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Lives remembered: Canon Reginald Fuller

Canon Reginald Fuller, a priest of Westminster diocese and a scripture scholar, has died at the age of 102

By on Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Canon Reginald Fuller

Canon Reginald Fuller

Canon Reggie Fuller, a priest of Westminster diocese, was born on September 12 1908. He died on April 21 2011, aged 102.

Reginald Cuthbert Fuller was born in St John’s Wood, London, on September 12 1908, one of several children of Dr Arthur Fuller and Florence Fuller (née Montgomery). He was educated at the Ealing Priory School, the Cardinal Vaughan School and Ampleforth College. He entered the seminary at Allen Hall at St Edmund’s College, Ware in 1926 and was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Francis Bourne in Westminster Cathedral on June 29 1931.

After ordination Fr Fuller was sent to Rome for further studies at the Angelicum and the Biblicum, obtaining Licentiates in Theology (1933) and Sacred Scripture (1934), and a Doctorate in Theology (1935). On his return to Westminster diocese he was Scripture professor from 1936­ to 1949 at the seminary in Ware. From 1949 to 1950 he was Assistant Priest at Our Lady of Victories, Kensington, and from 1950 to 1963 parish priest at Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, in the West End. 

Academe once more beckoned, and Reggie went up to Cambridge from 1963 to 1968, receiving his doctorate for a thesis entitled Alexander Geddes: A Pioneer in Biblical Criticism, 1737-1802. He put this added learning to good use from 1968 to 1972 as lecturer in Biblical Studies at St Mary’s College, Strawberry Hill, and then lecturer in Old Testament Studies from 1972 to 1975 at Nairobi University, Kenya.

On his return from Africa in 1975 he was appointed chaplain at Westminster Cathedral where he remained until his appointment in 1978 as parish priest of Blessed Sacrament church, Copenhagen Street, King’s Cross. In 1983 he retired to St Mellitus’, Tollington Park, continuing to write and assist in the parish. It was while living at Tollington Park that Fr Fuller was beaten unconscious by a trio of young burglars. Fr Peter Lyons heard the commotion and was also set upon by the gang. The attackers were arrested and subsequently given custodial sentences.  Fr Fuller was understandably shaken by the experience, but bounced back.

From 1990 to 1994 he was resident in the parish of Poplar, Tower Hamlets, again helping out with daily Masses while continuing with his writing and other interests.  In 1994 Cardinal Basil Hume nominated Fr Fuller for one of the flats in Vaughan House where he remained until he needed more care, and he moved to Nazareth House, East Finchley. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of his ordination in 2001 he was appointed an honorary canon of the Cathedral chapter by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. He also celebrated his 100th birthday in September 2008 with a Mass and social gathering at the Cathedral.

Among his numerous publications Fr Fuller was particularly proud of being on the editorial committee of A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (1953) and, of course, for co-editing The Holy Bible – Revised Standard Version ­– Catholic Edition (1966) and its ecumenical counterpart, The Common Bible (1973). He was also co-founder in 1940 of the Catholic Biblical Association (CBA) of Great Britain. It was as representative of the CBA that he suggested to the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales the adoption of “English” spellings of Bible names for Catholic use (eg Noah, Joshua and Elijah in place of Noe, Josue and Elias as found in the Douay-Challoner Bible). He enjoyed his years teaching in Africa, and given any opportunity would wax lyrical about the Great Rift Valley, Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro.

Canon Fuller’s Funeral Mass, will be celebrated by Archbishop Vincent Nichols at Westminster Cathedral on Tuesday May 17 at 10.30am.