The Congregation of the Oratory is a group of priests living in community without vows. The Oratorian vocation is an unusual one in the Church, where most priests are either secular (diocesan) priests, or religious priests, who normally live in community, and are bound by vows.
An Oratorian lives in his own community, and cannot be moved around from one house to another, so unless he leaves the Oratory, or makes a new foundation, he will spend his entire life as a priest living in the same place.
The Oratory was founded by St Philip Neri in Rome in the sixteenth century. He sent many of his followers to join religious orders, but never himself felt called to it. Instead, he founded an institute where the bond between members is not a formal canonical vow, but a bond of charity. The ideal of St Philip, after which the members of the Oratory strive, is one of community life and priestly service lived in a spirit of prayer, and where obedience is offered out of fraternal love, and not any external compulsion.
The Oratorian vocation allows for a degree of flexibility in pastoral work, provided that it is not incompatible with the demands of the duties of the Congregation. Internationally, Oratorians are involved in ministries as diverse as school, hospital, prison and university chaplaincies, seminary teaching, and work in Rome, as well as the more traditional parish ministries.
Each Oratorian house is fully independent and autonomous. However, since 1944, there has been a loose Confederation of Oratories, whose main purposes are to provide a central point of contact for Oratorians with the Holy See in Rome, and the oversight of new houses seeking to become independent Oratorian Congregations.
With acknowledgement to the Oxford Oratory
Father DAVID PETER HUTTON
of the Congregation of the Oratory
and Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Rosary, Hayes
who died on S David’s Day, 1st March 2017
at S Christopher’s Hospice, Sydenham
fortified by the Rites of Holy Church.
FATHER DAVID HUTTON, Cong. Orat.
Update 11 ~ 1st March 2017 ~ S David’s day / Ash Wednesday
Father David died peacefully today, his feast day, shortly after 11am, as I was Anointing him (again) – his Mother and I having just arrived at S Christopher’s Hospice to be told that his breathing had changed and, indeed, it died away gently within ten minutes. He seems to have held out, not only for his Feast Day, but also for our arrival, and for the Last Rites, which were followed by a blessing with the Relic of S Philip.
As this year’s Ash Wednesday displaced the 1st March Feast of S David, we anticipated S David’s Day on Tuesday, so that Parishioners could keep their Parish Priest’s Feast Day, and Fr David was able to received Holy Communion for the last time. His mouth had become increasingly restricted by tumors, needing smaller and smaller particles of the Sacred Host over the past few days, so that Communion would have been impossible today. Viaticum (Food for the Journey) was thus received on his anticipated feast day. An Oratorian said: “For Fr David to die on S David’s Day, which is also Ash Wednesday, is a special grace that acknowledges a passing suffering while promising enduring glory”.
While we have all been praying for a miracle of healing – and some may feel that God has let us down – He has nevertheless fulfilled my triple prayer, not merely for healing, but for his wholeness and holiness. While S Philip’s words: ‘I have never done any good’, were not spoken by Fr David, that is certainly what he believed of himself. However, the contrary is proven by countless of messages which attest great good that he has done, and that much which is miraculous has happened to him since last Easter, including the revelations that (unbeknown to him until now) he has deeply influenced a number of young priestly vocations, and been instrumental in previously untold graces for many people. Hearing and reading hundreds of testimonials, Fr David’s non-Catholic Mother said to him: “I didn’t know that I had a saint for a son, and that you’re so good at your job”!
S Philip Neri (to whom Fr David has grown increasingly close during these past few years) teaches us that ‘The great thing is to be a saint’, and also that we should ‘love to be unknown’. Saintliness and humble obscurity are fine-honed in the crucible of intense suffering. May we all experience miraculous transformation of our own lives as we learn from Fr David’s never-complaining, heroic example, and thus grow in humility and holiness during this sacred Season of Lent and come, not only to the joy of Easter, but to the glory of eternal life.
S Philip Neri, pray for us. Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us.