Father Dom Julian Stead


PORTSMOUTH — Father Dom Julian Stead was born Peter Force Stead on November 20, 1926 in Oxford, England, of American parents who made their home in Oxford. His father was a clergyman working as the chaplain of an Oxford college and was in contact with many leading literary figures. It was his father who received T.S. Eliot into the Anglican Church and baptized him. Father Stead’s family were received into the Catholic Church and continued to live in England. He attended Worth, the preparatory school for Downside Abbey, beginning in the summer term of 1935. For the summer holidays of 1939, his father took him to visit his grandfather, and other relatives in America, sailing from Liverpool on August 12, to return to Worth for the Michaelmas Term in September.
However, citizens carrying an American passport were prohibited from travelling to the theatre of war. Father Stead and his father could not go home. An Oxford friend recommended Portsmouth Priory School, where he was admitted in January 1940, entering the monastery later in September 1943.
Having finished his course at Portsmouth Priory and expressing an interest in joining the monastery, Father Stead was told to get a job and work for a year. This he did, working on a farm in Maryland, and then entered the monastic community in September, 1943.
Father Stead studied at St. Anselmo in Rome and received his S.T.L. there. He also studied at Blackfriars in Oxford. He was ordained a priest while at Oxford. He taught Philosophy and Patristics to the young monks. He was Guest Master frequently. He was Novice Master from 1973 to 1983 and again from 1993 to 1995. In the school, he taught Christian Doctrine and Latin. He was in charge of the Photography and Riflery Clubs. He loved the Fathers of the Church and taught a course in that subject at some point to some interested students. He also taught a course in Patristics at Providence College from 1974 to 1976. He was Director of Admissions for some years.
Father Julian did have a good sense of humor and his jokes and humorous comments were memorable. Many looked to him for help and encouragement in leading the Christian life.
Father Stead produced three books: he translated “The Mystagogia of St. Maximus the Confessor,” his book of poems was “There Shines Forth Christ,” and his book on the “Benedictine Rule: St. Benedict, A Rule for Beginners.” He had the hobby of painting pictures.
He was a member of the Focolare movement and it meant much to him to attend meetings and functions of that Apostolic organization.
It must be said that Father Stead suffered sometimes severe bouts of depression. He did all he could, and with success, not to allow that to interfere with his monastic life and with his prayer.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at the Church of St. Gregory the Great at Portsmouth Abbey on December 30.