Homily of Canon Malachy Murphy at the funeral Mass of Brendan McAleese

14 Feb 2011

14 February 2011

Homily of Canon Malachy Murphy at the funeral Mass of Brendan McAleese

This sudden and tragic death casts a cloud over this whole community.  It is a small close-knit community. Our first reaction was one of disbelief. We felt numb. Why should this happen to such a good man and such a nice family?  Our thoughts and prayers go out to those whose hearts are broken. We ask questions.  Why?  We are full of ‘if onlys’.  This great gift of life we have received from God our Creator is a treasure.  It is precious and  it  is fragile.

We have all experienced an unexpected power-cut when the lights go out, the TV goes blank and the cooker goes cold. We are plunged into darkness.  For a while we feel lost, helpless and even a little frightened.  We are annoyed because of the disruption.   We want to know why it has happened.  We even want to blame somebody.

Sudden death of a loved one is like that.  One minute the sun is shining and everyone is smiling. Without the slightest warning or the slightest chance to prepare ourselves we are plunged into darkness.  In the space of a moment our whole life is turned upside down.  Nothing has prepared us for this. We want to know why. We even try to convince ourselves that it didn’t happen at all. A darkness descends upon us. We search around for a light.

God tells us to find the only light that can penetrate this darkness – the Light of Christ. When Christ died on the Cross; ‘from the sixth hour there was darkness all over the land until the ninth hour’. The Apostles experienced that darkness and despair.  Even Jesus himself felt that his Father had deserted him. ‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me?’  With the Apostles there was a great sense of loss, of uncertainty.  All their hopes and dreams had crumbled.  What they did not know at the time was that Christ’s light would shine again. Like the relief when the electricity comes on again, it was a relief when Easter Sunday came and their master rose from the dead. The Light of Christ that dispelled their darkness was a new and wonderful light.

The Light of Christ is with Brendan’s family at this moment.  St Paul tells us that ‘nothing can separate us from the love of God neither suffering, nor tragedy, nor death.’  That is the faith we must cling to at difficult times like this.  Times like this can even strengthen our faith and deepen our conviction.  It was only when the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles at Pentecost that they were able to face the future with renewed hope. Your faith, the strength of the Holy Spirit, the support of your many friends will enable you to cope.

Brendan McAleese had that sound faith in God which kept him going when things were difficult. He learnt from his parents to put his trust in God. From the moment he was baptised 39 years ago Our Lord was an important part of his life.  He and Anne Marie came to Mass here each Sunday in this church and they were passing on the faith to their children. Brendan was first and foremost a family man. He adored Anne Marie, Ava and Erin.  All his energies were geared to providing for them. He had a warm personality, honest and  generous. He looked out for others. There wasn’t a selfish bone in his body. Brendan was very successful in his business because he worked extremely hard.  He was on his way to a business meeting when the tragedy occurred.  Brendan was very popular.  He was the heart and soul of any gathering he was in. Where Brendan was, there was plenty of fun and banter. With that mischievous smile he  had the ability to make people laugh. He was a great man to be around. Many will miss him.

We sympathise with Anne Marie, Ava and Erin, with Mary his mother, with his sister Denise and his brother Joseph, with the extended McAleese and McErlean families, his work colleagues  and his many friends. They will have many wonderful memories of him. They can be consoled that he is now at peace.  May Brendan rest in peace.

Very Rev Canon Malachy Murphy

St Joseph’s, Antrim


Further information:
Martin Long, Director of Communications 00353 (0) 86 172 7678
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer 00353 (0) 87 310 4444