Father Peter's funeral, 18 Steptember 2020
Father Peter was laid to rest at Exeter Higher Cemetery on Friday 18th September 2020. Covid-19 regulations made it impossible for the funeral service to be held at Saint Anne's, so it was decided in the light of a forecast of good weather that the entire ceremony should take place at the cemetery close to the grave. Even so, attendance had to be limited to 30 people only, and all those who were there were aware that they were representing the many, many friends and colleagues who could not be present.
The weather was perfect. We met the hearse by the gates, and processed singing Sviati Bozhe to an open space surrounded by trees, chosen for the service near to the grave. One of the children remarked 'Oh - it's just like camp', and certainly the whole service had that atmosphere of informal reverence so characteristic of that hugely important part of Peter's life. Father Patrick officiated, assisted by Father Nicanor and Deacon Brandon; the family choir sang beautifully. Before the coffin was closed, Father Nicanor spoke for all of us: ' I want to say something, but I don't really know what I can say' and then, after a long pause 'All I can say is – I have lost a beautiful friend.' At the interment, we bypassed the undertaker’s little box and threw clods of real Exeter red soil onto the simple wicker coffin.
And before we left, the choir sang the beautiful hymn of the Prodigal Son: 'Make haste to open unto me Thy fatherly embrace.' O Thou who rulest over souls and bodies, in whose hand is our breath, Thou consolation of the afflicted: in the land of the just give rest unto Thy servant whom Thou hast taken from us. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Exeter Higher Cemetery Location
For the many people who will want to visit Fr Peter’s grave, here is a map of the cemetery (click the image to enlarge it) with the grave site marked (the blue cross). Aidan’s grave is nearby, identified by a wooden Russian-style cross. The main entrance to the cemetery (top left on the map) is on Saint Mark’s Avenue, which joins Pinhoe Road next to St Mark’s Church. For those who use SatNav the postcode is EX1 2PX. You can park on the road just inside the main entrance.
Here are some more photos from the funeral. Click to enlarge them.