Fr Toby Lees OP
You can read Fr. Toby’s Letters by clicking below:
Fr Toby Lees’s Word For Today can be heard as a podcast on the Radio Maria England podcast page.
Fr Toby also leads in the programme, Questions of Faith. The latest episode can ber heard below.
Get to Know Our Priest Director, Fr Toby Lees OP
Why is your Faith important to you?
Faith isn’t just important to me, it’s the context for my whole life. Everything that I do either makes sense according to what I profess to believe or it doesn’t. You might call faith the canvass of my life which I seek to paint with charity. The only drawback in this analogy is that I’m not very good at art!
We’re more fortunate, than we sometimes realise, as Christians, that in a world with so much confusion, we have a coherent worldview in which to make sense of everything that happens to us: the good and the bad, the joyful and the suffering, the easy and the hard. The cruciform pattern of the life of Christ is the pattern for our lives.
Was there a period in your life when Faith became particularly important?
Around the time of my GCSEs at Stonyhurst College, an Anglican classmate, John, suggested that we were beyond the stage when starting to revise was going to do us any good, and suggested that we go to daily Mass. This had never occurred to me before, even though I enjoyed Sunday Mass, perhaps, because the daily Mass clashed with Neighbours (I was a massive fan as a kid, it’s my heritage I’m half-Australian). Anyway for 2 weeks I went, and, much to my surprise, I found great peace, plus the exams went really well. At the beginning of Lower Sixth, I didn’t initially keep up the practice, I think in my head I had thought, ‘Thanks, God, for help with the exams, but I don’t have any for a while, so no need for daily Mass anymore!’ But, even more to my surprise, I found I really missed it. I started going every day for my final two years. It was a practice I took up again when I was a lawyer in the City, going to the 1.05pm Mass each at St Mary Moorfields. I don’t always find prayer easy, but the Mass is the greatest prayer, and I’ve been blessed with a love for it.
Another significant moment was World Youth Day in Australia in 2008. It was life-changing, and I hadn’t expected it to be. Again, it was a friend, Shola, who made me go, which shows how important friendship is in the life of faith. I had gone out there an ambitious lawyer, keen to progress to Partner at work. I came back and without having explicitly thought about it, all the drive was gone, I was now restless and looking for something else that would fulfil. That was the beginning of the road into the Dominicans.
How did you come to work for Radio Maria?
Fr Sam and Helena came to visit the Rosary Shrine where I live to promote the Station and to look into the possibility of a London studio. Helena then got in touch to ask me to do a faith and culture program with her, it all snowballed from there . . . I’m not good at saying ‘no’!
As Radio Maria England continues to develop, what do you especially hope to see?
I mentioned, earlier, the good and the bad times, the joyful and the suffering, the easy and the hard; I want Radio Maria to be the soundtrack in all those moments that brings God’s mercy and the maternal care of Mary into them. I want our existing listeners to be able to recommend programs with real enthusiasm for their friends to listen to, both the Churched and un-Churched. And, I hope that tentative listeners now might be some of our volunteers of the future.