Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Fr Mark Elvins R.I.P

I was very saddened, although not surprised, to hear this morning of the death of Fr Mark Elvins, OFM. He has been ill for the last year and more, but, even though one knows that a person's death ios fairly imminent there is always asense of surprise when one hears the news.  There is an online biography of him here.

Brought up in Canterbury and Lincoln he studied at St Stephen's House in Oxford and became an Anglican deacon, only to develop what he described as"Roman fever"; sent by his Bishop on a sabbatical to be talked out of it he read in the works of Newman arguments he found unaswerable and was received on Christmas Eve 1968 into the Catholic Church. 

After study at the Beda he was ordained for the diocese of Arundel and Brighton, serving at Arundel itself, including being Chantry Priest to the Duke of Norfolk. He was subsequently at St Mary Magdalene Brighton (Fr Blake's post about his death can be seen here )- where he establishe dthe parish's 365 days a year soup run to the homeless. After being priest at Henfield he entered the Capuchins, being professed in 1999. He served the Order in Preston before returning to Oxford as head of Greyfriars. His Franciscan habit topped by a matching brown beret was a distinctive feature on the Oxford Catholic scene.

I first met him at a Lent Quiet Day he conducted at the Oxford Oratory, and then when he initiated the revival of the Oxford University Heraldry Society. I also got to know him further in the attempt to establish St Bede's Hall as a successor to Greyfriras Hall - an institution he had sought to maintain against the plans of others - and through the Franciscan Studies Centre's lectures here in Oxford.

A man of great charm and good humour, erudite and entertaining, someone with whom I occasionally met up and spent an afternoon with in the Oxford pub the Bird and Baby (the Eagle and Child to give it its proper name). It was there that I saw him last, in the summer last year. He was philosophical and calm about his cancer, which at that time was in remission. It was a convivial occasion for what turns out was our farewell.

I said the Rosary for him this afternoon and invite others to pray for the repose of his soul. May he rest in peace.  

No comments: