Douai Crest

Ignatius Rice OSB

Courtesy of the Catholic Herald - Friday, April 29, 1955

Death of Fr. Ignatius Rice OSB

That a great Benedictine headmaster should figure in Wisden as a well-known county cricketer would have been almost unthinkable when William Ignatius Rice was born in 1883. Yet,.when he died last week at the age of 72, Dom Ignatius Rice. O.S.B, M.A., left behind him the tradition of his 37 years’ headmastership of Douai School, and of the games he played for Warwickshire in the school holidays.

Handsome, distinguished and attractive in personality, a sound classical and English scholar, and an imaginative administrator, Fr. Ignatius was a friend of the Meynells, and assisted his fellow Dowegian Mgr. John. O’Connor at G. K.Chesterton's reception into the Church.

Fr. Ignatius was educated at St. Edmund’s, Douai, Oxford, and St. Anselmo, Rome. He was beginning his studies for the priesthood in 1903 when the Douai community returned to England to re-establish their Douai Abbey at. Woolhampton in Berkshire.

Ordained in 1910, he became Headmaster of the Abbey School in 1915, an office which he held until his retirement in 1952. During that time, Douai gave many of its pupils to serve with distinction and attain high standing in the Church, the professions and the services.

Personal touch
The hallmark of Fr. Ignatius’s scholastic administration was a marriage between the traditional Benedictine system of teaching and the adoption of new and progressive
methods. He laid no more than utilitarian emphasis on examination results, being far more deeply concerned with the essential quality of the education in which Douai boys were to be brought up. He attributed vital importance to personal coaching of his pupils, by members of his community and was himself always the most accessible of headmasters, willing and anxious to receive in his own room at any time any boy who wanted to see him about anything at all, full of understanding and constructive sympathy.

During his time at Douai, the school was enlarged with the addition of a new senior wing, a gymnasium, swimming baths and a theatre. In 1954 he became
Titular Prior of Gloucester.

Fr. Ignatius was a member of a number of educational and literary associations, and contributed to various reviews. In 1950 he was engaged in a lecture tour in Anierica where he spoke on contemporary English writers, especially Chesterton.