Homily by Fr Brendan Callanan C.Ss. R. for the Funeral of Mr Seamus Wright
15 September 2015
We encounter many difficult situations as we go through life and have varied degrees of success as we try to overcome them or find a way forward. One could think of family situations, work or health situations.
Death, however, is a phenomenon which leaves us with no simple, straightforward or convenient explanations or solutions if we rely purely and simply on our own human resources. What can we do or say with a view to finding a way forward?
As I mentioned earlier we are gathered here as a Christian community, as people who believe in God and that fact gives us a perspective and a way of seeing things that enable us to deal with the experience which is death and put it into a helpful perspective. And quite simply for the reason that our God is the God of life, of eternal life.
Séamus died in 1972. Those responsible for his death acknowledged this fact in 1999 and indicated where his remains had been placed. The search for his remains began back then and initial efforts were not successful. However renewed commitment and perseverance resulted in the remains being discovered in the early part of the Summer, together with those of Kevin McKee whose funeral Mass took place yesterday.
It is in faith then that we gather in this church to celebrate the life of Séamus Wright, to thank God for him, his humanity and the qualities which enabled him to be a good person.
Those who knew him are aware that there was a strong religious dimension to his life. Together with other family members he was a member of the confraternity in Clonard. Amongst personal items of his that have been found is a pair of rosary beads which will be brought forward in the offertory procession in a few moments. There was also a leaflet explaining the rubrics of Low Mass, a term which refers us back to the sixties and beyond. And other pious objects.
Like many young people he had an interest in sport. Again amongst personal items found is the programme of the 1968 All Ireland Football Final, in which Down beat Kerry. Also a memento which carries the signature of Matt Busby. The GAA ban did not get in his way.
Listening to people who knew Séamus I could not but get the impression that he was a deeply committed family person, with his parents and siblings and later with his wife after their marriage in 1969.
He died a young man, just 25 years of age and the death of a young person seems to hit us harder. In this kind of circumstance we need to be supportive of one another.
Today we have this opportunity to bid farewell to Séamus in a liturgy, the celebration of the Eucharist, to thank God for the person Séamus was and to pray for his eternal rest.
Sadness of course is part of the human journey but insisting, as I do, that we are people of faith, it is our great hope and indeed our conviction that Séamus has, and has had, a place in God’s kingdom, in God’s heavenly home where he has been joined by his parents, Willie and Genny, his sister Marie and his wife Kathleen.
The first reading refers to the heavenly as a place of happiness and of banquet, a place of rejoicing where the Lord will wipe away every tear. We are grateful that the Lord grants us the grace of salvation. We are on safe ground when we trust in God
A beautiful Irish hymn states:
Ag Críost an síol, ag Críost an Fómhar,
In iothlainn Dé go gcastar sinn’,
Which could be translated
‘Christ is the sower, his is the harvest, May we all meet in God’s barn.’
Our hope springs from the certainty that God loves us and that his love is eternal. We pray this morning for the Wright family that the God of goodness and mercy console and strengthen them, especially in difficult times like this. It has taken a long time to come to this point but we are here. And similarly we pray for all families who have experienced the disappearance of a loved one.
We need and want to build a better place for all to live. For that to happen a spirit of justice and solidarity has to permeate our every effort. Wise people learn from life’s experiences and as a Christian community we commit ourselves to being more faithful to our Christian calling. That requires that we be supportive of one another and honest with one another as we seek to make God’s presence and God’s love a concrete reality in the lives of every human person.
May God in his mercy look benignly on all of us. Amen.
Notes for Photographers / Journalist / TV and Radio:
Out of privacy and respect for the family and according to diocesan protocols, no photography or filming is allowed within St Agnes’ Church.
It will be possible to record sound from within the Church.
All media should make themselves known upon arrival to Shona Martin.