Homily of Father Séamus Quinn PP for the Funeral Mass of Oisín McGrath RIP

15 Feb 2015

Condolences of Bishop MacDaid
Before the beginning of the Mass and on behalf of Bishop Liam MacDaid, the Bishop of Clogher, Father Quinn expressed the condolences of the bishop to the McGrath family on the death of Oisín.

In Saint Columban’s school Oisín excelled in all areas of the curriculum. In English he was a fervent and enthusiastic reader who could also recite poetry in a way that conveyed what was happening in the poem. In Maths he loved the challenge of solving a problem. The teacher would stress the importance of doing a working out … however Oisín’s maths brain was so sharp that he would solve the problem mentally more often than not … get the right answer and then ask the teacher what will I do now! Oisín had a wonderful knowledge of history and geography and as a result he played a key role in the school winning the Fermanagh primary school quiz and coming third in Ulster. Oisín was confident and competent in the use of ICT. In fact teachers pointed out that Oisín ended up teaching them in this area. He also excelled in extracurricular activities. In sport, which Oisín really enjoyed, he played a key role on football and hurling teams as well as developing into a fine athlete … winning sports boy of the year in Primary 7. Oisín also played music … the fiddle and the tin whistle and even sang in the school choir.

Oisín was also gifted with a lovely personality, a great sense of humour, was a natural communicator and always willing to help others. Oisín was a natural, unaffected young lad. He was quiet and easy to be with, with the kind of smile that drew the best out of you, whether you were young or old. While Oisín was a leader, he was not at all an egotist. He wasn’t in love with the position of leader and, in fact, Oisín would always take time and make place for people who might not have found it as easy to achieve as he did himself. He had the ability to found friendships with those who didn’t share his own passions and interests. He was a people person. The grief of his young classmates from St. Michael’s, and his fellow team mates from sport say more than any adult could ever get across. Indeed Liam Magee ,the Principal of St. Columban’s the local primary school, remarked to his parents when Oisín was leaving that “he could almost run the school” such was his helpful manner and personality in his time there.

When the Primary 7 pupils were leaving St. Columban’s they were asked to take a private empty page and write words to describe each other. These are the words that Oisín’s classmates used to describe him as: “Generous, helpful, giddy, funny, cool, good at football & music and a great friend”.

This is what the teacher had to say about him in his last report in Primary Seven: “Oisín is a well-mannered, hardworking and polite pupil who has been an absolute pleasure to have in the classroom. He works enthusiastically at all times and his work in all subjects is of a high standard – you have been a wonderful pupil for St. Columban’s” And then very poignantly – “I have no doubt he has a very bright future ahead of him.”

Oisín’s greatest interest was probably sport. Let us see what his trainers in the GAA thought of him:

– “He was forever smiling, a big wide happy grin etched on his face. Well-mannered and polite. From the start I could see Oisín had talent, he maybe lacked the confidence and self-belief in his own ability but we worked on it. And boy did he work. He was always a willing listener. He responded to what you wanted done, and if ever we corrected the way he was doing something, he quickly adapted and learned from it. There was an unwavering determination within himself to become a better footballer, every bit of advice we gave as coaches, he picked up on it, worked at it and tried to improve.”

– “His attitude, application, commitment and effort every time we seen him was first class. It was clear to see in recent weeks his infectious attitude to his training was beginning to rub off on those around him. He was more confident in his own ability and he was inspiring his team mates to be better . Despite being the fittest in the group he was still pushing hard, eager to impress and improve.”

– “It was what made us all love him so much and as a coach he was a dream to work with. He leaves behind a bunch of friends, I have no doubt they have made great memories with Oisín in their time together.”

– “He was a quiet cub who let his actions speak for him. Extremely polite and well mannered. Without fail at the end of every session we ever had together, he would pick up cones, bibs, balls, whatever was required. He would always utter the words before leaving “Thank you Paul, Thank you Eugene” to which we responded, “Good lad Oisín, well done, see you the next day”.”

The truth is that I could talk about this young lad for an hour. I could talk about Oisín’s happy friendship with his two sisters Ciana and Cairenne and how he integrated with them both – depending on Ciana’s opinions about style and what he might wear, and the way himself and Cairenne would sound off each other for fun. I could go into how much Oisín thought of all his uncles, aunts and cousins and how as the oldest grandchild, the others looked up to him. I could let the cat out of the bag about how Oisín recorded himself playing the violin on his iPod and kept it playing in his room during practice time and would be just actually lifting it as his father came up to see how he was getting on. I could go into Oisín’s innate understanding that all people are of equal dignity, whether child or adult. I could give you examples of Oisín’s ability to appreciate goodness in others, his loyalty to his friends. In particular, I love the story of how, when Oisín was a very young child, he would say hello to absolutely everyone he met on the street, and could not understand if he didn’t get a response – in fact would be keen to follow them up to find out why they wouldn’t answer when he said hello. I could point out that Oisín saved up his own money to buy himself the coolest pair of football boots you ever saw. Oisín also saved up and bought himself a television. I could tell you that he had, in the last couple of weeks, made a decision that he wanted to spend his life as a professional sportsman and had begun to ponder what sport he’d keep on and what he might drop.

Sharon and Nigel co-operated with God the creator in conceiving Oisín – by bringing him into existence. They co-operated with God in giving him a life that can never end no matter what happens. They co-operated with God yet again by opening up to life and love and hope and ultimately Christ, in the face of Oisín’s tragic death, and deciding to donate his organs for transplant. Because of their incredibly selfless and faith based decision, Oisín’s falling on the ground and dying like the grain of wheat has brought life to five other human beings. So before Oisín has barely arrived in Eternity, his life and death in our realm has borne incredible fruit. It is surely a concrete, real life parable for every one of us in how people’s greatness and selflessness can bring, not just quality of life and healing to so many others, but even the very gift of life itself.

The power of the risen Christ is palpable in our parish community, and it is coming from the last place you might expect to find it in human terms – right from the blood of the young lad who is at the centre of the most painful cross that his family and this community could imagine. By completely facing their terrible cross, which every one of us would quail in front of, they have freed up the power of the resurrection for five other people and have given countless others connected to those people their own quality of life back. Not to mention all the generations that will issue from those five blessed fellow human beings.

A retired Baptist Pastor colleague from Enniskillen, Alvin Mullin, phoned me last night having heard about Oisín’s death. He and his wife lost their son in a road accident and like so many others, he was moved enough by the plight of Oisín’s family to keep trying until he eventually found me, in these busy days. He shared with me a piece of Scripture that kept coming to him in relation to Oisín’s loved ones. It is a phrase from one of the passages of the prophet Isaiah that prophesies to the coming of Christ, God, through Isaiah, is describing the suffering servant who is to come and He says “he does not break the crushed reed nor quench the wavering flame”.

Sharon and Nigel, you must feel crushed by the enormity of the loss of your young son. The flame of your spirit must waver at times in the face of it all. But God is telling us, and you, that Christ would never break the crushed reed of your spirit. He has not caused this. This horrible suffering is not God’s will. But God, in His own way, will draw the whole thing into His will and indeed you have already facilitated this yourselves as we already highlighted. But in your suffering you can trust Christ that He, above all others, will never break you or quench the light of your spirit. Let Him lift you up on the Cross with Himself. Let Him keep you so close that your realisation of His presence actually dissolves because He is so close. Allow God’s spirit to touch yours so as to constantly heal you when the wound opens again. And know that your young saint, Oisín, who never did anything bad or evil in his life, but consistently did everything he could to show gentle love to those around him, will be with you to accompany you in the time to come.


· Father Séamus Quinn is Parish Priest of Cleenish in the Diocese of Clogher. The Funeral Mass was celebrated today at 11:00am in Saint Patrick’s Church in Holywell, Belcoo, Co Fermanagh. The Principal Celebrant was Father Quinn, and the concelebrants were Monsignor Joseph McGuinness, chair of the Board of Governors of Saint Michael’s College, Enniskillen, who was representing Bishop Liam MacDaid; Canon Macartan McQuaid, chaplain to Saint Michael’s College, Enniskillen; and Father Niall Martin SMA, a native of the parish.

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678