I welcome you all as we come to celebrate and give thanks to the Lord for Fr. J.J. Cribbin. Welcome to the members of his family and close friends. Joining with the celebrant and Parish Priest, Canon Stephen Farragher I extend my sympathy and the promise of my prayers to his family. Due to Covid-19 pandemic it was not possible to have the Mass celebrated in Milltown with the people of the Parish with whom Fr. J.J. ministered for the past 22 years. I welcome all who join us on the webcam and parish radio, the people from the parishes where Fr. J.J. served and especially the people of Milltown and Ballyglass, my brother priests, religious, his classmates Canons Joe O’Brien and John Walsh, followers of Gaelic Football and those who wore the green and red with J.J.
I hope you won’t think it improper if I mention that fifty years ago on this very day and date Mayo defeated Down in the National League final. That day the corner-forward scored 2-1. It was our own J.J.
On the 21st June, 1970 J.J. knelt before Archbishop Cunnane in the Cathedral in Tuam and was asked a number of questions regarding his intentions to carry out the priestly ministry, promising to do so with the help of God and with the prayers of the people of God. J.J. responded with the very generous yes to all those questions. Incidentally at that very moment Mayo were playing Roscommon a couple hundred yards down the road in Tuam stadium. J.J. was to be a member of that team but his priorities were for priesthood.
His first appointment saw him as Prefect of Studies in St. Jarlath’s College and after one year he became Dean. Canon J.J. was much more at home in the Pastoral ministry of the parish when he moved to Taugheen in 1973. He became involved in charismatic prayer group and provided great support for prayer groups throughout the Archdiocese. After six years in Taugheen he moved to Breaffy outside of Castlebar where he ministered for eleven years. There he used his football skills in his ministry with young people as part of his pastoral approach. In 1990 he moved to Athenry for 8 years and then became Parish Priest of Milltown.
During all those years Fr. J.J. lived his priesthood in a very consistent and courageous manner. On a previous occasion I compared the way in which he exercised his priestly ministry to the committed way in which he wore the Jarlath’s, Ballyhaunis and Mayo Jerseys on the field of play. When J. J. got the ball he dropped the shoulders and headed straight for the goal. There was just one thing on his mind. His sheer strength enabled him to cut through and carry members of the opposition on his back. In his priestly ministry J.J. was totally focused on the Lord as his goal. Nothing would distract him from proclaiming the word of God to the people of God. He had the ability to isolate the important from the unimportant and this was very significant at a time when there was so much confusion in society and in the Church itself.
He has been with his people in good times and in bad, sharing their joys and sorrows and always providing a supportive shoulder and a listening ear. A man of very deep faith and prayer, as a preist he faithfully witnessed to a welcoming, forgiving, compassionate and encouraging God.
The past few years have been very difficult as he carried the cross of ill-health. Yet until very recently he continued to minister during this time and his devotion to priesthood has left a deep impression on the people he served, particularly in Milltown and Ballyglass. For the last few months he has been very much in the minds, and hearts and prayers of the people that he served. Today we thank God for J.J.’s priestly ministry and for all the people he has influenced, encouraged and supported and brought close to the Lord during those 50 years. I have seen video footage of the lines of people paying their respects as the funeral cortege moved from Castlebar through Breaffy, Ballindine, Ballyglass, Milltown, Irishtown and into Ballyhaunis. This was very edifying and an indication of the esteem in which the priesthood in which Fr. J.J. participated is held by the People of God. We thank God for this gift of priesthood and we ask the Lord to send more young men into the priestly ministry. I offer my sincere sympathy to J.J.’s brother Tony, sister-in-law Anne, his nieces Louise and Cliona, Áine, nephew Tony and their families. Fr. J.J. enjoyed a very close relationship with his family and received powerful support form them.
I would like to pay a special tribute to Maisie and Val Jennings who have been so good to Fr. J.J. and so supportive of him over the years. I would like to express my deep appreciation and thanks to Canon John D. Flannery who has been so generously available to the people of Milltown and Ballyglass during J.J.’s illness, and indeed his brother Canon Séamus.
Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilís. Go dtuga Dia leaba dó i measc peiledeóirí Mhuigh Eó.