Dilatato Corde 8:1
January – June, 2018


Dom Timothy Wright, former Abbot of Ampleforth Abbey, York, England, died on May 23, 2018, at the age of 76. He had been living at Ealing Abbey in London while receiving medical treatment for cancer.
Martin Wright (Timothy was his monastic name) was born in New Ollerton in Nottinghamshire and, along with his three brothers, was educated at Ampleforth. Timothy and two of his brothers, Stephen and Ralph, joined the monastic community. Timothy entered in 1962 and was ordained priest in 1972.
Prior to ordination, he had studied geography. When he joined the academic staff of Ampleforth College in the early 1970s, he taught geography and religious studies and later added geology. He was also invited to become an officer in the Combined Cadet Force (CCF), specializing in adventure training and leading expeditions along the Pennine Way, the Western Highlands Way, the Pyrenees, and the Italian Alps. From 1977 to 1991 he was Senior Religious Education Master, and in that time developed new ‘A’-level and ‘AO’ papers for the Oxford & Cambridge Examination Board. He was also given responsibility for voluntary social work for the sixth form on weekends, visiting a Cheshire home, a hospital, and helping elderly people.
In September 1980, Father Timothy was appointed Housemaster of Saint John’s House, a post he held for 17 years. During that time, he also held a number of other roles, including Deputy Headmaster and Acting Head, Governor of Westminster Cathedral Choir School, Deputy Head of Development, and Appeal Director.
March 1997 saw the election of Timothy Wright as the seventh abbot of Ampleforth, a post he held until 2005. His abbacy saw the flourishing of a Catholic-Shia Muslim dialogue, with the abbey hosting a number of meetings with Catholic and Shia experts in theology and spirituality. Abbot Timothy subsequently worked as delegate for the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation in developing monastic interreligious dialogue with Muslims.
In September 2006, Abbot Timothy became a spiritual director at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome, combining his spiritual role with that of his work for the Abbot Primate, which saw him visiting Benedictine communities throughout the world. In 2012 he was awarded a doctorate by the University of Lampeter, for his thesis “Using an expanded concept of ‘Spiritual Memory,’ might it be possible to develop a new form of ‘Benedictine’ community dedicated to dialogue with Islam?” a work later revised and published under the title No Peace without Prayer (Liturgical Press, 2013). 
In his early 70s, Abbot Timothy began teaching at Illinois Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois, while living at Saint Procopius Abbey. He would continue spend every Easter and Christmas with the Manquehue Apostolic Movement in Chile, which he had been accompanying since 1981. In 2016, he began teaching at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington, while living at Saint Martin’s Abbey. During this time he developed on-line courses examining the Bible and the Qur’an. In February 2017, Abbot Timothy was in Iran to attend the ceremony for the 25th World Award for Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran, at which he received a special award from the President of Iran for his contribution to interreligious dialogue between Catholics and Shi’a Muslims.
Towards the end of 2016, Abbot Timothy was diagnosed with colon cancer. He underwent surgery and chemotherapy, and was residing at Ealing Abbey in London, where he died. The funeral Mass for Abbot Timothy was celebrated in the Abbey Church at Ampleforth on May 30.
[Adapted from an obituary appearing in Independent Catholic News that identified Ampleforth Abbey as the source.]
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