Saturday, June 13, 2020

Bishop Basil Meeking (1929-2020): Requiescat in Pace

NLM has learned of the death of the Most Rev. Basil Meeking, Emeritus Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand, who was for many years a staunch supporter of the usus antiquior, which he celebrated frequently. Although nowadays pontifical ceremonies are becoming (relatively) common, Bishop Meeking was well ahead of the curve in that regard. For example, he did pontifical Holy Week ceremonies in Melbourne for many, many years (the photo to the left is from 2010).

He actively supported the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer (Transalpine Redemptorists), the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, among others. The traditional movement in New Zealand stands greatly in his debt.

On one occasion, Bishop Meeking wrote a kind note to me about an NLM article; his comments indicated that this was a blog he read with some regularity, which is gratifying to know. It edified me that the particular article he wanted to have as a Word document was the Examination of Conscience based on the Rule of St. Benedict (here). He also expressed his agreement with the content of “Cantate Domino Canticum Novum: A Statement on the Current Situation of Sacred Music,” published in nine languages in 2017.

Meeking was ordained a priest in 1953. From 1963 to 1966, he studied at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome, following which he was appointed to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome, where he served for eighteen years. He was appointed as Bishop of Christchurch by Pope John Paul II on 30 March 1987 and resigned the see on 15 December 1995. Meeking died in Christchurch on 11 June 2020, aged 90, after what was reported as a recent period of ill-health. (Information culled from Wikipedia; to read more and see a number of photographs, visit the diocesan archives.)

It is heartening to read that, in addition to the usual funeral Mass on Wednesday 17 June at 11am at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, 373 Manchester Street, the diocese is also announcing on its website a 7:00pm “Vigil Requiem Mass in the Extraordinary Form” on Tuesday 16 June at the same cathedral.

Given his great devotion to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it is highly fitting that His Excellency passed to his eternal reward on the feast of Corpus Christi. The Church needs many more humble and generous servants like Bishop Meeking. May it please Our Lord to grant him eternal rest, and to raise up more shepherds with a heart for Catholic tradition.

From FSSP New Zealand
From diocesan archives
At a priestly ordination for the Transalpine Redemptorists
Receiving the first blessing of the priest
Diaconal ordination for the ICRSS
Pontifical Low Mass in Melbourne
Pontifical Mass for His 60th Anniversary of Priestly Ordination
At a Pontifical Requiem in Portland, OR

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