The Reading Oratory's chapel was packed for a Requiem Mass in honour of its deceased old boys

The annual Requiem Mass for deceased old boys of the Oratory School, Reading, was held on November 11 at the Little Oratory, Brompton Road in west London.

The chapel was filled with Old Oratorians, governors, parents and staff from the school, which is in Woodcote near Reading, and the Oratory Preparatory School (OPS), which is in Goring Heath, also near Reading. The new headmaster of the prep school, Joe Smith, read the first lesson.

Rob McKay, the school captain, read the second lesson. Rob had recently acted as cross bearer at the beatification Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict at Cofton Park. Ade Olopade, a prefect and sacristan, was the book bearer at the beatification Mass. He also served at the Requiem. Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman founded the Oratory School (OS) in 1859.

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Mgr Antony Conlon, chaplain to the Oratory School Association, was the celebrant at the Requiem and the preacher was Fr Robert Byrne, provost of the Oxford Oratory and a governor of the Oratory Association. The Schola Cantorum and the Oratory prep school choristers, under the direction of Julian McNamara, the director of music, sang traditional plainchant, together with Harris’s “Faire is the Heaven”. The “Libera me” from Fauré’s Requiem was performed by Chris Redfern, head chorister.

After the Mass, there were refreshments, gathering and conversation among the guests and current staff and old boys of all ages at the Rembrandt Hotel. Earlier in the afternoon a party of staff and pupils was led by senior masters and chaplain to Caversham Park in Berkshire to pray for three Old Oratorians who are buried there.

Now the home of the BBC Monitoring Service, Caversham park used to be the home of The Oratory School from 1922 to 1941. Traditional graveside prayers were said by the chaplain, Mgr Conlon and a wreath of yellow flowers was laid by the obelisk that commemorates all three Oratorians, Richard Donegan, Wilfred Patrick Thunder, and John Michael Butchers, who all died in July 1940.

Speaking on the day, Clive Dytor, the headmaster, said: “Our remembrance will be particularly poignant as today is Armistice Day, and tonight we shall bring to the altar Captain Andy Griffiths, (OPS1996-1998, OS1998 – 2003), killed this summer serving in Afghanistan.”

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