In Memoriam John Hughes

Dear Friends,

We at St Michael’s are shocked and devastated at the death of Rev Dr John Hughes, Dean of Chapel at Jesus College, Cambridge, aged 35, in a car accident last Sunday.

We extend our prayers and sympathy to John’s family and many friends at this tragic loss. We shall sing Vespers for the Dead in memory of Fr John Hughes at 6pm tonight 1st July in St Michael’s.

Vespers John Hughes small

(Over two dozen attended at short notice and Psalms 116, 120, 121, 138 & 146 were sung.)

John Hughes came to the Parish of St David with St Michael & All Angels, Exeter, as our Curate in 2005. He was ordained Priest on this day eight years ago in Ottery St Mary and celebrated his first Mass here in St Michael’s.

Hugely loved and admired as a pastor and preacher, John had a mind that could think and articulate the deep issues in theology and society, and also a heart with time and love for each person he met, as so many of us know and remember. John was one of the most Christ-like people I have known. Leaving for Cambridge in 2009, he returned to Exeter to take Weddings, and to give a St Michael’s Lecture in September 2012 entitled ‘What do the Pope and the Archbishop say about the Economic Crisis?’


David Beadle writes, “During his time as Curate he coordinated the St Michael’s Lectures. He was a huge gift to the Parish, to which he devoted great time and energy, to his very wide circle of friends and acquaintances, and to his field in academia.”

Richard Parker, Warden at St Michael’s, says, “I am devastated to have to report the death, in a motoring accident, of our beloved friend and priest Fr. John Hughes. He was one of the kindest and loveliest men I have ever met, and one of the brightest hopes of our church. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”

Among the many reports and tributes, here is a Cambridge link “Jesus mourn” and locally “Express&Echo” “Mid Devon Gazette”

And if I may re-post two more that speak for all of us. Jana Howlett said: “John was a born pastor: enquiring, understanding, compassionate. He communicated this, as well as his enormous enjoyment of life, to all who met him. This is such a shock to all of us who knew him and worked with him.” Tom Bradshaw added: “The premature death of a person as kind, thoughtful, intelligent, modest and warm as John is hugely sad and I am deeply shocked.”

John Hughes taught philosophy, ethics, doctrine, and social thought in the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge. He had studied Theology in Cambridge and Oxford, completing his PhD on nineteenth and twentieth century Romantic and Marxist philosophies of labour, published as ‘The End of Work: Theological Critiques of Capitalism’ (Blackwell, 2007). He trained for ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. He edited a collection of sermons ‘The Unknown God: Responding to the New Atheists’ (SCM Press, 2013), and had recently written and spoken about the renewed interest in Civil Society and Roman Catholic and Anglican Social Teaching, particularly in relation to the Economic Crisis. He was part of a project on Anglican Social Thought organised by the Mission and Public Affairs Division of the Archbishops’ Council.

The whole Church has tragically lost one of its brightest and best teachers and priests. Requiescat in pace.