It is with great sadness that I have to tell you for the death of Father Francis Hartley on 28th May.
He was one of three brothers who were ordained as priests for the Diocese of Southwark. Curiously, his elder brother Edmund died on 20th May and we offer our sincerest sympathy to his surviving brother, John.
Francis trained for the priesthood at St. John’s Seminary, Wonersh and was ordained in 1962. His early appointments were at St. Leonard’s and at Bexlyeheath.
He came to Blackheath in the summer of 1972. At that time Monsignor Henderson was Parish Priest but in December 1972 he was appointed auxiliary Bishop. From that the time onwards, Francis became in effect acting Parish Priest though his appointment was not confirmed until 1980.
He was much loved by many people and to this day friends ask about Father Hartley. He was generous and kindly to everybody and most diligent in his daily tasks. Everything was done with great care for detail, something that I had to learn in due course.
We were together for 28 years. In those days I was working at Archbishop’s House but was able to share with him part of work of the parish. I can honestly say that over these years, there was never a cross word.
In 2001 he moved to the parish of Bexley. About ten years later he began to suffer from dementia and retired to live at Coloma Court at West Wickham.
We pray for the repose of his soul and give thanks for a wonderful priest.
I hope to arrange a memorial Mass in his memory in due course.