Mgr Augustine Hoey, a renowned spiritual director who converted to Catholicism aged 78 after more than half a century as an Anglican clergyman, has died aged 101.

Mgr Hoey had been living in Walsingham, where, until recently, he had prayed for Christian unity in all seven of the village’s churches every day.

“I just carry on much as I always have done,” he told the Herald shortly before his 100th birthday. “I am on a sevenfold Office, so I get up at 4.30am for the Office of Readings at 5am and continue from there, ending with Compline back at my house at 8pm.” In Walsingham, he said, “the divisions of Christianity are very visible … I believe that Our Lady weeps at these divisions. So I pray in each of them daily for Christian unity.”

As a member of the Anglican Community of the Resurrection, he set up houses of prayer in poor parts of Manchester and Sunderland. He became famous for his parish missions, which involved re-enacting Gospel scenes on the streets of the inner city. He also served in a parish in South Africa during the height of apartheid in the 1950s. He finally became Catholic after the Church of England introduced women’s ordination.

His life was an eventful one of narrow escapes. Aged three, he almost died from pneumonia. He recalled seeming to “hover above” his family by his bedside. “I think I must have died,” he said. In 1944 he was giving a confirmation class in Hackney when a bomb struck, leaving him buried in rubble.

He left a retirement home in London aged 98 to live in Walsingham. He had visited in 1937 and felt the place was more prayerful than anywhere else.

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