It is with deep and heartfelt sadness that I share with you the sad news that Fr Mark Leenane, a very close friend of mine and a massive New Ways supporter, died of a fatal heart attack at age 59 on the 6 th July. It’s especially poignant given what a huge heart he had, so full of love for others, along with his commitment to justice and peace. He has been my friend and confidant since the mid-90’s when I met him first at the Justice and Peace Group in Kentish Town in London before he was ordained.
His vocation was the most important thing in his life as he sought to help and support all those he came across through his ministry. His passion for his congregation meant he always put them first, still ministering to them the day before he died. He was loved by so many whom his life touched, and who were enhanced by that relationship, whether family, friend or parishioner. He was deeply committed to working towards a good world that treated people fairly and was a huge supporter of New Ways and our nursery schools in Turkana. Our chair, Lenny, and vice chair, Scholastica, always received a warm welcome at the parish on their trips to London from Turkana, and really enjoyed Fr Mark looking after them during their visits. We never did get him to Kenya to see the impact of his and his parishioners’ commitment to helping those less fortunate.
Mark was a lovely, kind, caring, compassionate, charismatic, complex, intelligent and well-rounded man, with a great sense of humour who inspired many. He had a zest for life that I envied. Beyond his ministry there were so many other things he really enjoyed doing, beyond a good meal out with friends and family, that included lively and stimulating conversation. I was privileged to share many of his favourite activities with him whether tennis (we regularly went to Queens Club), art exhibitions (he was a great connoisseur), the theatre or music, especially classical, and he had so many other interests, in particular
walking and his many cycling holidays. Hampstead Heath was his go-to place on Wednesdays (his day off) and the restaurants that he frequented will wonder where he has got to! Mark lived life to the full and was extremely happy, which helped him to be the man he was. May we all be so lucky. I have so many wonderful memories of the things we have shared over the years, and I was privileged to be his friend. I am sure many of you who knew him feel the same way.
Mark will be missed by so many, and I know he has left a huge hole in my life, but the ripple of the life he dedicated himself to will continue to be felt and rejoiced in long after his passing. My sincere and heartfelt condolences to all who loved him – his full and extended family (his Mum, Dad, 3 sisters, 3 brothers and all his nieces and nephews), his many friends and his parishioners. May he live on through all of us whose lives he enhanced. Gone but not forgotten. May he rest in Peace.