Remembering … Bishop Justin Field OP (1899-1969)
James Field was born on the 6 July 1899 in Down Hatherley, near Cheltenham (England), and, much to his parents’ distress, was received into the Catholic Church at the age of 16. Four years later, he entered the Dominican novitiate at Woodchester, taking the name ‘Justin’ making it his profession in 1921. By the time he was ordained a priest (of Order of Friars Preachers) on 18 September 1926 at the age of 27, both his parents had followed him into the Catholic Church.
Following the completion of his studies in 1928, he was sent to Newcastle to work on the parish, where he was able to put to use his great musical talent, playing the organ and direct the choir, which enjoyed considerable renown in the North East of England. On account of such musical skill, Bishop Felix Couturier OP, another English Dominican who became bishop of Alexandria in Canada, the following year asked the Provincial to send Friar Justin to Canada to serve as his private secretary and assist him in improving the standard of liturgy in his diocese. During this time, Fr Justin published a book encouraging the use of plainsong in parishes.
After two years in Canada, Fr Justin was sent to the Province’s mission in Grenada, where he was to spend the rest of his life. He developed a great loyalty to the island and its people, and it was fitting that, when the Diocese of St George’s, Grenada, was founded on 14 January 1957, he should be appointed its first bishop. He received episcopal consecration from Archbishop Finbar Ryan OP, the Archbishop of Port of Spain (Trinidad), where the Irish Dominicans had a mission on 25 March that year. At about this time he became and remained lifelong friends with the Organist and Choir Master John George Fletcher (1931-).
In 1960 Bishop Justin Field, established a foundation on the island of Carriacou at Madonna House. A foundation followed in Victoria, Grenada.
During the following twelve years, the newly founded diocese saw good progress, led by Bishop Justin in his unwavering ambition to spread the Gospel in the island.
He died as he had wished on what was then St Dominic’s day the 4 August 1969 at the age of 70. He was professed 48 years, a priest 42 years, and a bishop 12 years: he was buried in his cathedral in St George’s.
16/07/1959: Field, Justin (A). “The Simplicity of Plainsong”, pref. by Felix Couturier, 8vo; pp. x, 38.
22/07/1960: Letter to Madonna House in Combermere, Ontario, Canada, the apostolate of Catherine de Hueck Doherty. A Invitation to live among the people of Grenada and instruct them in the Catholic faith “It is with great JOY and ENTHUSIASM that FORMALLY INVITE THE MADONNA HOUSE APOSTOLATE…”