FR. FREDERICK BATEMAN

Fr. Riley’s “Cathedral Parish Church,” his wonderful carillon of bells and the incidental publicity which both have evoked, must not permit us to forget that in St. Helens is also the active, well-served parish of Holy Cross, in which Fr. Bateman worked from 1911 to the day of his death in 1928. To-day we associate the Directorship of the Apostleship of Prayer with Wimbledon Church on the hill, and in particular with the chapel of the ambulatory which stands immediately behind the high altar, known as “The Sacred Heart Pleading.” But previous to 1893 Fr. Dignam had worked long and hard at this devotion at St. Helens, and it was in this very church of Holy Cross that the first shrine was set up, being begun in 1883. The church itself had been due to the initiation of Fr. Ullathorne in 1860, though he had not at that time any thought of this important complement. Fr. Dignam collected the necessary money, and a group of Mayer’s statuary from Munich was prepared. The Sacred Heart and Blessed Margaret Mary, as she then was, presented no difficulty; but it was obviously impossible to include Ven. Claude de la Celombicre at that uncertain stage of his beatification, though a suitable niche was prepared, pending the approval of the Church, which was thought to be well within sight.

Frederick Bateman was born on April 24, 1861, at Great Yarmouth, and went to Mount St. Mary’s on September 19, 1874, with his brother Henry. Probably Mr. Henry Parker was his master; certainly the great Fr. Dykes was his Rector; but the sale survivor of that Community is Fr. Edward Sidgreaves, then Scholastic First Prefect. If he were ill, Br. Walton would have looked after him; but this was wholly inadvisable, as methods were primitive and sympathy was not abundant. Seven of that class of Poetry entered the Society; they were: F. Bateman, Alex Gordon, G. Jinks, Jno. B. Jaggar, Jno. O’Neil, J. Worden, R. Moss, four of whom kept their Golden Jubilees last September. At Manresa on the evening of September 7, 1879, he met for the first time C. Redman, G. Pye, John ‘Ward, Philip Ross, J. Donovan, and our present Fr. Socius. After his Juniorate he went to Beaumont for a year, and then, with his Philosophy behind him, he was back at the same College till the eve of his theological course. It will therefore be seen that Mr. Bateman was one of the Community who were presented to Queen Victoria at the time of the Jubilee of 1887. He had not been present when Her Majesty, submitting to the gentle importunity of the Rector, Fr. Cassidy, had arrived before the College gates soon after the shooting affray at Windsor railway station; but the present occasion was more formal, and Fr. Fred. O’Hare set the piece with great skill. An address of welcome was pronounced, and four of the representatives of the school offered bouquets of flowers. One of the four was Stonor, of the Third Playroom. He seems to have had some difficulty in reaching into the carriage in which the Queen sat; so Princess Beatrice, who was seated her, offered to make a long arm for the purpose. the child said decidedly, “It’s not for you; it’s for your mother!” How “Dizzy” would have delighted to heard that speech!

Fr. Bateman was ordained on September 23, 1894 at the conclusion of his Short Course. It was “short” in those days, lasting only three years in all, and ordination at the close of the second. Much to his disappointment, however, Mr. Bateman found that, in view of recent legislation, he would have to conclude three years before his priesthood could be upon him. No one will doubt the wisdom of this for it often happened that the “exigences of Service” deprived a useful man of the chance of completing his course.

After the Tertianship, Fr. Bateman set sail for Malta where in St. Ignatius’ he taught the Matriculation throughout his six years of stay. As, during that he was likewise Consultor of the House, he was apprised of the ultimate closing; though like the the Community he was sorry to leave that sunny isle. Now, it would never do to contrast the Hill at Glasgow with Malta; but we shall be on surer grounds when say that the ten years at the afore-named college have been begun with many baffling alterations in point of view. The Glasgow boy differs as completely his opposite number in Malta, as do the localities twenty territorial degrees of latitude apart. But Hill has always been magnetic, and Fr. Bateman felt that irresistible pull which all who have served school know so well.

In 1911 he concluded his teaching career, with years of schoolroom work to his credit, and went to Holy Cross, St. Helens. It will be remembered Fr. Tom Baldwin had a seizure in the town, from he died, almost in the street. This was in 1914; so Fr. Bateman, having done three years at the church in a subordinate post, now took charge of the parish, and carried it on uninterruptedly to the end.

In 1928 he experienced some form of stroke, but his condition didn’t seem serious enough to preclude him from active work, but it was evident that there was considerable weakening. Therefore, after about eighteen months, when a second attack of a more senous nature came on him. he went for a short period of rest to Blackpool. Early in last December he was taken back to St. Helens by ambulance, and placed with the Sisters of the Providence Free Hospital. Fr. Bateman had been Chaplain to the Poor Servants of the Mother of God; for the Convent stood in his parish, so that he received from them all that care and attention which it was a delight to the Community to render. He died on December 16th, and was buried at Windleshaw Cemetery.

Of these last active years it is impossible to speak in detail, for a parish priest’s life does not abound in important external happenings. So far as material matters went, he was able to complete the fine set of Catholic buildings which offer such a commanding appearance in Corporation Street, by adding to the church and schools an imposing Parochial Hall. Fr. Bateman was a musician of prominence, and to the end of his life took a keen and active interest in the ecclesiastical performances in the church, besides those secular concerts and social gatherings in the hall. One remembers him as a young priest with a particularly pleasant tenor voice, which enhanced his work in the sanctuary where, when singing was required, he was, in constant demand. He was one of those men, too, who continued young in spite of years. That brightness of disposition which we remember in him made it hard to believe that he .was approaching seventy at the time of his death. R.I.P.