franciscan - January 1992
© The Society of Saint Francis, 1991
Brother Barnabas SSF, RIP
The sudden and unexpected death on 21st October 1991 of Brother Barnabas took from us one who quite naturally and unaffectedly gave and received brotherly affection, while it could never quite be forgotten that here was Professor Lindars who, after a quarter of a century's toil in the Divinity Faculty at Cambridge had from 1978 - 1990 held the Rylands Chair at Manchester. He was also much loved by his relatives and we offer our sympathy to his surviving brother, John Henry, and sister Margaret. that death should overtake him quietly and without fuss in the course of a country walk fits him very well - he had been to visit Allan Wippell of St. Francis Home in a Cerne Abbas nursing home, and was returning the four miles on foot so as not to give anyone the trouble of collecting him.
Barnabas came to SSF as a priest, having served his title in a Sunderland parish (St. Luke's, Pallion) which specialised in the nurture of future Franciscans, and almost at once found himself immersed in academic work at Cambridge University, and living in the old St Francis house in Lady Margaret Road - once the home of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd and now a part of Lucy Cavendish College. He was a Cambridge Brother from 1953 until 1978 and ministered at St Bene'ts for the whole of that time, Brother Lothian and then Brother Martin being the vicar. In 1967 the brothers moved to their present house in Botolph Lane, and for a while he was their Guardian, a post he held in plurality with that of Dean of Chapel at Jesus College (his college as an undergraduate had been St. John's).
Our Principles speak of brothers who, with the approval of the Minister, 'give themselves to the pursuit of learning and the writing of books' - and when these words are read out among us on the thirteenth of the month it is Barnabas who springs to mind as one of the very few of us who exemplify them. His academic achievements during those thirty seven years cannot be described here - only the generations of students can testify to his work as a teacher, only a colleague can pass his writings in review. His brothers - none of whom fall into either category - can only thank God that a significant contribution to biblical scholarship was made by a member of SSF.
The wonder is that he sustained two whole-hearted and unflinching commitments simultaneously, to his work and to SSF, and that when the the time came for the professor (who had lived away from community for twelve years) to retire, it was to Hilfield Friary that he went. He had retired only in a very technical sense of the word - he was writing a major commentary on the Book of Judges as well as taking a full part in the work and worship of the Friary - sometimes a bit dazed by the way things happened these days, nevertheless a valued older brother and holder of a driving licence who always seemed available for the task of meeting trains.
His last week was stressful - he had chaired a four hour meeting of the Governors of St Francis School, and attended the funeral of Brother Kenneth, in the course of it. Clearly he had overtaxed himself - and will no doubt find himself very much at home where in Abelard's words,
There dawns no sabbath, no sabbath is o'er,
Those sabbath keepers have one and no more;
One and unending is that triumph song
To which the angels and us shall belong.
We thank God for our Brother Barnabas.
The members of the editorial Board of franciscan wish to express their gratitude for the contribution Br Barnabas made during thirty years of service as our Chairman. His good-humoured precision and direction will be greatly missed. f
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