Tony Galcius' memories of Beckford and Shrigley
These Memories began with an exchange of e-mails between Edward Rivera, Mike Kilduff and Eric Baggaley
From: Edward Rivera
How really nice to hear from you. Yes of course I remember you arriving at Shrigley in what was my last year there. One thing I can say and that is my memory of my days at Beckford and Shrigley are forever green. I will be very happy to record my memories of the one year I spent at Beckford in 1942-1943. Upper and Lower Elements were there together with of course the Novices under Don Simonetti. More of all this later. Beckford was for me an idyllic place and I thought I was in Heaven!.
I know I have been remiss in not being able to attend the Reunions for reasons stated, but my Salesian past is always with me. Over the years, I visited Shrigley a few times before it closed down and have been to Savio a few times. Father Tom Carroll and I were great friends and I performed some of his choral music with my church choir. I have always been most grateful for my Salesian education which made me what I am and for the way of life and philosophy which Don Bosco taught. In terms of time, the Salesians of Don Bosco are a young congregation when compared to the Benedictines, Franciscans etc. However in the short time since Don Bosco's time, just think how many Saints and Beati there are in the Salesian Calendar to date. Makes you think?
Leave matters with me and I will get down to it and write the Beckford piece. It will be rather longer than shorter.
Best wishes and prayers to you and Tricia
Eddie's piece is reproduced below and there are also some photos taken by Mike Kilduff of a modern Beckford HERE
MEMORIES OF BECKFORD
I spent the first seven years of my life in Ireland, being of Irish/Spanish descent. My first language was Irish as we lived in the Gaeltacht. I came to Manchester in 1938 to live with my Aunt and to perfect my English. I began to serve Mass at St Joseph’s Convent in Whalley Range, which had a large Catholic Hospital attached, run by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition. It was famous for the fact that priests and nuns who needed surgery etc went to St Joseph’s. It was here that I met Father White, a Salesian based at Farnborough. He began to talk to me about Don Bosco and his life and work. Encouraged by the Reverend Mother of St Joseph’s, I found myself at Beckford Hall in September 1942.
Having spent my early years in the country in Ireland and then the following years in Manchester, I revelled in the countryside of Gloucestershire. The Community at Beckford consisted of Father Thomas Collinson as Rector. Father Simonetti was Novice Master. The revered Father Goy was also a member of the Community.
For we boys in Upper and Lower Elements, Father Gunning was our Prefect of studies. We were taught by Brother Adrian Papworth, Brother Peter Swain(a laybrother) and at that time Brother Paul McAleer. Apart from our studies, there was Mass and benediction each day, Missa Cantata and Vespers on Sundays . These offices were attended by both Novices and boys. We had football or cricket every day. There was a farm attached run by a laybrother and we boys used to help. Being wartime and rationing, we were extremely fortunate because the farm provided milk, butter and fresh products. On big Feastdays there would be High Mass and an Academy. Both boys and Novices participated in the latter. We were never allowed to speak to the Novices. Don Simonetti kept a beady eye on all of them! The local Catholic family the Cheneys used to come to our plays and I remember Ursula Cheney as a little girl. I kept in touch with her in later years.
On Sundays we used to go for afternoon walks all round the locality – up to Breedon Hill – to the Catholic Church in Kemerton where there would be benediction. We had outings to Malvern and Pershore and on one exciting day, we visited RAF Pershore where the Americans and their great bombers were stationed. We were made a great fuss of by the American airmen and given Hershy bars and chewing gum!
I remember when Father Gunning played cricket with us. He was an Irishman and used a cricket bat like a hurling stick. I once bowled to him and he hit the ball so hard and high it went right over into the quarry!
I do not remember all the boys at Beckford. Those I do include, Michael Power, Eddie and Gerry McGuinness, Frank Horan, Joe Ashton, Colin Ross, Frank Marshall, a boy called Higgins and another O’Reilly and another Docherty.
The Second World War was remote for us boys. The only reminder would be that sometimes we would be awakened by the sound of large bombers on their way to Germany. Both Fathers Simonetti and Goy were our Confessors and Father Goy used to speak of “Jesus our Little Friend”
A big thing for Father Simonetti was his “Clock of the Passion” There was an apocryphal story where Father Simontti was about to go to Beckford Station to catch a train. He was late and asked one of the Novices “What time is it Brother” The response was “At this time father, Our Divine Lord was suffering on the Cross at Calvary” Of course Don Simonetti meant the real time! These funny stories remain in ones mind
My friendship with Fr Tom Carroll went back over many years. For example, in August 1960, my then Choir took part in the 37th International Eucharistic Congress in MUnich. We sang at several Pontifical Masses in Munich Churches and on August 7th, my Choir along with the German Choir Liedertafel Freising, gave the first performance of the Eucharistic Oratorio "Panis Vitae," with the Bavarian State Radio Orchestra in the Deutsches Museum. The Oratorio was commissioned from Dr J H Reginald Dixon, the famous Master of Music at St Peter's Catholic Cathedral in Lancaster.....Now here 's where Fr Tom comes in...The following year, I conducted the first performance of the Oratorio in London at the Central hall Westminster with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The German Choir came over to join my choir AND The Choir of the Salesian College Battersea, trained by Father Tom also took part. It was a great occasion.I should also mention that two years before his death, Father Tom came down to Oxford for a weekend and on the Sunday morning, we performed his "Mass of St Dominic Savio" at the Solemn Mass at 1..0am. We had just installed the new three manual pipe organ at the Oratory and Fr Tom was "over the moon" as we all were!
I should also have mentioned earlier, that in 1995, I was awarded the Papal Cross "Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice" by Pope John Paul II for my services to Catholic Church Music.
About Fr Tom Carroll's compositions. I have a lot of his music as I have performed some of it at the Oxford Oratory, where I am still Director of Music. I will list what I have in my possession:-
Tota Pulchra Es Maria
Assumpta est Maria
Both the above are for SATB unaccompanied choir and are difficult pieces. They need an experienced choir
This is an English setting and is also for SATB unaccompanied and is difficult.
Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes
Mass of Mary Help of Christians
The above are Latin settings for Congregation and small choir with organ. These would suit Bro John
The two Masses are published by Salesian Press
Mass of Saint Dominic Savio
This is another Latin setting for SATB Choir and organ and is a very fine work, Originally published by Cary and Co.
I also have various English settings of Psalms composed by Fr Tom in his later years where he was searching for a new style of expression. I am very happy to send copies of any of the above to Bro. John. Just let me know.
I have not written any further memories about Shrigley or my subsequent career as a musician. I am not sure I want to! As far as Shrigley is concerned, my arrival there in 1943 was a great culture shock after Beckford The years 1943 to 1945 were very hard ones at Shrigley. There were two very hard winters one of which had the snow with us from October to April and where the drive was blocked for weeks. We had to make improvised sleighs and pull them down to Bollington to meet the bread vans etc to bring supplies back. Shrigley was so cold after Beckford and during the two years mentioned, the food was appalling and there was not enough of it .......
Apart from that, Salesian life went on... . The Liturgy, Mass and Vespers, study, sports, work on the farm, especially gathering the potato crop, occasional trips out to Lyme Park, Buxton etc. Rectors were Father Hall and Father McCabe. Prefect of the House: Father Bamber. Prefects of Study:Fr Wrangham, Father Swanzey. Catechists: Fr John Corcoran, Fr McQuaid and Fr Terence O 'Brien. Others who taught me and who were all Brothers at the time include Louis O'Dea, James Conway, Paul McAleer, John Willcox, Andrew McNeil(who subsequently went back to the Isle of Barra as a priest) Fr Bricknell who was a real eccentric!. The incomparable Fr Musgrave was also in the Community and Father Grace, who began music with me which was continued by Bro Francis Rogers.
This has been far too long. It gives you an small insight into Shrigley in my early years there.
The years are of the Salesian Directory (Elenco or Annuario), and report the situation from September of the preceding year.
As far as I am aware, there are seven SDBs buried in Beckford
From: MICHAEL KILDUFF
If you go to www.beautytruegood.co.uk/pompeii.htm you will find a History of Beckford Hall written by Fr David de Burgh SDB in 1956. It is rather long, and annoyingly comes up with music, but if you get beyond that stage you find some interesting material about the place. For instance, as well as having a chapel there was found evidence of a priest's hole.
We are very grateful to FRANK HORAN (Shrigley 1941-46) for this BECKFORD photograph and for his naming of Form mates - in the days when Shrigley LOWER ELEMENTS were at BECKFORD
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