Homily of Canon Francis Brown Adm for the Funeral Mass of Edward Haughey RIP

24 Mar 2014

 “Our experience of Edward’s death reminds us that death is a moment we will all face.  For all of us life is a preparation for death and each day is important.  When someone close to us dies it enables us to become that little bit more reflective.  It deepens our focus about what is real and what is important.” – Canon Brown

Any death in our community saddens us.  We feel especially for the relatives and the friends.  Death is always a shock; even if we know that a person is not well.  At a time such as this, we have many words and few words: many words to say what is unimportant and few words to say the real, caring things to each other.

Lord Ballyedmond’s death is painful for many people.  Many people in Newry, and far beyond are suffering a huge loss.   They are identifying, in the best way they can, with the pain and tremendous loss suffered by his wife Mary, his daughter Caroline, his sons Edward and James, the Haughey family and Edward’s many friends.

In the face of death the Church confidently proclaims that God created each person for eternal life and that Jesus the son of God, by his death and resurrection, has broken the chains of sin and death that bound humanity.  Christ achieved his task of redeeming humanity and giving perfect glory to God, principally by the paschal mystery of his blessed passion, resurrection from the dead and his glorious resurrection.

In the face of death, the Church provides us, in our loss and grief, with a proclamation of hope.  We are created for eternal life and everyone who is baptised shares in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  “You have been taught”, St Paul wrote to the Romans, “ that when we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised into his death; in other words when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.  If in union with Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection” (6:2-5).

With prayer and ritual, we journey with the body of the deceased, honouring that body and commending the dead to God’s merciful love.  The principal celebration of the Christian funeral is the Mass, the memorial of the death and resurrection of Christ.  At the Mass we pray that the divine life given to us at baptism may be brought to its fulfilment in eternal glory.

We also journey with those who mourn, Mary, Caroline, Edward and James, for we recognise the pain of bereavement.  As Christians we care for the dying, pray for the dead and comfort those who mourn.  The experience of death does awaken such resonant chords in us, it is impossible to reduce it to a simple natural phenomenon.  We cannot deny the meaning of death.  Violently contradicting our natural desire to live, death oppresses us like a chastisement; this is why we instinctively see in death the penalty of sin.  It is not within man’s power to save himself from death; this requires God’s grace since God alone is, by nature, life itself.  Christ comes, and by his death triumphs over death itself; from that instant, death takes on a new meaning for the new humanity which dies with Christ in order to live with him eternally.

Our experience of Edward’s death reminds us that death is a moment we will all face.  For all of us life is a preparation for death and each day is important.  When someone close to us dies it enables us to become that little bit more reflective.  It deepens our focus about what is real and what is important.

Our first reading this afternoon from the Book of Ecclesiastes has many thoughts appropriate for all of us gathered together in grief.   It reminds us of the new life.  The reading encourages us to enjoy the present and be thankful for every day we live.  Today for us, from a human point of view, is a time to mourn and we do at the same time express our gratitude to God for the many blessings bestowed on Edward and the help and encouragement which he gave to so many young people.

The second reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, proclaims the heart of the Good News of the Gospel – that Jesus was raised from the dead.  It is the story of the Resurrection which provides hope in times of darkness.

Our Gospel story this afternoon, is Matthew’s account of the Beatitudes.  The Beatitudes are placed at the beginning of Jesus’ inaugural discourse and offer a programme of Christian happiness – a path to becoming blessed.  Jesus came on the part of God to give a solemn “Yes” to the promises of the Old Testament; the kingdom of heaven is given, needs and afflictions are suppressed, mercy and life are reconciled in God.  In fact, if certain beatitudes are pronounced for the future, the first one, which virtually contains the others, looks to its actualisation from the present moment forward.  It is particularly poignant this afternoon when we read the verse “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”  The Haughey family at this time are in need of the comforting, consoling hand of God to be very much part of our lives.

Saint Augustine speaking of the Beatitudes said, “The pursuit of God is the desire of beatitude, the attainment of God is beatitude.  We pursue Him by loving Him, we attain to Him, not indeed by becoming what He is, but by coming close to Him, as it were, in some marvellous intellectual fashion, wholly illumined and wholly embraced by His holiness.  For He is light itself and by that Light are we permitted to be illumined”.

Edward Enda Haughey was born in Kilcurry, Co. Louth on the 5th January 1944 to Edward and Rose Ellen Haughey. He was baptised in Kilcurry Church.  Edward did not have an easy childhood, as his father died tragically before he was born.  It is thought that this may have had a motivating effect on his ambition to be successful.  He always spoke fondly of his mother and encouraged others to cherish the time available with their parents.

He was educated in the Christian Brothers’ School, (CBS) Dundalk.  He rarely referred to his education or his time at the CBS in Dundalk which might indicate that he may have drifted through this period of his life and was still searching for his vocation or path in life.  He was a self taught, hard working, determined individual who had a thirst for knowledge.  After leaving the Christian Brothers’ School in Dundalk he emigrated to New York where he became a salesman with a pharmaceutical company, working his way up to regional managing director.  His time in the United States (US) allowed him to see an opportunity in the animal health industry in the UK and Europe which was lagging behind the US in terms of how the industry was evolving and developing.

In the late 1960s, Edward returned to Ireland and set up Norbrook Laboratories, bringing employment to many people in the city of Newry and the surrounding area.  Edward started as a sole trader operating on a very small scale and grew the business to its present scale.  As Chairman and Managing Director of Norbrook Laboratories Ltd. and Norbrook Holdings he employed approximately 3,000 people globally with 2,000 staff based in Newry City, many of them graduates and highly qualified PhD scientists.  Today the company is one of largest exporters in the North of Ireland.

Edward made many significant donations over the years to educational establishments and charitable organisations. Most of these were never published and many charities and schools in the locality benefitted.  He had a keen interest in the development of the science subjects in all educational establishments.

Edward and Mary have three children, Caroline, Edward and James.  Both parents are immensely proud of their achievements and love them dearly, a love that is mutual.  Sadly, on the evening of the 13th March Mary lost a loving husband and Caroline, Edward and James are mourning the loss of a loving father who was taken from them very suddenly.  This is indeed very painful for them, a pain that only they as individuals fully appreciate.

Family was very important for Edward.  He valued the importance of education and encouraged each sibling to pursue their post primary and third level education.  Today’s deceased was someone who had during his life a great influence on so many people both family and friends.   He was also someone who had a huge love of nature, flowers and trees, very much in touch with nature.

The author of the Book of wisdom talks about the quality of life and not merely length of days.  The book of Ecclesiasticus says, “A life well lived has no ending” – those who have brought us close to God in life continue to inspire and challenge us to remain close to Him in the way they face their death.

On behalf of Bishop McAreavey, the Priests of the Parish, on behalf of everyone here and on my own behalf, I extend our sincere sympathy to Edward’s wife Lady Mary Ballyedmond, his daughter Caroline, sons Edward and James, son in law Mark, granddaughters Alexandra, Victoria and Cosima, and the entire family circle.

You, the Haughey family, will be in our thoughts and prayers in the days and weeks ahead.  Go nDéana Dia Trócaire ar a anam.

  • Canon Francis Brown delivered his homily during 11.30am Mass today in the Cathedral of Saint Patrick and Saint Colman, Newry, County Down, in the Diocese of Dromore.

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