Remembering Padre Marco Flores

When doing fieldwork one comes across a lot of people, some of these encounters are brief and quickly forgotten others leave a lasting mark on you as a researcher and as a person – meeting Marco in 2021 was definitely of the latter kind. We hit it off from the very first meeting where we found common ground regarding community work but also figured out that we shared a similar sense of humour. Meetings with Marco were never short of laughter and joy. He was a person that could deal with serious issues in a thoughtful and empathetic way, just to crack a joke in the next minute and lighten up the room. Marco made me laugh, think, and reflect about societal issues but also about myself – to me he represented the very best version of religion in all its caring and compassionate ways. In a way Marco brought me closer to believing, just seeing how deeply he cared about the people around him and how the congregation and the neighbourhood as a whole were always on his mind, made me reconsider some of my personal critiques of the religious spectrum. Marco cared about those who arrived recently and understood the church as a safe haven where people could find help and support. He got involved and always strived to make a difference in this world, and he did – he touched people’s lives and created space for them in his own life, he made people feel welcome and valued and organised a whole list of social programmes to help those who most need it. Marco and I were supposed to have a meeting on Wednesday 1st of February, we were going to talk about a number of newly arrived families from Central America who are living in hotel accommodation in Newham. He sent me a message on Sunday evening asking if we were still on. Marco passed away the day after and instead of meeting him for lunch I was sat in St. Martin’s Church on Wednesday in a service to honour his life. It’s hard to believe, it’s hard to find words to describe what it feels like when someone so loved is taken so suddenly. I am not going to attempt this here but rather want to stress the immense legacy he left behind, in the neighbourhood and at St. Martin’s Church where people continue to do the work he started and where he will always be remembered for his empathy, dedication and his humour. My deepest sympathy goes out to Marco’s wife and children and all his loved ones in his native Portugal – I hope you will find some solace in knowing how much good Marco brought into so many people’s lives.

Hasta siempre Padre Marco,

Your friend Malte

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