In keeping with monastic tradition, our community reads aloud each departed Brother’s obituary on the anniversary of his death, during Compline. In the words of our Rule, “In Christ we are still one with our departed brothers and we express this communion through regular prayer for them and by recalling their lives on the anniversaries of their deaths. We believe that they pray for us and that we will be reunited when Christ gathers all creation to himself, so that God may be all in all.” (Ch. 48). Below is Father Field’s obituary.
Father Charles Neale Field, a priest of our American Congregation, died on 14 January 1929 at Boston in the eightieth year of his life and the forty-eighth year of his religious profession.
Born in jail in 1849, as he liked to tell people, in Reading, England where his father was the prison chaplain, Father Field grew up in Yorkshire. He was graduate of Durham University and Cuddesdon Theological College and was ordained in 1872. Following his ordination he served a curacy at Plympton St. Mary’s, Devon. He came to our Society at the Mission House in Oxford in 1876. After his Profession on 6 August 1881, together with Father Edward William Osborne, he came to the United States where he remained for the rest of his life. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1890.
Largely due to his representations, the Society continued its work in the United States, at a time when there was considerable feeling in the Society that the work should be given up. In 1883 he founded The Guild of the Iron Cross, a devotional society for men and boys. Through the Guild he published a number of tracts and devotional aids. Perhaps the one with the most influence was entitled Father Field’s Prayer Book. In one form or another a version of this booklet continued to be published by the Society until the 1960’s.
His life was that of a real missionary and he was devoted to the largely neglected African-American people in Boston. He was the founder of our mission Church of St. Augustine which was originally situated in Boston’s West End. As parishioners moved to Roxbury, a second mission church, St. Martin’s in Roxbury was begun. In 1908, the two churches merged to form the Church of St Augustine and St Martin which was opened on the Feast of St Martin, 11 November of that year.
Through the generosity of Isabella Stewart Gardiner our Society acquired St. Augustine’s Farm in Foxborough. There he began to operate summer camps for children of the parish. Any national occasion or disaster called forth his ardor and sympathy. The famous Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of 1889, involving the death of thousands, found him an instant helper and an on the spot chronicler. At the time of the flood he was at our house at St. Clement’s, Philadelphia and immediately volunteered to go as a chaplain with the Red Cross. From that experience he published a piece called After the Flood.
He delighted in nature, and his great joy was to be at St. Augustine’s Farm where he is buried, along with others members of our community. A portrait of him now hangs in the Monastery refectory.