Fr Bonaventure Knollys OSB, Benedictine monk of Ampleforth Abbey, died peacefully in the monastery infirmary at Ampleforth on 23 February 2017, at the age of 81.
He was born in Birmingham in July 1935 and educated at Ampleforth. He joined the monastic community in September 1953, but left the community in 1957 in order to go and teach in an African Mission School in Uganda. He returned in 1962 and a year later went to Fribourg in Switzerland to study Theology. On his return to Ampleforth in 1967, Bonaventure taught French in the school, and was ordained priest in 1969.
From 1970-1978, Fr Bonaventure was priest-in-charge at Our Lady and the Holy Angels, Gilling, and from 1976-1986 was also Assistant Novice Master in the Community. He also became involved in the school once more – teaching pottery! For the next twenty years Fr Bonaventure undertook a wide variety of tasks: retreat work in South Africa during 1980, looking after guests in The Grange at Ampleforth (1981-1982), parish priest in Kirkbymoorside (1986-1990), assistant priest in Ampleforth village (1990-1992), assistant in St Mary’s, Leyland (1992-1997), parish priest in Workington (1997-1998), and prior of St Benedict’s Monastery, Bamber Bridge (1998-2002). Alongside his parish work, Fr Bonaventure was for a short period the Archdiocese of Liverpool’s ecumenical representative to Churches Together in Liverpool and the Chair of Leyland Churches Fellowship. He also did pastoral work in HM Prison, Wymott.
In 2002, Fr Bonaventure returned to Ampleforth Abbey to be Novice Master, a post he held until 2008; and from 2007-2012 he was also parish priest of Our Lady & St Benedict, Ampleforth.
In his final years Fr Bonaventure suffered increasingly from dementia and eventually moved from the monastery infirmary to St Catherine’s Home in Shipton-by-Beningborough, before returning to die in his monastery home on 23 February 2017.
Writing about his vocation in 2012, Fr Bonaventure wrote: “…my Vocation revealed itself in reverse. The gathering together of students who found release in pottery, the families who came to church, whether Gilling, Kirkbymoorside, or Ampleforth: all these seemed, looking back, to show how God called. The throwing of pots or the reunion of the People of God, or the patient support from my brethren in the Monastery; all these were revealed as God’s presence in class or Church, where the Word was heard building up Christ’s Body in our hearts. May God’s calling and our calling come together”.
Fr Bonaventure's body was received into the Abbey Church at 8.00 p.m. on Wednesday 1 March 2017. The Solemn Sung Funeral Mass was celebrated in the Abbey Church at 11.30 a.m. on Thursday 2 March 2017, followed by burial in Monks' Wood.