HOMILY FOR FUNERAL MASS OF FR. MICHEÁL MANNION, CLONBUR – 9th MARCH 2016.
Welcome and Introduction
I welcome you all as we gather to commend Fr. Micheál to God’s mercy, to thank God for the gift of life and priesthood to him and the gift of his life to us. We offer our deepest sympathy to his family, Maura, Catherine, Tomás, Teresa and the extended family. I welcome my brother priests, Rev. Garry Hastings and Dean Alister Grimason of the Church of Ireland, the religious, the people of the parish, people from places where Fr. Micheál served and his many friends.
Prayer and Supporting each other
We gather, stunned by Micheál’s death and devastated in our grief. We gather to commend him to the gentle mercy of our loving God and to comfort and console each other in our sorrow.
Seeking answers in the face of bereavement
This is one of the situations in which we find it difficult if not impossible to put words on the emotions which we experience. The voice sticks in our throat and our eyes fill up. So many questions are swirling about in our minds. Why has this happened? A young priest, happy in his vocation and generous in his ministry, faithful to God and so devoted to the people of God? The human concern to find answers to our questions is understandable, yet as a people of faith our questions, our pondering and our puzzlement must be directed to God even if they may not appear to find an immediate answer.
Ceisteanna mhóra agus dúshlán dúinn ar fad
Dúshlán ollmhór dúinn ar fad ar lá mar seo ciall a bhaint as an fhulaingt agus an bhrón atá inár gcroíthe agus muid ar smaoineamh ar an tAthair Micheál Ó Mainnín.
Facing and acknowledging the challenge of darkness
There are times when we carry burdens that don’t make sense. This is one of the times in which we carry burdens that don’t appear to make sense. Some overcome those burdens and others are overcome by them. Help is always available, good friends are more than willing to listen – Samaritans/Family Centre, Castlebar. The manner of Fr. Micheál’s passing will cast a long shadow over many lives for years to come. It should not be allowed, however, to define his life or to darken the outstanding service given as a priest for over 18 years in our Archdiocese.
Faith giving voice to how we feel
There is a phrase in the Prophet Isaiah which states “truly, you are a God, who lies hidden”. Before the time of Jesus, the Prophets and the Psalmists often did the equivalent of shaking a clenched fist before God as they coped with situations which they found overwhelming, incredible and meaningless in their fear, anxiety, desperation and darkness. For people of faith like ourselves darkness demands to be faced in God’s presence and that is what we are endeavouring to do in our Eucharist and our prayer.
Presenting our Inner Turmoil before God
Yes, our doubts, inconsistences, confusions and rebellion reject facile solutions but must be directed towards God. The security which we find in faith enables us to cope with the insecurity of unanswered questions. Courage and faith are compatible with the inner turmoil.
Thanksgiving to God for the life and ministry of Fr. Micheál
We thank God today for Fr. Micheál. Ordained on the 1st June 1997, he had no illusions about Christ’s invitation to all who would be His followers; “if you want to be a disciple of mine, renounce yourself, take up your cross every day and follow me”. The challenge of being a Christian, and in particular being a priest in today’s world, is that suffering always walks side by side with peace and the cross and is always linked with the promise of Resurrection. After one year as Dean in St. Jarlath’s College he ministered for eleven years in Westport where he co-ordinated the pastoral ministry to Clare Island and Inisturk.
Saol Thréadach sa Ghaeltacht
Ceapadh in shagart pobail é go hÁrainn ó 2010-2014 agus d’aistrigh sé go dtí An Fháirche agus Corr na Móna i 2014, áit ar cepadh é ina Shagart Pobail i 2015. Duine spioradálta, sona, suáilceach ab ea an tAthair Michéal. Bhí sé gníomhach i gcúrsaí pobail agus coistí áitiúla cíbe áit a raibh sé.
Traits and characteristics of his gentle spirit
His ministry was always characterised by a deep-seated loyalty towards Jesus Christ, his fellow priests, his family, the people that he served so generously. I had experience of that loyalty on so many occasions. A big man with a big heart, he was always reflecting on how he might serve his people best. His courtesy and good humour endeared him to all who were privileged to come into contact with him. He was very happy and fulfilled in all his various appointments. He was very resourceful in dedication to the people. Very encouraging of youth, he enjoyed working with them, challenging them and promoting the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association among them. Very sensitive in his ministry to the sick and the bereaved; each year he accompanied the Irish Hospitals Trust on their pilgrimage to Lourdes. They enjoyed Fr. Micheál, always gentle and generous in his approach to each pilgrim. He frequently used his wide-ranging interests and hobbies in the service of the Gospel. Being Athletic and energetic he excelled in the area of running the outdoor life. He was skilled in so many areas, furniture restoration, car mechanics and all sorts of DIY.
Dedication to Family
Fr. Micháel received great support from his family and was very proud of their achievements in academic pursuits as well as sporting and drama. They looked forward to his weekly visits and he enjoyed a wonderful relationships with his nieces and nephews. Fr. Micheál will be sadly missed by all who knew him, primarily of course by his family, Máire, Teresa, Catherine and Tomás and the extended family along with the priests of the Archdiocese, the people of Clonbur and Cornamona and all the places where he has served so generously.
Thanks and Appreciation
At times like this so many people have been so helpful, co-operative and innovative. I thank the people of Clonbur and Cornamona who had taken Fr. Micheál to their hearts and provided him with wonderful support. The members of An Garda Síochána, the local doctor and muintir na háite who were so sensitive, understanding and supportive all through the situation and I want to say a very special thank you to them as well as to the parish priest of Cong, Fr. Paddy Gilligan. To all the people who were so supportive, attended the removal last night and the Mass today, the many people who sent messages of condolence among them the Western Bishops and Bishop Patrick Rooke. A word of thanks to Cathal Kearney and his team from the Family Centre in Castlebar for the powerful and professional assistance.
Seeking meaning and consolation as we prepare for Holy Week
This situation, so full of strangeness and shock, disturbing and dangerous comes as we approach the end of Lent and endeavour to make sense of and derive meaning and support from the passion and the pain of Holy Week. That was a time when the absence of God was tangible and vivid, with the Son of God in the grave and those who looked for meaning, deflated and despairing and yet in this episode God was truly present in the suffering and the disillusionment. What we experience is very much akin to a Holy Saturday experience. We are situated between Good Friday’s cross and Easter Sunday’s explosion of resurrection and new life. Yet, our hope in Jesus Christ gives us the courage not to be swallowed up by the experience of disillusionment. We cannot eliminate the darkness and yet in this darkness our faith enables us to catch a glimpse of a flickering light which the darkness is never able to completely extinguish. It is that which enables us to live with many questions unanswered.
Cailliúnt agus comhbhrón
Cailliúnt oll-mhór dúinn ar fad atá in imeacht an Athair Michéal, go háirithe dá mhuintir don phobail seo agus do ’chuile dhuine a raibh aithne acu air. Comhbhrón ó chroí agus go ndéana Dia trócaire air!
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam usual séimh, álainn.