Thursday, July 15, 2021

Requiem for Fr Anthony Conlon

As a priest, the catafalque (coffin stand with pall, representing the body)
has a chalice and paten, and biretta, on it.

Yesterday evening the Latin Mass Society arranged a High Mass of Requiem for our former National Chaplain, Fr Anthony Conlon (14th July 1947-19th April 2020). It took place in the church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory in Warwick Street. It was celebrated by the Parish Priest Fr Mark Elliot Smith assisted by Fr Stephen Morrison O.Praem and Fr Rupert McHardy Cong Orat, accompanied by Cantores Missae under Charles Finch. Arranged by the Latin Mass Society.


It was accompanied by the Cantores Missae under the direction of Charles Finch. They sang the Missa Defunctis of Giovanni Francesco Anerio (1567-1630), for four voices. This setting is unusual in including the Dies Irae, which can otherwise be sung to the chant setting: Anerio's setting alternates chant and polyphony line by line. The Cantores Missae also sang Anerio's setting of the Libera me, the moving chant which precedes the blessing of the catafalque: his polyphonic setting is superb, and not often sung because of its length.


Warwick Street has a regular Wednesday evening Sung Mass (6:30pm), usually accompanied by chant.

This was an impressive Mass, as was very appropriate for Fr Conlon, a man truly dedicated to serving the Church, and a stalwart defender of the ancient liturgy. The ceremonies, the vestments, and the music, all contributed to a very solemn and prayerful service.

Like many faithful priests of his generation, and since, Fr Conlon suffered for his adherence to the truth and to the Church's Tradition. He nevertheless maintained enormous energy and good humour. Readers can see an obituary of him in the LMS magazine Mass of Ages here (p.30). Although he retired as LMS Chaplain in 2009 he continued to celebrate Masses for the Society, in recent years particularly at my own request, in the Oxford area, since he was based here.

Fr Conlon died in the midst of the lockdown and we were unable to have a public requiem for him close to that time. He is not the only figure of importance to the LMS to whom we owe such a Mass, and we will be catching up on them over the coming months, including Mgr Mark Miles (who also died in April 2020), Fr Charles Briggs (August 2020) and Fr Wilfrid Elkin (March 2021).


We will not fail to remember them--as St Monica urged her son St Augustine to do--at the Altar.

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.





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