by LYNDSAY FREER
Fr Craig Larkin, a Marist priest, educator and author, died on June 27 in Wellington aged
71. He had been based in Rome for 12 years, but returned to New Zealand in late 2013 for medical treatment.
His requiem Mass, attended by many confreres from New Zealand and overseas along with large numbers of family and friends, was celebrated at St Teresa’s Church, Karori.
He was 17 when he entered the Marist seminary at Greenmeadows. It was always his wish to teach, and after ordination he was appointed to the staff of St Patrick’s College, Silverstream.
His wide-ranging interests, charm, skills and empathy meant that he branched out from education into an ever-widening range of pastoral care and activities over the years.
After three years at Silverstream he was asked to join a team that preached missions and gave retreats to religious, lay people and schools, and was ahead of his time in the use of audio visual presentations. He was also the director of the third order of the Society of Mary while also the society’s vocations director.
In 1977 Fr Larkin was sent to Rome to study spiritual theology at the Gregorian University.
In his eulogy, Fr Paul Martin, SM, recalled that this experience in Rome opened a new field to him. “Here in particular,” he said, he was exposed to the spirituality and prayer of the Eastern
Church and the spirituality of icons. This was to become a passion, as his ability to present the realities of this part of the Church made it accessible and attractive.
On returning to New Zealand Fr Larkin joined the staff at Mt St Mary’s Seminary and became novice master in 1985.
In 1990 he returned to Rome for another two years of study and, on his return, became the rector of the Marist Seminary.
When elected provincial leader of the New Zealand Marists in 1997 he took up a different leadership role. It was a time of change and withdrawal from some traditional apostolates and a
time of challenge as he and his team worked to discern and implement new ways to minister in
the missionary spirit of the Society of Mary.
In 2002, after four years as provincial leader in New Zealand, he was elected to the General
Council in Rome and became Vicar General of the society. On completion of this term he was asked to remain in Rome to oversee a programme of formation for Marists from around the world who were
responsible for implementing training and formation programmes in their countries.
It was during the second of those courses that he was diagnosed with cancer.
Fr Larkin wrote a number of books on subjects related to Marist spirituality and history, iconography and spirituality in general.
A life that embraced many ministries and activities, that touched and enriched the lives of countless people, was described by Fr Tim Costello, SM, in his homily.
“Craig Larkin loved life. He embraced the gift of life with exuberance and with great enthusiasm. He was fascinated by the quirkiness of human life and human behaviour.
“Craig loved entertaining people. He was a born actor. He loved the theatre. He was a great mimic.
“The eulogies we have heard give eloquent testimony to the many and varied parts that Craig has played during his time. He was a man of many gifts, a man blessed with many talents; those gifts and talents have had an extraordinary influence on the lives of many, many people.
Craig Larkin loved life, yes; but even more, he shared this life generously with others. He generated life wherever he