Archbishop Neary’s Homily for Canon John Fallon P.E. R.I.P.


From the day of his Ordination in 1964, Canon John Fallon’s priesthood was motivated and expressed by two central realities; fidelity towards the God who called him to become a priest and generous service to the people of God.  He commenced his priestly ministry in Aughagower where he served for five years.  He spent one year as Adm. in Clare Island.  From there he moved as curate to Achill for fifteen years, and then on to Louisburgh for five.  He was appointed Parish Priest of Achill in 1992.  Fr. John was very happy in the Clew Bay area, was very knowledgeable regarding the sea and tides.  People still speak of his generosity towards them and the powerful support he provided for them at times of tragedy, death and illness as he stood shoulder to shoulder with them.  They remember him as a constant presence who was always so accessible.


Canon John was also gifted with great practical skills.  He was known to wire a house and prepare it for electricity.  Many parishioners sought his expertise on Volkswagen Beatles.  A mechanic recommended him as the great expert on diesel engines and only eighteen months ago at a Confirmation dinner he entertained priests with his knowledge of the advantages/disadvantages of electric cars.  All of that endeared him to individuals and families in his parish.  When Pope John Paul II came to Knock in 1979, Canon John’s expertise was called upon by the communications team, especially with the technical side of communications on that occasion.


A man of few words, but when he spoke it was always informative.  He had the ability to cut through the theoretical jargon.  A remark which he made as a student of philosophy to a Professor in Maynooth has gone down in history.  Fr. John himself many a time enjoyed relaying the story.


When I suggested that he leave the Clew Bay area and become Parish Priest of Kilmaine, I know that the people were very sorry to see him move, such was the esteem in which they held him.  In 2013 he was appointed Canon of the Cathedral Chapter of the Archdiocese, an honour which he wore very lightly, but an honour he richly deserved nonetheless.


A man of great loyalty to the Church.  He was concerned about the central message of Jesus Christ and the core of Church teaching.  He was un-impressed by some of the more sensational aspects of religion which emerged from time to time.  I mentioned that his pastoral zeal provided him with great insight into people, their cares and worries, their hopes and ambitions.  He enabled his parishioners to put all this in the context of their faith in Jesus Christ.


A mark of his total dedication to priesthood was evident in that when reaching the age of seventy-five which requires a parish priest to resign the parish, Canon John agreed to continue to provide pastoral and sacramental care to the people of Kilmaine.  He fulfilled this responsibility with his customary generosity and dedication and although at times, he was challenged by health issues, the people of Kilmaine admired his fidelity to his priestly calling, and they availed of the occasion of his Golden Jubilee of Priesthood to pull out all the stops and show him how much he meant to them and to thank him for his most selfless service.


The past year, due to Covid lockdown and restrictions of gathering for Mass has been very challenging for all.  It has been difficult for priests who cannot conduct funerals, visit homes, take care of the sick and celebrate Mass with parishioners.  Last September Canon John and I discussed the situation and he decided to retire.  I told him that whenever the restrictions would be lifted we would arrange a special Mass and retirement function with the people of Kilmaine.  I informed him that the Archdiocese would provide a location of his choice for his retirement.  However, in keeping with his no-fuss lifestyle he opted to stay with his sister where he received excellent care.  I want to thank Peggy for the way she looked after Canon John.  This has been difficult in view of the ailing health and death of her late husband, Mattie.  As priests we reply very much on the support of our families and parishioners.  Canon John was particularly blessed in his own family and in the people he generously served.


I join with the people of parishes in which he served and with the priests of the Archdiocese in offering our sincere sympathy and the support of our prayers to Peggy and family and the people of Kilmaine parish.


Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dhílis.

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