In Memoriam Fr. Julian Stead (1926–2020)
Reverend Dom Julian Stead, O.S.B. monk and priest of Portsmouth Abbey, Rhode Island and collaborator, advisor and supporter of Living City magazine and New City Press, died on December 23, 2020.
He was born Peter Force Stead on November 20, 1926 in Oxford, England, to American parents who made their home in Oxford. His father was a clergyman working as the chaplain of an Oxford college and was in contact with many leading literary figures. It was his father who received T. S. Eliot into the Anglican Church and baptized him. Dom Julian’s family was then received into the Catholic Church and continued to live in England. For the summer holidays of 1939, his father would take him to visit his grandfather, and other relatives in America, but World War II prohibited their return. He went to Portsmouth Priory School and entered the monastery later in September 1943.
In the monastery he held many jobs. He taught Philosophy and Patristics to the young monks, taught Christian Doctrine and Latin in the school and was Novice Master from 1973 to 1983 and again from 1993 to 1995.
Fr. Julian had a good sense of humor, and his jokes and humorous comments were memorable. Writing a report for a certain student in his Latin class, he said, “The only sign that he is awake is the occasional yawn.”
Many people were Dom Julian’s friends, looking to him for help and encouragement in leading the Christian life. He gave what he could simply and generously.
In 1955, while studying in Rome, he met the Focolare, immediately adhering to the spirituality of unity and joining the branch of the religious.
He was one of the few people in the U.S. who welcomed the opening of the first Focolare center there in 1961.
He put his expertise on Patristics at the service of the publication of St. Augustine’s writings, and wrote several books himself.
Focolare founder Chiara Lubich highlighted for him a scripture passage as guidance for his life, “A faithful man will abound with blessings” (Prov 28:20).
He was faithful until the end. Until a couple of months ago, he regularly sent his hand-written reflections on our magazine’s articles, giving feedback and sharing his life experiences. We will miss him, but are sure that we now have another helper in heaven.
- Susanne Janssen