Saturday, 3 July 2010

Mark Hartley Cistercian

  • Fr Mark Hartley (1935-23/06/2010)
  • Cistercian, Mt. St. Bernard.

By Fr. Nivard (Bamenda)

These are just a few memories of Fr Mark. He entered the noviciate just as I was leaving it. Then after two year he joined me in the Scholasticate. We worked together in the pottery for several years. Here he was very much at home as his mother was a member of a large pottery firm. I don't ever remember us having had at least a hot argument. He was peaceable by nature and very easy to live with. Like a true friend he never hesitated to correct my erring ways when necessary.

Mark was always most helpful to me especially in the liturgy and music, right up until my recent visit. His was a very positive and encouraging character. In the early days at Bamenda he sent me sermons to help me out when I was extra busy. He did a great job in helping Fr Alban in packing and sending of the crates for the foundation in Bamenda.

As Guest Master, he was very welcoming and always gave me VIP treatment on my rare visits from Bamenda. Again as manager of the Gift Shop he showed his kindness and generosity. Indeed when there was question of a new Bursar, there was fear that he might be too generous!

He did a great job in extending and stream-lining the Gift Shop. He got the design from an architect. The result is very beautiful, with plenty of light and open space. The extension is at a higher level and the central stairway is a show piece. You can see through the steps to a lower level, devoted to its own type of items. Mark had Peter , Guest helper, install the bar code system to facilitate ordering, storage and sales of items, etc.

During the Seminar on St Aelred, we happened to be side by side on the front row. He made notes and enjoyed Fr Michael Casey’s PowerPoint Presentation. But towards the end he tended to doze.

We were both members of the coach load that went to Rivaulx and onto Ampleforth for lunch and tea with the Sisters of New Stanbrook a little further on. In both places he met many friends as he was well known because of his activities as a member and one time president of the Panel of Monastic Musicians. This was his last outing before he died.

Mark had a talent for the piano. He once played the ‘Kangaroo’ song so much that his mother had to hide the piano. He began playing the organ after his simple profession and continued to improve and practice all through his life until the very end, even in his room. His mother presented the Abbey with a very fine Allen Organ on his Silver Jubilee. His Sunday Voluntaries were very well done. Br William of Bamenda once sang ‘The Lord’s my Shepherd’ at an Ordination Mass in Mount St Bernard and Mark played the organ. William said that Mark was the best accompanist he ever had. Mark had a good voice and was one of the cantors. He conducted the weekly singing practice for quite a while.

Fr Mark has fought the good fight and run the course. I am sure he will receive the warmest of welcomes from our Heavenly Father and brethren and relatives who have gone before him. May he rest in Peace.

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After Funeral (Fri. 2nd July)

Peter, (well known to Fr. Mark), writes:

“Today we buried our good friend Mark at Mt St Bernard Abbey. The Abbot asked me to be an Usher at the funeral – which neatly kept me busy. There were in excess of 320 people there. At the end a bus load of Nigerians turned up and turned the period after the Service and burial into a great party. For the monastery this was utterly unusual, but Mark had been good to them too, and they showed their appreciation. They also sang the Offertory hymn: I am the bread of life. this was quite rousing, given that it was played with drums and other African instruments and great voice from their number. The Abbot invited everyone present for lunch. ...

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