On the anniversary of the death of Professor John Anthony Henry

On May 8 an anniversary Mass was celebrated for the repose of the soul of John Henry, a well-known physician. A few days later a reunion of friends and acquaintances in his memory was held at Netherhall House, a nearby university residence hall directed by Opus Dei.

Shortly after his death many articles and obituaries were published in the media. The British Medical Journal noted, along with his professional prestige, the fact that he attended Mass daily. The Times added that he had helped many people overcome an addiction to drugs and that his own years of dialysis had given him empathy with the sick. Many of the reviews (in The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, etc.) pointed out his dedication as a member of Opus Dei.

John Henry was born in Greenwich, England, on March 11, 1939, the eldest of six brothers and sisters. He studied medicine at the University of London, and asked for admission as a Numerary at the age of 20. He met St. Josemaría in London in the summer of 1960. In 1969 his kidneys ceased functioning and a dialysis machine had to be installed in his room in Netherhall. On recalling those years, one of the residents said, “I always remember his good humor at the end of the sixties, as director of Netherhall House, undergoing dialysis, exhausted but tenaciously apostolic, always available to everyone. He was a joy to be with.” On various occasions St. Josemaría suggested that he pray for a cure. After St. Josemaría’s death, John continued praying for that intention through his intercession. In May 1976 he received a kidney transplant.

That transplant gave him 31 additional years of life. He was appointed adjunct director of the National Toxicological Service, and later professor of medicine at the University of London (St. Mary’s Hospital). He had a talent for teaching and attained great prestige as a toxicologist. He was always available to journalists, and became well known for his radio and television interviews as an expert on drugs and poisons. In April 2007 his transplanted kidney began to fail. He bore his suffering with a strong supernatural outlook and sense of humor.

Romana, n. 46, January-June 2008, p. 132-133.

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