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The Very Rev John Lister

THE Very Reverend John Lister, Provost of Wakefield Cathedral from 1972 to 1982 and Archdeacon of Halifax and Vicar of Brighouse for 11 years before that, has died aged 90.

A product of the pre-1939 Cuddesdon Theological College, Oxford, he was essentially a parish priest of a sort not now frequently encountered.

He was a devout man whose life and ministry in Yorkshire were centred on prayer and the sacraments, with the intensive pastoral work in the homes of his parishioners inseparable from the time he spent daily in church.

In the circumstances of his time, and in the large West Riding parishes over which he presided with strong teams of curates, this traditional approach was highly effective and valued by churchgoers and non-churchgoers alike.

His greatest work was perhaps achieved at St John's, Huddersfield, where he became vicar in 1945 and where in nine years he reinvigorated the life of the church and contributed much to the recovery of confidence in the town as a whole following the Second World War.

Lister's own wartime experience profoundly affected him. When German bombers attacked Coventry on November 14, 1940, he was a young curate in the parish of St Nicholas, Radford, in the city.

He was in the precincts of the church when the raid was at its height and was struck by the blast of a bomb, which left him apparently dead. He was resuscitated, but lost the sight of one eye and suffered severe damage in the other.

This was always going to be a challenge and, given his somewhat shy personality, made his success as a priest all the more admirable.

John Field Lister was born on January 19, 1916. He went from King's School, Worcester, to Keble College, Oxford, where he took a Second in Theology, and, having completed his ordination training at Cuddesdon, was a curate in Coventry from 1939 to 1945.

The remaining 37 years of his ministry were spent in Wakefield Diocese where he won the respect and affection of both clergy and laity.

As an archdeacon in Halifax, his judgments were always influenced by his own parish experience and even after he became Provost of Wakefield he continued to be a parish priest, serving also as Rural Dean of the city.

He oversaw the building of the cathedral hall as a memorial to a previous bishop and, although he was always a traditionalist, he was always open to new ideas.

The Parish and People movement, for the renewal of the Church's worship and mission, won his support in the 1950s and later he urged a more sympathetic approach to clergy whose marriages had broken down.

He was an Honorary Canon of Wakefield Cathedral for 11 years before being appointed Provost and from 1966 to 1972 was a Chaplain to the Queen. He was unmarried and spent his retirement years at the College of St Barnabas in Surrey.

 
 
 

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