Homily of Bishop Denis Brennan, Bishop of Ferns at Mass in Rowe St Church, Sunday, 23 November 2008
In particular today we honour Frank Flanagan, his wife Stella, their daughters Susan, Julie and Elaine and their son Frank Jnr for what they have done, in the words of the Our Father “to make the Kingdom come.”
Over the past twenty years Frank has given of his time and talent to make the Kingdom of God accessible to thousands upon thousands of people.
In addition to his own work in local radio he also found time to train many young people from the schools in the Diocese in the art of broadcasting and media production.
Apart from training others, Frank also attended broadcasting courses with the BBC so as to maintain his own professional standards in communication. In the last year he used his communications skills in assisting with the process of reconstructing and re-launching the diocesan website.
His comments and attention to detail were of great benefit to us and we appreciate the fact that he still continues to give of his time and expertise generously and enthusiastically.
In his very popular programme “Sounding Out” on South-East radio, Frank explored and explained what it meant to be a believer.
He spoke of the joy of believing, but he also articulated the difficulties people often encounter on the journey of life as they absorb hard knocks and search for faith.
In addition to “Sounding Out” on issues affecting the Church in Ireland, Frank also travelled to the States and South Africa to give his listeners a sense of church in very different places.
Over those twenty years, Frank, you have performed an invaluable service to the church here in Ferns, and indeed further afield because South-East Radio covers a huge area of the south east of Ireland. You will never know the people you have touched in your many programmes.
In the Gospel today Jesus speaks of people who help to make the Kingdom of God happen.……”I was hungry and you gave me food……thirsty and you gave me drink……a stranger and you made me welcome…….naked and you clothed me…….sick and you visited me…….in prison and you came to see me”.
In your radio ministry, Frank, you have done all these things, but like the person in the gospel you may be surprised to hear it.
To the hungry you gave food for thought, to those thirsting for knowledge you opened up new horizons and gave new perspectives. Your programmes were wide ranging and inclusive and you always made the stranger feel welcome and heard.
You encouraged and affirmed the naked and the vulnerable. Over the airwaves you visited the sick with words of comfort and hope.
There are many ways of being in prison, addiction, isolation, bereavement.
On many a Saturday morning you reached out to such people, in naming their prison, you helped to empower and liberate them.
I warmly welcome His Excellency Archbishop Leanza on his first official visit to our diocese and I thank him for coming personally to present the Cross of St Gregory the Great to Frank.
During the recent Ad Limina Visit of the Irish Bishops to Rome, the Holy Father expressed his particular concern for the people of Ferns and your presence here today is a visible sign of that fraternal regard.
I assure Your Excellency of the affection the people of our diocese have for the Holy Father as the successor of St Peter and for you as his representative in Ireland.
Your presence here today is felicitous for another reason too. Over the past year we have been celebrating the 150th Anniversary of our famous twin churches, the church we are in this morning, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Rowe St. and the Church of the Assumption, Bride St.
Your presence here this morning is a fitting finale to this wonderful year of celebration and thanksgiving.
I take the opportunity once again to thank Fr Jim and the Priests of the Parish, the various Committees, the Religious and People of the town, the Mayor and Members of the Borough Council for making the Sesquicentenary of the Twin Churches such a memorable occasion.
I conclude with a word of thanks to all involved in CMT, the Christian Media Trust. Since its foundation CMT has been a very valuable platform for proclaiming the Gospel.
It produces over four hours of programmes per week and enables the Christian voice to be heard in the modern marketplace.
It is a source of joy and satisfaction that other ecclesial communities share this media apostolate, the Church of Ireland, Methodist and Presbyterian.
This has been, and continues to be, a great blessing on our Diocese, and it is something that we value greatly.
Speaking on World Communications Day and addressing all involved in the media the Holy Father said “authentic freedom is experienced as a definitive response to God’s ‘yes’ to humanity, calling us to choose all that is good, true and beautiful.”
Frank, over the past twenty years you have generously and wholeheartedly made that freedom available to countless thousands of people.
In your many and varied programmes you have urged them to choose all that is good, true and beautiful.
In acknowledgement of what you have done in the name of the Gospel, the Holy Father has graciously granted you the Pontifical Honour of Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great.
I congratulate you, Stella, and the family on richly deserving this award, and I now ask you to come forward and receive it from the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Leanza.
Martin Long, Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer (087 233 7797)