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.

Monday, 19 May 2014

The Funeral Mass for Fr Mark Elvins

This morning I attended the Funeral Mass for Fr Mark Elvins, O.F.M. (Cap) which was held at Oxford Greyfriars. I wrote about him the other week in my post Fr Mark Elvins R.I.P.

Not surprisngly there was a large congregation drawn from his family, friends, from other religious communities including the Conventual Franciscans who have found a new home nearby in East Oxford, academic friends from his time as the last Warden of Greyfriars PPH in the University, members of the Order of Malta and of the Constantinian Order of St George - of both of which Fr Mark was a member - and parishioners from the surrounding area.  Alongside the Capuchin community the concelebrants included diocesan clergy from the dioceses of Birmingham and Arundel and Brighton, from the Dominicans and the Oratorians in Oxford and from the Ordinariate. The principal celebrant Fr Paul Coleman O.F.M.(Cap) drew attention to this range of contacts in his homily which pointed to the range of Fr Mark's interests and he spoke particularly of his concern for the poor, and especially for the homeless, and for Palestinian Christians.

After the Mass and commendation Fr Mark's body was taken from the church and will be buried tomorrow at the Capuchin house at Pantasaph in Flintshire.

The generous reception afterwards in the very attractive garden at Greyfriars - part of the priory I had not visited before - was an opportunity to meet up with old friends and meet new people. Although a funeral is bound to be an occasion of mourning - and many of us will indeed miss Fr Mark very much - it had a proper sense of thanksgiving for a life well lived, a true pilgrimage in Faith. To that extent it was enjoyable to be there, and one of those funerals at which one sensed the person for whose soul we were praying would have enjoyed seeing his old friends gathered together.

May he rest in peace.

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