Today saw the Sung Requiem of Frank Erskine stalwart & long time member of the Latin Mass Society here in the Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle in NE England.
Frank began when the first Tridentine Rite Mass was celebrated quarterly at St Michael's Church, Esh Laude, Durham the parish of Rev Fr Godfrey Bryce RIP. Our then Ordinary, Rt Rev Hugh Lindsay, allowed no more than this in an area of the diocese largely populated by sheep although close to Ushaw College. As things improved Frank was a regular server at St Dominic's Priory in Newcastle when Bishop Ambrose Griffiths OSB, RIP allowed our first Sunday Masses in the diocese. As Masses spread to Ryhope (celebrated by PP Rev Fr Elkin) so Frank's serving spread. When Fr Elkin was moved to Barnard Castle so Frank moved too but continued his attendance at Ryhope. He was always available when Fr Brown became PP at St Wilfred's in Gateshead & too when Fr Brown also took on St Joseph's in Gateshead. He also served Masses when Bishop Rifan celebrated Masses at St Joseph's & in Leeds. Frank became a regular attendee at St Mary's, Forest Hall when Fr Brown moved there & introduced a regular Saturday morning Mass. Perhaps Frank's greatest strength was his willingness to help anyone at any time. He had been regular in his attendance at Sunday Mass at Thornley & at the weekly Thursday noon Mass at Coxhoe. When Sheila Webster lost her husband, Walter, & later suffered a stroke, Frank was her lifeline taking her weekly to Thornley & Coxhoe & even taking her by train with her wheelchair to the Masses in York (& pushing her in procession to English Martyrs Church there).
Frank's worth was recognised by the large congregation present today for Frank's Requiem at St Patrick's, Ryhope. The celebrant was Very Rev Fr Michael Brown (Northern Chaplain of the LMS) who stood in for Fr Gary Dickson of Thornley who was not well enough to celebrate the Mass but who was in choir with Fr Shaun Swales. There was a plethora of servers on the sanctuary led by George Wilson as MC. The music was provided by St Patrick's Choir. After his cremation a wake was held in the church hall where Frank's many friends related their favourite tales of a real gentle man. Our thoughts & prayers go out to his sister Bernadette & his family. Rest in Peace Frank & possess ye the place prepared for you.