Who are you looking for?

A book on the Life and the Spirituality of Brother Michael

After a friendship spanning 60 years, and after studying Brother Michael's diaries, prayer cards and other material, John Wolff has written this book as an introduction to the life and spirituality of Brother Michael.

It is available to buy here and the author wishes that all profits from sales of this book will be distributed to causes connected with Michael Strode.

Front Cover of John Wolff's book about Brother Michael Strode. Called "Who are you looking for?" And showing the stained glass from the Chapel at Hosanna House. It shows the Risen Christ in the centre.

Back cover:

'Who are you looking for?'  These words from John's Gospel were central to HCPT founder Brother Michael Strode's faith. His search for truth helped him realise that if God is Love, then to find God means to bring His Love to others.  Brother Michael's life was one of prayer and service even before he entered the Cistercian community on Caldey Island at the age of 68, and this book encapsulates his lifelong journey toward God. It details his ground-breaking work for children with disabilities at Chailey Heritage that in 1956 led him to found the charity HCPT, which continues to take thousands of pilgrims to Lourdes each year. The book accounts for how he became a leading light in promoting the inclusion of all those living with disabilities into mainstream society.  Inspiring and insightful, and capturing Michael's wit, John Wolff's biography opens up Michael's own writings, and explores his very considered relationship with God. It makes Michael and his incredible work accessible to those who didn't know him, and helps those who did know him understand his life and work even better.  John Wolff is a past Group Leader and Trustee of HCPT. He was a friend of Michael's for 60 years and spent many hours in conversation with Michael on Caldey, as well as studying his diaries, prayer cards and other writings.  The author has agreed that all profits from sales of this book will be distributed to causes connected with Michael Strode.  Price	£15.00

Getting hold of a copy via a 'Hub'

To enable those who are close to where we have a 'hub' located to save the postage cost, when purchasing the book, so far we have hubs that stock them at these locations:-

Book Hub Email Addresses

We will add further hubs as and when we have volunteers to host them in the British Isles

and internationally. Please contact secretary@brothermichaelstrode.org if you are willing to

assist us in this way.


"I believe Michael has left us many gems within these pages.

Some lie on the surface.

Others need a little digging for.

My prayer is that readers find them."

John Wolff, Author

Michael Strode’s life and vocation is a remarkable story. 

Be assured that every Bishop in England and Wales will be following 

the journey of his Cause with great attention and prayer. 

David Oakley, Bishop of Northampton

Flyer for the book



"Your book arrived on Saturday and although I have other reading matter on the go, I immediately had a quick look: well the quick look led me to reading it there and then!. As it turned out what a great read ( especially for Pentecost). Congratulations, it is not just that the life of Brother Michael is inspiring, the way you have presented it and your style would also seem to be inspired. . I’m left asking why you haven’t written more.  Perhaps like Korngold and Humperdinck who  had one great opera in them, yours was this one work. One has read too many boring biographies especially Saints  but you have brought not only his life to light but his humanity . Of Course, Michael  and his philosophy of life is centre stage but it is quite a responsibility to make it known to the wider world in such a readable fashion. “ Cometh the moment , Cometh the man”  and I think Brother Michael would have been really “Chuffed” with what you have written."

Robert Wilkinson, Chairman of the Beaumont Union

"Your book - Michael’s book - arrived yesterday and I am half way through it!

But I can’t wait to get to the end of it before writing to you, it is so moving and so captivating.

Your skill in putting together all the facts and quotes and events into something as smooth as red currant jelly but as striking as the peel of a bell is more than remarkable and the quiet cumulative effect on anyone who reads it which your approach engenders is irresistible!

Michael - and, as he would have wished - God, Our Lady, Lourdes, HCPT, Caldey have found the quiet, ineluctable  advocacy  they need. It is overwhelming.

John : thank you so much for undertaking the massive task not just of collecting all this ( with such love and fidelity) but of marshalling it so subtly! And congratulations - it is masterly!!"

Patrick Burgess, Member of CBMC 

"How deeply moved I am reading it. This book is such a gift to us all. [The author’s] work has brought me such joy and hope in a way in which I suppose only Brother Michael could. I can hear his voice as I read the book."

  Siobhán Kelly, Former Trustee of HCPT 

Universe July 2023 Review RK.pdf

Richard King KSG, Chair of CBMC 

Published by the Independent Catholic News Network, Jul 17th, 2023


The subtitle of this book is 'An introduction to the life and spirituality of Brother Michael Strode.' It is an unabashedly Christian biography, in times when humble holy lives do not make headline news.

Its author knew Michael Strode (1923-2019) for over 60 years and has based his book on many conversations they had over the years, his subject's diaries and notebooks and the tributes paid to Strode after his death. Its title, recognisable to those who know their New Testament, refers to Our Lord's words after his resurrection to Mary Magdalene in St John's Gospel. At the time he read them Strode, who had become an agnostic, was in his final year of medical school. He relates, "suddenly I felt this story had to be true." He followed his mother into the Catholic Church in 1945, aged 22.

The whole of Strode's life as a doctor was subsequently spent at Chailey Heritage School and Hospital for children with physical disabilities. Many of these patients were polio and thalidomide victims or had cerebral palsy or spina bifida. Strode was dedicated to his profession. His biographer writes that he brought "qualities of gentleness, patience and unselfishness" to his work and these characteristics were noticed by all who knew him, children and staff alike. He never patronised his patients and had an innate respect for each person he was treating. Of course, this should be standard practice in a doctor-patient relationship, whether child or adult, but it is not always the case.

Michael Strode had already visited the French Catholic shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes in 1951 and 1952 and wanted children from Chailey to experience a week of fun and faith there too. He conceived the idea of what became known as the Handicapped Children's Pilgrimage Trust. This name was later modified to: Hosanna House and Children's Pilgrimage Trust when the word 'handicapped' stopped being common usage. The first group was taken in 1956. It was ecumenical and non-denominational and the children stayed in a hotel rather than a hospital, going to cafes and on day trips so as to have as normal an experience as possible.

Strode was firmly against the kind of "helpless pity" often shown by people towards disabled people; he knew his charges longed to be treated simply like everyone else. As the HCPT grew, the children were organised into groups of about 20: 10 children and 10 helpers, including a group leader a chaplain and a qualified nurse. Today, the HCPT is a charity with its roots in the Catholic faith but is open to all. Volunteers and beneficiaries come from all walks of life and from all faiths and none. HCPT is still led by lay people, numbers about 5000 pilgrims at Eastertime; and the features of the early pilgrimages remain.

Lourdes is sometimes associated with sensational miracles. These have occurred and are thoroughly investigated and well-documented - but they are extraordinarily rare. As Strode observed, there is a more common kind of miracle: "The love that can grow so quickly and so strongly within a group - a miracle of love." John Wolff, his biographer, comments that participants, "gain real sympathy for others, and the grace to accept the difficulties and frustrations of their own disabilities." This, as we know from our own circumstances, can have a wider application.

Strode retired from Chailey Heritage Hospital in 1988, aged 65, after 35 years of devoted service. He had also spent 33 active and tireless years with the HCPT as 'Doctor Michael.' But unlike those who look forward to retirement from work as an opportunity to travel or play golf, he felt overwhelmingly drawn to the religious life. This would not have been a surprise to those who knew him well and were aware of his deep prayer life, generally concealed behind his gentle, dedicated medical persona.

In 1991 he spent three weeks living with the Cistercian community of monks on Caldey Island, a short boat ride from Tenby in Wales. Aged 68 he chose to join them - so his next 28 years were spent as a contemplative oblate: 'Brother Michael.' Perhaps this is not as unusual as it sounds; I have read of several doctors who eventually became priests or joined religious orders. Possibly, the service of the physically sick evolves for a few into a more general service on behalf of the "soul of the world"?

Many people might think that to live as a monk in a monastery on an island is an extreme form of escape from the rigours of life. But monks have their own struggles, as we all do. Brother Michael made promises of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability when he joined Caldey Abbey and participated in daily communal prayer, private study, manual work, eating a vegetarian diet and observing silence between 7am-7pm. His particular job - apart from helping in the kitchens and the laundry - was attending to the medical needs of the community.

Wolff quotes many extracts from Brother Michael's diaries and from prayer cards the latter printed and distributed to his wide circle of friends. He struggled with selfishness and sloth, humbly revealing his "weaknesses and failures, the challenges and temptations of daily life." As a saintly man, he "set himself very high standards" and was more aware of his faults than most. His prayer cards constantly remind their readers of "our need for Christ"; this was the core of Brother Michael's teaching. He would write, "It is because God has loved us that we are able to love others", and "without God, we are totally incapable of loving."

Wolff concludes his biography by reminding readers that his old friend's life and example "shows us that we can influence others by the way we lead our lives more than through any worldly achievements." As a young man Strode had been influenced by his own mother's life of faith-filled loving service to her family. Readers who feel helpless to right the many self-evident wrongs of the world may be encouraged by coming to know one quiet, humorous, unassuming individual whose life has influenced many people for good.

Francis Phillips, former book reviewer for the Catholic Herald  

A selection of responses to the book

Such a good book on Br.Michael Strode - a saintly man of our time. The book is helpful and inspiring. I do not read it. I pray it.

Sr. Lydia. African Foundress of a contemplative order in Zimbabwe.

For me the book has the impact of leaving me feeling transformed - informed as well, but mostly transformed. Somehow it imprints Michael’s spirit in a real and living way.

Michelle Jones. Consecrated Solitary Australia.

I have had my nose stuck in your book and can't put it down. On a deeply personal level, it spoke volumes to me. I feel humbled by it. 

It has brought something very important to the surface for me.

A Friend, who knew little about Michael or HCPT.

What an inspiration Br.Michael was and is. 

Its such an easy and enlightening read. 

A message for us all.

Non Catholic friend.

I think it is a marvellous work. 

Many congratulations on having completed it through to publication. 

It is a great achievement and on behalf of the Strode family I am deeply grateful.

Peter Strode, Michael’s brother.

Through your writing I feel I have learnt something of his spirituality - you have certainly captured  the spirit of Lourdes. I am grateful for you for trying to explain it.

Regular with another pilgrimage.

A delightful book, so beautiful, so full of insight, so full of faith and hope, and charity and friendship. So full of inspiration.  Read it, reread it, pray it, 

for it is a book full of prayer, absorb it, try to live it.

Fr Jan Rossey. Superior Caldey Island Cistercian Community.

Accessible to someone who never knew Br. Michael, and with plenty of deeper insight to those who did.

Professional Book Editor

Gives a deep insight into the life and faith journey of Br. Michael. His simple and profound spirituality hinges on recognising our need for Christ. The centrality of prayer, service, and celebration of the sacraments sustained him and will sustain us.

Parish priest.

It is a good book. One unexpected spin off - I was always looking for prayers to Jesus. 

I know now where to look.

Friend, lapsed for many years.

One has read too many boring lives of saints, but you have brought out not only his life and light but his humanity.

A Friend.

Your book is a triumph in my view. It is I feel a product of the friendship yourself and Michael shared, which has made you an ideal person to portray his spiritulity and essential goodness. Having that in print will allow so many who did not know him personally, to know and appreciate him for what he was.

HCPT Group Leader

Your wonderful book is very inspiring and in this stage of my life aged 91 - 

very helpful in getting ready, come what may.

USA reader.

Yours is the sort of book that ought to be boring, but it isn't.

Reluctant  reader.

Readers who feel helpless to right the many self evident wrongs of the world may be encouraged by coming to know a quiet, humorous, unassuming individual whose life has influenced for good many people.

Francis Philips Independent Catholic News.

A reminder that “God knows what is best for us,” an expression he often used (page 214), has been helpful to me as I have  to come to terms with the illnesses of old age.

Retired parish priest.

I love the title, such insightful words, and full of meaning.

Secular Carmelite reader.

It must be rare that a biography so completely captures the spirit  and spirituality of its subject. The author has achieved something remarkable in 272 pages that delve into the innermost thoughts of a man who was too humble and self effacing to want his life to be written. Using his own writings and interviews, the book explores his spiritual life, his doubts, his self professed shortcomings and his intuition.

Richard King in the Universe.