passages he had read in the ‘Imitation of Christ’ on the monastic life and he truly reflected those words to the end. One has only to look round the Church at Nunraw to see marks of his workmanship everywhere. In the course of almost forty years, the call on his skills in woodwork were as constant as the great demands in establishing a new monastery. In practice he could always be called upon for a much wider range of services in the community; assisting in the guesthouse, shopkeeper, cook and in one of the great loves of his life, the liturgy. Community Chronicle 18 December 1984 - Br. Antony went too hard in making a hole in the wall for a window in the joiner’s shop to give light to the new lathe and band saw. He felt groggy towards tea time after hacking through stone and two thicknesses of brick for a coupe of hours. 10 March 1995 - Br. Antony has just about finished trimming both avenues, what an improvement. Clearing the growth of tubers at the base of the lime trees is always a massive job. 4 May 1995 - Br. Antony has been busy gutting out the old joiner’s shop down behind the guest house. He is converting it into a shop for Br. Philip’s use. The former wooden Church, which served as a shop and somewhat primitive tea-room is to be pulled down as it is now beyond worthwhile repair and looks unsightly. 17 July 1995 - Br. Antony is doing the cooking in the guesthouse kitchen protem. An advert, i.e. a word on the grapevine of friends of the abbey, has been sent out for an full time cook for the guesthouse. 25 November 1985 - Our famous mouse-catcher, Br. Antony, has met his match at last. Over the past six days, he has set a trap, loaded with gorgeous cheddar cheese, to get a putty-eating mouse, putty being the only edible item in the joiner’s store. Mouse in ecstasy; on each day he feasted on the cheddar cheese instead! He’s now standing at the entrance to his burrow, splitting his sides with mirth at the famous mouse-catcher’s defeat. Little mouse, don’t laugh too much, for as our retreat director tells us frequently, the future is not of your making but comes wholly and gratuitously from God. 7 December 1985 - Having been approached by a Ukrainian Church, it seems that Br. Antony is definitely going to do at least one iconastasis screen, the architect came out recently with plans. (The hanging of the two very large Craiglockhart icons on the wall of the reading room cloister was just about the last job Br. Antony did before he died. Death intervened before the Ukraine Church project got going). 16 December 1985 - Br. Antony died this morning a little before 9 am. This caught us all by surprise. Some three weeks ago or more, angina was diagnosed as the cause of pains and breathlessness. At Breakfast this morning he looked ill indeed, but no one thought it to be the presage of death. He had asked Br. Stephen at some time to get the doctor for him as he felt so ill. Br. Stephen had made the call and went along to Br. Antony to tell him that the doctor was coming, but found him dead. He had passed away while waiting on his bed. His body was still warm. Br. Brian tried to resuscitate him but to no avail. The doctor arrived only to confirm his death from a heart attack. His remains were taken to the Church just before Vespers. After Compline, the brethren and a number of visitors said the Rosary’s joyful mysteries for Br. Antony’s repose. The previous day, he had a long chat with Fr. Stephen about St. Thérèse of Lisieux for whom he had a very strong devotion, strong enough to want the Pope to declare her a Doctor of the Church. He was an unusual person. He was orphaned at an early age, educated by the Christian Brothers, was trained to be a wheel wright, becoming in later years an excellent joiner with quite a strong artistic streak in his work. He taught himself to read the Latin Breviary. He did as best he could to lead his side of the Choir as a Cantor, though he hadn’t too much music in him. He did stints of cooking both for the community and the guesthouse; enjoyed reading weighty books on theology such as those of Karl Rahner; read every possible book on St. Thérèse; and turned his hand to building; and had a large correspondence. This latter grew out of many friendships he had made during the past fifteen years or so. By temperament he tackled everything vigorously - it was best if everyone around kept clear, for he was a loner. He was a stalwart of the after-Compline Rosary fraternity, and very often was first in the Church - a good fifteen minutes before the rising bell for Vigils. He loved his grub; at lunch he would take two bowls of sweet, one custard or whatever and one of fruit or sponge - and enviably never put on weight. He was sixty eight years old at the time of dying. 17 December 1985 - Br. Antony lived to the full and dangerously too. He pushed to his limits: if he had walk the length of a roof, he did so balancing on its apex, regardless of wind or height; if he had to replace rotten window sills, he was vigorous and alarmingly destructive yet did a beautiful job. He was wiry, every year for ages, he trimmed and swept clean the front avenue from the high banks just before going to the guest house, down to the North Lodge, - it was exhausting merely looking at his work; he was very kindly, willing to help out in any way; he was full of chat and tended to be somewhat extreme in his opinions and somewhat indiscreet at times, but one could not help but like him and appreciate him for his evident good will and friendliness. 26 March 1986 - The chronicler met a visitor, who has been coming here for quite a few years, and who said that he missed Br. Anthony around the place; a lot of visitors have made that remark, and oddly several brethren, three or four days ago, were saying how they missed him. Quite a tribute to a fellow monk. Notes of Eulogy Br. Antony suffered from the lack of family. His first experience of life was in an orphanage. It was a hidden pain he carried all his life, that he never knew his own mother or father. He therefore had all the greater need for the family support he came to experience through friends who came to know him in the guesthouse. No doubt it was part of the hundred fold promised by Jesus at the same time as He made the great challenge, “Give all you have to the poor, come follow me and will have a hundred-fold in this life and eternal life in the next.” Part of Br. Antony’s hundred-fold, in spite of monastic solitude, in spite of going to a strange land, was that he enjoyed the friendship of a number of families. He valued their love and in turn communicated something of his own direct and simple approach to God - that of trust, and joy, a childlike spirit which he managed to keep; even when his very openness got him into some of the very difficult issues of the Church. He was thrown into an unfamiliar world of theological debate in the diocesan seminary, when at last, he was permitted to test a great longing he had for the priesthood by undertaking theological studies. It was not to be. His age, temperament and formation made this aspiration too difficult to achieve. He was nothing if not a tryer. He had a fearless spirit which sometimes led to rather bizarre situations. In some areas he may have got away with some daring of accepted practice. Once he got an idea, he had to do something about it. The Gospel says, “Call no one father.” Br. Antony decided that applied to reading out the titles of the brethren for weekly duties, all were called ‘’Brother’, he did not quite get away with it. A new outlook in Liturgy did away with black vestments for Funerals and emphasised the Resurrection. There was talk of, but no decision made about placing a lighted candle in the place of a monk, in the refectory after he had died, instead of the traditional black cross. When the Refectorian went to look for the cross, it was found that Br. Antony had already decided the matter. At the previous death in the community he broke the black cross to make sure that the lighted candle would be lit as a symbol of the Resurrection. And so the practice was adopted, and, applied to his own passing. He leaves us in peace - with something of that trusting boldness with which he was always having accidents. He seemed to like to live dangerously, after the fashion of his young days, as for example on the occasion, when he was cycling to work in mid-winter and came to the lake which was frozen over with ice. The temptation to take a short cut prevailed and he cycled out on the ice. His weight was too much. The ice broke and he suffered a very cold early morning bath. The elements of humorous devilment and happy acceptance of the consequences had its positive and practical side in so far as he would tackle the most spectacular job as a joiner and get on with it while others would still be pondering how it could possibly be done. He maintained the childlike spirit which led him to the monastery and led him to a company of Saints, from Thomas A’Kempis to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who, we may sure, welcome him to heaven. “This is my resting place for ever. Here have I chosen to live.” (Ps. 131). It is no small thing to dwell in monasteries, and to live there without complaint, and persevere faithfully even to death.” (Imitation of Christ, Book 1, 17, ‘Of Monastic Life’). Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth! I thank you because you have shown to the unlearned what you have hidden from the wise and learned.” (Mt., 11. 25-30). In the request for declaring St. Thérèse of Liseaux a doctor of the Universal Church, three reasons were given; “Because: 1. All her writings show how much she was attuned to the Holy Spirit. 2. All her writings echo the Holy Gospel - her sole reading towards the end. 3. Chief lesson she learned was ‘her understanding of Evangelical, or Spiritual Childhood’. A lesson so relevant in a time when “young shoulders have such old heads of grown ups and look upon being born again to Evangelical simplicity and youthfulness of heart as something too much beneath their dignity as mature human persons!” These are criteria which apply well to Br. Antony. Because he was youthful in spirit he made friends with young people. One of these wrote to him while in the throes of examinations, “I still have the letter you sent me in January 1976, almost 10 years ago. You said in the letter that ONLY CHILDLIKE souls are BIG ENOUGH TO SEE ALL THE BEAUTY OF GOD’S CREATION. “Either I am still a child or you were wrong because I still appreciate the beauty of God’s creation.”