THE death of a monk at Ampleforth Abbey has been announced.

Father Jonathan Cotton OSB, Benedictine monk died peacefully in the Monastery Infirmary at Ampleforth Abbey on January 17, aged 80.

Born in Shimla, India, in May 1943, Fr Jonathan was educated at St Martin’s, Nawton, and Ampleforth College. He joined the monastic community in 1961 and was ordained priest ten years later. Fr Jonathan read History at St Benet’s Hall at the University of Oxford and subsequently taught History at Ampleforth College for ten years.

Fr Jonathan’s first parochial appointment came in January 1973, when he was sent to St Mary’s, Warrington, and this was followed by a period in which he assisted at Our Lady & St Benedict’s in Ampleforth. Fr Jonathan then worked largely in St Mary’s, Bamber Bridge, and St Mary’s, Leyland, where he was parish priest for thirty years from 1992-2022.

In the early 1970s Fr Jonathan first encountered the Focolare Movement, a religious group founded in Italy during the Second World War. Today the Movement is present in more than 180 nations and it played a major part in Fr Jonathan’s life. He attended the Movement’s summer gathering, Mariapolis, in Manchester in 1972. Fr Jonathan wrote that the Movement “was the greatest influence on my life and helped me to realise the beauty of my monastic vocation”.

From 1975-2019 he was part of the co-ordinating Council of the Focolare Movement in Britain and attended numerous annual and international conferences reflecting on the life of communion for religious in the Church as promoted by the Focolare Movement. He organised and attended events not only in the UK but also worldwide and was a regular attender at Mariapolis, the annual gathering of people of all ages and backgrounds organised by the Focolare Movement to enable people to spend a few days together putting into practice the values of the Gospel. The main guideline of such gatherings was the ‘Golden Rule’: to do to others what we would like to be done to us.

Fr Jonathan retired as parish priest in September 2022 and began a sabbatical in Italy. Ill health forced him to cut short his time abroad and he returned to the Monastery Infirmary at Ampleforth Abbey in July 2023. He was diagnosed with cancer shortly after his return and his health gradually deteriorated. He died peacefully on January 17.

Fr Jonathan’s body will be received into the Abbey church at Ampleforth at 8 pm on Wednesday, January 31. His funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11.30 am in the Abbey church on Thursday, February 1, followed by burial in Monks’ Wood.