Fr. David Buckley R.I.P.

1947 – 2012
Obituary by the Isle of Wight Catholic History Society

Parishioners will be sorry to hear of the death of Fr. David Buckley, (Parish Priest of Ryde 1995 – 2002), Father died on the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux following a recent heart attack. Requiescat in pace.

Fr. Buckley was ordained to the Holy Priesthood at St. John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth on 7th June 1975; together with Fr. Declan Lang, a native of the Isle of Wight and now Bishop of Clifton and Patron of the Island Catholic History Society. Members and supporters of that society have much for which to be thankful to Fr. Buckley, as it was he, who, as Dean of the Island, inaugurated the CHS, almost exactly 13 years ago.

Father’s first ministry was a a curate at St. James’, Reading, followed by St. Mary’s, Alton, and Sacred Heart, Bournemouth. After a short spell as Parish Priest of Twyford, he served for eleven years as Parish Priest of the Immaculate Conception Church, Sandhurst, before being appointed to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Ryde in September 1995, replacing Fr. John Dunne, who left Ryde for Southbourne. Like Fr. Dunne, he declared himself “over the moon” on coming to Ryde. “I had believed that Ryde”, he said, “with its great history and tradition, would have been reserved for someone more important than I am in the Diocese. I am very pleased to be here and I look forward to my ministry among you”.

One of his first major tasks was to oversee arrangements for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the opening of St. Mary’s. Walking along Dover Street one day he saw the clock on Holy Trinity church tower and decided that this would be a most appropriate addition to St. Mary’s Church tower and a contribution to the wider community of Ryde. The blue-faced clock was blessed on Trinity Sunday, 1996; exactly 150 years after the first Mass in St. Mary’s. Later that year he co-ordinated the Mass and celebrations for the golden jubilee of the Presentation Sisters in Ryde. He always appreciated the presence of the convent next to the church, and the work and the support that he received from the Sisters, ministering to the elderly and housebound and looking after the church and the sacristy.

Fr. Buckley was a keen bell ringer and he ensured that the Angelus was rung as often as possible and on Friday and Saturday mornings, parishioners and Ryde shoppers would hear Marian hymns rung on the eight bell clarion from the church tower. Father took his turn on the bells. This included ringing in the new millennium at midnight on 31st December, 1999. This was followed by the singing of the “Te Deum” in the church.

One of his first tasks was to enlarge the parish council with representatives of all parish groups and societies. “We are all here to support each other and to work together” he remarked.

Father was always at his best working with young people:- encouraging altar servers, school children, whilst regularly visiting St. Mary’s School, and promoting the Youth Club. “Let us not forget”, he said, “that our young people are the future of the Church”.

He was appointed Dean of the Island in 1999 in succession to Fr. Andrew Speakman of Sandown, and he strove to promote Catholic education on the Island and to co-ordinate significant celebrations and anniversaries for the Island parishes.

Much of what a priest does is spiritual and often unheard and unseen. Father certainly encouraged the development of spirituality through bible discussions and small group meetings. He had a great devotion to Our Blessed Lady, and, like Fr. Dunne, he promoted the May and October Devotions; a key feature of which, was an account and a meditation on a Marian shrine, or biblical reference to Our Lady.

He also had great compassion for and understanding of when people had various problems, and especially for those with mental illness. He always gave them time and one left him feeling that here was a caring pastor.

Fr. Buckley was always to the forefront in social and fund raising activities. Many will remember him rolling his sleeves up and running a stall at the Christmas and Summer Fayres in the church garden. He was a regular visitor to the church crypt, with a cheery smile and warm welcome to all. Hence, the crypt was a focal point for parishioners to meet over tea and coffee. On Fridays after Mass he would make a large tureen of soup and the crypt would be full with parishioners and the needy of Ryde, being served by their parish priest.

He had a sympathetic attitude towards the Latin Mass Society at a time when Latin Masses were less welcome and appreciated as today. There was always a warm welcome for visiting priests who came (normally from London) to offer the Mass.

To celebrate the new millennium in 200, he arranged for a Parish Mission to be preached by two of the Redemptorist Fathers; one of them was his great friend, Fr. Joseph Capitanio. He also installed the glass doors at the west end of the church, which gave a view of the sanctuary to passers-by and raised awareness of the interior of the church to the wider community of Ryde.

Fr. Buckley had a keen interest in Catholic history, and he was especially keen to raise the profile of the two Isle of Wight martyrs, so cruelly martyred at Cowes in 1586. He commissioned the first of the scrolls recalling their life and martyrdom. These now adorn the walls of the Catholic (and a few Anglican) churches on the Island. He started the Summer guided tours of the St. Mary’s, initially conducting these himself, and this led to the inauguration of the Island Catholic History Society. At first he wanted a “Friends of St. Mary’s Church”, but this took on a wider role and became the Island CHS, with his contemporary, Bishop Declan Lang, as the Patron of the society.

Father’s time in Ryde finished in 2002, but he left behind his beloved dog, Moses, who is buried in the church garden. He then spent a year on Theological Studies at the University of Wales before going to Arundel Cathedral as Assistant Administrator. It was at Arundel in 2004 that many of us last met Father. A coach outing of parishioners organised by the Isle of Wight Catholic History Society had the distinct and unique privilege of having Mass, offered by Father, in the private chapel of the Duke of Norfolk in Arundel Castle. Afterwards, Father gave us a tour of the cathedral (which has the same architect – Joseph Hansom – as St. Mary’s). The day concluded with Benediction

In 2006 he was appointed Parish Priest of Our Lady Immaculate, Uckfield with St. John’s, Heron’s Ghyll in Sussex. On several occasions Ryde parishioners arrived to visit him; once again receiving a warm welcome. On one such visit, Fr. Glaysher acquired from him, a small wooden altar from the convent adjacent to the church, which is now a side altar at St. Michael’s, Bembridge, and is used for weekday Mass.

Father’s last appointment (in 2010) was as Parish Priest of Holy Angels, Ash and Holy Family, Heath End, near Farnham in Surrey.

After suffering a heart attack, he went into a coma, and died on the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux (1st October), having been fortified by the Rites of Holy Mother Church. Fr. Glaysher and Sister Rosario were pleased to have been able to visit him the day before he died.

The Sunday 9-00am (Ordinariate) Mass at St. Mary’s (October 5th) was offered for the eternal repose of his soul. There will be other Masses for him in due course and Fr. Glaysher intends to have a Solemn Requiem for him at St. Mary’s in the near future.

Fr. Buckley’s Funeral Mass was at St. Joan of Arc Church, Farnham on Thursday 16th October, (two days from his 67th birthday). The church was packed with friends and parishioners from his present and his former parishes. Nine people went with Fr. Glaysher from Ryde. Forty two priests from both the Diocese of Portsmouth and Arundel and Brighton concelebrated the Requiem Mass. In the Homily, Fr. Niven Richardson, (Parish Priest of St. Joan’s), spoke about Father’s ministry, and, in particular his affiliation and care for young people. This was exemplified by a “Book of Thoughts” on Fr. Buckley, which was produced by the children of his parish. The final commendation around the coffin was led by Fr. Glaysher, representing Bishop Egan of Portsmouth.

Fr. Buckley lived for and loved his priesthood. Psalm 109 complements his life most succinctly – “Tu es sacredos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech”. (Thou art a priest forever, according to the Order of Melchisedech)