Friend of Campion Fr Paul Stenhouse passes away

Chesterton_fr. Campion College Australia.
Chesterton_fr. Campion College Australia.
21 Nov 2019

Chesterton_fr. Campion College Australia.

Fr Paul Stenhouse speaking at the Chesterton Conference at Campion in October.

Dr Paul Morrissey and Campion College Australia wish to express their sadness at the passing of Campion friend and supporter Fr Paul Stenhouse on Tuesday.

Fr Paul had long been battling with cancer before he passed away peacefully in his sleep, exactly one month after he gave a talk at the Chesterton Conference at Campion on Australian poet and social reformer, John Farrell.

"Fr Paul was a great fan of G.K. Chesterton - a passion which drew him to Campion, where the annual Chesterton Conference is held," Dr Morrissey said.

"He was a wonderful friend to us and it is with great sadness to hear of his passing. He will remain in our thoughts and prayers, as will his great legacy as a priest, religious education reformer and editor of Annals."

Steve Dives of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Australia wrote this obituary:

"It is with great sadness that I advise that our dear confrere Paul Stenhouse died very peacefully at 1.27 pm this afternoon. He has been unconscious for the last few days. He has been very comfortable and very gently passed away.

He has had a long battle with cancer but faced it all with great courage and great faith."

Paul was born and grew up in Cobbitty, near Camden, not far from Douglas Park. After working in a printer, he entered the Apostolic School, made his novitiate in 1956, professed on February 26, 1957. All his studies for the priesthood were done at Sacred Heart Monastery, Croydon, Victoria.

After his ordination to the priesthood, July 20, 1963, his first appointment was to Sacred Heart Monastery, Kensington, moving into a room which was his for the next almost 56 years. He was appointed to work as the assistant editor, to Father Aloysius English MSC, on the Annals of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

In early 1966, he became the full-time editor of Annals, renaming it has Annals Australia, and, in 1967, making a breakthrough in religious education, introducing the Catechetical Supplements and their notes and guides. He was assisted by a number of fellow MSC but also extended the invitation to a wide number of religious sisters and religious brothers who formed committees preparing these supplements. They were very successful and widely read and used during the first half of the 1970s.

Paul had a talent for languages and began studies at Sydney University with Hebrew, then moving to specialisation with Samaritan, appointed to Rome in 1977 to do doctoral work, editing, annotating, translating, Samaritan Scriptures. At the same time, he served as a personal assistant-secretary to the then superior general, Fr Jim Cuskelly.

On his return to Australia in 1981, he assumed the editorship of Annals again, later renaming it Annals Australasia, and adding the subtitle, Journal of Catholic Culture.

November 2019 sees the 130th anniversary of the establishing of the Annals and Paul was preparing a celebration as well as the final issue of the magazine. After completing his work on the magazine, he moved into care at the Sacred Heart Hospice, where he died.

Paul was committed for many years to Aid to the Church in Need, working for it in Australia and a member of the International Central Committee for a long time. He was also very active in ministry to Asians in Australia, in Sydney, at the University of New South Wales, often visiting Asian countries.

Paul was in many ways an old-style apologist for the Catholic Church, evident in the thrust of the Annals in recent decades, apologetics, the explanation and defence of the faith. He was also an avid antiquarian in the sense that he loved the history of the church, from the patristic era (many volumes in his room), to the Middle Ages and the Reformation and had a great devotion to Catholic authors of the early 20th century like G.K.Chesterton – which drew him to Campion College Australia.

Over the last almost 40 years, Paul has written a great number of books and booklets on apologetics themes, a thesis on his ancestor John Farrell, and, more recently, many books and articles on Islam.

Paul had many contacts overseas and in Sydney, especially through the Journalist’s Club. There will be a great number of people who will miss him.

May he rest in peace.