Wednesday, 15 May 2013

In the presence of a living saint

We have spent the last four days with a group of pilgrims at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

It has been a profound and uplifting experience, not least because our group of 16 people was led by a venerable priest, Father Peter Lessiter.

Unable to move, Fr Lessiter celebrates the Mass with great humility and devotion

The pilgrimage itself was very demanding in terms of having a strict programme of devotions at various times and venues throughout the Shrine but, if I tell you that Father Lessiter, wheelchair bound,  was at the helm during those four days, despite being seventy nine years of age and in his forty ninth year as a priest, you will have some small concept of the very great demands that were made on this, the most humble of men.

And then, if I tell you that Fr Lessiter is basically paralysed due to various illnesses you will appreciate the tremendous effort he made in order to provide the rigour and integrity to the group and to give honour to Our Lady of Fatima and her Divine Son.

Retirement is a word not recognised by Fr Lessiter; God called him to the priesthood and there he will remain until such time that God will call him again.

Not for him the two bedroomed bungalow in the suburbs and the leisurely life style of the average retired parish priest.

Father L maintains a spiritual and mental programme of activity that would put a 25 year old to shame.
A much loved and respected priest

And when people thank him for his witness and guidance his stock reply is:

"Don't thank me, thank Almighty God, He's the one who is deserving of praise; I am just His servant"

It is hard to imagine the daily struggle of an aged man who has lost 80% of body movement.

But Father Lessiter bears it all without complaint or any reduction of his immense good humour.

Watching him celebrate the Latin Mass, virtually immobile but for slight movements of the hands, is a humbling experience.

Every slight action takes an enormous effort of will; just standing at the altar must sap his energy considerably.

Yet he continues, unremittingly in his drive to save souls.

During his lifetime he has brought the Sacraments to many thousands of Catholics living a 'recusant' like existence prior to 2007.

He has also been on constant call, night and day to take the Sacrament of Extreme Unction to those in danger of death - anywhere in England and Wales.

And, most especially, he has been on call to minister the Last Rites to brother priests, many of whom, have turned to the traditional Faith on their deathbed.

It may take more than a hundred years for Fr Lessiter to receive the recognition he deserves but, I am confident that the day will come when he is canonised by Holy Mother Church.

Please remember him in your prayers, he has a gruelling and mentally draining period ahead of him and a difficult return journey to make.

Coincidentally, you may like to read Fr Ray Blake's post that touches on the subjects of retirement and evangelisation, you may read it HERE


  1. This post has made my day. God Bless Father Lessiter and all priests like him who live and preach true to Christ.

  2. Richard,
    Thank God! indeed- for this Good and Holy Priest, you are no doubt truly blessed to have him in your company! Hope you have been spiritually enriched. I watched both the Vigil and the Mass of Entrustment of PF to OLOF via EWTN from Jarrow however, I could not see your good self among the vast throng!

    God Bless,


  3. That is priestly witness!!

  4. Great post. Fr. Thwaites should also be beatified in the next century--provided the world lasts that long...
    Scott W

  5. Thank you all and thank the Lord for Fr L.

  6. Father Lessiter is my husband's first cousin & we are coming to the UK in July, with the intention of visiting him and spending time with him. He has a solid following and is obviously a wonderful person & truly good man of God.

    Roberta & Keith Pearce

  7. Roberta and Keith, yes, Fr told me all about you and your visit, he is most excited. God bless.

  8. Dear Richard,
    I read your article, "In the presence of a living saint", with great interest and admiration for Father Peter.
    Roberta and I are really looking forward to our visit in July, and hope we will also have the pleasure of meeting you as well, Richard.
    Keith and Roberta

    Sincerely, Keith and Roberta.

  9. Thank you Keith, I do hope that we can meet up. Richard

  10. Not long now - we hope to be in the area around the middle of July, staying with Father Peter for a couple of days, after meeting up previously with Peter's cousins in Edgware and Brighton. Roberta & Keith

  11. Roberta and Keith, please email me on
    Thank you

  12. Richard,
    have you heard of Peter's passing in the last 2 weeks?

    His funeral is to be on the 20/9/18,
    Community of our lady of Victories
    Mount Carmel
    Lodge Lane
    EX13 5RT

    Keith's cousin Liz Roberts will be attending


    Roberta and Keith Pearce