Cambridge students and worshippers at Westminster Cathedral are among the many who are mourning the death of Mgr Mark Langham.
Mgr Langham, a former Chaplain of Fisher House, the Catholic Chaplaincy at the University of Cambridge, and former administrator of the cathedral, entered hospice care earlier this month.
Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols said: “Since last March last year 18 priests of this diocese have died. The latest sad death is that of Mgr Mark Langham. Each of these priests contributed mightily to the work of the Church, as did Mgr Mark. We pray for them all, and today we pray especially for Mgr Mark. May they rest in peace and rise in glory.”
Five priests from the Westminster diocese in their 90s have died since March, eight in their 80s, four in their 70s and Mgr Langham, in his 60s.
A prolific writer and alumnus of Magdalene College, Cambridge, Mgr Langham also contributed to The Tablet.
Melanie McDonagh, in this week's Tablet, writes of the “outpouring since of prayer and affection” since the seriousness of his illness became apparent. “Friends got in touch with friends to let them know; students organised rosary rotas; people who knew him at various points in his life surfaced to share their bewildered concern. Having known him since we were undergraduates at Cambridge, my own sensation was one of utter vexation with God for striking down with illness someone who brought so much to the world.”
Westminster Cathedral said last week that he was “very ill”, had stepped down from his role as chaplain to Cambridge university was in a hospice receiving palliative care.
James Morgan, of Peterbourough, said: “I met Monsignor Langham on many occasions when he was based at the Cathedral. He was always friendly and approachable, with a smile on his face.”
Lerone Rose described him as a blessing to the Cathedral. “He knew everything about our beloved church and knew everyone on a very personal level. No matter what he was always smiling and a pleasure to speak to.”
Shortly before he died, Mgr Langham asked for “no fuss, or messages” and said in a letter to the community at Fisher House that he was sustained by their love and prayers.
He thanked Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge for their “wonderful treatment that has enabled me lead a full and active ministry among you”.
He went on: “Over the Christmas season, however, the cancer has returned in a form resistant to chemotherapy, and I have been told to prepare for the end – specifically, moving from major medical intervention to a new phrase where I can be made comfortable and pain-free. Accordingly, I shall be moving shortly to a hospice where I can be cared for.
“I have had a wonderful and varied ministry and priesthood, and undertaken extraordinary tasks, but none has thrilled me and delighted me like the chaplaincy at Fisher House. The opportunity to encounter and influence the finest young people, to be fired by your enthusiasm and holiness, and to build the wider community, has given me great hope for the future of the Church and of our society. Thank you for this wonderful experience.
“You will appreciate that this is a period where I need to rest and be at peace – therefore I would ask for no fuss, or messages. I am a firm believer in the communion of saints, and it is your love and prayers that will sustain me most at this time.”