Stephen Innes obituary

Other lives: Member of the Franciscan order who worked as a parish priest and later taught theology

My brother Stephen Innes, who has died aged 79, was a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, based at the church of St Edmund and St Frideswide in Oxford.

He was born in Lewisham, south-east London, to Robert Innes, a works inspector at a vacuum pump factory, and Beatrice (nee Casey), who worked in a greengrocers. In 1952, when he was nine, his family moved to Crawley in West Sussex, where he went to St Wilfrid’s Roman Catholic secondary school. While there he was chosen to make a presentation to Queen Elizabeth II on behalf of all the schools in the locality on her visit to the town in 1958.

The local Catholic community was served by the Capuchin Franciscan fraternity, and Stephen soon developed an association with its friars that led him to decide to enter religious life. He joined the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin at the age of 20 in 1962. At that time his name was Anthony – the one he had been given at birth – but according to the tradition of the order a new religious title was conferred on him by the elder members. They decided to call him Stephen, not knowing that he already had a brother (me) by that name.

In 1970 he was ordained to the priesthood and went on to serve in Peckham in London until 1976 and Pantasaph in Clwyd from 1976 to 1984. A change of tack then took him to Canterbury, Kent, to become novice master responsible for the training of new Franciscan postulants, a post he held for three years. In 1987 he moved to Greyfriars, a private hall of the University of Oxford, where he studied for a theology degree until 1990 and then joined the staff as a senior tutor until 1998.

His next post was as director of the retreat centre in Pantasaph, leaving there in 2005 to be national spiritual assistant to the Secular Franciscan Order in Erith, south-east London, until 2015. In all his work he showed great gifts of understanding, empathy and friendship.

Stephen spent his last seven years before retirement back at Greyfriars, researching the history of the Capuchin Franciscans of Great Britain – work that resulted in a number of books on the subject, including Cuthbert of Brighton: Capuchin, published in two volumes in 2021 and 2022.

Ill health eventually meant he had to down his writing tools and at Easter 2022, in light of a cancer diagnosis and based on his doctor’s prognosis, he decided not to seek further treatment, and to let nature take its course.

He is survived by his two brothers, me and Christopher.

Stephen Innes

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Canon David Partridge obituary
Other lives: Anglican priest who was a committed peace campaigner

James Partridge

21, Feb, 2018 @11:48 AM

Article image
Father Jack Finucane obituary
Other lives: Catholic missionary who became a leading figure in international aid efforts

Peter O'Mahony

31, Jul, 2017 @4:01 PM

Article image
Godfrey Fowler obituary
Other lives: Family doctor and professor of general practice at Oxford University

Jake Piper

21, Apr, 2022 @4:22 PM

Article image
Julian Usborne obituary
Other lives: Engineer, shopkeeper, painter and conservationist

Peter Usborne

17, Apr, 2016 @3:25 PM

Article image
Roger Ainsworth obituary
Other lives: Distinguished engineer who became master of St Catherine’s College, Oxford

Jane Wadkin

13, Mar, 2019 @3:20 PM

Article image
Gerry Hughes obituary
Other lives: Jesuit priest and academic who fearlessly defended individual conscience and the rationality of faith

Peter Gallagher

17, Nov, 2021 @6:28 PM

Article image
Dorothy Cuninghame obituary
Other Lives: Secretary and housewife who gave medical help to displaced people in Germany after the second world war

Christopher Cuninghame

14, Jun, 2021 @9:33 AM

Article image
Peter Iredale obituary
Other lives: Last director of the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Harwell laboratory in Oxfordshire

John Iredale

22, Jul, 2019 @2:02 PM

Article image
Father Mícheál Lynch obituary
Other lives: Roman Catholic priest noted for his community work and fundraising skill

Maeve Lynch

10, Jan, 2018 @6:06 PM

Article image
Father Bill Boyd obituary
Other lives: Roman Catholic priest who supported British forces and their families in Germany

John McGowan

22, Sep, 2016 @4:42 PM