FAREWELL, MARTIN RIP
The Requiem Mass for Dominican Fr Martin Roden took place on 8 January 2016 at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Springs in the presence of about 100 people. The service was led by Fr Sikhosiphi Mgoza, the provincial. There were about 25 priests present which included practically all the priests of the vicariate, our novices, some priests of the archdiocese and of other religious congregations as well as a sprinkling of Dominican sisters. Fr Martin’s two nieces came out from England. It was a pleasure to have them amongst us.
The service began with the provincial and some co-celebrants leading the coffin into the church. It was decorated according to the wishes of Fr Martin with a beautiful bouquet of lilies.
Then followed the singing of morning prayer of the Office of the dead. Mass began with the blessing of the coffin and the viewing of the body. Symbols of his faith and priesthood were placed on the coffin in the form of a Bible, priestly stole and a lighted candle, lit from the Paschal candle.
Mass then continued with the first reading being proclaimed by Fr Raphael Ntlou and the second by Dominican sister, Sr Felicity Cunningham, the regional leader of the Newcastle congregation. The gospel was proclaimed by the newly ordained Dominican deacon, Clement Mweni. The homily was preached by Fr Sikhosiphi.
The homily was really a personal testimony by Fr Sikhosiphi of the Christ-like influence that Fr Martin had on him over the years. His first meeting with father Martin was when he was a 16-year-old with an interest in the Dominican Order. He found Fr Martin to be a warm and welcoming man. Over the years Fr Martin had been his superior and student master. He was shy and retiring with a very dry sense of humour but somebody with an incredible love of the Dominican Order. In this he was a great example to everybody. In recent years he suffered much receiving dialysis three times a week for several years and felt very concerned that so much money was being spent on him instead of on the work of the Order. In many ways Martin fleshed out his commitment to Christ and his Dominican charism in a wonderful way.
The mass then continued with several beautiful hymns being sung at various intervals, specially chosen by Martin himself. But Fr Sikhosiphi noted that this was a relatively easy funeral to arrange in that Martin had planned it himself. However, much praise is due to Fathers Ndabaningi Mhlanga and Raphael Ntlou who put together a simple, and beautiful service - a service which Martin would have approved of.
Father Martin Badenhorst delivered the eulogy, much of which was written by Martin Roden himself. Father Damazio Ngoma thanked everyone for being present at this service, and very especially for Martin’s two nieces who had come from England for the funeral. Great thanks went to the sisters at Marian house who cared for Martin in a truly loving and Dominican way for several years.
At the end of the mass all the brothers gathered around his coffin and sang the traditional Dominican Salve Regina and the anthem in praise of St Dominic, the O Lumen. Then followed the final prayers and blessing whereupon the coffin was led out of the church to the awaiting hearse. There was no procession to the cemetery as it was Fr Martin’s wish to be cremated and his ashes inserted into the grave of his old friend, Fr Neville Maccario who was buried at Marian House cemetery more than 15 years ago.
Everybody was invited to a delicious luncheon, again according to the wishes of Fr Martin - with no beetroot!! This ended a fitting tribute to a great Dominican, one who will be sadly missed and the last of the great English Dominicans who had come to South Africa. Grateful thanks to Fr Sikhosiphi who led a very meaningful service, emphasising his own personal love and respect for Martin. And finally grateful thanks to Fr Brian Mhlanga, Fr Raphael Ntlou and their team who excelled themselves in putting together a magnificent tribute to a great man. May he rest in peace.