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News > Archives & History > Agape, 65 years ago

Agape, 65 years ago

Sixty-five years ago, in 1955, much loved Father Leslie Irving (aka Agape), school chaplain, teacher and a friend returned to his home country, England, after teaching at Bishops for 14 years.

Those whom he left behind were left with a heavy heart. He came to Bishops as the appointed school chaplain in 1936 and in 1943 he was appointed as the Housemaster of Gray House under Mr H J Kidd at the same time that he was appointed the Principal. Father Irving will be remembered by those who were at school at the time, for many things, but above all for his work in establishing the Night School, ‘for Native pupils’. He conducted the management of this school himself. Mrs Irving taught dancing to her classes and knew the boys well and she loved having the boys to tea in their home, providing home-made scones and cakes. According to those who knew him, Father Irving had a special gift for ‘understanding a boy and a boy’s problems; and the ability, despite his quietness and apparent gentleness to win their whole-hearted confidence and respect.’ Father Irving was known as ‘Agape’ and perhaps those who will still remember him and who read this article could say why he was given this name — was it because of the first-ever sermon he delivered when he first arrived at Bishops, referring to I Corinthians Chapter 13, which speaks of God’s love (in Greek, agape)? At the time of departure, a poem was specially composed by P Gregorowski, to commemorate the departure of a great friend and school teacher, but it is too long to reproduce here. This is the final stanza:


“Not again will you walk along this colonnade, 

Sequestered with coolness and shadow;

Not again intone the service from the altar

Or pronounce the final blessing;

You will pass, like Spring from the earth, and these buildings

shall see you no more.

But we who have known you, and know your greatness,

Can never forget.

And you shall remain in your hearts,

Praised, unforgotten, forever.”


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