Homily of Archbishop Michael Neary at the Funeral Mass of Monsignor Joe Quinn, RIP, PP Knock, Sunday 4 December
A dhaoine uaisle, a phobal Dé, tá céad mile fáilte romhaibh ag Scrín na Maighdine Beannaithe anseo i gCnoc Mhuire agus muid ag ceiliúradh Aifrinn na Socraide don Mgr. Joe Quinn inniu.
Introduction and Welcome
I welcome you all as we celebrate the Funeral Mass for Monsignor Joe Quinn. Welcome to his family, brother Patrick, sister Marie and their families, to his uncles, aunts and cousins. To the parishioners of Knock, the Presbytery and Shrine staff, Bishops, priests and religious and people from parishes where Mgr. Joe ministered.
Mgr Joe – Person and Place
Joe Quinn and I go back a long way when we were classmates in the Primary School in Castlebar. He was very proud of his native place, Castlebar and Mayo. He was very proud of the fact that his father and uncles were on the Mayo senior victorious All Ireland winning teams of 1936. His love of learning was evident even at that early stage. He was outstandingly kind, considerate and generous, qualities that would find expression in so many ways in his ministry with people later on.
Pastoral Ministry of Mgr. Joe in the Archdiocese of Tuam
On the 21st June, 1970 along with three others Joseph Quinn was ordained for service in the Archdiocese of Tuam. After a year in post-graduate studies in Maynooth he was appointed as Chaplain to Kylemore Abbey for one year and then on to Cill Ronáin in the Aran Islands for the next two years. In 1974 he studied at the Liturgical Institute in Portarlington and the following year was appointed as curate in Crimlin in the Parish of Parke and was the Master of Ceremonies for the Papal Visit in 1979. In 1985 he was appointed to Tuam and became the Administrator ten years later. He was appointed Parish Priest of Knock in 2002 and became Monsignor at that time. Only last month he was appointed Vicar Forane of the Claremorris Deanery.
Returning from Exile in Isaiah
The Advent season is dominated by the Prophet Second Isaiah who ministered in the challenging culture of the exile. Our first reading today introduces the sentiments which are uppermost in that Prophet’s preaching. He cuts to the chase and blares out the message of consolation “console my people, console them, says the Lord. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her that her time of service is ended’. For the exiles there will be a return to the homeland. For Joe, his exile is over he has returned home to be with the Lord whom he served so faithfully, to the true and lasting home and parish, to the sum of all that for us has been dear, familiar and true. This same Lord is presented as a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering the lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.
Characteristics of Mgr Joe, the Pastor and Priest
In so many ways this captures Joe’s caring and gentle ministry, his easy homely manner as he sat down with families and individuals, listening to their cares and concerns, providing consolation and hope. He was admired by all who were privileged to know him. His wide range of interests as he discussed livestock, the economy, politics, priesthood and history made him very enjoyable company. A cultured man, he was very widely read. He was a very dedicated family man, in close contact with his brother Patrick, sister Marie, their families and the Quinn and McGowan families, being very proud of their achievements.
Profound Love of Priesthood
Joe was utterly dedicated to priesthood and all that was best in the priestly vocation. Very supportive of priests, he enjoyed their company and fostered great fraternity among us. Always positive, encouraging and empowering – for him the glass was always half-full rather than half empty.
A man centred and rooted in Prayer and Pastoral Care
A man of deep prayer and spirituality, he loved scripture which was the basis of his homilies and his talks. As Administrator in the Cathedral he had extraordinary ability to combine the spiritual care of his flock with maintaining the aesthetics of Church buildings and schools. Being an expert in the area of primary education, he was an excellent resource for teaching staffs and for Boards of Management of schools.
Love of Liturgy
Recognising the importance of liturgy as a vehicle which could either deepen or deaden one’s faith, Joe always insisted on the highest standards, maintaining a dignified and devotional celebration. His appointment as Parish Priest of Knock provided him with ample opportunity in that respect. He was instrumental in initiating the National Novena to Our Lady of Knock and was its guiding influence over the years. A most welcoming and warm presence, he enabled pilgrims to feel very much at home here at Our Lady’s Shrine. Deeply conscious of the various needs of pilgrims, their search for hope and meaning, he recognised the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and invited, encouraged and supported priests in this important ministry here at Knock. The priests on the confessional team looked on him very much as a father-figure supporting their ministry in every way.
Diversity of Interest, talent and involvement
The presence of so many Lay Organisations is a fitting testimony to the leadership and encouragement which he provided. The last time I heard him give a homily was to the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre in Cong, two months ago. In many ways Joe took a boyish delight in these occasions but more than that he was prepared to provide a very spiritual service for them. Only last Tuesday night I met him as he was on his way to a meeting of the Knights of St. Colombanus. As a member of the Board of Knock Airport his interventions were always prudent and far-seeing, ensuring that the airport never lost contact with its founding father, Mgr. James Horan.
Over a year ago Joe’s health gave cause for concern. However, under the expert medical care of Dr. Diarmuid Murray he coped very courageously with his illness and continued his generous ministry with the powerful support of Fr. Richard Gibbons, his fellow priests in Knock along with the Management and Staff of the Shrine, his devoted housekeeper Winnie and her family.
Characteristics and traits of the Man – Mgr Joe
We are all aware of his unique personality traits which endeared him to so many, many people. He could see the humorous side of what could be potentially difficult situations. I recall one occasion when he felt that someone was insisting on a restructuring of one of the chapels here at Knock and came to him and said “I saw Our Lady and she told me to tell you that you should restructure in the following manner”. Joe looked at her and said in his own inimitable manner “the next time you see herself tell her to have a word with myself”!
I mentioned at the beginning that the Season of Advent prepares us for a homecoming. The homing instinct in all of us surfaces in a very profound and powerful way at Christmas time as people make their way back to their roots by land, air and sea. Today, as we lay Mgr. Joe to rest I am very conscious of the fact that the homecoming has taken place for him, a homecoming in some ways highlighted by the fact that the anniversaries of his father and mother are celebrated at this time. It is ironic that yesterday, Mgr. Joe was due to celebrate Mass for his late parents, Paddy and Bridie. Little did any of us think that this would have coincided with his own homecoming.
Devotion to Our Lady
In view of his devotion to Our Lady it is very appropriate that he is laid to rest the week we celebrate the Feast of The Immaculate Conception. This is one of the great highlights of the liturgical year here at Knock, particularly the All-Night Vigil. I feel confident that for Joe there was a warm homecoming. Home is a place for old stories told and treasured, for being at ease, known by name, belonging, without qualifying for membership. Last Thursday morning he met his Lord and the loving faces of his parents, friends and colleagues who gathered to welcome him.
Sadness and Loss
The suddenness of his parting is a huge blow to his family, to Marie and Ben, Patrick and Claire, to his nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles and parishioners. Indeed Mgr. Joe’s parting leaves a huge void in all our lives.
Joining with the Bishops, priests, with the religious, and people of Knock and the Archdiocese I offer my sincere sympathy and the support of my prayers at this sad time.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal agus go raibh leaba aige i measc na Naoimh.
Notes to Editors:
- Photos are available on request.
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