Funeral Rites of Fr Columbanus McKeogh SMA
At 5.30pm on Thursday, 2 June, the remains of Fr Colum McKeogh were removed to St Theresa’s Oratory at the SMA House, Blackrock Road where Evening Prayer for the Dead and the customary prayers were led by Fr Colum O’Shea SMA. At 7pm the Rosary was led by Fr Sean Lynch SMA.
On Friday, 3 June, Fr Colum’s nephew, Mr Brian Daly, and other relations gathered with the SMA community and some OLA Sisters for the removal of Fr McKeogh’s remains to St Joseph’s SMA Parish Church in Wilton. Before his removal the House Leader, Fr Colum O’Shea gave a brief address and led the prayers. The cortege then travelled across the city to Wilton where Fr Dan Cashman and SMA confreres waited to welcome Fr Colum for the last time.
Fr Bill Kennedy, who worked with Colum in the Midwest of Nigeria, read from 2 Cor 1: 3-11 and Psalm 129. Fr Cashman read from the Gospel of St Matthew (6:1-6) before the latter gave the following short address:
My earliest memory of Fr Colum is associated with Annunciation College, Irrua, in the then diocese of Benin City but now the diocese of Uromi. He was at that time an enthusiastic teacher and later carried over that energy when he was appointed Principal of the school. Colum was not someone who broadcast his many educational successes, but suffice it to say that during his time as Principal his school was considered to be among the top five schools in the State.
His approach to teaching, like most things in his life, was methodical and logical. I admired the way he could shut out non essentials and focus on the task in hand.
His students knew that ‘Fada’ had no reverse, as they used to say. His ‘yes’ was yes and his ‘no’ was always no! But parents were delighted for they recognized his commitment and dedication to education and the students respected his impartiality.
On reflection I feel that this clear focus on essentials is what he appreciated most in the great Meath football teams that achieved fame under his friend, Sean Boylan. These teams were an extension of Colum’s own approach to life.
My other memory of Colum comes from more recent years, when we were on retreat together in Dromantine. Colum would spend hours in the Prayer Room with nothing but an old worn out, tattered, well-travelled Bible. The book, like Colum, showed the signs of ageing and infirmity, but still carried those messages of hope, courage and perseverance which were the trademark virtues of Colum throughout his ministry.
I suspect that Colum no longer needs to read a book, for now whatever barriers existed have disappeared and he has met the Word in Person.
May Colum rest in peace!
After the final prayers and a singing of the Hymn, Sweet Heart of Jesus, the mourners and community were invited to light refreshments in the community dining room.
Saturday, 4 June was a beautiful day and many relatives of Fr Colum as well as friends from Ballivor and other parts made the long drive to Cork to say a final farewell. On the Minibus from Ballivor was the Ballivor Parish Priest, Fr Oliver Devine as well as the former PP, Fr Mattie Mullen. Others came by car from Dublin, Meath and Westmeath.
Fr John Dunne SMA, Vice Provincial Leader was assisted at the Altar by Fr Oliver Devine (PP Ballivor), Fr Owen McKenna SMA (a classmate of Fr Colum), Fr Peter Thompson SMA (who worked with Fr Colum in the MidWest of Nigeria) and Fr Bernard Cotter SMA (who ministered with Fr Colum in South Africa). Forty more priests also concelebrated the Mass, including Fr Mattie Mullen (PE Meath) and Fr Jim Barry SPS.
The Readings for the Mass were read by Philomena Delacey and Joanne Daly.
The Prayers of the Faithful were led by Anne Curran and Nancy McKeogh.
The Bread and Wine for the Mass were brought to the Altar by Maureen and Brendan McKeogh.
Sr Mary Barron OLA played the Keyboard and the singing was led by Fr Denis Collins SMA.
After Communion Fr Dunne invited Maureen McGearty to read a poem composed by a school friend of Fr Colum, John Quinn (formerly of Ballivor but now living in Clarinbridge, Co Galway). He had originally composed this poem to celebrate Fr Colum’s Golden Jubilee which he was due to celebrate later this year. He amended it to take account of his death. Read poem here.
After the Prayers of Commendation the remains of Fr Colum were brought to the adjoining SMA cemetery to be laid to rest alongside his colleagues who have gone before him marked with the sign of faith. Standing near the grave was Maria McClair, proudly wearing the Meath jersey and carrying the Meath flag. Fr Colum would have been pleased! The Prayers at the grave were concluded with a decade of the Rosary recited by Fr Mullen.
After the singing of the Salve Regina, everyone repaired to the community dining room for lunch and to share stories of Fr Colum.