Photo : Dom James Leachman | by Dom Daniel McCarthy
PAX : PEACE
Of your charity, pray for the eternal repose of
Fr. James Leachman, OSB
Monk and priest of Ealing Abbey
Who died on 29th August, 2021
In the 75th year of his age,
The 35th year of his monastic profession,
The 31st year of his priesthood
May he rest in peace
Dom James passed away in the company of his brother, having been fortified by the sacraments on the previous day, as he consoled family and colleagues attending to him.
James Leachman was born in 1947 in Lincoln, England where he attended services at Lincoln cathedral. He studied biological sciences at Durham University and trained for ministry in the Church of England from 1969-1972 at St Stephen’s House, Oxford.
As a minister of the Church of England, Dom James first served as curate in Battersea in Greenwich from 1972-1977. He became a monk of Nashdom Abbey in 1977 and remained until 1985 when he was received into the full communion of the Catholic Church and in 1986 entered the novitiate of Ealing Abbey. After earning his doctorate in Sacred Liturgy writing on Dom Gregory Dix at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy in 1992, at Sant’Anselmo, Rome, Dom James returned to Ealing where he later assisted in the foundation of the Benedictine Study and Arts Centre.
In 2002 Dom James returned to Rome where he taught Liturgy at his alma mater, becoming an associate professor and serving on the editorial board of Ecclesia Orans, and as member of the Council of the President of the Liturgy institute. He also taught at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome.
In 2007 he co-founded with Dom Daniel McCarthy the project Liturgiam aestimare: Appreciating the Liturgy, which came to consist of three components: 1) a publishing series, 2) an ongoing, international, ecumenical conversation and 3) teaching liturgy and the Latin language at the Master’s level.
In the same year the Preside of the PIL, Dom Ephrem Carr, and his council approved the establishment of a series of publications under the title Documenta rerum ecclesiasticarum instaurata as a form of continuation of the original series published by the Institutum Liturgicum at Sant’Anselmo prior to the Second Vatican Council. This series considers the prayers and liturgies of the post-conciliar liturgy and is published from St. Michael’s Abbey Press, Farnborough, Hampshire.
An inaugural colloquium was held at Sant’Anselmo on 31 May 2008, which resulted in the publication of their first volume on the method of interpreting the collect prayer: Appreciating the Collect: An irenic methodology. This was the first of fourteen international, ecumenical colloquia and the first of numerous publications to date. Human maturation in the prayers of the Easter vigil is the subject of the volume Transition in the Easter Vigil: Becoming Christians. His commentaries and homilies on the prayers of the Mass are given in Listen to the Word. His vision for arranging a church for liturgy is given in Come into the Light: Church Interiors for the Celebration of Liturgy.
In 2010 he helped to create a board and found the Institutum Liturgicum in England and Wales, sponsored by his own Ealing Abbey and St. Michael Abbey, Farnborough. The Liturgy Institute offers liturgy courses drawn from the curriculum of his alma mater, the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy, and accredited by the Catholic University Leuven (KU Leuven) where he served as visiting professor. He maintained this teaching post even after he retired from Rome in 2015.
Dom James promoted the maturation of monastics and their communities and helped to found the project Generative Communities: Atchison Conversations, sponsored by St. Benedict’s Abbey and hosted with Mount St. Scholastica both of Atchison, Kansas. The international colloquium has met there each January since 2014. His article on different styles of monastic life is, “Different Models of Monastic Liturgy and their Effect on Worshippers”, Questions Liturgiques: Studies in Liturgy 93 (2012) 51-73.
Upon retiring from teaching at Sant’Anselmo in 2015, Dom James dedicated himself to studying Process Oriented Psychology which helped him to reach out to survivors of childhood sexual abuse by clergy. He sought to address this abuse and to bring healing in numerous ways including a day conference: Growing into Connectedness: Healing the history of child sexual abuse, held on Sunday 21 October 2018 and ongoing conversations with survivors of clergy sexual abuse. His first article published on this subject is “Liturgy and Sacramentality: First Perspectives from Process Oriented Psychology”, Studia Liturgica (2017/2) 114-133.
In collaboration with the Conference of Religious of England and Wales Dom James produced this video filmed on 3 October 2018 and published an article on the Theology and Practice of Safeguarding (available at this link).
You may read a fuller account of his contributions written in Dom James’ own words and explore his professional web-page at this link.
Dom James is remembered for his charming wit, intelligence, eagerness to engage with others, cultivation of the natural world and for baking bread for his brethren and friends.
You may send cards to:
D. Abbot & Community
London W5 2DY
Watch the Video Recording of Dom James’ funeral mass
A video recording of the funeral can be found at this link.