The Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary (ESBVM) reports with sadness the death of Father Mark Turnham Elvins, OFMCap, (November 26, 1939 – May 1, 2014) and extends sympathy to his community and many friends.
A member of the ESBVM Council and a contributor to the Society’s publications, Father Mark was an inspirational and at times provocative figure both within the ESBVM in its early years and as a broad promoter of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary echoed in his paper ‘The Origin of the Title `Dowry of Mary’ and the Shrines of Our Lady at Westminster’, Mark Elvins, ESBVM 1989, and the demands of an ecumenical addressing of her place in ecumenism in his ‘Our Lady and the Ecumenical Movement in the Light of her Maternal Patronage’: a paper given to members of the Canterbury branch of the Society on 27 September 1997 (Wallington: ESBVM, 2000)
Mark Turnham Elvins was born on November 26, 1939 at Whitstable, the son of an Anglican clergyman who had been Rector of St Mary in the Castle, Dover and died of cancer at Oxford on May 1, 2014. Educated at Dover College, St Stephen’s House, Oxford, Beda College at Rome, the Pontifical Gregorian University, and Heythrop College, where he received a Master of Arts from the University of London. He also was awarded a Graduate Diploma in Spirituality at Milltown Institute, Dublin, Ireland.
At the beginning of his career, Elvins passed into Sandhurst but opted for the Territorial Army serving with the Honourable Artillery Company, eventually reaching the rank of Captain in the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department. In civilian life he began by working as a gallery manager at St James’s Gallery in Jermyn Street, central London, and as Assistant Editor of Debrett’s Peerage.
Following his theological studies at St. Stephen’s House, Oxford he was ordained an Anglican deacon.
On Christmas Eve 1968 he was received into the Catholic Church.
He was ordained a priest at Arundel on Easter Sunday 1973 and was Assistant Curate at Arundel Cathedral and Chantry Priest to the Duke of Norfolk from 1973 to 1979. From 1980 until 1990 he served at St Mary Magdalene’s parish church in Brighton, holding additionally the post of Chaplain to the Master of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners of the City of London. From 1990 until 1993 he was parish priest of Henfield.
In 1999, he was professed in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. During the academic year 2005-2007, he was the Roman Catholic Chaplain to the University of Central Lancashire and following the retirement of Dr Nicholas James Richardson in 2007, Elvins was appointed Warden of Greyfriars, Oxford. Upon the dissolution of the permanent private hall he was appointed Guardian of the friary (Greyfriars) from 2008 to 2011. He served as a Capuchin Provincial Definitor from 2006 to 2011.
Throughout his life he was particularly concerned for the homeless and was the founder of Simon House in Oxford (1967), St Thomas Fund for the Homeless in Brighton (1980), and Becket Homes in Canterbury (1997), as well as being a co-founder of the Thomas More Legal Centre. In 2011, his combined Marian concerns and his regard for the Poor prompted him to found Regina Palestinae (Our Lady of Palestine), a charity for the support of poor families in Palestine.
In 1982, Elvins was appointed an Ecclesiastical Knight of Grace of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George and Chaplain and Council Member of the British and Irish Delegation of the Order. In 2003, the Order awarded him the Gold Benemerenti Medal. He was also a Chaplain of Magistral Grace of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta.
He wrote as both Mark Turnham Elvins and Mark of Whitstable and his published writings include: Catholic Trivia, Towards a People’s Liturgy: The Importance of Language and ESBVM publications.
The Heraldry Society holds an annual Mark Elvins Lecture.
A Requiem Mass will take place in Oxford on Monday 19th May at 11.00am at Greyfriars. Parking has been arranged at the Rugby Club. His funeral will be in North Wales on Tuesday 20th May.
May he come to that full share of the Resurrection in the hope of which we all live. Requiescat in pace.