James Leachman RIP

RIP : may he Rest In Peace


Of your charity, pray for the eternal repose of

Dom James Leachman

Monk and priest of Ealing Abbey
Who died on 29th August, 2021
In the 75th year of his age,
the 35thyear of his monastic profession,
the 31st year of his priesthood

May he rest in peace

With heavy hearts we share with you the sad news that our beloved James passed away on Sunday morning 29 August 2021 in the company of his brother, having been fortified by the sacraments on the previous day, as he consoled family and colleagues attending to him.

Watch the Video Recording of James’ funeral mass

A video recording of the funeral is be found at this link.


You may send cards to:
D. Abbot & Community
Ealing Abbey
Charlbury Grove
London W5 2DY

You may send an email to Daniel McCarthy at this email address.

James’ professional web-page: https://jamesleachman.com


As a minister of the Church of England, Dom James first served as curate in Battersea in Greenwich from 1972-1977. He became a monk of Nashdom Abbey (link) in 1977 and remaind until 1985 when he was received into the full communion of the Catholic Church and in 1986 entered the novitiate of Ealing Abbey (link). After earning his doctorate in Sacred Liturgy at the Pontifical Liturgy Institute (link), at Sant’Anselmo, Rome, James returned to Ealing where he later assisted in the foundation of the Benedictine Study and Arts Centre (link).

In 2002 James returned to Rome where he taught Liturgy at his alma mater, becoming an associate professor and serving on the editorial board of Ecclesia Orans (link), and as member of the Council of the Dean of Liturgy. He also taught at the Beda College in Rome (link).

In 2007 he co-founded the project Appreciating the Liturgy (link) and the publishing series Documenta rerum ecclesiasticarum instaurata (link, and link), published from St. Michael’s Abbey Press (link), Farnborough, Hampshire.

In 2010 he served on a board which founded the Institutum Liturgicum in England and Wales (link) which has offered liturgy courses drawn from the curriculum of his alma mater, the Pontifical Liturgy Institute, and accredited by the Catholic University Leuven (KU Leuven, link) where he then served as visiting professor. He maintained this teaching post even after he retired from Rome in 2015.

James helped to found the project Generative Communities: Atchison Conversations (link), sponsored by St. Benedict’s Abbey (link) and hosted with Mount St. Scholastica (link) both of Atchison, Kansas. The international colloquium has met there each January since 2014.

From 2015 James was busily engaged in the formal study of Process Oriented Psychology with Processwork UK (link to James’ page). In this context he began another legacy project to reach out to survivors of childhood sexual abuse by clergy and to address this topic in numerous ways. The abbey hosted a one-day conference: Growing into Connectedness: Healing the history of child sexual abuse on Sunday 21 October 2018 (link). In collaboration with the Conference of Religious of England and Wales James produced this video filmed on 3 October 2018 and published an article on the Theology and Practice of Safeguarding (link).

You may read a fuller account in James’ own words at this page.


Independent Catholic News (ICN) at this link. We have regulairly advertised here thanks to the editor, Jo Siedlecka.

Italian: hosted at Sant’Anselmo, Rome at this link.

From “Word from the Cloisters”, The Tablet (11 September 2021) 19.

From “Word from the Cloisters”, The Tablet (11 September 2021) 19.


Simon Kline

Thoughts on James
Written as his blood oxygen dips but the soup was good.

Oh, here he comes. Cassock and vestments billowing in the wind, dervish energy snapping at his heels with the spontaneity and impulsiveness of a spring garden.

The Hello! Spoken as if it’s your inner voice reads that glossy magazine cover at the breakfast room table. The throaty snigger and trailed off phrase, not quite sure if you share the joke or are the subject of it, and certainly not caring which.

Your senses now heightened, sentries on alert as you parse the seemingly mundane chatter, reaching for the unspoken meanings, the pregnant pauses, the knowing smiles, and that infectious glint. Not to worry though, the hosts generosity with patience and wine will bring those anxieties to heel.

Settled in and time moves; the Nashdom Tulip Tree stands, the bees dance in the hive and the stag beetles lift off into the warm evening air – tiny aftershocks in a life filled with that elusive duo of curiosity and meaning. One selfish, one selfless – mixed with a multitude of lives touched and made better from its presence.

As the spirits course through your body – divine, biochemical, or as the world always tells us whether we listen or not, an intermediate shade of gray. Our murmuring host rises with English unflappability. The black cloth wraps itself around the corner, unsure when it will return. But all knowing a force of good, bow waves in front bringing thoughtfulness, compassion, love, and understanding at full relentless speed, to the world beyond.

Written by Simon Kline, Nephew of James, and given by Simon after communion during the funeral mass.


Here is a reading from the liturgy of the day when Fr. James passed on, appropriately it is from the Epistle of James-

Second reading James 1:17-18,21-22,27
It is all that is good, everything that is perfect, which is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow of a change. By his own choice he made us his children by the message of the truth so that we should be a sort of first-fruits of all that he had created. Accept and submit to the word which has been planted in you and can save your souls. But you must do what the word tells you, and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves. Pure, unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it, and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world.

A hymn verse of St Ephrem the Syrian:

In the evening the world sleeps,closing its eyes,while in the morning it arises.He who repays is distant as it were but a night’s length away;now light dawns and He is coming.Weary not, my brethren,nor suppose that your struggle will last long,or that your resurrection is far off,for our death is already behind us,and our resurrection before us.
Blessed is He who, with His keys,has opened up the Garden of Life. (Hymn VII, v2)

and another from St Ephrem the Syrian:

Paradise raised me up as I perceived it,it enriched me as I meditated upon it;I forgot my poor estate,for it had made me drunk with its fragrance,I became as though no longer my old self,for it renewed me with all its varied nature.I swam aroundin its magnificent waves;and in the place that, burning like a furnace,had made Adam naked,I became so inebriated that I forgot all my sins there.
Blessed is He who through His Cross has flung open Paradise. (Hymn VI v 4)

Night Prayer

Listen to night prayer celebrated on 2 September 2021 in memory of James at this link.

ProcessWork UK has this reflection

James was a priest in the Catholic Church, a professor at KU Leuven University and, at 70, he became a student of Process Work – because he believed that he needed an outside-in perspective on the child sexual abuse within the Church. 

I remember James, as a kind soul, who spoke truth to power – the Church power. He followed his own intuition. He used every shred of his own power and authority as a priest to further the healing of child sexual abuse within the Church. He wasn’t taken by the power of the institution of authority. he was  in it, and at the same time free from it. He could stand outside the system and gain a greater perspective from which to work freely within.

James followed his own intuition . Even though he trembled, he never wavered in his determination to be accountable. He did not shy away from the tsunami of feeling that inevitably came to him, on behalf of a most powerful institution. Though it was uncomfortable and it was scary, still, he took accountability with compassion and utmost care. Though it was edgy and almost impossible to fathom, James met and connected people together in their humanity, beyond the temporary positions we hold as survivors and perpetrators, bystanders and saviours. 

James was always connecting people together. He used his power to quietly enable others, to pick up and use their own power, express and release their own voice. He sought to enhance and expand horizons and opportunity for all he was in contact with in ways that amplify and expand their own gifts. James was a collaborator, working together with others, team player always fostering and encouraging the others.

Just as he connected people, so, too, he connected the very different worlds which he orbited, together: Church and Academia, and more recently, Processwork and social activism. He wrote articles bringing Processwork into the Church, particularly on the importance of an outside, observer perspective and on rank dynamics.

James was a good friend, a leader who didn’t expect you to follow but rather to also lead. He set up a Centre for Leadership, joining his efforts with the academic world of KU Leuven because, for him, leadership and distributed leadership needed to be fostered amongst the many – one by one. He went all the way with his own convictions when he forged ahead with a Conference Growing Connectedness in 2018 despite much resistance. James set up a Community of Practice in Ealing to continue his legacy of culture change to help prevent abuse in all its forms. He was acknowledged for his work and his courage with an Award by the Faith and Belief Forum in 2019. The ripple effect of his efforts is still percolating through the Church, in discreet ways that will become clearer in the fullness of time.

 He shared intimate moments generously. Any moment shared was a moment to go deep. He was also cheeky, playful and loved to be in nature. 

He stood by those who are pained with an outstretched hand of friendship. 

He found freedom from the conventions of the institution he belonged to – had chosen to belong to- to give of himself.

May his memory be for a blessing For those who wish to attend in person or online, his funeral will be held this Thursday 9th September at 2PM at Ealing Abbey.

Gracias a la Vida sung by Mercedes Sosa

Lyrics in English: Thanks to life

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me two beams of light, that when opened,
Can perfectly distinguish black from white
And in the sky above, her starry backdrop,
And from within the multitude The one that I love. 

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me an ear that, in all of its width
Records— night and day—crickets and canaries,
Hammers and turbines and bricks and storms,
And the tender voice of my beloved. 

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me sound and the alphabet.
With them the words that I think and declare:
“Mother,” “Friend,” “Brother” and the light shining.
The route of the soul from which comes love. 

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me the ability to walk with my tired feet.
With them I have traversed cities and puddles
Valleys and deserts, mountains and plains.
And your house, your street and your patio. 

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me a heart, that causes my frame to shudder,
When I see the fruit of the human brain,
When I see good so far from bad,
When I see within the clarity of your eyes… 

wThanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me laughter and it gave me longing.
With them I distinguish happiness and pain—
The two materials from which my songs are formed,
And your song, as well, which is the same song.
And everyone’s song, which is my very song. 

Thanks to life
Thanks to life
Thanks to life
Thanks to life

Translation cited from this web-page.

Watch a reading of the book The Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart at this link.


All were welcomed to attend any or all of the services in person or by interment, or to rest with James between services. The funeral services were held at Ealing Abbey, Charlbury Grove, Ealing, London W5 2DY. Link to a map here.

Wednesday 8 September 2021

5:00 PM James’ body will be received into the church during the celebration of Evening Prayer for the Dead.

8:00 PM Compline = night prayer

Thursday 9 September 2021

5:45 Church opens (approx.)

6:00 AM Matins for the Dead = night office of readings

7:00 AM daily Mass (not the funeral mass)

7:35 AM Morning Prayer for the Dead

9:15 AM daily Mass (not the funeral mass)

2:00 PM Funeral Mass

Interment followed immediately after the funeral mass. Interment was in the abbey cemetery a short walk away through the abbey garden.

James’ body remained in the church from its reception on Wednesday evening through the funeral Mass on Thursday. All were welcomed to attend any or all of the services. All were welcomed to rest with James when no services are being held.