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R.I.P. Piers Linley OP

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Our brother, Piers Linley OP, died peacefully on the morning of 22 June 2016, accompanied by two of his brethren. He was 84 years old. Here is a biographical sketch of Piers by Fr Brian Davies OP.

Piers Linley was born in 1932. His baptismal name was David. He made profession as a Dominican in 1960 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1968. Following studies at the Richmond Fellowship in London, he became a qualified psychotherapist and treated many patients as such. For a number of years he also taught pastoral studies at Blackfriars, Oxford, where he was Student Master for a brief period and also bursar of the priory. Following his time at Oxford, he was for several years the parish priest of Woodchester in Gloucestershire, where the English Dominican novitiate was once located and where Piers was himself a novice. Failing health, however, obliged him to retire from his position at Woodchester, whereupon he became chaplain to the Dominican sisters at Rosary Priory in Bushey, Hertfordshire. Yet his health continued to decline during this time, so he was eventually assigned to St Dominic’s Priory, London. Shortly before his death he was diagnosed as suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer and was moved to the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead, where he died peacefully on June 22nd.

Fr Piers was a good and kind man who took his job as a preacher very seriously. At Woodchester he was obliged to say a daily mass at the convent of Poor Clares there. Instead of thinking of this duty as onerous, he took himself to be fortunate to have an audience at which to preach on a daily basis. He was not the most lively and imaginative of preachers, but he worked hard at the business of preaching and prepared for it with a copious reading of biblical commentaries, general works of theology, and everything he could find of value while using his computer. He was especially interested in the writings of St.Thomas Aquinas and, in spite of his medical problems, he studied Aquinas on a daily basis during his final years. So he was very much a contemplative. But he put his contemplation into action when engaging in pastoral work. He was highly regarded by the many students to whom he tried to convey the art of hearing confessions — not only Dominican students but also those from a number of different religious orders. And he was much loved and respected by the parishioners at Woodchester. Like many who knew him, they valued his acute practical reasoning. Though not many people were aware of the fact, Piers was seriously deaf for much of his adult life. Yet he persevered with discreet hearing aids and always strove to attend to what people were saying to him. He had a good reputation as a confessor, and on a one-to-one basis, he was an excellent listener. In the company of a crowd, however, he had major hearing problems, though he never complained about them.

The virtue of not complaining was one of Piers’s greatest ones. Another was his quiet sense of humour tempered by reason. Yet another was his extreme loyalty to the Dominican Order and to those fortunate to count him among their friends. Another one again was his ability to bring sound common sense to bear when helping people with problems. He was a man with many roles: student, teacher, preacher, psychotherapist, parish priest, and chaplain. He also had many and varied interests. He loved to read theology, but he also liked fish and chips, crime novels, and poetry. He was especially keen on the poetry of R.S. Thomas, which he often drew on in his sermons. He also enjoyed the occasional glass of port. When savoring his first sip from a glass of this he always declared ‘There is a God!’.

With the passing of Piers Linley the English Dominicans have lost someone of great value. May he rest in the peace that he deserves.

Brian Davies OP

Piers' contributions to Torch, our online preaching site, can be viewed here.


Anonymous commented on 23-Jun-2016 08:56 PM
God rest his soul.
father francisco,o.p. commented on 24-Jun-2016 02:56 PM
How nice that he departed this life accompanied by two brother friars, only to enter eternal life to be eternaly accompanied by his BROTHER FRIARS adoring their ONE AND ONLY GOD!!! I SHOULD ENJOY SUCH A DEATH!!! AD MULTOS ANNOS, FRIAR PIERCE!!!
Emanuel B Dougall commented on 24-Jun-2016 05:22 PM
R.I.P. Piers Linley OP.

From the lay Dominicans in Malta.
Emanuel B. DOUGALL
Diana commented on 25-Jun-2016 08:13 PM
Father Piers was one of a team who helped people during their 'Journey in Faith' (RCIA) in Woodchester, Stroud and Stonehouse, from 2001 to 2009. He was always kind and supportive. He led sessions for example on Prayer, The Holy Spirit, Luke's Gospel, or the readings of the day, and was so creative and generous in his preparation and delivery - using poetry, humour and his great biblical knowledge. He introduced us to the poetry of Kilian McDonnell (especially 'Perfection, Perfection' and 'God is not a Problem'), Emily Dickinson and R.S. Thomas, as well as his own poetry and writings. He also led Readers' 'Retreats', and coped well with 30 people in a room who all liked the sound of their own voices! I would like to thank him personally, for leading me to the Psalms. Rest in Peace, Father Piers.
Alice Snijders commented on 26-Jun-2016 07:40 PM
Since I left Boxmoor in 1998 I never googled Blackfriars. Until today. And how strange to find this post on the passing of father Piers. Reading the respectful and apt orbituary, so many happy memories came alive. I knew father Piers; He was my teacher and confessor in Boxmoor and always good company. His sense of humour, his great pastoral skills and his heart for things of beauty and fun (including Snooker, Port, and crisps) I never forget. Nor those special moments I saw him being deeply moved. I will always fondly remember him.
Thank you, Piers OP.
Primavera Quantrill (Wright) commented on 27-Jun-2016 09:54 AM
Such a dear man, who was very kind and helpful to me during my novitiate at Boxmoor. I am sorry to hear that ill health dogged him for such a long time. I am sure he bore it with characteristic fortitude. RIP Fr Piers OP
Martin Knops commented on 28-Jun-2016 05:23 PM
Piers was my tutor in Pastoral Studies back in the 1970s in Blackfriars, Oxford. It was his idea, ludicrous and misguided as it seemed, that I become a therapist, if only to cope with the whacky individuals living in community at that time. Most of our weekly work was based loosely on Frank Lake's 'Clinical Theology' and on the whole bored me to tears. Sadly I remember little of it, but I shall always remember his kindness, optimism and barely concealed irritation when he caught me making bacon butties in the Blackfriars kitchen after the pubs closed. Eventually of course, I became a Jungian analyst as he predicted. My researches into Victor White OP and his 'analyst' in Oxford, John Layard, have helped me to appreciate how vital it was to Piers that we stay human and related in both our therapeutic and community life. Thank you Piers.
Máiréad op commented on 28-Jun-2016 09:34 PM
May his gentle soul rest in God's eternal peace.
Father Stewart Foster commented on 29-Jun-2016 02:05 PM
A great teacher to whom l owe a great deal when in 1990-1991 Dom Alban Hood (Douai) and myself were his pastoral 'class'. His experience as a confessor has proved crucial to my own ministry as a priest. Piers sometimes suffered from a spinal complaint which led to tutorials being conducted at his bedside, Piers having to lie flat and motionless. I also recall my Faculties Examination at Blackfriars with Bob Ombres, Simon Tugwell and Herbert McCabe. It lasted for 2 hours or so and Piers met me afterwards with gin and tonic at the ready (at 11am on a Saturday morning!). I regret that l did not keep in touch with him as much as l should have in recent years. A great Dominican and a great priest, a wise counsellor and a faithful friend. Lux aeterna luceat...
Alban Hood OSB commented on 29-Jun-2016 05:43 PM
Confessional Practice with Piers was an unforgettable experience! His advice was always practical and helpful and I still occasionally refer to the very detailed notes he provided. May his gentle and noble soul rest in peace.
Dorothy Harte commented on 02-Jul-2016 05:33 PM
I first knew Piers in 1970 when he taught at the now defunct St Catherine's Centre in Portobello Rd . Being Piers he taught the spiritual life with the help of Peanuts . For me the result was a lifelong attraction to both . I was lucky enough to have his support at many key moments in my life and we were blessed indeed to have had his pastoral wisdom ,common sense and humour in our lives
Cathy commented on 02-Jul-2016 10:02 PM
Piers was one of my dearest and very best friends for 44 years and I'll miss him sorely. I hope that now he and Moll have discovered who was right about an afterlife. I'll never forget him and the happy times we have shared. R.I.P. in love.

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