WALES: Former Archbishop Alwyn Rice Jones dies at 73

August 13, 2007

The former Archbishop of Wales, Alwyn Rice Jones, died at his home in St. Asaph August 12. He was 73.

Jones served his entire ministry in the Church in Wales. He served in three dioceses -- Bangor, where he was ordained; Swansea and Brecon, where he was dean of Brecon Cathedral; and St. Asaph, where he was bishop and later archbishop.

During his archiepiscopate from 1991-1999 Jones oversaw the bill that allowed for the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Church in Wales.

Although he had not enjoyed good health during his retirement, his death was sudden and unexpected.

The present Archbishop of Wales, Dr. Barry Morgan, and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams paid tribute to Jones's ministry.

"Alwyn Rice Jones led the Church in Wales with courage and warmth and vision through some challenging years," said Williams, who served as Archbishop of Wales from 2000-2002. "I think that all would agree that he was one of the most entirely loveable of church leaders. My own debt to him for his inspiration and encouragement is enormous, and my thoughts are very much with Meriel and the family."

"It was with enormous sadness that I heard of Bishop Alwyn's death," said Morgan, who has been Archbishop of Wales since 2002. "He will be remembered as a deeply pastoral bishop and archbishop. People in parishes always found him warm and engaging. He devoted his entire life to the Church in Wales and when Archbishop Rowan and I became bishops at relatively young ages in the early 1990s, he was extremely encouraging of our ministries."

"He was enormously supportive of the ministry of women priests," Morgan added. "He had the courage of his convictions and after the first attempt to ordain women to the priesthood had failed he went back to the bishops a second time and ensured it was successful then. It was also during his time as Archbishop that the Church in Wales allowed divorcees to remarry in church.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Meriel, his widow, who supported him throughout his ministry and welcomed clergy and laity alike into their home wherever they lived. He also leaves a daughter Nia and two grandchildren, to whom he was devoted."

Bishop John Davies of St. Asaph described Jones as a much loved and respected, wise priest who was well known in the community.

"He will be mourned in the Diocese of St. Asaph as well as in the whole Church in Wales," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Meriel and his family at this time."

A Welsh-speaking Welshman, Jones came from Capel Curig and graduated in both Lampeter and Cambridge. He was ordained in the Bangor Diocese in 1958 and after a curacy in Llanfair-is-Gaer he served as diocesan director of education. He became vicar of Porthmadog in 1977, Dean of Brecon in 1979 and Bishop of St Asaph in 1982, aged 48. He served as Archbishop of Wales from 1991-1999.

His funeral will be held on Saturday, August 18 at 2 p.m. at St. Asaph Cathedral.

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