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Mgr Charles John Klyberg RIP

With sadness we announce the death of Mgr Charles John Klyberg, known as Mgr John Klyberg, who died peacefully at his home, Balgowan House on Bartholomew Lane in Hythe, early in the morning of Thursday 16th January.

Mgr Klyberg was born in July 1931 and ordained as an Anglican priest, then bishop, before his reception as a Catholic and ordination to the priesthood in December 1996.

Sympathy is extended to his family, friends and colleagues, and to the staff and residents of Balgowan House.

Mgr Klyberg’s Funeral Mass will take place on Wednesday 29th January at 2pm at the church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Mill Road, Hythe, Kent CT21 5LS. Bishop Nicholas Hudson will preside.

Cremation will follow the Funeral Mass, at 3.30pm in Hawkinge Crematorium, Folkstone, Kent CT18 7AG.

May he rest in peace.

 

May the angels lead him into paradise;

may the martyrs come to welcome him

and take him to the holy city,

the new and eternal Jerusalem.

 

Obituary

Every Catholic priest has also been ordained to the Diaconate, thus richly blessed with two ordinations. Mgr Charles John Klyberg, known as Mgr John Klyberg, was blessed with five ordinations! He had been ordained deacon, priest and bishop as an Anglican before being received as a Catholic and becoming a Catholic priest on 16th December 1996. He was honoured with the title Monsignor by Pope Saint John Paul II in August 2000, along with Graham Leonard, former Bishop of London.

John Klyberg was the son of Captain Charles Augustine and Lilian Klyberg. He was born at Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex on 29th July 1931 and educated at Eastbourne College. He remained profoundly grateful for the education he received. National Service was with the Buffs, the Royal East Kent Regiment, based in Canterbury. John was commissioned as a second lieutenant and promoted to lieutenant in 1955 when serving in the Territorial Army. He served in Kenya during the period of the Mau Mau Rebellion in the 1950s. The traumas of this period remained with John, as they did for many who were involved in different ways, and he carried the memories with courage. When he returned home John began formation for ministry in the Church of England at Lincoln Theological College. Theological studies were complemented with pastoral visits to the local hospital and prison.

As an Anglican priest, ordained in 1960, Fr John ministered at St John’s, East Dulwich, before returning to Africa for ministry as Rector of Fort Jameson in Zambia until 1967. His next appointment was to Christ Church, Battersea as Vicar until 1977. He then returned to Africa, to serve as Dean of Holy Cross Cathedral in Lusaka, Zambia where he remained until 1985. When back in England he was ordained a bishop in 1985 and served as Bishop of Fulham until his retirement in 1996, aged 65. He did not approve of the decision of the Church of England to ordain women to the priesthood, believing that the Church of England lacked the authority for this departure from tradition. He became a Catholic and was ordained in the Private Chapel at Archbishop’s House, Westminster by Cardinal Basil Hume on 16th December 1996.

Fr John’s home was in Hythe, Kent. He made himself available to assist in the local Catholic parish, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Hythe, celebrating Mass and hearing confessions. On a visit to Italy in 1998, Fr John concelebrated Mass with the Holy Father, ‘an unforgettable privilege’, he wrote in a letter to Cardinal Hume. When given the title Monsignor in 2000 and made a Prelate of Honour, he expressed surprise at being honoured in this way, given in recognition of his dedication to Christian life in England over many years. In 2004, Mgr John made a gift of the Joost de Blank crozier to another former Anglican Priest who became a Catholic bishop. Bishop Joost de Blank was a Dutch-born British Anglican bishop who served as Archbishop of Cape Town until 1963 and who used his influence to help end the system of apartheid. The recipient thanked Mgr John for the gift, and expressed his feelings of privilege and humility, asking for prayers that he ‘might match up in some small way to such a giant of the Gospel, a fearless and faithful pastor’.

Mgr John enjoyed life as a retired priest living in Hythe, close to the sea. From his bungalow he observed shipping on the Channel with his telescope. He continued to enjoy driving, but journeys became shorter as the years advanced. He responded to requests for ministry locally. His ministry was characterised by an endearing genial robustness. His style was ‘prayer and care’. With the advancing years health issues were inevitable. In 2017 he reported that he had various difficulties including occasional falls due to loss of balance, and his walking became ‘more of a shuffle’. As a retired priest he was supported by the Diocese of Westminster, and made known his wish to remain in his home in Hythe. ‘I hope to die here’, he wrote. In July 2019 he went to live in a local nursing home due to his increased need of care. He died peacefully at the age of 88, on 16th January 2020, shortly after returning from hospital treatment in Canterbury. Many people, Anglican and Catholic, ordained and lay, will have their memories of John Klyberg, and will be grateful for their experience of God’s love through his ministry. Not everything can, or should, be recounted in a long life such as Mgr John Klyberg’s, with 60 years of ministry, and in the best of Catholic traditions we pray that he will be given a merciful judgement, that he may rest in peace.