Homily of Canon John Kearney at Funeral Mass of Cathy Dinsmore, St Peter’s Church, Warrenpoint

26 Aug 2011


26 August 2011

Homily of Canon John Kearney at Funeral Mass of Cathy Dinsmore, St Peter’s Church, Warrenpoint

I am standing here this afternoon before this great gathering of people brought together by the common bond of the tragic death of Cathy Dinsmore,

I am very much aware that words are inadequate to temper our grief or to begin to heal the pain being so keenly felt in the church today, and yet we have talked as we have been talking over the last few days.  Since Cathy died just over a week ago we have been telling stories and asking questions and getting no answers.  For so many people in this church today, the death of Cathy has turned their world upside down, we are shocked as individuals and we are visibly shaken as a community when we learned about the unexpected and tragic death of Cathy who was born and reared here in Warrenpoint and was known by so many.  We do not want to believe or accept that a person who was known so well and loved so much is now dead.  In a sense we are paralysed.  We are suspended in disbelief.  Today there is a huge emptiness in our hearts because Cathy has been taken away from us in this way.  It is no wonder that we are devastated at this time, our grief is enormous.  What are we to do, how are we to cope?

Only our faith in God can sustain us and prevent us from remaining suspended in disbelief as we mourn Cathy’s death and struggle to cope with our sense of loss.  Only the word of God can offer us consolation and hope when we are confronted with the frailty and uncertainty of human life.  I think of the words from the book of Wisdom ……‘Their going looked like a disaster, their leaving us like an annihilation’ ….. God know these words certainly apply to Cathy’s untimely death.  However we must also listen to the reassurance, concerning Cathy, Marion and many other people who have died, we are assured through the Word of God in the same book of Wisdom …..‘but they are in peace …. those who are faithful will live with him in love, for grace and mercy await those he has chosen’.  Our faith in The Risen Christ encourages us to hope that Cathy is now in peace and enjoying eternal life.  We pray that through God’s mercy and forgiveness Cathy has made her own the words of the psalm – ‘I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living’.  Even so we will continue to pray for her and ask her to pray for us.

Cathy is one of a family of four, John and George her brothers and her sister Bernadette, who died in infancy.  She was born and reared here in Warrenpoint and faith tells us she and all the others we remember today have gone round the corner ahead of us, the manner of their going is no longer relevant.  What does matter is that while here, they in their different ways showed us some of the goodness that God puts into men and women and Cathy certainly did that.  So on this day despite our sorrow and grief, we give thanks to God for their lives and it is with confidence that we pray to the same God to give them eternal rest.

Cathy is dead and her death brings with it the sense of loss and regret and sadness that death often carries in its wake.  It sets aside the boundaries that ordinarily reassure us and we are left floundering in the great mystery of it all.  Last week parents were busy getting children ready to go back to school, young people awaited their examination results, we did the one thousand and one ordinary things that make us the lives we lead.  And then suddenly we find ourselves at the funeral of a loved one and in the space of a week or a few days or even a few hours our lives are turned upside down.  Difficult it may be in the welter of emotions that come and go so quickly that is what death does to those who mourn their loved ones.

Sure there are questions as there always are with the death of a loved one questions that jump out at us in every waking hour, questions that lie in wait for us and tumble out of our minds at the most unexpected moments, regrets that haunt ourselves with the litany of ‘If onlys’ that make us want to play back the tape of Cathy’s life and death so that we could write a different script for her.  She was a gentle and kind woman and these qualities make the tragedy of her life so difficult to get over.  She was religious too, God and things of God were important to her and that is why we can be confident that God who gave her life will be good to her in death.  The God who knew the anguish of personal suffering in the person of his Son on Calvary will take Cathy to himself by virtue of His Son’s resurrection.  The God who loved Cathy in life will be able to put the jigsaw of her life together.  She went on holiday bringing with her the usual bits and pieces and when her family went out to Turkey to accompany her body home, packed all her belongings for the return to Ireland and Warrenpoint, there among them was the memorial card of her late mother Pauline who will be ten years dead in a few days.

At times like this what we need above all, is to ask God to deepen our faith in his goodness, mercy and love and to help us understand that behind the unresolved mysteries of life, behind the contradictions and the strangeness of human living, that there is purpose, a reason, a meaning behind what appears to us in our restless way to be purposeless or indifferent.  And that is where our faith comes in.  It comes in making the connection between the life Cathy lived on this earth and the life with God we now believe she enjoys in heaven.  Our faith comes too in reminding us that Jesus died for each one of us and that he has gone before us to prepare a place for each one of us that we may share with him in his glorious resurrection.

We need to understand (vaguely that we often do) that beyond the tears and pain of this day there is a happiness that Cathy believed God had prepared for all of us.  But despite our faith, and even with our faith, death disrupts and diminishes our lives and we have to deal with that too.  But Jesus has said, “Come to me all you that labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest.  Shoulder my yoke and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls.”

So despite the pain of this day, despite the restlessness of spirit that we may feel, let us entrust Cathy to the loving arms of the God in whose image she was made.  Let us offer the joyful mysteries and the sorrowful mysteries of her life to God who loved her in life and now care for her in death.  We pray that those who loved her dearly may be given the strength and the courage to cope with her death.  And we pray especially that God may welcome her home to that great city the new and eternal Jerusalem.


Further information:
Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678