Bishop Emeritus of Hexham and Newcastle and former Parish Priest of St Mary's, Leyland, Ambrose Griffiths, 82, died peacefully on the afternoon of 14 June 2011, following recent serious illness due to acute leukaemia.
Archbishop Patrick Kelly said: ‘Bishop Ambrose blessed the diocese of Liverpool in the parish of St Mary’s, Leyland, and blessed us again by dying in serenity and peace in our midst. His death will be deeply felt in Leyland and I am certain the loss of this man, truly filled with the spirit of Pentecost, will be felt even more deeply by everyone in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle and by his Benedictine brothers of Ampleforth.’
Michael Griffiths was born in London on 4th December 1928. He attended a prep School in Brighton and then the Ampleforth Preparatory School at Gilling Castle in North Yorkshire; from there moved to Ampleforth College for his secondary education.
In 1946 he won a place at Balliol College in Oxford where he obtained a First Class BSc Honours Degree in Natural Sciences, majoring in Chemistry. Seven years later he obtained his MA. On September 24th 1950, after completing his studies at Oxford, he joined the Benedictine Community at Ampleforth Abbey and was given the religious name Ambrose.
He was sent to the Benedictine House of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome where he studied Theology and was ordained Priest on July 21st 1957. He taught Science, RE and woodwork at Ampleforth from 1958-1972, and became Head of the Science Department at the School. From 1963–1971 he also taught dogmatic theology to the young monks of the community.
In 1972 he was appointed as Procurator (Bursar) of the Abbey and was responsible for the day to day running, and the financial matters of the Abbey. In 1976 he was appointed Abbot of the Abbey by the Community and was in charge of Ampleforth for eight years until he was appointed as Parish priest of St Mary’s Parish in Leyland.
On 11th January 1992, Pope John Paul II announced that he had appointed the Rt Rev Ambrose Griffiths OSB as the 11th Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle to succeed the Rt Rev Bishop Hugh Lindsay who had tendered his resignation as Bishop of the Diocese on the grounds of ill health.
On 20th March 1992, Ambrose Griffiths was Ordained as Bishop by Archbishop Derek Worlock in St Mary’s Cathedal, Newcastle upon Tyne, also present was Cardinal Basil Hume, the Archbishop of Westminster, the Abbot of Ampleforth prior to Ambrose Griffiths.
Bishop Ambrose tendered his resignation at the age of 75 to Pope John Paul II and was succeeded by Bishop Kevin Dunn. Bishop Seamus Cunningham is the current Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle. Bishop Ambrose returned to live in Leyland to during his active retirement. May he rest in peace.