26 August 2011
Homily of Father John Byrne at Funeral Mass of Marian Graham, St Mary’s Chapel, Newry
This morning finds this congregation gathered here in St Mary’s Chapel for what is a very sad occasion. The death of any of us is inescapable – it is a reality of life – however the time of our death and the circumstances surrounding it can never be predicted.
Marian Graham’s family, young and old, today bring her to the Lord still struggling to come to terms with her death.
A tragedy will always stun us because it is so unexpected. It is particularly true then for Marian’s family and this community because we are so painfully aware of the tragic circumstance of her death and indeed the death of her friend Cathy Dinsmore. Both families are united in their grief and it is natural that they have so many questions but so few answers.
Losing someone so close as a mother and a dear friend has caused numbness and confusion.
The feelings of Marian’s family at this time might be compared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They had lost a loved one, in totally unforeseen circumstances, and they were leaving the city of Jerusalem not sure what to do next. A darkness had overcome them as they talked about what had happened and try as they might they could not make sense of it all. Jesus walked with them but they didn’t recognise him immediately. It took time in his presence before they recognised him. Today, in this funeral mass we too are spending time in the presence of Jesus.
We remember Marian as a unique individual who influenced many peoples’ lives in so many ways. She was a loving mother and great friend. She lived her life to the full and enjoyed the company of friends and neighbours. By all accounts she was a great person for walking and regularly she would be seen out walking on the Warrenpoint Road stopping to talk to those whom she knew.
Her humour and personable nature meant she had a wide circle of friends and she could chat to young and old with little difficulty. She is remembered too for the time she gave to child minding, helping out neighbours and friends. Marion was still young and had much more to give in life but any plans and expectations for the future have been cruelly cut short and it will take time for her loved ones to come to terms with this life shattering episode.
It has been said – “God is in tragedy”.
That the God we believe in always inhabits our sadness.
He wants to be there at the centre of happenings in our lives that we cannot understand ourselves.
The Risen Christ accompanied the two disciples in their confusion and sadness. He was there at the centre of their grief, listening and comforting, offering guidance and support. In the celebration of this funeral Mass today Christ is present for all of us. Just as the two disciples recognised him in the breaking of the bread and his sharing it with them in the Gospel, so Christ shares himself with all of us in the celebration of the Eucharist. He offers himself to us.
It is good to remind ourselves of the disciples’ words when Christ had vanished from their sight: “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?” For them the encounter with Christ was truly positive and it gave them hope and the courage to return to Jerusalem. It is our faith that has brought us here to give thanks to God for the life of Marian. We place her today in the mercy of God confident that he has prepared a place for her in heaven.
The words of St Symeon can offer hope and consolation at this time-
“Even when dead, we are not separated from one another, because we all run the same course and we will find one another in the same place. We shall never be separated, for we live in Christ, and now we are united with Christ as we go towards him.”
On behalf of the President of Ireland, President McAleese, and Bishop McAreavey and the priests of Newry Cathedral Parish I extend our condolences, prayers and sympathies to Marian’s son David and her daughters Karen, Lorraine, Martina and Shannon and also her grandchildren Eamonn and Nathan and the family circle.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.
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