South African Archbishop Denis Hurley of Durban was one of the most distinguished Fathers of the Second Vatican Council and for 40 years a courageous and outspoken opponent of the apartheid system.
Last week 14 Quex Road in north London was named Denis Hurley House in his honour. A liturgy of dedication led by Fr William Fitzpatrick, provincial of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, included a blessing ceremony conducted by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.
Emeritus Bishop David Konstant of Leeds delivered an appreciation of Denis Hurley as part of the service, which also included a hymn written by Archbishop Hurley.
Denis Hurley House stands opposite Sacred Heart church in Kilburn. It is the home of the Oblates’ Partners in Mission programme, led by Fr Lorcan O’Reilly OMI, which seeks to draw people into action for justice and peace in the service of the poor.
The newly formed Denis Hurley Association, set up to support the work of Emmanuel Cathedral offering social and economic support to the poor and destitute in Durban, will also have its base in Denis Hurley House.
Robina Rafferty, chairwoman of the association and other trustees, together with Fr Stephen Tully, administrator of Durban Cathedral, also took part in the service.
On his death in 2004 at the age of 89 Archbishop Hurley, himself an Oblate, had been a bishop for 58 years. He was a leading figure in the 20th-century African Church and a dedicated prophet of justice and reconciliation in South Africa. St Eugene of Mazenod, the Oblates’ founder, challenged his followers “to leave nothing undared for the Kingdom of God”. Denis Hurley’s audacious ministry was a faithful witness to that challenge in the second half of the 20th century.
Those who comprise Denis Hurley House last week committed themselves to embrace that same challenge in the 21st century.