Thursday, 5 January 2012

Frabjous news - Callooh! Callay!

I am not certain if all will instantly recognise the name James Mawdesley, or, to give him his full handle, James Rupert Russell Mawdesley.

James made a dramatic appearance in the 1990s.
"God gave me an appreciation for 
every aspect of creation. I learnt that
all food is good, no matter how
rotten or small the portion or
if it's got weevils"
He campaigned tirelessly, for the cause of the oppressed, the imprisoned, tortured and murdered under the brutal regime of Burma which still carries on today.

How did he do this?
 By handing out leaflets at Tube stations? No!

By writing poncey articles in the New Statesman?
No, certainly not.

Maybe he lobbied our Members of Parliament and schmoozed them into awareness of totalitarian evil in Myanmar?
No, again.

What James did was to travel to Thailand and, under cover of darkness, travel into Burma and live and work among the tribespeople of that troubled country.

He was caught. Not once. Not even twice but three times and three times he was slung into a festering Burmese jail.
The media called him a campaigner for human rights but we knew better.

He was a campaigner for Jesus Christ and he lit a flame for those of us who had a mortgage and 4.0 children and a 9 to 5 existence.

He received a jail sentence of 17 years!

In a Burmese prison!

That was the stuff of martyrs and we prayed for him and for his release as a family, gathered around the table on a Sunday morning saying a 'dry' Mass as, in those dark days in Wales, there was no real Mass for 180 odd miles and you were told by your Bishop that you were leading your children to hell if you abided by the Latin Mass.

He refused to sign documentation that would aid his early release and, thankfully, after pressure from the Foreign Office, he was repatriated in 2000.

And now, thanks to LMS Chairman and Ecumenical Diablogger, Stuart McCullough, I learn that James Mawdesley is a seminarian with the Fraternal Society of St Peter! Definitely a hats in the air occasion.

I posted yesterday about how we need role models in the faith today.
We are blessed with good blogging priests who are role models but we do need more from the laity.
Now James Mawdesley has bridged the divide and I hope and pray that Juventutem and other groups will come to know him better, if they do not already know about this Extraordinary (in the full sense of the word) young man.

James Mawdesley is the author of :

 The Heart Must Break: the Fight for Democracy and Truth in Burma, published in the US as The Iron Road: A Stand for Truth and Democracy in Burma

Below is a report from the LMS Chairman website regarding James:-

"We had a very splendid Mass for Maundy Thursday at the Church of St William of York, Reading with the Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP). After processing the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose and the Stripping of the Altars, Compline was sung by the clergy. An FSSP seminarian, Rev. James Mawdsley, joined us  as subdeacon, making High Mass possible. Father Armand de Malleray was Celebrant, and Fr. Simon Leworthy, Deacon. The Rev. James Mawdsley, a seminarian at the FSSP’s Wigratzbad seminary, is part-sponsored by the LMS, as are the other English and Welsh students at the seminary".

Having criticised the LMS roundly (and justifiably) in the past, it gives me great pleasure to applaud them on this occasion for their support of Fr James.



  1. I remember the case well and had often wondered what became of him. Marvellous to find this out!

  2. Might the media now forget about him?

  3. Thanks be to God for this man!