The sad news of the death of Daphne McLeod [left] has just arrived in my inbox, emailed by a mutual friend who has written to say that she first went into hospital about a month ago. Then, yesterday morning she had “taken a turn for the worse” and passed away yesterday evening, Sunday 3rd January, at about 7 p.m. I’m not sure of Daphne’s exact age but she was somewhere in her nineties.
Daphne was one of the first people to realise the damage being done to Catholic education, following Vatican II. She had been the Head of an infants’ school and was possessed of a strong Catholic sense, which included realising the importance of sound teaching in the Faith.
After she retired, Daphne worked voluntarily in her parish, schooling the Confirmation class. Once, on a visit to her home for a few days’ holiday, I had the pleasure of attending one of her lessons after Sunday Mass. Having been trained in the days before the insistence on the importance of “modern methods” of teaching, I was astonished to see the way in which Daphne wove every imaginable technique into that one lesson; as they indulged in some juice and biscuits, the pupils listened closely to her suitably short introductory talk, volunteered to read a parable, dramatized it (working together as a group), were set to do a related drawing, discussed the meaning of said parable and engaged in a lively Question and Answer session, so that Daphne could gauge their learning. It was a classic A1 performance by any standards. She’d have flown through any Ofsted Inspection.
Daphne was so convinced of the dangers posed to Catholic families by the modernist books being used in religion lessons post Vatican II that she set about studying the diocesan approved textbooks and then alerted bishops, priests, parents and teachers to the dangerous content. To this end, Daphne worked through an organisation called Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For Church and Pope), in time taking a leading position (Chairman) within the group. In this way, Daphne was able to organise meetings and larger conferences in and around London, as well as accepting invitations to address audiences elsewhere – happily including a Catholic Truth audience in Glasgow!
As well as being a first class teacher-model, a true Catholic educationalist, Daphne was a good personal friend, as I know myself; when I was fighting modernism in my own neck of the educational woods, Daphne offered sound advice and proved to be a kind and faithful friend. It’s a while since we spoke on the phone now, but I feel a real sense of loss, as will everyone who knew Daphne, I have no doubt. May she rest in peace.