Bishop David Every Konstant Eighth Bishop of Leeds
FUNERAL OF RT REV DAVID KONSTANT LEEDS CATHEDRAL
18TH October 2016
On Monday, 17 October Bishop David Konstant’s body was received into Leeds Cathedral, followed by Sung Vespers with the Canons of the Cathedral Chapter. At 7.30pm there was a Sung Requiem Mass for Bishop David, at which Mgr Andrew Summersgill preached the homily.
The following day (Tuesday, 18th October at 12 noon) a Solemn Funeral Mass for Bishop David was celebrated by Bishop Marcus Stock at Leeds Cathedral. In attendance were family and friends of Bishop David, priests of the diocese, and many of his fellow bishops. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor preached, and the Eulogy was given by long-standing family friend, Tim Morgan.
Homily by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor
A number of my good friends have died this summer and among them, particularly, Bishop David. We were ordained bishops in the same year, 1977. In the same year, also ordained was someone then called Professor Ratzinger who had a very high regard for Bishop David. David and I were very good friends. If at any time I wanted good counsel on a particular issue I would ring David. He was wise, practical, decisive and very intelligent. It is no wonder that my predecessor, Cardinal Basil Hume, wanted him to be his Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster where he was a great help to him, especially in the field of education.
“Old men forget”, said Shakespeare. Oh no they don’t! They remember the past and times together. Bishop David came many times to my home in Storrington in Sussex. We walked on the South Downs, chewed the cud on Church affairs and, back at the house, he would search out the nearest computer and use his technological skills in a way that was unknown to me at that time. I should also mention the great influence David had at meetings of the Bishops’ Conference. He was full of sanity, wisdom and a great help in our various deliberations.
I went on two foreign visits with David. The first was to South Africa and to Kenya. There, together with the Bishop of Ngong, an Englishman – a Mill Hill Missionary – who was showing us around, we got totally lost in the Masai district of that lovely country. This was in the midst of a huge storm. It was dark, a huge herd of elephants came towards us – it was really quite frightening. I remember the bishop stopped the car, kept the lights on and said quietly, “Let’s say the rosary”, which we did and eventually all was well.
The other visit with David was to Tours in France. David had been chosen to assist in the composition of the new Catechism and his section was that on morals of which the Archbishop of Tours, Archbishop Honore was the chair. David wanted to improve his French and the Archbishop invited him to come and stay. David wanted a companion and I was happy to go with him. We had a most enjoyable few days, seeing the wonderful Chateau of the Loire Valley and, above all, the generous hospitality of the Archbishop. He was a great host and the food was delicious; as for the wine, I don’t want to exaggerate but with every glass our French became more and more fluent. It was because of his work with the new Catholic Catechism that the then Cardinal Ratzinger got to know Bishop David and had a high esteem for him personally and for his contribution to that important project.
Your diocese will have many memories of Bishop David. He was, if I may say so, ‘a safe pair of hands’ – a really good diocesan bishop who cared deeply for his priests and for his people. He was what I think all bishops would want to be, a good shepherd. I wonder what he would say if he were here today? A few years ago he sent me his excellent booklet called, Post Scripts, with the inscription to me, Just some light-hearted reflections to help you go to sleep. Affectionately, David. But there is one piece when he is talking about Jubilees and he says that, “when priests gather together, it is a lovely family occasion, not devoted to reminiscences but simply to celebrate Mass together and sharing a meal with each other. Such gatherings are important for a variety of reasons, to say thank you to each other, to enjoy each other’s company, to encourage one another – or, in short, to rejoice and be glad” I think he would want all of us here in this great Cathedral – clergy and laity – to rejoice and be glad as we remember and give thanks for his long life of service in the Church where Bishop David fought the good fight and kept the faith. I will miss him as will all of you here.
The readings today are all about the conquering of death. Isaiah has that well-known phrase of the mountain with succulent food and rich wines – which I must admit would not go amiss with most of us. But really the passage also reads that the Lord will wipe away the tears from every cheek and will destroy death forever. Somehow the paradise we long for is the full flowering of the seed sown here on earth.
I would like to end by quoting from Pope Emeritus Benedict who admired Bishop David so much and who spoke of the often forgotten virtue of hope. He said this, “We need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day. But these are not enough without the great hope which must surpass everything else. That great hope can only be God who encompasses the whole of reality – not any God but the God who has a human face and loves us to the very end. (Spe Salvi). That great hope was Bishop David’s and it is ours “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him”. (1.Cor.2:9).
So, farewell, Bishop David and we pray for you with utter confidence in the love and mercy of God whom you served so devotedly in your life upon earth. Eternal rest give unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace. Amen.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor