was for nearly three decades at Lancing College; where he taught Latin and Greek language and literature, was Head of Theology, and Assistant Chaplain. He has served three curacies, been a Parish Priest, and Senior Research Fellow at Pusey House in Oxford. Since 2011, he has been in full communion with the See of S Peter. The opinions expressed on this Blog are not asserted as being those of the Magisterium of the Church, but as the writer's opinions as a private individual. Nevertheless, the writer strives, hopes, and prays that the views he expresses are conformable with and supportive of the Magisterium. In this blog, the letters PF stand for Pope Francis. On this blog, 'Argumentum ad hominem' refers solely to the Lockean definition, Pressing a man with the consequences of his own concessions'.
A man of his time:
“He left Cambridge in 1965, the year in which the Second Vatican Council was concluded. He left because he did not want to admit women undergraduates to Fisher House, who had a separate Chaplaincy of their own. He was anxious to retain the quasi-monastic atmosphere of the Chaplaincy
Gilbey's successor as Chaplain was Father Incledon, whose portrait can be seen in the Chaplain's dining room, a portrait that literally personifies the revolution that occurred throughout the Western world and the Roman Catholic Church during the late 1960s, after all the progress that had been made. Without a hint of clerical black, Father Incledon wears a pale jacket with wide lapels, an open shirt and a large cravat, his spaniel (which used to follow him into Mass) on his knee, the Chaplain's flowing hair touching his shirt collar”
Mgr Gilbey was the finest priest I have been privileged to know. Not only was he superb liturgically he was wise, kind, generous and highly supportive of his regular congregations and friends. It was a delight to attend Mass on May Day and to see him resplendent in red vestments and quietly say to those on the first bench ‘Today is the feast of the Apostles SS Philip and James. For some peculiar reason some of you may find the feast of May 11th in your missals.’ For an elderly celebrant he excelled at the more complex days of multiple commemoration and proper last Gospels. In his 90s he celebrated a superb Palm Sunday at Rose Hill in the authentic rite, rather than either of the modern forms, and reading the long Gospel of St Matthew did not tire him.
He helped me in dissuading a friend from committing suicide and when a member of his weekly congregation, a clinically diagnosed schizophrenic, was often hospitalised would always visit to shew his concern.
He had a fine sense of humour too. Preparing for a wedding once at Ely Place the infamous Kit Cunningham was trying to argue there was a Gloria in a nuptial Mass and other points. I was getting irritated and annoyed. Mgr Gilbey put his hand on my arm and said ‘You really do need to be more patient. Fr Kit is the parish priest. When we are in his presence we will agree with him. When we go out there we will do what is right. It is called diplomacy – learn it.’ Even better I was told of his meeting with Her Majesty The Queen Mother. Queen Elizabeth approached him and said ‘I understand I am a year older than you.’ Mgr Gilbey replied ‘Quite impossible, dear Lady. There is only one lady in the Realm older than me and that is HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Good night to you my dear!’
We Believe, a catechetical course for Cambridge undergraduates based on the Penny Catechism, has certainly stood the test of time. It has recently been republished by Gracewing. I have a copy of the First Edition (pub. 1983) which does not identify Msgr. Gilbey as the author. The title page simply says, 'By a Priest'. It is dedicated to four Petreans (members of Peterhouse) including one don, the brilliant mathematician, Dr Adrian Matthias. I have been consulting it for my RCIA lessons using the Penny Catechism, a winning combination!
Dr Joseph Shaw in his excellent recent collection of essays, The Liturgy, the Family, & the Crisis of Modernity recalls being taken by his mother to one of Msgr. Gilbey's Masses in Westminster Cathedral. He was old enough of course to be exempt from the requirement to use the Novus Ordo but, as Dr Shaw says, the Mass took place in a side chapel behind a heavy red curtain. That piqued the interest of the future LMS chairman and inspired him to seek out further celebrations of the Usus Authenticus. Cardinal Roche had better be careful. Restricting it might make it more attractive. Let's hope so.
I was received into the Church a year before Msgr Gilbey died, and might never have seen him in the flesh, had not a friend insisted on taking me to his Mass at the London Oratory once during Lent (so as to hear the proper last gospel).
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