Miss Bridget Feeley – funeral homily

 

Fr Michael McCabe, SMA Provincial Leader, led the Funeral Mass for SMA Honorary member, Miss Bridget (Beta) Feeley, who died in the SMA House, Blackrock Road, Cork on Friday afternoon, 10 October 2014. Her funeral Mass took place at St Joseph’s SMA Church, Wilton, Cork on Monday, 13 October, with burial afterwards in the adjoining SMA community cemetery where her two siblings, Fathers Joe and John, are also at rest.

The following is the Introduction of Fr Michael at the beginning of Mass and his homily.

Introduction

We are gathered here today around the table of the Lord to say a final farewell to Bridget (Beta) Feeley, a great lady, an exceptionally generous SMA benefactor and an honorary member of the Society. We thank God for her long life and accompany her with our prayers on her journey to her final home.

On behalf of the Province, I extend my condolences to her cousins who were with us here last night, Eugene, Louis and Sr Clare Feeley, to her neighbours and friends from Glounthaune, especially the Griffins and Caseys, and I welcome all who have come here today to pay their last respects to Beta. A special word of welcome to Frs Pat O’Donovan and James Good who are among the concelebrating Priests.

We remember in this Eucharist her deceased parents, Michael and Nora, and her brothers, Michael Joseph and John and deceased relations and friends.

To prepare ourselves to partake of the banquet of the Lord, we acknowledge our unworthiness and humbly ask pardon for our sins.

Homily

“Those who are faithful will live with him in love; for grace and mercy await those he has chosen”. In her earthly life, Bridget Feeley (or Beta as she was better known) belonged to the Lord. She was his faithful servant. She now goes to live forever with the Lord in love. And, with open arms, the Lord who is Love welcomes her into the abode of the blessed in heaven. Beta would appreciate that kind of welcome. I only got to know her over the past year and I never got to know her very well, but could never pass her by without greeting her with a hug. She told me what a wonderful community the SMA, Blackrock Road, was and how delighted she was to be here. While she may not have always been the easiest person to live with, she felt very much part of the community and had a good quality of life right up to the final days of her life.

On the 7 February 1922, Beta was born in Glounthaune, Cork, the only daughter in a family of three. The Feeleys were a strong Catholic family. Her two older brothers, Michael Joseph and John, became priests. Michael was ordained in 1941 as member of the American Province and John was ordained in 1945 as a Priest of Southwark diocese, England. Beta also had four cousins in religious life: Sr Clare Feeley (Sisters of St John of God, Kilkenny), Mother Mary Feeley (Poor Clares, England), Fr Joseph Feeley (RIP, Manchester) and Fr Dennis Kehilly (RIP, Cork).  

Beta has a special love for “the missions” and was a great supporter of SMA missionaries in different African countries. At Christmas time, she would gather money to support different missionary causes, including the purchase of animals for African families. On 3rd July 1992, Beta and her brother, Fr John were declared honorary members of the SMA by the Superior General of that time, Patrick Harrington. The reason for conferring this honour on Beta are stated in the citation as follows: “Because she is an exceptional benefactor and has strong and lasting spiritual and human links with the Society.”

For most of her life, Beta worked as Domestic Science teacher in a Vocational School in Midleton, not far from her home in Glounthaune. Besides being a gifted teacher, she was also an accomplished cook and seamstress. She was noted for her attention to detail. According to several of her close friends, Beta “had wonderful hands”. On several occasions, she travelled to England to attend courses in ‘icing’ – learning how to make delicate iced pieces, e.g. butterflies, to decorate a particular cake she was planning for some event or other. She also made intricately-woven Patchwork Quilts which were treasured by those who received them. Beta retired from teaching in the late 1980’s and lived happily in Glounthaune where her neighbours became her faithful and life-long friends even though there were times when Beta’s strong views would have tested that friendship. I take this opportunity to thank them for their friendship and generous support of Beta over the years and particularly when her health began to decline.

In latter years, Beta’s health concerns increased and, in November 2011, she came to live in the SMA community at Blackrock Road, Cork where she was very well take care of by Sr Margaret and the nursing staff. Up to the time of her death, Beta participated in the community exercises; being present at the daily community Mass and going to the community dining room for her meals. Each evening she would keep up to date with the TV news and chat with the priests about the events of the day.

Beta lived a full and fruitful life and, when God felt she was ready for him, he took her home. As we bid her a final farewell we are comforted by the words of the Scripture readings we have just heard. We were reminded in the first reading from the Book of Wisdom that “the souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God and no torment shall every touch them” that “they are in peace”, that “they will live with the Lord in Love”.   In the Gospel, we heard the words of Christ to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the Life. If anyone believes in me, even though he or she dies he or she will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”. And in the Second Reading from St Paul’s Letter to the Romans we were assured that “nothing can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Beta was a virtuous woman of great faith and generosity of spirit. Nothing now can ever separate her from the love of Christ. We entrust her into the hands of her beloved Master as we pray:

Most merciful Father, we commend our departed sister, Beta, into your hands. We are filled with the sure hope that our departed sister will rise again on the Last Day with all who have died in Christ. We thank you for all the good things you have given Beta during her earthly life.O Father, in Your great mercy, accept our prayer that the Gates of Paradise may be opened for her. In our turn, may we too be comforted by the words of faith until we greet Christ in glory and are united with you and our departed sister. Amen.