- Please see below homily of Father Aidan Brankin PP
Background and remarks of Bishop Michael Smith
Mr Megraw was a twenty-three year old married man from west-Belfast. His wife was expecting their first baby when Brendan was abducted from his home in April 1978. Extensive searches, based on information received by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains, were carried out at a location in Oristown, Co Meath, and Brendan’s remains were finally recovered last month. Ahead of attending today’s Funeral Mass for Brendan Megraw, Bishop Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath, said, “It is a matter of deep regret to the parish of Oristown that such evil acts took place. One continues to hope that anyone with information that could help to locate the remains of other victims will come forward. This vital information, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem, would relieve the anguish of the families who have suffered greatly. I ask that we remember all those who have suffered in our prayers.” Bishop Smith was accompanied at the Mass by Father John O’Brien, Parish Priest of Oristown, and Father Paul Crosbie of Mullingar.
Homily of Father Aidan Brankin PP
The Gospel last Sunday reflected on the dignity of every person. Jesus referred to Himself as the temple – God’s presence, and Paul wrote that we are all holy because each of the followers of Jesus are temples of the Holy Spirit. We are the presence, of God to one another.
When talking to Brendan’s family on Wednesday, they were describing the journey home through Dublin. Garda outriders, traffic stopped, just like a VIP – and that is really the message that Jesus brought from God – that we are all important to him – we are his children and heirs to the kingdom of God. We are to live as God’s children, God’s family, respecting ourselves and respecting others.
It is the reason we have a funeral Mass – to recognise the gift of the person we are mourning, to pray for forgiveness for any sins they may have committed, to be strengthened on our own faith journey and to support one another in faith. We do not need to visit a grave to remember our loved ones who have gone before us, but as we pray at the graveside we do so wishing and hoping that they are now resting in peace. As we look around the graveyard we remember that we are all members of God’s family – praying for each other and remembering all who touched our lives with their faith, their love and their friendship and that we are called to do the same.
Brendan was the third of Bobby and Brigid’s four children. He was born in Glenavy in 1955. The family moved into Owenvarragh shortly after that, lured and tempted by the prospect of running water and electricity – a big help with a young family.
After school in Saint Finian’s and De La Salle he became a sign writer and then worked in a carpet factory. Brendan loved metalwork, woodwork and just being creative. Brendan had just got a job on the ships and was due to start there the week after he was taken on the 8 April 1978 at twenty-three years of age.
The family moved to Stewartstown Avenue in 1961. In the 1970s, Brendan was very much into music and also his appearance – making sure every hair was in place before leaving the house, shoes were polished, ironing the crease on his trousers – and then getting onto a motorbike. He loved bikes and especially enjoyed going over ramps – which were a lot bigger than the ones we have today!
Brendan married in Saint Matthias’ and they were expecting their first child when he was taken. His Dad Bobby died in 1963 when only thirty-nine years of age, when Brendan was only eight years old – so hard on all the family. His Mum Brigid died in 2002. At that stage Brendan had been missing twenty five years. Brigid prayed for this day, when Brendan was found and he could have a funeral and be buried in the family grave. Unfortunately, Brigid didn’t live to see that prayer answered. But she wasn’t just praying for Brendan. Brigid prayed for all those who had been taken. She shared in the joy of other families when their loved ones were found. Brigid shared their disappointments when a search proved unsuccessful. They became like an extended family, supporting, encouraging and praying for each other – putting out appeals for fresh information even having their own song. Even today Brendan’s family and friends are praying for those still missing that they too will soon be found – hoping that anyone with information that could help in that search will come forward, no matter how trivial they think it may be.
I know the family today want to thank everyone who has helped, supported and who have been there for them over these thirty-six years. Too many to list or name, but especially those down in Oristown for everything they have done, for all who arranged prayer vigils, celebrated Masses or who were just there for them.
Brendan, is finally getting the dignity of a funeral Mass today and we pray for the happy repose of his soul. Among those ‘List for the Dead’ for November, Brendan’s name is written many times along with all those who have loved us or who have touched our lives with their love, their friendship and their faith. Our prayers today are for Brendan, but also for his family as they continue their own faith journey. The promise of Jesus in the Gospel that He would rise again in three days only made sense to His followers when He rose from the dead. But it was also our hope and promise of resurrection too.
Jesus taught us that through Baptism we really are the children of God. We are all special to Him. May the wisdom of the Holy Spirit help people all over the world to recognise that everyone is a temple of the Holy Spirit, that everyone is made in the image of God, and that each day we can all live as one family, respecting ourselves, respecting others, and being able to live in the joy of the love and closeness of God’s presence as we continue our journey to the Kingdom of God.
- Father Aidan Brankin is Parish Priest of Saint Oliver Plunkett’s parish in Belfast . The Funeral Mass of Brendan Megraw was celebrated at midday in Saint Oliver Plunkett Church.
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