Paul Stenhouse MSC, long-time editor of Annals, who spoke at a number of Australian Chesterton conferences including the one in October 2019 only a month before he died, has recently been honoured with two publications – a special book of tributes and a full-scale biography.
The book of tributes, Paul Stenhouse: A Distinctive and Distinguished Missionary of the Sacred Heart, contains chapters by friends and associates – fellow priests (including the movie critic, Peter Malone MSC, who edited the book); journalists such as Greg Sheridan and James Murray; and regular Annals contributors, Giles Auty and Wanda Skowronska. There is also a review by Tony Abbott of Fr Stenhouse’s book on Islam, and a Postscript by Cardinal Pell.
In another chapter Karl Schmude, a long-time friend of Fr Stenhouse and contributor to Annals, discusses Fr Stenhouse’s breadth of learning and love of the liberal arts, shown in his early support for Campion College of which he became an Honorary Fellow.
The book is available from Australian Scholarly Publishing in Melbourne at a price of $20.00 (plus $9.00 p&p)
The biography, Paul Stenhouse MSC: A Life of Rare Wisdom, Compassion and Inspiration (2021), is the painstaking work of Wanda Skowronska, a frequent contributor to Annals who knew Fr Stenhouse personally.
The book was launched at the MSC Monastery in Kensington NSW on February 27, 2021, and attended by 70 friends. In his occasional address, the philosopher, mathematician and historian, Professor James Franklin, noted that Fr Stenhouse had a unique style of being a conservative “cultural warrior”. The biography, he said, expressed many sides of an “intellectual who delighted in conversation on almost anything,” adding: “I remember in one conversation we moved from the alphabeticity of Ugaritic to the survival of the Lollards.”
Wanda Skowronska remarked in her speech that the scholarly nature of Fr Stenhouse “co-existed with compassion for others, a little recognised poetic nature, and a gift for unmasking the illusions of the age.”
She recounted stories of his journeys to China, the Ukraine, Armenia and Lebanon – and how his friends from the Caribbean had miraculously drawn him, previously uninterested in sport, to become interested in cricket!
Chinese flautist, Chai Chang-Ning, who appeared in the films, The Last Emperor and Mao’s Last Dancer, played the flute during the launch. Chai had met Fr Stenhouse by “chance” and was converted by the priest whom he called “the messenger of the living God.” As Fr Stenhouse lay dying in November 2019, Chai played gentle melodies for him.
Also present at the launch were friends from various backgrounds – Malaysian, Armenian, Guyanan, Lebanese, Singaporean, Vietnamese, and Lebanese, who will never forget the many kindnesses of their friend. Many of their stories are recounted in the biography.
MSC Superior Fr Steve Dives read a number of messages fortheoccasion.OnewasfromJulianLeow,Archbishopof Kuala Lumpur, a former student of Fr Stenhouse who was deeply influenced by him to become a priest.
A second message, from Karl Schmude who could not attend the launch, praised Wanda Skowronska for “evoking the multiple lives of a remarkable priest – a scholar rich in learning, a popular journalist and editor, a world citizen who cherished his Australian roots, a pastor to so many individual souls and communities.”
The biography was published by Connor Court and is available for purchase.