Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Father Clement Tigar SJ - a giant of an intellect!

I have been meaning to write on the life of Fr Tigar but, despite his amazing number of learned published works, there appears to be little of substance available on this great man.
I used to pass him every morning on my way to school as he walked between the Chapel and the various "Houses" of Campion House in Osterley, West London. He died in 1966, thankfully missing the worst of the post Vatican 2 excesses (we lost thousands of priests and religious in this country alone). As I passed him he would never smile or give any form of acknowledgment other than a quick nod of the head; I believed that he was carrying the Blessed Sacrament but he was also aloof in an ascetic way.
So, rather than write a bio with sketchy details, I am going to write about one of his great books - not so much a learned one as a straightforward no nonsense aide memoire to the Faith. It has stood by me for many years and always offers good common sense  answers to many questions.
He wrote it during the Second World War, really to answer the many queries regarding the Faith that those involved in the conflict brought up. Far away from home and surrounded by strangers, often in great danger; all these factors brought an edge to one's beliefs and this little book called "Papist Pie" gives the answers.
Each week, I will feature one of Father T's questions and answers - it's a sort of mix of catechism and apologetics containing all the questions you have always wanted to ask a priest.

This week's question:


'Life is so short. Why not make the best of it and have a good time?'

A straight question, demanding a straight answer! If you were just an animal your philosophy of life would be right. A cow is perfectly satisfied if it has grass without end.
A human being is not satisfied with just having a good time. He (or She) has got a mind and a will, that is a power of knowing and a power of loving. The mind can be satisfied only if it needs the truth, the truth about man and his purpose in life. The will can be satisfied only if it posses the good.
What is man's purpose in life? What is really good?
Religion alone can answer these questions.

Many priests over the age of 60 will recall Fr Tigar who ran Campion House for many years, a seminary for late vocations.


  1. seems like a wonderful Priest, looking forward to more quotes,

  2. You say the Fr Tigar died in 1966. I think you will find this to be the year in which he retired from Campion House. He acted as Vice-Postulator for the canonization of the Forty English and Welsh Martyrs, and I recall seeing him in St Peter's in Rome on the occasion in 25th October 1970.

  3. Waggy June 21, 2012June 21, 2012 11:16 am

    You are right Lucidus. In fact, Fr Tigar died on Good Friday in 1976. I know this to be correct as I was a student at Osterley at that time.

  4. I was at Osterley 1957 till 1960. Although I teenager I know this is where I learnt I was much cleverer than my father would have me believe and, Thanks to "the Boss" I grew up and have always followed what he taught that to Love your religion is to Live it

  5. AG - I was 14 when we moved there in 1958. Now it is a great loss to HMC.

  6. I was at Osterley as a student from 1961 to 1963, and I taught there for a year in the 60s, so I grew to know Fr Tigar very well. He was an enormous influence on my life and a very holy priest.

  7. Father Tiger was my dear friend from 1959. He always had time to talk to me. He married me to Arthur in 1960.A very great honour.

  8. I was a student at Campion House, Osterley from 1971 - 1973. Fr Tigar had just relinquished the post of Rector/ Superior there. Fr Callaghan was appointed but sadly passed away. Fr Brooks was appointed. He was followed by John Marbaix. I recall going on the Martyrs walk from Tower Hill to Tyburn which Fr Tigar lead for many years. He was present at Campion Day in December 1971 and 1972.

  9. Osterley Student 73 to 75 Fr. Tiger came back to retire at Osterley. He was a little frail then, memory getting slower. Was privilege to look after him, help him get ready to con-celebrate at Mass..He had powerful voice and would join in the hymns he could remember. A Giant of a Man. Many priests owe him a lot. I pray for him and other staff members at Osterley.