Image of the Liverpool Cathedral

Rt Revd Dr Rupert Hoare

Oration

Presented by: Professor Frank Sanderson

Honorable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting The Right Reverend Dr Rupert Hoare for the award of an Honorary Fellowship of Liverpool John Moores University.  

The Rt Revd Rupert Hoare was appointed Dean of Liverpool in 2000 and served with distinction until his retirement earlier this year.  

Rupert was born in 1940 in Sussex, descended from Sir Richard Hoare who founded Hoare's Bank in the 17th century, and from a long line of bishops and archbishops on his mother's side - Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple was his great uncle. Rupert first attended the Dragon School in Oxford where he has fond memories of ice-skating on the marshes in the cold winters of the late 1940s. Next came Rugby School where his great grandfather had been headmaster a 100 years before.

He represented the school at athletics but for the most part, he recalls his academic record at Rugby being no better than average. However, motivated by a strong vocation to the church, he progressed to Trinity College Cambridge to read Theology. During his undergraduate studies, he attended a Christian conference in Lausanne where he met his future wife, Gesine, whose family came from East Germany. 

By a strange coincidence, the conference was chaired by Edward Patey, who became Dean of Liverpool in 1964, and in whose footsteps Rupert would follow almost 4 decades later. After graduating with First Class Honours in 1961, he spent a year in Berlin just after the completion of the Berlin Wall at the Kirchliche Hochschule on a scholarship from Coventry Cathedral, after which he returned to Cambridge to continue his studies at Wescott House Theological College. In 1964, he achieved a first-class honours degree in Part III of the Cambridge Tripos. Subsequently he studied part time for a PhD on the relationship between theology and psychiatry, completing his thesis in 1973.

Rupert became a Deacon in 1964 and a Curate the following year at St Mary Oldham in the Manchester Diocese. His academic leanings led him to take up a post at Queen's College Birmingham in 1968 where he lectured for the next 5 years. During this period, he became an Honorary Canon Theologian of Coventry Cathedral.

In 1972, he was back in Manchester as Rector of the Parish of the Resurrection, returning six years later to Birmingham as Canon Residentiary of Birmingham Cathedral. In 1981, he was appointed Principal of Westcott House, Cambridge, and from 1993, he was Area Bishop of Dudley in the Diocese of Worcester before becoming Dean of Liverpool in 2000.  

Rupert has always been and remains a strong family man: he has been married to Gesine for 42 years, and they had 4 children and 8 grandchildren. A determined ecumenist in the tradition of William Temple, Rupert has developed a strong interest in inter-faith commitment, academic theology and ethics. He has taken a leading role in promoting inter-faith understanding through his chairing of the Merseyside Council of Faiths. He strongly believes in the value of integration, and recently he hosted an inter-faith event at the cathedral where he recited from the Koran as part of a celebration for Islam Awareness Week. The purpose was to stress that the cathedral is not only a place of Christian worship but also an amenity which can draw the whole of the community together. 

Rupert is also a co-moderator of the Anglican Lutheran Society - and in view of his wife's Lutheran background, this role has perhaps made a significant contribution to marital harmony‚Ķ. 

His life-long work in large cities has given him a keen interest in urban regeneration, exemplified in recent years by his leadership role in the Liverpool Partnership Group. And not surprisingly, given his family connections with Germany, he has a special interest in the future of Europe. And now in his retirement, he has indicated his intention to learn Arabic.  

Since his arrival in Liverpool in 1999, there have been major developments at the cathedral: 

  • The sale of Dillistone and Patey Court, which will remain as student residences 
  • The re-purchase of Redmond House to accommodate cathedral and diocesan administrative staff
  • The completion of the Welfare Block and Visitor's Centre to the same high standards as the cathedral itself - and we all can see the benefits today
  • And the development of a 30-strong Girl's Choir alongside the Boy's Choir

In keeping with his natural modesty, Rupert describes these achievements as 'very much a team effort'. Whilst this is obviously true in one sense, it is also true that his vision, persistence and leadership have been crucial to the realisation of each of these projects. Alongside this, he has consistently and quietly worked in the broader community, promoting urban regeneration and inter-faith understanding and respect. He has certainly left the cathedral and the City in a better state than he found them and he can claim no small credit for this.  

We also deeply appreciate Rupert's steadfast support for our university throughout his tenure.  

It is therefore with great pleasure that I present the Right Reverend Dr Rupert Hoare, this most distinguished person and adopted son of our region for the award of our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.