Funeral Homilies

Funeral Homilies – SMA Irish Province


Fr James Harrold SMA – Funeral Homily – 1st September 2009 at St Joseph’s SMA Parish Church, Wilton

Jesus wanted to be remembered by us. On that night before he died at the last supper, with his Apostles around him, he set aside his cloak, filled a basin with water, grabbed a towel, got down on his knees and washed their feet. This was the same Jesus who on another occasion at another meal changed water into wine. This was the same Jesus who had raised people from the dead, gave sight to the blind cured the lepers healed the sick. This was the Son of God and yet it was in the context of this simple gesture and what would immediately follow it, that he specifically wished to be remembered… Homily here

Fr Jimmy O’Connell SMA – Funeral Homily – August 6th 2009 at St Joseph’s SMA Parish Church, Wilton
Fr Jimmy O'Connell SMAAs we gather to mourn at the death Fr James O’Connell, together with his family and friends, we come also to celebrate the life of our brother and fellow missionary. His life can be viewed as having two major chapters: the active missionary and the retired man who suffered from Parkinson’s disease for many years. While it is easier to focus on the active part of his life we acknowledge that the latter years are an integral part of the story of this good man. Our life is like a weaving or tapestry woven through the relationships we form and events that overtake us in the life time given to us by the God who created us. Death offers a time to remember and retell our stories. We turn to the wisdom and insights of Sacred Scripture to help us relate to the mystery of Jimmy’s life and death… Homily here

Fr Harry Casey SMA – Funeral Homily – February 9th 2009 at St Nicholas’ Parish Church, Ardglas, Co Down
Our readings from scripture are important today as they provide us with windows of hope and so they become avenues through which we grapple with death and gradually come to terms with the loss of Fr Harry Casey, our brother priest. These readings also invite us to be more conscious of our own life as it unfolds each day and our future death which will come eventually in God’s time… Homily here

Fr Paddy Carroll SMA – Funeral Homily – January 31st 2009 at St Joseph’s SMA Parish Church Wilton
Fr Paddy Carroll SMAA monk asks: ‘Is there anything more miraculous than the wonders of nature?’ The Master answers: ‘Yes, your awareness of the wonders of nature.’ Over the last several months Paddy Carroll had turned his always enquiring mind to the issue of Creation. Some would say, perhaps, that his wonder was primed by the many happy hours he spent on the green sod in different continents. But his wonder was a deeply spiritual quest. He sought out again the spiritual poems of George Herbert to cast light on the magnificence of creation. This was a spiritual quest… Homily here


Fr John A Creaven SMA – Funeral Homily – December 5th 2008 at St Joseph’s SMA Parish Church, Blackrcok Road, Cork
“As I approve of a youth that has something of the old man in him, so I am no less pleased with an old man that has something of the youth. He that follows this rule may be old in body, but can never be so in mind”. I believe those who knew John A. Creaven will agree that this short quotation from Cicero captures the essence of this extraordinary missionary priest.  Homily here…

Fr John O’Mahony SMA – Funeral Homily – November 14th 2008 at St Joseph’s SMA Parish Church, Blackrock Road, Cork
Fr John O'Mahony SMAI had to send a text message on Wednesday evening last to Bishop John Moore SMA in Bauchi, Nigeria. I took the opportunity to also tell him of John O’Mahony’s death, in case he had not heard it. His reply text offered sympathy to all and then said “John was a giant in every way”. John’s physical frame had increased somewhat over the last months especially; but it is not his physical stature that merits him the title of giant but rather his pioneering and unique contribution to the spread of the gospel through the use of modern means of communication. His establishment and management of the Catholic media centre in the archdiocese of Kaduna, Nigeria will stand the test of time. Here he trained more than 2000 Nigerians in the craft of radio and TV production and made more than 200 religious radio programmes and 30 TV programmes per year. Of John it can be truly said: “he was a legend in his own life time”.  Homily here…

Fr James McCarthy SMA – Funeral Homily – October 15th 2008 at St Joseph’s SMA Parish Church, Blackrock Road, Cork
Fr Jim McCarthyMany of you will recognise that two of the readings chosen for this Mass were the assigned readings for last Sunday’s liturgy. Jim died within a few hours of those readings being proclaimed in Catholic churches throughout the world, just a few minutes into the first hour of Monday morning. He was a few months shy of attaining 88 years of life; two months shy of celebrating 65 years as an SMA priest. Today we gather as a Christian community to celebrate his life and to pray him home to the God he strove to serve faithfully all his life. Homily here...

Fr Jeremiah Dwyer SMA – Funeral Homily – August 7th 2008 at St Joseph’s SMA Parish Church, Blackrock Road, Cork
Fr Jerry Dwyer SMATuesday 5th August was a difficult day for Fr Jerry Dwyer’s family. It was a difficult day but also a very special day because Fr Jerry’s sister Ann and her son Denis and brother Dan and his wife Brenda knew that when they were called by Fr O’Shea before breakfast that it was to come and say goodbye to their older brother who was such a part of their life. The family sat with Jerry from breakfast until supper when he took his last breath just before 6.00pm. Homily here…

Fr Dominic Kearns SMA – Funeral Homily – April 9th 2008 at St Joseph’s SMA Parish Church, Blackrock Road, Cork
Fr Dominic Kearns SMAFor the last few weeks of this Easter Season we have been celebrating the life and death and New Life of Jesus Christ.  As we continue that celebration we gather here today to celebrate also the life and death of Fr. Dominic Kearns SMA and to pray with great trust and hope that our friend and missionary is sharing also the New Life of Easter Resurrection with his God. Homily here…


Fr Connie Griffin SMA – Funeral Homily – November 26th 2007 at St Peter’s Church, Sabon Tasha, Kaduna, Nigeria
Fr Connie Griffin smaYour Grace, Archbishop Jatau, My Lord Bishops, Fellow Priests, Rev Sisters, Brothers & Sisters in Christ: On behalf of Fr Connie Griffin lying here, l wish to express our sincere gratitude to all of you gathered here this morning to pay our final respect to the Late Fr Griffin SMA.  He has indeed touched the lives of many people: he has  touched my life to the very depth of its core: not only because we have been close friends and near neighbours and because we have spent many hours sitting in the moonlight at Kurmin Sara, sharing experiences and expectations, but mainly because he was a deeply spiritual priest. Full text here…

Fr Frank McCabe SMA – Funeral Homily – September 6th 2007 at SMA Parish Church, Wilton
“But it is not as if you live in the dark, my brothers, for that Day to overtake you like a thief”. These words from St Paul’s first letter to the disciples at Thessalonica were heard in today’s second reading.  This in fact was the first reading at Mass on the morning that Frank died. Few people were as well prepared to meet the Lord as Fr Frank McCabe. His whole life was dedicated to the Lord: the greater part in active ministry; the latter years in full-scale prayer and adoration. It is a consolation to his family and friends that he went to meet the Lord not in the dark but very much in the light. Full text here…

Fr Brian Horan SMA – Funeral Homily – April 16th 2007 at SMA Parish Church, Wilton
There is a piece of wisdom that goes something like this:
Those who go looking for happiness for itself rarely find it.
But if you pursue being a good person; be motivated to be dedicated in ones calling
and conscientious in ones work – then happiness will find you.
These are the words that come to my mind as I try to sum up the life of Fr Brian. Happiness found Brian. The transition to the fullness of that happiness found him most unexpectedly when he died in his sleep some time on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning last. Unexpected for sure; unprepared I don’t think so. Full text here…

Fr Micheál Kennedy SMA – Funeral Homily – March 28th 2007 at SMA Parish Church, Wilton
“There is a destiny that makes us brothers None of us goes our way alone
All that we put into the lives of others Comes back into our own”.

I do not know the exact origin of these words but they impacted Halai Kennedy to the extent that he used them in a speech prepared for the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of ordination to priesthood in Blackrock Road in June, 2001. I think they express eloquently sentiments he lived his life by. He knew he was not alone. For the past number of years debilitating sickness necessitated his being aided in most things. Perhaps it was merely payback time for the goodness he brought to others’ lives during 55 plus years of missionary priesthood. Full text here…

Fr Peter Devine SMA – Funeral Homily – March 26th 2007 at Tullyallen Parish Church
When the renowned scripture scholar, the late Raymond Brown, was once asked if he intended following the writing of The Death of the Messiah by a similar work on the Resurrection he replied, ‘I would prefer to research that topic face to face’. Fr Peter ‘Doc’ Devine SMA is now face to face with the topic of resurrection and it is the belief of the Christian community gathered here this afternoon that the Lord has invited him home to begin the process of full sharing in the very being of God. Full text here…

Fr John McCreanor SMA – Funeral Homily – 01 March 2007 at The Parish Church, Ballinahinch, Co Down
Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been quoted as saying “we must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” The last decade or so of Fr John McCreanor’s 87 years of life was lived with the sign of suffering. Now his suffering is finally over. In the early hours of last Tuesday morning John yielded up his spirit and breathed his last. Full text here…

Fr Christopher Murphy SMA – Funeral Homily – 02 February 2007 at SMA Parish Church, Wilton, Cork
All things are born and die in time, but only in the case of human beings is an awareness of temporality constitutive of their identity. Without remembrance, we know not who we are, can make no plans and have no hope. We learn, or fail to learn, to live and speak the truth – and truthfulness takes time. This quotation from the theologian, Nicholas Lash, reminds us of the importance of remembering. It is through remembering we know who we are. In the life of Chris Murphy there is much to remember. In fact, eighty-eight full years of remembering. Sixty-two years of that as a missionary priest in the Society of African Missions. Full text here …

Fr David Hughes SMA – Funeral Homily – 15 January 2007 at SMA Parish Church, Wilton, Cork
The coming of the hour of dawn seems to be a significant time when people accept the invitation to journey from this life to the next. Our last two confreres buried from this church died at almost the exact same time of morning, soon after 8am. That final turn in the bed after a somewhat protracted illness seemed to allow them move gently into God. These two men’s lives warrant comparison: both lived to a ripe old age; both were ordained during the course of the 2nd World War; both served their early missionary career in Egypt, a mission to which not a large number were ever assigned; and both enjoyed healthy mental functioning until shortly before they died. David Hughes can now connect again with Owen Maginn and rehearse stories of Choubra and St George’s, Heliopolis. One thing we can be sure of: there will be much laughter. Full text here …


Fr Owen Maginn SMA – Funeral Homily – 05 December 2006 at SMA Parish Church, Wilton, Cork
 “When the Father laughs at the Son and the Son laughs back at the Father, that laughter gives pleasure, that pleasure gives joy, that joy gives love, and that love is the Holy Spirit”. When Meister Eckhart spoke those words back in the 14th century he may well have been motivated by having encountered someone like Fr Owen Maginn. I think for most of us the abiding memory we will carry of Owen is his laughter. Even when he was being most serious, or trying to be most serious, even in the latter days of his sickness when describing a condition that was obviously painful and critical, he could hardly conclude his remarks without breaking into his trademark giggle. That mischievous sparkle in the eye [as someone noted in our website guestbook], that giggle and laughter, were manifestations of something very wholesome inside the spirit and body of this extraordinary missionary. Full text here …

Fr John Burke SMA – Funeral Homily – 21 November 2006 at SMA Parish Church, Wilton, Cork
 One sometimes has to wonder at the planning of God! To take a man at a relatively young age, a man who is seemingly at the height of his powers and energy, a man who is devoting enormous amounts of time to good works, to the advancement of God’s reign on earth though pastoral action and writing, to take such a man appears to our way of planning as strange. Yet, this is all part of the mystery that is God and the mystery that is life. We do not know the mind of God. All we can do is live with the mystery and surrender ourselves to its unfolding meaning. Full text here…

Fr Tom Egan SMA – Funeral Homily – 5 May 2006 at SMA Parish Church, Wilton, Cork
In his heyday, Fr Tom Egan was renowned for the eloquence of his after-dinner speeches or his words of gratitude at an SMA Promoters’ meeting. It was a pleasure to be treated to Tom’s choice of complimentary and affirmative phrases that were rarely understated. However, in his latter years, particularly since he joined the community at Blackrock Road, his was a quiet but contented presence. It is perhaps fitting then that he died on the Feast of two of Jesus’ less prominent apostles, Saints Philip and James. Tom died on Wednesday morning last at the South Infirmary Hospital after a relatively short illness. We gather here this afternoon to celebrate this funeral liturgy and pray for the repose of his soul… Full text here…

Fr John Breheny SMA – Funeral Homily – 25 April 2006 at St Kevin’s Church, Keash, Co Sligo
If there is any such thing as a good time to die, then to die within the octave of Easter is not such a bad deal. These weeks the liturgy bombards us with resurrection imagery: the appearances of the post-resurrection Jesus the Christ testify that when he said while on earth “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again” he was not joking. The confidence with which Peter and companions go about healing in the name of Jesus and accounting for their actions with boldness before the Sanhedrin proves the truth of that extraordinary and eternal paradox of Christianity, namely, that new life can only come through death. During this Eastertide the Paschal or Easter candle is lit throughout, as it is lit at all funeral Masses. It is intended to be a symbol of the risen Lord among his people. His presence is light, shedding this light on the meaning of life. The candle is an invitation to those who seek this light in their lives to search the Scriptures if they wish to embrace the teaching of Jesus found there…. Full text here…

Fr Joseph Brennan SMA – Funeral Homily – 3 March 2006
“Remember, man, that you are dust and to dust you will return”.

These words of the Ash Wednesday liturgy were prayed in St Teresa’s Oratory just two hours before Joe Brennan died, peacefully in his bed just two doors down the corridor from the Oratory. The words are a stark reminder of the inevitability of death. Ash Wednesday, perhaps more than any other day with the possible exception of Good Friday, is a reality-check day. On that day one cannot avoid the reality of one’s own mortality. We will all eventually decay as our bodies return to the state of dust. Joe Brennan had the fortune to die on Ash Wednesday. Even though in the end his passing was sudden, he had really been preparing to die for quite some time now. Given his general state of health when he came over to Blackrock Road from Wilton some four years ago, one could say that these years have been a real bonus. It is also, of course, testimony to the wonderful care provided by our staff in Blackrock Road, lay and cleric. Joe appreciated this care very much. It is only right today to acknowledge it. … full text here

Fr James Gerard Lee SMA – Funeral Homily – 22 February 2006
Fr Jim LeeWhen Archbishop Michael Francis of Monrovia returned to Liberia on Tuesday of last week, after more than a year of medical care in the Blackrock Road community, and word came through that he had travelled comfortably and well and was now positively blooming and blossoming back in his native environment, it was almost as if Jim Lee gave himself permission to die. Though Jim would shy away from any comparison to the holy man Simeon in the temple there was a Simeon like quality to his passing, as if he were saying ‘now your servant is ready to go in peace’. It was as if the knowledge that the bishop whom he had faithfully companioned for the guts of thirty years, sometimes in days of extraordinary danger, was safely home was all that he needed to let go that fragile grasp of life … full text here

Fr Fergus Conlan SMA – Funeral Homily – 23 January 2006 (in Zambia)
First of all, I want to extend to you from Ireland profound condolence on the very unexpected death of Fr Fergus Conlan SMA. On behalf of the entire membership of the Irish Province of the SMA I extend to Fr Fergus’ family, the church here in Ndola our sincerest sympathy. To Bishop Noel O’Regan SMA, to the priests, sisters, catechists, laity leaders, youth leaders, and the full membership of the church I give an assurance of prayerful remembrance at this sad time. It is always sad to lose a colleague; it is even tougher to lose a leader; to lose both a colleague and leader in such unexpected circumstances is a significant trauma. To those of you who were present last Tuesday morning at Kuomboka to realise that Fergus was no longer with us I offer a special word of comfort and sympathy. When I heard the news in Ireland it was with profound shock. How much more shocking must it have been for you to realise that the one you greeted ‘good night’ to in seeming good health only a few hours before was now dead. My prayer is that this celebration of Fergus’ life and entry into new life will be for you a moment of great consolation and serenity. May you find in this celebration the strength to continue your ministry of service to the church in Zambia and find in the memory of Fergus empowerment for yourself and your people in the days and years ahead. Full text here…


Fr Con O’Driscoll SMA – Funeral Homily – 23 November 2005
Con O’Driscoll was vested in alb and stole ready to celebrate Mass with his beloved Knights of St Columbanus when he was taken suddenly ill and died just after 3pm on Sunday last, the Feast of Christ the King. For all of fifty-six years Con had lived his missionary priesthood with a passion that was both exemplary and inspiring. I have no doubt were one to ask Con for his choice of dress at death he would have chosen none other than what he was wearing. He may not have dared to hope for this. But it looks awfully like God’s way of saying “well done my good and faithful servant”. This is surely but a part of that hundredfold that the Lord promises in this life to those who serve faithfully and well. And few could have been as prepared as Con to enter effortlessly into the Father’s embrace when the final call came so suddenly. Sunday was also the eve of the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lady. For a man who had such a strong devotion to Our Lady there was surely a symbolism in this timing also. … full text here

Fr Daniel (Dan) Daly SMA – Funeral Homily – 14 July 2005
Fr Dan Daly SMAThe date 12th of July is associated by one community in Ireland with joy, by the other community with sadness: by one community with victory, by the other with loss. For Fr Dan Daly SMA this was the day he finally heard the invitation to accept victory over death and cross over into new life. For some time now he had enjoyed the status of being the oldest member of our Province. For someone who lived 95 and a half years – and indeed would sometimes claim that his recorded date of birth denied him another year – it was perhaps fitting that he should die on such an historic date. He was born at the very tail-end of the first decade of the last century and last millennium at Caherhayes, Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick. And he was to spend almost an entire century devoting his life to the promotion of God’s reign. Almost seventy years of this life was lived as an SMA missionary priest. So, we gather in thanksgiving this afternoon to pray that like Jesus Dan too will be resurrected into new life. … full text here

Fr Richard (Rickie) Devine SMA – Funeral Homily – 14 June 2005
Fr Richard Devine SMADietrich Bonhoeffer has been quoted as saying “we must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” Fr Rickie Devine’s life was blessed with many deeds. We will reflect on some of them in the course of this homily. But we remember also that the final years of his life were marked with the sign of suffering. He bore his suffering nobly and well. For a big powerful man the gradual weakening of his body and mind cannot have been easy to accept. His suffering is now finally over. He died peacefully, surrounded by the loving care of his own family and his family in the SMA, on Saturday afternoon last, at Blackrock Road, Cork. … full text here.

Fr John J (Seán) Kelly SMA – Funeral Homily – 28 April 2005
Fr Sean Kelly SMAThe unexpected death of Fr Seán last Sunday evening at his house in Lecarrow, Co Roscommon was a shock to his family, especially to his sister Theresa who was visiting with him for the weekend. It was a shock to his SMA family; to his parish family; to his large circle friends and acquaintances. It left us stunned, in complete darkness with all the lights gone out. We depended on our faith and God’s word to help us in our struggle with the trauma. … full text here

Fr Robert Molloy SMA – Funeral Homily – 11 April 2005
Fr Robert Molloy SMAThe beautifully solemn and dignified funeral ceremony of the late Pope John Paul II on Friday last was a reminder to all of us of the dignity of life, the dignity of death and the hope that Christians carry that death is not the end of dignity but the beginning of a new stage of greater dignity where life is lived in the greater fullness of God’s presence. Bob Molloy lived 92 years of life with great dignity. He died, as he lived, peacefully and quietly on the very morning that the leader of his church was buried, a church he served faithfully, diligently and with an admirable dignity all his life. … full text here

Fr Oliver Smith SMA 9 April 2005
Fr Oliver Smith SMAI imagine, if we were given a choice about when to die, many of us would choose to die during the season of Easter. This is the season of alleluia and new life. The season when we are reminded again and again that death is truly swallowed up in victory. For Oliver Smith it was a lovely blessing to die during this season. And to have died in the very week that the Pope himself died, a man who seniored Oliver by only 20 days, must be regarded as a special privilege indeed. … full text here.

Fr Thomas Higgins SMA – Funeral Homily – … February 2005
1st February ushers in the Season of Spring. We notice a lengthening of the light at both ends of the day. That theme of light is carried on into the second day of the month, when we celebrate a mini-festival with lighted candles as we contemplate the Presentation of the child Jesus in the temple. 1st February is also the Feastday of St Brigid, secondary patron of Ireland. Tom Higgins’ theology and spirituality would have little truck with modern day, feminist inspired connections being made between a pagan goddess and a Christian saint, but that he should die on this particular day is not without some significance. Brigid consecrated her whole life to God, as a virgin; so did Tom. Brigid is renowned for her hospitality, almsgiving and care of the sick. These are themes running through the life of Fr Tom; at one point, as giver; at another, as receiver. He died peacefully early on Tuesday morning, in Blackrock Road, after a protracted illness. … full text here.

Fr Laurence Skelly SMA – Funeral Homily – … January 2005
The Tsunami tragedy in S.E. Asia over the holiday period has given rise to lively debate as to where was God during this tragedy. How could a good God allow such a tragedy to happen, many asked. This is not a new question. The problem of suffering has been debated since the beginning of time, since humanity has become aware that suffering is part of the human condition. Some valiant attempts at explanation have been offered, running something like the following: God’s is a creation in freedom where the marvellous processes of nature have the capacity to produce wonderful development and growth but can also bring utter destruction and devastation. For God to intervene to stop disasters occurring would necessarily involve the cessation of freedom. In such a state we would all be responding in a programmed fashion like robots. God’s gift was to create the world with its own laws, and human beings with freedom and the ability to make choices. … full text here.


Fr Thomas (Tommy) Lindon SMA – Funeral Homily – 28 December 2004
There is something very poignant and sad about dying on Christmas Day. And, yet, there is something very uplifting in it also. To die in the hope of eternal life on the very day when we celebrate the coming down to earth as man of the very Son of God, the one in whom all our hopes of eternal life rest, the one who himself incarnated hope, is somehow a beautiful rounding off to a life lived in this unquenchable hope, and dedicated to spreading this same message of hope to the very ends of the earth. Fr Tommy Lindon passed away very peacefully at about 7pm on Christmas Day. His death concludes one stage of his existence. His death also brings to a closure a time of suffering and unease when the quality of his life was far from what one would wish. For a man of brilliant intellect these last few years must have been shockingly disfigured. And, yet, not least because of the loving care he received in St Theresa’s, he was gently released to meet his God when the time was right. … full text here.

Fr Michael (Mick) McGlinchey SMA – Funeral Homily – 14 December 2004
John Ayscough is quoted as saying, “Death is but a sharp corner near the beginning of life’s procession down eternity”.
These words seem appropriate in attempting to preach the word at the funeral of Fr Michael McGlinchey. In the last few years Mick’s walking style was considerably slower making sharp corners difficult to negotiate. As was observed of a famous man in his declining years, frail step following frail step – going nowhere with elegance. … full text here.

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