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News > OP updates > Obituaries > Father Michael Peters RIP

Father Michael Peters RIP

18 Mar 2022
Written by Melanie Bushell
United Kingdom | Cameroon
Fr Michael in Buckingham House
Fr Michael in Buckingham House

Father Michael (Eugene) Peters (OP 1946-55)
27 November 1936 - 17 March 2022

We are saddened to report that Fr Michael Peters OP, a loyal and generous friend to the school throughout his life, has passed away.

Michael Peters came to the Lower School in January 1946 from Lyndhurst Road School in North End following wartime dislocation when his family home received a direct hit during an air-raid. At this time, the Lower School was temporarily based in A and B blocks, moving to the Lower School over the road two years later following repairs to its war-damaged roof. Michael’s commitment and hard work in the classroom were immediately recognized and commented on throughout his school career.

In the Senior School, Michael played rugby for his house and in 1955 scored the winning try in the final of the House Rugby competition, securing The Bosworth Wright Cup for Whitcombe. He also played for the school 3rd XV and was a good 100-yard sprinter. He was an excellent cadet in the RAF Section of the CCF, passing the Proficiency Exam in 1954 and gaining the Advanced Certificate the following year with special commendation.

The Inland Revenue offered him a post at their Hampshire Terrace office, which he joined immediately on leaving school.

Within three months National Service with the RAF kicked in. He ended up in Germany at Fassberg and Wunstorf where the Catholic Chaplains suggested he might have a priestly vocation but it did not appeal at the time. However, the seeds sown by the two chaplains took root and after several conversations with his local parish priest back in the UK, he eventually made an appointment with the Archbishop.

The Archbishop very wisely counselled a waiting time of two years ‘just to make sure’ before agreeing to send Michael on a two-year course of seminary preparation for ‘late vocations’, meaning that the student had had a gap between studies and seminary. The Archbishop was satisfied and, in September 1962, Michael was sent to The Venerable English College of St Alban in Valladolid, Spain.

It was a tough six-year course but Michael’s ordination was eventually celebrated on St Alban’s Day, 22 June 1968 in the ‘family cathedral’ of St John’s, Portsmouth. Among the guests offering their congratulations on the day was the legendary Colonel Willis.

The Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth covers a vast area of the South: Hampshire, Berkshire, Isle of Wight, and the Channel Islands. Michael’s first parish was Eastleigh. Another was Crowthorne with Sandhurst where his duties included the Catholics housed in Broadmoor, the younger generation of Catholics at Wellington College, the married forces families of Sandhurst and a variety of Heathrow employees who resided within close proximity of the airport.

Next came a life-changing move to Southsea. When visiting the parish’s nursing homes, he met Colonel Willis again who instructed him to the join the OP Club Committee, which he did in 1974.

A few months later Michael was on the move again, this time on missionary work to the Diocese of Bamenda in Cameroon, a world totally different from home. Sadly, after a year he was sent home to the London Hospital for Tropical Diseases with a mysterious illness and was advised not to return for the rest of his six-year assignment. He was instead sent to a parish in Bournemouth to recover.

Horndean, Fareham and Southampton completed his parish priest assignments, and in retirement he worked as a full-time school chaplain in Southampton.

Within three months of Michael’s return to the UK from Africa in the mid-1970s, he was back on the OP Club Committee, where he ended up serving for two-thirds of his adult life.

He was elected OP Club President in 1984 in the club’s centenary year and was loyal to the school throughout his life. He recently wrote, “my 10 years as a pupil were relatively uneventful but more important to me was the dedication of the staff, who gave their close attention to even the weakest pupil. They were strict but sincere. My final gratitude must go to my own family. They went without so much during the Second World War and its aftermath to ensure that I had a good education.”

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