STEPHEN PAUL ANSELM MARRIOTT died on the 8th February 2011, at the age of 64, after a short illness. He leaves Lindy, and their sons Christopher and Matthew, and a host (literally) of friends who will remember him as an outstanding Chester Diocesan Secretary, lay pastor, wholehearted disciple of Jesus Christ, and wonderfully faithful friend.
Stephen and I became firm friends when we first met at one of Chester’s Diocesan Clergy Conferences. We shared, I think, a similar sense of humour, a love of liturgy and of literature, a love of silence and of contemplation. And I was glad, always, to tell Stephen of how much I admired the care that he and Lindy constantly afforded the bishops and clergy of our diocese.
Many will be the stories told of lay canon Stephen’s care in the coming days and weeks. Stephen would blush and gently laugh them “off and away with you”. But I want to record that when I was faced with the heart-rending task of leading the people of Bollington towards the necessary closure of one of their three much loved churches (the parish church, no less), it was the prayerful support, and often the physical presence – chugging up the hill in his Land Rover – of Diocesan Secretary and friend Stephen Marriott that helped me maintain a hold on sanity. No mere ecclesiastical bureaucrat, Stephen Marriott was a faithful disciple. I can see him now, singing his heart out at the Institutions of diocesan clergy, or in the procession at Chester Cathedral. I am deeply grateful to recall that he and Lindy were present (though they’d retired by then) at my own Institution here in Bramhall, and his (always beautifully) handwritten note and card at Christmas 2010 lies now on my desk.
Whenever I think of Stephen and Lindy I shall think of a big man, with a big heart, and of big music; of deep breaths, of joyful full-hearted laughter and Parry’s
I was glad when they said unto me, we will go into the house of the Lord. (Psalm 122)
Go well Stephen. Go with the deep thanks of many friends, of the many from whom you brought out their highest and their best. Go well, into peace.