With sadness we announce the death of Mgr Anthony George Stark, Prot.Ap KCHS. He had been living at Nazareth House, Finchley and died peacefully at The Whittington Hospital on 8th January.
Mgr Anthony George Stark was born in April 1932 and ordained to the Priesthood in May 1956. He was a member of the Deceased Clergy Association.
Mgr Stark’s Funeral Mass will take place on Tuesday 4th February at 11am at Westminster Cathedral. Bishop Nicholas Hudson will preside.
Mgr Stark’s mortal remains will be received at the Cathedral and brought to the Lady Chapel on Monday 3rd February at 4.30pm. Vespers will follow at 5pm and Mass at 5.30pm.
Mgr Stark will be buried in Birmingham.
An obituary will be published in due course.
Sympathy is extended to Mgr Anthony George Stark’s family, friends and former parishioners, members of the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom and to the Sisters and Residents of Nazareth House.
May he rest in peace.
May the angels lead him into paradise;
may the martyrs come to welcome him
and take him to the holy city,
the new and eternal Jerusalem.
‘I look on all the world as my parish’, said John Wesley, the eighteen century founder of Methodism. The sentiment expressed could be applied to Mgr Anthony Stark, who maintained a broad vision of the Church throughout his ministry as a priest, a vision never restricted to the confines of parish. He was not particularly well known to many of his fellow diocesan priests in Westminster, but his reputation was, and to many beyond the confines of the diocese. One of the few Monsignori to be a Protonotary Apostolic, a Prelate given special honour by the Pope, Mgr Stark was also a Knight Commander of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem; Master of the Guild of Our Lady of Ramson; Fellow of the Royal Philharmonic Society; a member of the Oriental Club; a Knight Chaplain of the Honourable and Ancient Society of Knights of the Round Table; a member of the Old Brotherhood of the English Secular Clergy; founder member and Chairman of the Friends of Cardinal Newman and Postulator of the Newman Cause for Canonisation. Mgr Stark lived to see the canonisation of Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890) on 13th October 2019, but he was unable to travel to Rome for an event that was a cause of joy for him and for the universal Church.
Travel had been one of Mgr Stark’s passions, as was music and cooking. He gave supply ministry in the Falklands, went on pilgrimages to the Holy Land and took holidays in Ireland. He was a man accustomed to exercising leadership and to giving orders where fitting to the occasion and the company; the Walsingham Walk is a memorable example for many fellow walkers. He was also good company, able to relax and share interests, stories and banter with characteristic good humour. Always ready with an anecdote, he could entertain and be entertained. While his interests were wide-ranging, Mgr Stark was a priest through and through. He loved the Church and had a pastoral heart. Easy in the company of fellow priests, he readily adapted to the manner and habits of brother priests. He had been used to short term stays in presbyteries up and down the country while making appeals for the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom, raising money to be used for the support of poor parishes. Whether a soup and sandwich lunch in a draughty presbytery, or the tasting menu with wine pairings, preceded by a gin and tonic, at a smart London club, Mgr Stark was ‘at home’ and good company. When celebrating Mass his personal devotion was evident; he was sincere and attentive but never fussy. He had a strong devotion to and love for Our Lady, and for the Rosary and Benediction. He studied the lives, and was inspired by the example, of the English Martyrs.
Born on 21st April 1932 in Hall Green, Birmingham, Anthony Stark was the eldest of two sons born to Bernard Francis and Cecilia Dorothy Stark. Throughout his life he enjoyed sharing a birthday with the Queen, and the annual display of flags and celebration in recognition! Anthony was educated at the local Catholic primary school in Yardley Wood, then St Philip’s Grammar School in Edgbaston, Birmingham and then Durham University to study History. He left university after a year to pursue his sense of vocation with the Missionary Society of St Joseph, the Mill Hill Missionaries. With them he studied in Holland and in Mill Hill, north London. It became evident that his ministry would be at home rather than overseas and he joined the Oblates of St Charles. He was ordained to the priesthood, on 26th May 1956, in Westminster Cathedral by Cardinal Griffin and assigned to parishes in the Oblates’ care: Bayswater from 1956-62, then Notting Hill until 1964 when he was appointed Parish Priest at Paddington where he served for two years. In 1966 Cardinal Heenan invited Fr Anthony to work with the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom. After two years he was appointed Master of the Guild, a post he was to have for 44 years, until 2012. In 1975 he was given the title Monsignor. During his years in parish ministry Mgr Stark was closely involved with schools as Chaplain and Governor, and as the diocesan representative on the local authority Youth Committee. He was also Chaplain to the local members of the Young Christian Workers. For twenty-five years he supported the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, Kensington as a Governor. Mgr Stark lived in and worked from a house on Southdown Road, Wimbledon as Master of the Guild while pursuing other types of clerical and social engagement. The domestic space was supplemented with an office and private chapel, and housed his two Siamese cats, named Romulus and Remus after the alleged Founders of Rome. He entrusted care of his beloved cats to neighbours when he was away at weekends, making appeals around the country. At the age of 87 Mgr Stark’s needs necessitated moving from his home to Nazareth House in Finchley. He died peacefully on 8th January 2020 at the Whittington Hospital.
The Guild of Our Lady of Ransom has its own prayer, well known to Mgr Stark not only as a prayer but a personal ‘manifesto’ and expression of hope for his eternal destiny: ‘O blissful Maiden Mother of God, so loved in England and Wales of old and again so loved today; sinful we come to thee who art sinless, poor to thee who art rich, weak to thee who art strong. O pitiful Maiden Mother, teach us, thy children, better to know and love thy dear Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ; for his sweet sake to love and comfort one another, to be sorry for our sins, to hunger and thirst after justice. O sorrowful Maiden Mother of God, by the memory of the Five Wounds of Our Crucified Saviour pray to Him for mercy on our country which was and is thy Dowry, that we may all, under the Successor of the Blessed Peter, be gathered into the One Fold of the One Shepherd, so to be happy with Him and with thee now upon earth and afterward for ever in our true heavenly home.’ May the soul of Mgr Anthony Stark rest in peace for all eternity. Amen.