Father Hugh Randolphborn: May 27th 1928entered: 1951ordained: 1965died: July 24th 2017Father Hugh was born Michael John Randolph on 27 May 1928 in Cheltenham. He was raised an Anglican and influenced by the the legacy of the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement during his formative years, courtesy of his school chaplain.At the age of 18, Father Hugh was called up for National Service and joined the Royal Signals in 1946, serving in Singapore and Malaya where, says Abbot Mark, “he was favourably impressed by what he saw of the Catholic Church out there, while being appalled by the conditions of the poor.”It was in Malaya that Father Hugh first thought of becoming a monk. And so, upon returning to the United Kingdom, he went to Prinknash Abbey in the Vale of Gloucester where he requested instruction in the Catholic faith from the Benedictine monks.Father Hugh’s monastic life started at Prinknash before coming to the Cistercian monastery at Nunraw in East Lothian in 1951 where he was solemnly professed in 1956 and ordained to the priesthood in 1958.For many years Father Hugh made and maintained the monks’ clothing in the tailor’s shop. He became a hermit in one of the monastery’s cottages from 1971 to 1976. In 1988 he went to Caldey Abbey near Tenby in Wales to help out with formation, becoming Novice Director. He the returned to Nunraw in 1996 where he once again looked after tailoring, cooked for the community and became one of the main confessors at the abbey.Father Hugh died on the evening of Monday 24 July 2017 at 8.25 pm. His Funeral Mass was celebrated at Nunraw Abbey on Saturday 29 July. May he rest in peace.Homily by Abbot Amrk for Fr Hugh Randolph’s Funeral Mass 29 July 2017Fr Hugh like most of the monks in the community left details and preferences for their funerals. One his choicest comments is that the homily be more about God and Christian death than about him – because that would be interesting. Having written that, he left two pages about his early and later life. All if this is in fact very interesting. Michael as he was named was an only child. His parents were married ten years before he was born. He said he was sure they would have wanted more children. But that was not to be. They were very good parents and devoted to each other. He said he had received a very good Christian education and was influenced by the Oxford Movement through the school chaplain. He recalls being asked at a Confirmation class, ’What isthe point of monasteries? The answer came to him as clear as a bell: ‘A monastery is a power house of prayer. It’s efficacy is very great.’ That was, he thought, the beginning if his monastic vocation.At the age of eighteen he was called up for National Service and joined the Royal Signals, serving in Singapore and Malaysia. He was most favourably impressed by what he saw of the Catholic Church out there but appalled by the conditions of the poor. It was here that he really began to think about becoming a monk. After demob in 1948, he went to Prinknash Abbey. He said, ‘He was very English and the monks there were very English and a convert community.’ He thought that was a good place to go to ask for instruction in the faith. He was introduced to an old monk who spoke English with aheavy German accent and who turned out to be the son of a Prussian General.Now receiving the name of Hugh, he started his monastic life beginning at Prinknash but later moved to Nunraw in September 1951. It was here he was was professed and ordained priest. In 1971 he spent about 6 years as a hermit up the hill in one of the cottages further up the hill from the Abbey. He felt that was the most fruitful time of his life.Hugh was recalled back to the community to help out working in various departments, tailoring, cooking, working in the granary and teaching the junior monks. He was also one the confessors at the abbey. In 1988 he went to Caldey Abbey, on the island off Tenby, to help with the formation of the new members of the Caldey community. Hugh was called back to Nunraw in 1996.Over the last twenty years or so, The Church in Africa loomed large in his mind. After Nunraw became involved with the monks at Nsugbe, a Cistercian community in Nigeria, he became very attached to them and conscious of their needs. He would often mention them in the bidding prayers at Mass.In his latter years Fr Hugh kept mentioning how much he was grateful for all he has received in the Church and in his life as a monk. Many will remember Fr Hugh mentioning more than once how much he was inspired by Willie Merrilees, the Chief Constable of the Edinburgh police force, who spent much of his time helping the elderly and orphaned children. One year at Christmas the community received a card from him with the message on it, ‘The joy of living is the joy of giving’. These words particularly touched Hugh. Another person who influenced Hugh was his cousin, the Jesuit priest, Richard Randolph. In his 80s Richard had written in his memoirs, ‘The longer I live, the more I look forward to the future’. He died at the age of 92. There is one other thing that should be mentioned about Fr Hugh and that was his voice.The longer he lived and the smaller he became with age Fr Hugh’s voice seemed to grow louder. The image that comes to my mind is the skylark. It is a very small bird with an astonishing volume and resonance. It is so small and often cannot be seen as it flew higher and higher up into the heavens, But it is up there singing its heart out to the glory of God who made it. But we must get back to Hugh’s request that the homily should speak more about Godthan him. I hope I have already done some of that.Funerals are meant to be more than times of sadness at someone’s death. They give us an opportunity to appreciate the good that the dead person has done in life but, more importantly, that they have come to the staging post in life that leads directly to the end for which they were destined. Christ demonstrated the truth of that by rising from the dead to a new level of life which enabled him to return to his Father in heaven. Jesus is Christ the Messiah. He the Second Person of the our Triune God now lives again but with the addition of his risen humanity as One with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Our humanity now exists within the very heart of God because Jesus has returned to the Father with the humanity he did not have before he came earth in Bethlehem.We can be sure that if we live in Christ in this life we will not be denied life with him within the very life of God in heaven. We do not and cannot do that as of our right but only as God’s gift as his adopted children. Christ came on earth to open the way to that better gift of risen and renewed life with God in heaven. Fr Hugh believed this and in his own way sought to teach it to us in his homilies. Like all of us, his beliefs grew and deepened as he continued to seek God in the monastery. Many have said they appreciated this in him.As for all of us, that took him time and struggle to happen. We don’t go to God alone. We learn from others and we in our turn help them. Jesus came from God in heaven. but he too was formed in his humanity by others just as he shaped them by God’s message. He taught us what he knew, that the best was yet to come.. And the great thing about heaven is that when we go there we are not so much onlookers but part of the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, have for each other.That is our theological understanding about God, about Christ and of ourselves. Being ready to share in that fuller of vision of life is expressed in a practical way in the passage for Luke’s Gospel we have heard read for us at this Mass (Lk 12.36-38). Being ready to meet the Lord when he comes is both a warning and a promise. Fr Hugh was ready for the knock on the door. He would surely have the joy of being loved and waited on by the Lord at his table. That is his message for us.