Born: Charleville, Co. Cork, Ireland, on
January 28, 1841.
Took the habit: Sicklinghall, July 8, 1859.
Vows: Glen Mary, Delganey, Co. Wicklow, April 21, 1861 (n. 543).
Priestly ordination: Autun, June 10, 1865.
Died: Leeds, December 29, 1913.
Lawrence Gubbins Roche was born in Charleville, diocese of Cloyne, Ireland, on January 28, 1841. He was related to the Gubbins family from which three priests came to the Oblates. He went to school with the Christian Brothers, arrived in Sicklinghall juniorate on October 3, 1857 and then began his novitiate in Sicklinghall on July 8, 1859. He made his oblation in Glen Mary on April 21, 1861. He studied theology in Autun from 1861 to 1865 and was ordained to the priesthood on June 10, 1865. Father Aimé Martinet judged him rather severely. In 1862 he noted that Lawrence was “inclined to be angry”, “stammers”, “has shallow judgement” and was “serious, rarely smiling”. Before his ordination his superior again gave his opinion: “A little crafty in character, somewhat coarse, thoughtless. He has sufficient self-control when annoyed and is properly respectful. Intelligent enough. He has on occasion put on a display of pretentiousness that indicates rather a fault of manners rather than pride. Very ordinary ability, sufficient knowledge. Piety is good, Aptitudes not promising. Appearance passable.
Father Roche distinguished himself as a pastor and administrator. He spent his life in two Oblate parishes: Mount Saint Mary’s, Leeds, from 1865-1867 and 1890-1913, and Holy Cross, Liverpool (1867-1890). He was superior in Leeds from 1890 to 1904 and superior in Liverpool from 1876 to 1883 and again from 1887 to 1890. He was Provincial treasurer for many years. He was spiritual adviser to Bishop Gordon of Leeds.
In Liverpool he contributed to the building of the chancel and high altar of Holy Cross church. In Leeds he built the infant school, a memorial to his predecessor, Father Pinet. He established the Children of Mary in Leeds and they honoured his memory with an altar dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes in Mount Saint Mary’s church.
While stationed in Liverpool he contracted and survived cholera. An anonymous Oblate has written: “I always remember with gratitude and respect how Father Roche acted towards me when I was sent in April 1883 to take Father Madden’s place in Holy Cross, Liverpool. Father Roche was then superior in Holy Cross. Father Madden had just died of fever… Father Roche did not allow me to sleep in our house for a long time… And whenever any dangerous sick call came from my district, Father Roche attended it himself. He knew I was having my first experience of parish work, and no doubt there was a real need of caution too, both within the house and without” (Missionary Record 15 (1914) p. 96).
Father Roche met with a serious accident on Saturday night, November 12, 1892. “While hearing confessions at Mount Saint Mary’s, his box became filled with sulphurous gas from the heating apparatus connected with the church. He became unconscious, and were it not for an alarm given not a moment too soon, he would have been suffocated. He was lifted from the confessional with much difficulty and remained unconscious for several hours. A similar accident had once happened to Father Pinet.” (Missionary Record, 1892, p. 431). He was too ill to be present at Father Pinet’s funeral, which occurred that same month.
For four years before his death, he was an invalid in Leeds and for his last two years he was unable to say Mass. He died in Leeds on December 29, 1913. The Bishop of Leeds sang the high Mass of requiem on January 2, 1914. Father Roche was buried in the Oblate cemetery in Sicklinghall.
Sources and Bibliography
G. A.: 12 dossiers: oblation formula and
about 300 letters to members of the General administration.
Missions OMI, 1865-1914, passim.
“R.P. Laurent Roche”, in Missions OMI, 52 (1914), pp. 267-273.
Missionary Record 1893-1914, passim.
“Father Roche”, in Missionary Record 1914, pp. 94-96.
Murray, Daniel, “The Story of Holy Cross, Centenary 1849-1949, 1949.
O’Donovan, Richard, o.m.i., Leeds Mission 1851-1989, pp.103-104.