Monsignor Kevin Nichols RIP

The author and composer of the hymn 'In Bread We Bring You', Kevin Nichols, died in Newcastle on Sunday 15 January. A priest of the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle for over 50 years, Kevin Nichols was born in Wallsend on Tyneside in December 1929. He studied at Cambridge [his tutor was C S Lewis] and Liverpool Universities, and taught in schools and colleges of education in England, and at the Catholic University of America. He served as National Advisor for Religious Education in England Wales and as member of ICEL for many years. With Bishop David Konstant of Leeds, Mgr Nichols contributed to the writing of the moral section of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church. After retiring from lecturing, he was a parish priest for twelve years in County Durham before becoming an assistant priest at St Mary's Cathedral, Newcastle in 1998. Kevin Nichols published widely in the field of religious education but he is best known as the author of several hymns, including 'In Bread We Bring' (for which he also wrote the melody - it's being sung as the Offertory Hymn at this Funeral Mass - 'Lord, our God, O Lord our Father', and 'Our Father, we have wandered'. His 'Stations of Affliction' poetic meditations on the Way of the Cross was set to music by Irish composer Declan Townsend and performed in Newcastle in 1998. He published three volumes of poetry: 'Begotten in Silence' (1978), 'Canticum Novum' (1991), [both now out of print] and 'Sequences' (2000), of which a few copies remain on sale in the Cathedral's Pauline Bookshop. A fourth volume of poetry, 'Decryptions' is to be published by the Cathedral very soon and, perhaps, is his finest collection and a fitting tribute. He is also the author of 'Refracting the Light: Learning the Languages of Faith' (1997) and (with Peter Phillips) 'Pathways to God: The Spiritual Classics' (2001). Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor gave the following tribute: "In the death of Mgr Kevin Nichols, the Church in England has lost a devoted priest and a brilliant and creative pioneer in Catholic Education. There will be many tributes to him but I just want to testify to his deep and humble faith and his capacity for creative life and friendship. Kevin will be much missed and may he now receive the reward of his labours and rest in peace." Bishop Kevin Dunn, Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle said: "The death of Monsignor Kevin is a loss for the diocese and for the Church in England and Wales. The way in which Kevin journeyed to and with the Lord in his last illness was an inspiration to all who encountered him. It is not often a priest is graced with such gifts that are shared so humbly with so many. In his priesthood, his poetry and his whole life Kevin sought to trace the 'fingerprint of providence and grace. ' As we pray for him we also thank God for the many gifts given to us in Kevin's life." The Funeral Mass of Mgr Nichols will take place in St Mary's Cathedral, Clayton St West, Newcastle on Tuesday 24 January at 12.00 noon and burial will follow at 2.30pm in Minsteracres Monastery, Northumberland. His body will be received into the Cathedral on Monday 23 January at 7pm and reception will be followed by Evening Prayer from the Office of the Dead. Requiescat in pace.

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