Special message from Cardinal Seán Brady and homily of Father Oliver Devine for the Memorial Mass for Jill Meagher RIP

05 Oct 2012

Special message from Cardinal Seán Brady and homily of Father Oliver Devine for the Memorial Mass for Jill Meagher RIP 

Monsignor James Carroll will be the main celebrant at the Memorial Mass for the late Jill Meagher RIP.  This Mass will be celebrated in Saint Peter’s Church Drogheda, Archdiocese of Armagh at 7:00pm. Colonel Brendan McAndrew, will represent the President of Ireland.  An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD will be represented at this Mass by his Aide-de-camp Commandant Michael Treacy.  Liturgical details for media have been issued earlier and please see below a special message from Cardinal Brady and homily of Father Oliver Devine for this Mass.  Please observe embargo:

Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, has issued the following special message on the occasion of the Memorial Mass for Jill Meagher:

As people from Ireland and Australia gather this evening in Saint Peter’s Church, Drogheda here in the Archdiocese of Armagh, for a memorial Mass for Jill Meagher who died so tragically last month, my thoughts and prayers are with her husband Tom, her parents George and Edith, her brother Michael and her extended family and friends. My thoughts are also with the community of Drogheda where Jill spent her early years and where many of her family and friends are trying to come to terms with her death.

There are no words which can begin to capture the overwhelming grief and loss which Jill’s family and friends must be feeling at this time.

Jill Meagher represented the hope of a new generation of Irish people, who, despite being far from their homeland, were making a future for themselves abroad. Jill and her husband Tom were just starting their married life together in Australia, enjoying what a country like Australia offers to people and following in the footsteps of so many Irish people who have made Australia their home. For Jill and her husband Tom, that hope and their dreams came to a sudden and devastating end on 22 September.

The bonds that exist between the Irish people and Australians have been very evident in the immediate aftermath of Jill’s death when thousands of people took to the streets of Melbourne to show their solidarity and support for Jill and her family.

At this very difficult time for Jill’s family in Australia and here in Ireland, I offer them my prayers – prayers that they will find the strength and the courage to take Jill on her final journey and prayers that they will find comfort and support in each other in the days, weeks and months ahead.

I offer my prayers for the repose of Jill’s soul. May she rest now in the peace of the Lord and may her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.

Homily of Father Oliver Devine:

Deepest sympathy to Tom Meagher, Jill’s husband, her parents George and Edith McKeon, her brother Michael.  Deepest sympathy to you also her extended family, her Granny Helen, uncles, aunts, cousins, extended family and many friends.

From Melbourne to Drogheda from Dublin to Perth from Boyle in Roscommon to Brisbane in Australia and around the world, all of us have been touched by Jillian Meagher’s tragic passing from us.

What was it?  Was it her warm smile, her lovely eyes, her intelligence, her imagination or her creativity and zest for life.

She has touched the hearts of all of us even if we only knew her for a short time or even if we didn’t know her at all apart from what we have learned from the media.

If we who only knew her for so short a time are so affected by her untimely tragic death what are her husband, mother, father, brother, close family and close friends going through?

In the first reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes which we have just heard – there are times for all kinds of events.

A time to be born and a time to die

A time to plant and a time to uproot

Sadly a time to weep and a time to mourn this lovely young lady.

We expected Jill to live a long happy life like her parents and Tom’s parents.

We try to remember happier times with Jill, times when we laughed and times when we danced, times when Jill used the talents that God gave her and that she used so well.

Jill was a thinker, a composer of poetry, someone who wanted to make a difference.  Jill used to dedicate poems to her friends – one of which we have in the church this evening and, as her friend pointed out, Jill would often edit the verses to suit the particular friend she was writing about – that is how creative she was.

While Jill was home recently she met up with her aunts and uncles and cousins in Laurence’s Street.  While going through photos and memorabilia they found a book that Jill made for her cousins.  The book is called The adventures of Willy the Worm and they spent some time critiquing it with lots of laughter!

Jill’s brother Michael recently referred to Jill’s passion for music and in particular one song that Jill sang repeatedly ‘til the early hours of the morning and finally after getting her to sleep she woke him the next morning singing the same song’!!!!

There was a time when Jill hadn’t even been a glint in her father, George’s eye.  He grew up here on these very streets of Drogheda, went to school here and learned about business here from his parents and others.

He met with a lovely telephonist from Boyle in Roscommon who was working in Dundalk.  He and Edith Scott started going out together.  When George and Edith got married they had two healthy children: Jillian and Michael.  Jill was baptised here in Saint Peter’s Church, Drogheda, in 1982.  Jill went to primary school for a couple of years in Termonfeckin before moving to Perth in Australia when she was about six years of age.  When Jill was 16 years of age her family returned to Drogheda.  That was when Jillian started transition year in Saint Oliver’s Community College.  Here Jill forged life-long friendships with many and embarked on her first part of her media career.  Jill was in a school play and the video of this is still in existence and so too are the memories surrounding it.  Some friends from her old school still remained in close contact with Jill.

After an excellent Leaving Certificate Jill started in University College Dublin.  Jill shared a house with her friend Michelle who will be reading one of the prayers of the faithful today.  Another close friend of Jill’s, Julie, who met Jill in UCD on their first day – remarked how she felt at a loss starting out alone and then this girl sat down beside her, introduced herself as Jill McKeon, and started chatting.  They have never stopped!

In 2003 Jill worked in Brown Thomas store in Dublin.  One of the highlights for Jill working in Brown Thomas was serving Kylie Minogue!  …. and Jill was shocked to realise that Kylie was actually shorter than herself!

From 2003 to 2004 Jill travelled to Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane with Tom and six others.  Jill came back to Ireland and worked for Ark Life (Media/TV) until 2006.  Jill then went on to work in the Arnotts store in Dublin and after that she worked with our national broadcaster, RTÉ.

I knew Jill’s parents George and Edith, brother Michael and her aunts and uncles.  One day I received a call from her father George to say that Jill and Tom were getting married. Would I do the honours? I was delighted to.  It was really only then that I got to know Jill herself and Tom.   I remembered being very impressed by both of them both.  A short quote from the wedding homily:

“I know that many of you people here today are very good friends of Jillian (Jill) and Tom.

Friendship is hugely important to many young people today

But in your case………….…..extremely important.”

At their wedding Granny Helen was there too in all her glory with the rest of their families and friends.  We prayed together for Jillian and Tom, we ate together and we danced together into the small hours of the morning in a hotel in Wicklow.  To quote a piece from their wedding vows which was written by Jill to Tom:

“He taught me that listening to ‘Jewel’ just wasn’t cool

Tried to convince me that Shakespeare was but a fool,

After listening to all this waffle I just knew,

So I wrote on the back of a Tesco (shop) receipt ‘I Love You’

“My dear Thomas

Will I betray you, never

Will I be selfish, never

Will I undermine you, never

Will I tell you you’re breath smells…forever”

This is an example of the commitment and expression of this lovely girl in her approach to married life with Tom and their future together.

Jill and Tom went to live in Melbourne where Jill worked for ABC broadcasting.  At this time it is important that we remember Jill’s colleagues in ABC Melbourne and her friends in the wider community.  Not just from when she went missing but also in their recognition as one of their own – even referring to her as part of the family.

Jill’s recent visit to Ireland in the beginning of September will be one that her family will hold close to their hearts.  Jill had the opportunity to visit her Granny and was delighted that Granny was in such good form which always pleased Jill.  There was a little party in Laurence’s Street with her cousins and aunts and uncles where lovely food and drink was had (BUT HUSH don’t tell Granny!!).

Jill returned to Perth to see her parents and Michael, her brother who had returned from Canada and all four of them spent a number of very happy days together in Perth.

All of these memories of Jill’s short life will remain with us forever and will give us comfort in our dark days.  Jill tragically has gone from us and so we gather here this evening to remember, to mourn for, and to pray for her.

We are all on the pilgrimage of life – which for some is more difficult than others.  For those who are attending daily Mass these days we are hearing pieces from the Book of Job who was a good man.  He lost his wife and family and property and everything he had.

Job questioned God, he fought with him and all who came near him until eventually he just came to the realisation that even though he was a good man – bad things can happen to good people and, that, this side of the grave we have no rational explanation as to why.  Job eventually came to realise that despite all he had gone through God loved him.  I pray this will be so for you Tom, and George and Edith, and Michael and for all who loved Jill.   I pray also for you her extended family and friends.

May her gentle soul rest in God’s eternal peace. May here soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the Mercy of God rest in peace.


Opening comments by Mons. James Carroll, P.P.

A warm welcome to all who gather here in St Peter’s Church, Drogheda, to honour Jill, and to pray for her at this Friday evening Memorial Mass.
Céad failte ramhaibh.

A very special welcome to Jill’s family; to the McKeons, the Scotts and the Meaghars, and to all her extended family. We think of Jill’s parents George and Edith in Perth, her brother Michael, and her dear husband Tom in Melbourne; they are the ones who are at the heart of our ceremony here in Drogheda, and it is great to have this connection with them and all our friends in Australia. Despite the distance, we are very close to them this evening.

This memorial is a wonderful tribute to Jill. It helps us all. At times like this, we need each other, and the hope we share in Christ Jesus. The blessing is in the gathering, and for that we are truly grateful. We are honoured by the presence of the Mayor of Drogheda, Paul Bell, and members of the Borough Council. We welcome the Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, Claire Byrne, the Charge d’Affair of the Australian Embassy, Mr Don Smith, and his wife Glenda Stevens.

We welcome Colonel Brendan McAndrew, representing the President of Ireland, Commandant Michael Tracey, representing an Taoiseach; Mary Cusack, representing an Tanaiste, Eugene Brennan representing an Garda Siochana, local T.D.s, Senators and Councillors, go raibh maith agaibh, Thank You.

We gather here in Saint Peter’s Church, which is also the memorial church of Saint Oliver Plunket; we gather here in the church where Jill was baptised. So let us stand together and make the sign of baptism, the sign of our faith.                            

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