Information for media on the funeral liturgy for Concepta (Connie) Leonard RIP 

19 May 2017

Request to media
At 11.00am today, the Funeral Mass for the late Concepta (Connie) Leonard RIP, was celebrated in the Church of Saint Mary, Brookeboro, Co Fermanagh, in the parish of Brookeboro and Fivemiletown in the Diocese of Clogher.  Father Brendan Gallagher PP was the chief celebrant of the Mass.  Other celebrants included Canon Lawrence Dawson, Pastor Emeritus, who ministers in the parish and resides in Brookeboro.  The Mass was attended by Connie’s family and friends, together with the wider community of counties Fermanagh, Tyrone and further afield.  The burial takes place after the Mass, in Teiges Hill Road cemetery, Brookeboro.

Please appreciate that this is a very difficult time, physically and emotionally, for the son of the deceased and his extended family.  Father Gallagher and the family ask that the media respect the privacy and confidentiality of this young person and allow him, and his wider family, the space and privacy to grieve without interference at this very difficult and sensitive time.

Information on the funeral liturgy
Please see below information for media on the funeral liturgy for Connie Leonard RIP.

Chief Mourners
Connie’s son Conor, her father Dinny Leonard and his wife Dolores, her brothers Kieran and Fergal and her sister Denise.

Father Gallagher welcomes everyone and introduces the liturgy.

Presentation of Symbols
As the liturgy began, symbols which represent the many positive qualities of Connie’s life were be brought forward.

1.All Ireland Fleadh Medals – Connie held 3 All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann medals for accordion instrumental music.  She was also an accomplished pianist and a talented and much-loved music teacher in the neighbouring communities.

2. Accordion – again, symbolising the centrality of music in Connie’s life and her contribution to the local community of Co Fermanagh and further afield.

3. Rosary beads – to represent the important part that personal and family prayer played in Connie’s life.

4. A symbol of her cooking skills.  Connie was an outstanding cook and worked in a school canteen in nearby Maguiresbridge.

5. A family photo – family being so much a part of Connie’s life.  This will be presented by her son Conor.

6. Book of the Gospels – the life of each of us is told in the pages of the Gospels.  Connie’s father, Dinny Leonard, brought forward the Book of the Gospels, which were placed on Connie’s coffin. Along with the Paschal Candle and the Baptismal Font, the Book of the Gospels symbolises the Christian vocation and life of Connie, into which she was born by the waters of Baptism.

The music for today’s liturgy was led by a variety of people who were touched by the life and musical talents of Connie.  It featured different genres and traditions, especially Irish traditional music and liturgical settings.

First Reading – Read by Kieran Leonard, Connie’s brother.
A reading from the Prophet Jeremiah
The Lord God has this to say to you today: I have loved you with an everlasting love
and I am constant in my affection for you. I will build you up
and I will protect you in good times and in bad.
I have plans in my heart for you: plans for peace, not disaster,
plans to give you a future and a reason to hope. And remember,
when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.
You will seek me and find me and when you seek me with all your heart,
I will be found by you.

The Word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
The psalm in response to the First Reading will be led by a cantor and taken up by all. 

Second Reading – Read by Fergal Leonard, Connie’s brother.
A reading from the First Letter of Saint John
Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us,
by letting us be called God’s children;
and that is what we are.
Because the world refused to acknowledge him,
therefore it does not acknowledge us.
My dear people, we are already the children of God
but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed;
all we know is that when it is revealed
we shall be like him
because we shall see him as he really is.

The Word of the Lord.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia (sung)

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (Jn. 14:27-31)

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you,
a peace the world cannot give,
this is my gift to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return.
If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father,
for the Father is greater than I.
I have told you this now before it happens,
so that when it does happen you may believe.
I shall not talk with you any longer,
because the prince of this world is on his way.
He has no power over me,
but the world must be brought to know
that I love the Father
and that I am doing exactly what the Father told me.’

The Gospel of the Lord

Homily preached by Father Brendan Gallagher PP
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid, my peace I give to you.’

It is the season of Easter in our Christian Church and the symbols of Light and Hope are all around us.  The light of Christ which dispels the darkness, the light which no evil can overcome.

It is calling us, inviting us, to have faith in times of doubt, to have hope in the midst of despair.

But sometimes it is difficult, a challenge to overcome fear and to live in the light, in the spirit of hope.

These past few days have been a great challenge to the faith of this family, this community.  Because on Monday afternoon in the light of a May-day evil intent visited this peaceful community.  Evil lurking in the shadow, seeking to destroy life.  But in that moment of madness, Conor cared for and protected his mum.  We see him holding her hand to reassure her and we see him finding the courage and confidence to seek help.

That is the reality, the horror of evil intent.  But since that time, this family, this community have stood in the light, to confront, to overcome the dark shadows that seek to destroy life.

In such a horrific death which Connie experienced, the constant question is: Why?

Why should such a terrible thing happen to such a beautiful person?

Where is our God in this moment of evil?  Could this tragedy have been avoided?  Circumstances could have been different.

Many people experience and express feelings of regret.  If only I had been there to protect.  If only I had done something differently!

But we know that Connie would not want family or friends, thinking or feeling that way.  Because for her, she had Conor with her, and that was the most important person she wanted with her at that moment.

The circumstances and the tragedy of Connie’s death, cannot destroy the love that was in her heart and soul.  The love that all of you, family and friends, received from her.

And that is what we celebrate today, with open hearts, silently, with dignity and respect.  Because the emotion, the experience of love, is felt not in our heads but in our hearts.

So today we celebrate all that was loving, tender and beautiful in Connie’s life.  Gifts and blessings and memories that we cherish and hold close to our hearts.

Each one of us here, from the very young, to the old, experienced the beauty of the love that radiated from the heart of Connie’s life.

She possessed so many beautiful gifts, but she carried them in a very unassuming, humble way.  Maybe even feeling a lack of confidence in her own gift and talent.

Born into a family home that was filled with the sound of music and from the age of six travelling with Dinny to music sessions and fleadhs the length and breadth of Ireland.  In her youthful years winning the recognition of her talent as she claimed three All Ireland Medals in accordion and piano.

It was a gift she wanted to share with others, bringing so many young people into the love of the traditional music and culture.  Whether it was here in Brookeborough, or Donagh or Lisnaskea.  All over the county and beyond.  With her energy and enthusiasm, her infectious smile and the twinkle in her eye, she has left a legacy of musical talent for generations to come.

It is a wonderful tribute to her that so many gifted musicians are here today to play a slow air, a lament and also a life-filled reel or jig.

For Connie, the death of her mother Moira was a great loss to her.  But in some way the absence of a mother’s love was reclaimed when she gave life to her own son Conor.  She was a devoted mother and together they shared a special bond of love.  Conor was at the heart of everything in her life and together they developed friendships and lived experiences that most of us could only dream about.  Conor had complete faith and trust in her and she, as a mother, gave him the confidence to live an independent life.

One of her many gifts was her love of cooking and baking and so many of you have tasted the fruit of her labour.  Through her work in schools, sharing her love and gift, it was something she took great pride in.  Or the many gatherings of family and friends for special occasions, birthdays and celebrations everyone shared in her tasty creations.

There is so much to be thankful and grateful for in Connie’s life and that is the heart of our liturgy today.  And hearing and feeling the reassurance of God’s word; ‘I will protect you in good times and in bad’, and, ‘I give you a future and a reason to hope.’

Conor is our future and our reason to hope.  Thankfully he survived the ordeal of Monday, because he is the one who will lead us all on the journey of recovery.  His love and his affection will be a source of healing for all, he is the light that will renew the spirit of hope in our lives.

On behalf of all of us here today and on behalf of the whole community, to all of you Connie’s family and friends, we offer our prayerful sympathy and support.  We hold you in our hearts and we keep you in our prayers.

For Connie we pray, Eternal rest grant to her O Lord, may perpetual light shine on her and may she rest in peace.  Amen.

Prayer of the Faithful – led by cousins of Connie.

1.As we celebrate the joy and beauty of Connie’s life today, we thank God for the love and blessings that she shared with all of us in her lifetime.  May she now live ‘radiant and forever young’ in the peace of her eternal home.  Lord hear us;

2. Above all else, Connie was a mother to Conor; loving, caring and protecting.  Today we pray for Conor.  Surrounded by love may Conor find healing of body, mind and spirit. Lord hear us;

3. We pray for all of Connie’s family today: for Dinny and Dolores, her sister and brothers and for all their families.  May they always cherish Connie’s memory in their hearts and may their faith in God and the love of others be a comfort and consolation to them.  Lord hear us;

4. Connie shared life with so many of her friends; moments of love and laughter.  In their grief today may they cherish the memories of times shared and may they look forward in the spirit of hope.  Lord hear us;

5. We remember all of the faithful departed.  All of Connie’s family gone before her.  Her mother Moira and all the deceased of the family.  May they all welcome her into the peace of her eternal home.  Lord hear us;

6. Today especially, we think of all who experience violence and abuse at the hands of others, especially women in situations of domestic abuse.  God, give them the courage to seek help and support and may they find the love and protection that they seek.  Lord hear us.

Offertory Procession
The gifts of bread and wine were presented by cousins of Connie.  These gifts become the Body and Blood of Christ as we celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Communion Reflection
Ag Críost an tSíol by Seán Ó Ríada.

Final Commendation
The Mass concluded with the final commendation.  This involved the incensing of the coffin, blessing with holy water and the final prayers.  Hymns and music accompanied the family and congregation as the remains of Connie were carried in her coffin from the Church of Saint Mary.


For media contact: Mr Gary Carville, Diocesan Communications & Media Officer for the Diocese of Clogher 00353 (0) 87 1767226 [email protected] and the Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth: 00353 (1) 505 3017