Canon Charles Stanley was born in Birmingham on 6 August 1933 and died at Northcote Lodge Care Home, Aberdeen, aged 84, on 21 July 2018.
Charles’ father died when he was very young, his mother later remarrying, and he was brought up mainly in Southport, Lancashire. He was educated at Thornleigh Salesian College in Bolton. It was during National Service in the RAF in the 1950s that he discovered the north of Scotland. Convinced of a call to the priesthood, he applied to the Diocese of Aberdeen, studied at St Andrew’s College, Drygrange and was ordained by Bishop Francis Walsh, in his home parish of Southport, on 2 April 1960.
He would become a priest with a difference, known for his long hair and ponytail, his motorbikes and scooters, and for a serious expertise as a “radio ham”. But he was certainly no textbook “trendy”. He served in a variety of parishes throughout an extensive diocese: Aberdeen, Portsoy, Dornie, Braemar and Ballater, Dufftown. From 1986 he was back in Aberdeen and in 2005 moved to Nazareth House and subsequently to Northcote Lodge. He had been made an Honorary Canon of the Cathedral Chapter in January 2000. It was his wide experience of the diocese and eye for detail that led him to drawing up the parish boundaries with a precision hitherto lacking. At different times he assumed a variety of diocesan and national roles, as Chancellor, Press Officer, Master of Ceremonies, as diocesan representative on the Scottish National Communications Committee and on the National Liturgy Commission. Liturgy, indeed, was at the heart of his priesthood. He studied the books of the post-Conciliar Liturgy closely, knew their contents thoroughly and unfolded their riches and practical aspects to many. He trained altar servers, guided lectors, initiated Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. He wrote pamphlets and gave lectures. He produced the Calendar of Diocesan Saints, approved by the Holy See and still in use in the Diocese of Aberdeen. It was said that when he was responsible for the national Ordo, it was free of all mistakes! Even in the weakness of old age, he could be roused to animation on liturgical topics, and celebrated the Liturgy with style and dignity for as long as he could. Depression sometimes mastered him and he was something of a loner, but his heart was always in his priesthood and he inspired much affection.
Bishop Hugh, with many clergy and a good number of the faithful, celebrated his Requiem in St Mary’s Cathedral on Friday 27 July. He was buried later the same day at St Ninian’s Cemetery, Tynet.