Archbishop Smith celebrates memorial Mass for well-known biblical scholar Hubert John Richards

Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark was the main celebrant at the Memorial Mass for Hubert John Richards, held on Saturday October 30 in St Aloysius church, Somers Town, London.

Family, friends, colleagues and former students, some who had travelled from overseas, gathered to give thanks for the well-known biblical scholar, author and teacher, who had died on March 24.

In welcoming everyone to the Memorial Mass Archbishop Smith said that the occasion was to mark the life of one who had served his Lord so faithfully in proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom.

The translations of the texts used for the Liturgy of the Word were Hubert’s and many of the hymns and much of the music were his own compositions. In his homily Fr Brendan Callaghan reminded all present that “today, we are remembering a man whose life-work was dedicated to bringing about a new and deeper encounter between the people of God and the Word of God”.

Fr Callaghan said: “It is one of the graces of true scholarship that one person’s work can reach out across what might be limitations of space and time to touch the lives of many. Sometimes what is handed on is a new insight.

“However, the best scholars pass on not just ideas, but something of their own love of what they study and teach. When what is at stake is the revelation of God in the words of the Scripture, then this love can be something much deeper and more personal, as it was in Hubert’s case.

“Here was someone who was above all a lover of God, someone who was above all a man touched by, transformed by, his experience of God’s love for him, someone whose life was above all dedicated to opening others to that love. Everything else we know about Hubert has to rest on that foundation.”

As the homily drew to a close Fr Callaghan invited all present to regard the refrain in the recessional hymn, “God sent me to give to the Good News to the poor”, as a summary of Hubert’s life, the calling which he heard, and the life which he lived.

Before the final blessing Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor paid tribute to his friend. He recalled the close friendship that Hubert had with the Murphy-O’Connor family, especially his brother Patrick.

Summing up Hubert’s work, the Cardinal said: “He was a marvellous teacher and had a wonderful gift of clarity and simplicity in his writings. [He was] able to communicate in the simplest style the mysteries of God.”