Father was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on the Feast of St. Patrick, 1957. He had been parish priest of St. Thomas of Canterbury Church, Cowes 1988 – 2014. Those who knew him will remember a humble and unassuming man; a holy and devoted priest who had great care for his flock and for their spiritual development. He was well respected and admired by everyone.
Fr. Jonathan Redvers Harris was joined by Fr. Roy Bennett in welcoming Fr. Purbrick’s mortal remains into St. Thomas’s. Fr. Bennett gave a brief eulogy and recalled their first meeting in 1950 as teenagers entering the seminary together. They were both ordained in March, 1957. Fr. Bennett on 16th March and Fr. Purbrick the following day. He remembers Fr. Purbrick as a “quiet, unassuming man, but bubbling with humour beneath the surface. He had a great faith which was built on solid foundations. He loved his Priesthood, which he held in great esteem. During his illness he never complained or made a fuss.”
Bishop Egan was the chief concelebrant at his Funeral Mass on Thursday (4th) at St. Thomas’s, Cowes, where he had been parish priest for 26 years. Nine other fellow priests were present. Fr. John Catlin delivered the eulogy. He described Fr. Purbrick as “an astute person of sound judgement, a merciful man and a generous and deeply committed pastor. “
Bishop Philip writes of Fr. Purbrick:-
“I was the chief concelebrant at the Requiem Mass for Fr. Michael Purbrick at St. Thomas’s Cowes, on 4th July. May he rest in peace. Fr. Michael died on 12th June, having been a priest of the Diocese of Portsmouth for 62 years. He came originally from Abingdon, born in 1932, and at the start of the Mass, his brother, Peter, spoke a few words about his life. Michael went to seminary at St. Mary’s College Oscott and was ordained on 17th March 1957. He was an assistant priest in Maidenhead and in Woodley, and then parish priest of Bishops Waltham in 1970. He subsequently moved to Holbury and to North Hinksey, before his final appointment to Cowes when he remained as parish priest for 26 years until his retirement in December 2014. He then lived in Kynance Home, East Cowes where he was well looked after. He was a much loved priest. I remember visiting him shortly after becoming bishop and was impressed with his sharp wit and good sense of humour! At the Requiem Mass, Fr. John Catlin preached a splendid homily and Fr. Jonathan Redvers Harris, the current parish priest, led the Committal afterwards at Northwood Cemetery. Let’s keep Fr. Michael’s brother and family in our prayers and let us pray for Fr. Michael’s eternal repose in the happiness of heaven”.
Fr. Purbrick was a keen supporter of the Isle of Wight Catholic History Society. One of the society’s first projects was working with him in the planning and erection of the memorial to the Isle of Wight martyrs (2003)
After the Funeral Mass (photo – above) his coffin was taken to Northwood cemetery for burial.
Requiescat in pace