The Viciousness of Injustice: Ken Leech Memorial Lecture

Canon Mark Oakley

A plate of liver and onions in a university refectory might not be the most memorable of meals usually, but I remember it very well. I was a theology student at King’s College London. It was 1989. I was 20 years old. And I was eating liver and onions with Fr Ken Leech. I couldn’t believe it. He was a hero of mine. 

With these words Canon Mark Oakley, Dean of St John’s College, Cambridge began the first Ken Leech Memorial lecture in Manchester, The Viciousness of Injustice.

Fr Ken Leech was an outstanding and influential contextual theologian and radical Anglo Catholic priest. The lecture, in Ken’s memory was co-sponsored by St Chrysostom’s Church, Luther King House and the Society of Catholic Priests (SCP). It was excellent.

Mark Oakley urged us to consider Ken’s insights and radical challenges and follow in his footsteps today, challenging unjust structures which oppress and marginalise. We were encouraged to look at the signs of the times we live in and ‘to learn again’ from Ken. To do this we must be people of poetry, protest, prophesy and prayer.

Fr Ian, Fr Mark and Dr Graham Sparkes (President LKH)

Mark’s words were provoking and entertaining, challenging and engaging.

The large audience was very appreciative and the questions which followed were wide ranging and stimulating.


Here are just a few comments from people attending:

“I could have listened to Mark Oakley all evening long!”

” ‘Church – a gymnasium for the underused imagination?’ – what a wonderful thought. There were so many wonderful lines”

“Outstanding, challenging words the church and world need to hear today, I am sure Ken would have approved!”

“So appropriate, so interesting… and wonderfully entertaining. Thank you very much.”

“A delight to listen to”

Alan, Churchwarden at St C’s thanks Fr Mark for ‘a captivating lecture’

Mark concluded the lecture with these words:   For Ken Leech, poet, pray-er, prophet and protestor I am deeply grateful and honoured to have had the chance to say my thank you tonight. Whereas we pray he rests in peace I suspect he prays that we will not – there is far too much to be done and a gospel to be lived.

St Chrysostom’s Church, where Fr Ken’s Funeral Mass was held, is delighted to have sponsored this lecture, and delighted too that Fr Mark Oakley spoke so appropriately and so well. We look forward to future lectures.


We are very pleased to say the lecture ‘The Vicousness of Injustice: Learning again from Ken Leech’ is now available in print in our Olympias Tracts series from St Chrysostom’s Church.

To find out how to obtain a copy click here.


About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at
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