BY MARK GREAVES
A PRIEST of the Birmingham Oratory who was posted to Canada last year has decided to stay there permanently, it has been announced.
Fr Philip Cleevely, one of the so-called “Birmingham Three” ordered to leave the oratory as part of “internal housekeeping” last spring, will teach philosophy at a seminary at the Toronto Oratory.
Fr Cleevely, a former spokesman for the Cause of Blessed John Henry Newman, will be a spiritual director at the seminary, which trains Oratorians as well as diocesan priests.
He was ordered, along with Fr Dermot Fenlon and Brother Lewis Berry, to “spend time in prayer for an indefinite period” away from the oratory following an Apostolic Visitation.
Brother Lewis is now at the Oratory of Port Elizabeth in South Africa, while Fr Fenlon, who protested at his own removal, has been exiled – or “forcibly exclaustrated” – from the Birmingham Oratory for at least five years and is believed to be living with friends.
On the Birmingham Oratory website a statement said: “Fr Philip has been resident at the Toronto Oratory since last September, teaching philosophy and spirituality to the students in the seminary run by that community. He has found this work very satisfying. Full use has been made of his intellectual gifts in the tasks assigned to him. He has in consequence asked for a definitive transfer from the Birmingham Oratory to the Toronto Oratory.
“The Fathers in Canada, recognising the contribution he can make to their community’s life and work, have agreed to his request.” The statement thanked Fr Cleevely for his contribution to the Birmingham Oratory over the last 20 years. It also announced that Fr Anton Guziel would become parish priest, replacing Fr Guy Nicholls, who has been in the post for 10 years.
The statement said that Fr Nicholls would be setting up a school for liturgical music in partnership with the Maryvale Institute.
Fr Richard Duffield, provost at the Oratory, said its focus initially would be to teach Gregorian chant to clergy who want to set up choirs in their parishes. He said it aimed to “implement the Holy Father’s desire to have more plainchant and Latin in the liturgy”.
Last year Jack Valero, then spokesman for the Birmingham Oratory, said the forced removal of the “Bimingham Three” was “entirely to do with relations between members of the community... sometimes a period of separation is necessary to restore perspective and calm nerves”.