Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Boreham on Breaking Down Suspicion

Living Amid Prejudice
It is easy to develop unfair perceptions and unrealistic suspicions of people of other denominations, faiths and attitudes. This is a story of the way F W Boreham developed an appreciation for Roman Catholics at a time when there was great antipathy between Protestants and Catholics. He lived in NZ and Australia in a period when many of his ministerial colleagues gave lectures and wrote tracts about those people who were different and were to be avoided and opposed!

Broken Limb
When he finished school, Frank Boreham worked as a clerk in a Brick Company near Tunbridge Wells and here his absent mindedness [see earlier posting-Boreham on Cultivating Absent-Mindedness, 7 February 2006] cost him dearly. It was his job to record the carriages of bricks before the trains pulled away. One Saturday, Frank stood in front of a lever and as the engine drew across the points, the rails flung the lever forward and hurled Frank under the wheels of the train. The wonder was not that he was so badly smashed but that he was lifted out alive. He lost his right leg from his knee down and he had all sorts of complications as he lay in hospital for the next five months.

Broken Heart
Throughout his life Boreham walked with a limp. He broke that leg three times and it gave him enormous pain. But something happened in that hospital that changed him for life. Boreham fell in love with a nurse. What complicated things was that she was a full blooded Catholic and he was a young convinced Protestant. What made it even more difficult was that he was only 14 and she was over 40!! But he said, "To my dying day I shall never forget the face that in hours of anguish and delirium seemed to me like the face of an angel. We both cried when we said goodbye to each other and whenever I been tempted to a too vigorous criticism of Roman Catholicism I have been confronted by the imperishable memory of Sister Kathleen. She would have thought it heaven to lay down her life for her Church- or her patients.

Ecumenical Spirit
It is interesting to see as an outcome of this experience that one of the hallmarks of Boreham's ministry was his ecumenical spirit. He preached in many denominations in Melbourne and in his retirement, Scots Church was the place Dr. Boreham served as lunch hour preacher for 18 years until the age of 84! He often wrote of his debt to Catholics- friends, the saints and hymn writers.

Lesson in the Limp
Like Jacob, every step he took would have reminded F W Boreham of the day he lost his leg and the love and lessons he learned from Sister Kathleen about breaking down prejudice.

Geoff Pound

F W Boreham, The Silver Shadow, 234
F W Boreham, Nest of Spears, 146f

Photo: F W Boreham with colleagues in Mosgiel, NZ. FWB is the one on the right.