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Christopher Bryant, SSJE (1905-1985)

FATHER CHRISTOPHER REX BRYANT, SSJE

died June 8, 1985

Father Christopher Rex Bryant, a priest of our English Congregation, died on 8 June 1985 at Tunbridge Wells, Kent in the eightieth year of his life and the fiftieth year of his religious profession.

Born in 1906 in Woolwich, a district of London, where his father worked at the Greenwich Observatory, Father Bryant was educated at Kings School, Canterbury, Pembroke College, Cambridge and St. Augustine’s Theological College, Canterbury. He was ordained in 1929 and served a curacy at St. Paul’s, Clapham, in the Diocese of Southwark. He came to our community at the Mission House in Oxford in 1932 and was professed in 1935. He then spent the first ten years of his professed based at the Mission House in Oxford. From 1945 he lived at our house in Doune, Scotland, and then Joppa, just outside Edinburgh, returning to the Mission House in 1949 where he served first as the Novice Master and then as the Assistant Superior. In 1955 he became the Superior of St. Edward’s House, London. There he began to be widely known as a retreat conductor and spiritual director. From 1968 until 1971 he was on the staff at St. Augustine’s College, Canterbury, which at that time was the place where ordinands from King’s College, London spent their final year. He returned to the Mission House in Oxford in 1971 and remained there until he went again to St. Edward’s House in 1980. It was during the last fifteen years of his life that he became widely known as an author of books on spirituality and the relationship between psychology and prayer. His most influential book, The River Within was published in 1978. His last book Jung and the Christian Way appeared in 1984. One of Susan Howatch’s Starbridge novels draws heavily on Father Bryant’s writings. At the same time he edited a popular theological journal called New Fire which had a wide circulation. Once when asked to define prayer he replied that prayer was not about saying prayers, but rather what happened when the mystery that was God encountered the mystery that was the individual. He died suddenly and very quietly one day when he and some friends were out exploring the Kentish countryside. He is buried along with other members of the community, at Rose Hill Cemetery, Oxford.

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