Fr Francis Dobson, Ampleforth monk

Fr Francis Dobson
Fr Francis Dobson
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Fr Francis Dobson, who has died at 78, was a Benedictine monk of Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire, who had a previous career in textiles and accountancy.

Born in Newark, and educated at Gilling and Ampleforth, he joined the family cloth business before qualifying as an accountant. He worked for what was then Price Waterhouse in London and Johannesburg in the 1960s.

But at 27, he caught a train from Newark to York and was then driven to Ampleforth to start his monastic life. A week later he was clothed in the monastic habit by Abbot Basil Hume and ordained priest in July 1976.

He studied at St Benet’s Hall, Oxford in the early 1970s and on his return to Ampleforth began a teaching career that would last three decades and encompass politics, religious studies and history.

He also had close links to a number of boarding houses, especially St Dunstan’s, St Edward’s, St Aidan’s and St Cuthbert’s, serving as chaplain at the last two.

From 1979, he began co-ordinating the work of Ampleforth College students on the annual pilgramage to Lourdes, an endeavour that was to have a profound impact on him. He made more 80 pilgrimages to Lourdes and 20 to Medjugorje.

In 1989, he was made a titular member of the Hospitalité de Notre Dame de Lourdes, and in July 2009 the Bishop of Lourdes and Tarbes appointed him an honorary chaplain of the Lourdes Grotto.

Fr Francis also encouraged students to become involved in helping the needy abroad, and his influence led many students to spend their gap years working in the Third World.

He was diagnosed with cancer of the prostate in June 2016. His funeral Mass will be celebrated in the Abbey Church, followed by burial in Monks’ Wood.