Information for media on the Funeral Liturgy for the late Philip Leahy RIP

14 Aug 2017

At 2.00pm this afternoon the Funeral Mass for the late Philip Leahy RIP will take place in the Church of the Nativity of Our Lady, Ballyhooly, Co Cork, in the Diocese of Cloyne.  Parish priest Father Patrick Scanlon will be the chief celebrant and will preach the homily.  Out of respect for the solemnity of the Mass, and to provide privacy and space to the family, journalists are asked not to use camera equipment in the church.  Interment of the remains will take place immediately after the Funeral Mass in the adjoining cemetery.  All media queries regarding the Funeral Liturgy should be directed to the Catholic Communications Office in Maynooth.  Please see below information on the Funeral Liturgy:

At the beginning of the celebration of the Mass, there will be a procession to the memorial table with symbols

  1. Ballyhooly Jersey: representing Philip’s love for sport, and commitment to Ballyhooly GAA, which is brought by Patrick O’Connor, team mate and friend.
  2. Photographs taken of Philip as Captain, and team members having won the County Junior Football Championship Final, almost a year ago – a very proud moment in Philip’s life.  Brought by Ivan Hegarty – neighbour and friend of Philip.
  3. Football Manager Game, brought by Stephen Hickey – friend and housemate during Philip’s time in Cork Institute of Technology.
  4. Diploma Level 7 in Recreation & Leisure awarded by the Cork Institute of Technology, brought by Josh Pine – housemate and friend.
  5. Recent photograph taken in the United States representing happy moments with friends – brought by Wesley Delaney, a good friend of Philip’s from the Cork Institute of Technology.
  6. Philip’s Baptismal Candle representing the sacred moment when Philip’s life was linked with Christ – brought by Andrew Woodlock, Philip’s first cousin.

First Reading (will be read by Miriam Walsh, first cousin of Philip) – A Reading from the Book of Wisdom

The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God,

no torment shall ever touch them.

in the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die,

their going looked like a disaster,

their leaving us like annihilation;

but they are in peace.

If they experienced punishment as men see it, their hope was rich with immortality;

slight was their affliction, great will their blessing be.

God has put them to the test

and proved them worthy to be with him;

He has tested them like gold in a furnace,

and accepted them as a holocaust.

They who trust in him will understand the truth,

those who are faithful will love with him in love;

for grace and mercy await those he has chosen.

The word of the Lord.

Second Reading (read by Mairead Twohig, aunt of Philip) – A Reading from the first letter of Saint John

My dear people,

let us love one another

Since love comes from God, and everyone who loves is begotten by God, and knows God.

Anyone who fails to love can never have known God,

Because God is love.

God’s love for us was revealed

when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him;

This is the love I mean :

Not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.

My dear people,

since God has loved us so much,

we too should love one another.

No one has ever seen God, but as long as we love one another,

God will live in us and His love will be complete in us.

Love will come to perfection in us when we can face the day of Judgement without fear.

The word of the Lord.

Gospel Acclamation – Alleluia (sung)

Gospel (Father Patrick Scanlan PP) – A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke

It was about the sixth hour and with the sun eclipsed, a darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.  The veil of the Temple was torn right down the middle; and when Jesus had cried out in a loud voice he said, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.  With these words he breathed his last.

On the first day of the week, at the first sign of dawn, the women went to the tomb with the spices they had prepared.  They found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, but on entering discovered that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there.  As they stood there, not knowing what to think, two men in brilliant clothes suddenly appeared at their side.  Terrified, the women lowered their eyes.  But the two men said to them, “Why look among the dead for someone who is alive?  He is not here; he has risen.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Homily (preached by Father Scanlan)

For you, the Leahy family, Wednesday 2 August will remain forever etched in your minds, as the day you were informed that Philip had been involved in a tragic accident.  And so began your frantic preparations, to book flights, and be with him.  In the course of the next few agonising days by his bedside in the Atlantic General Hospital, your lives were turned upside down.  We can only imagine what that experience was like for you Ann, William, and Patrick and his aunt Mary.  And so you have experienced a plethora of feelings, some of which you may have never felt before, or never felt so intensely: profound shock, numbness, utter disbelief,  anger, emptiness and loss.

The extended family, relatives and friends here at home, and our local community, shared your pain, and the utter helplessness of wanting to support you, and yet separated by the Atlantic ocean.  We felt numb and at a complete loss as to why this should happen to Philip, and to such a good family.  An overwhelming sense of compassion for you, was felt by all of us here in Ballyhooly, and much further afield.  It was that same sense of empathy that brought in excess of 300 parishioners to the local GAA pitch to pray and be together, on the Thursday night, and a similar number to a prayer service in the church last Tuesday night.  These were beautiful, spontaneous gestures that speak volumes for both the kind of community we have here in Ballyhooly, and the esteem in which you, Ann and your family are held.

Our first reading today from the Book Of Wisdom, expresses in very stark terms the tragic reality you are dealing with.  It makes no effort to tone down your pain, and sadness.  I quote “Their going looked like a disaster, their leaving us like annihilation”.  That is strong language – but it is so authentic, so honest.  Its real power lies in the fact that it is not just the words of some great author, but is the inspired Word of God.  It is part of God’s message to us today, and a reminder that the Lord knows your pain, and shares in your sense of loss, and devastation.  It reminds each and every one of us how Jesus would later shed tears at the grave of his friend Lazarus.  That same Jesus is with us today, and grieves with us.

And all of us too as a community grieve with you and want to stand beside you, today and for as long as it takes, as you grieve the loss of a son, a brother, a nephew, a cousin, a friend.  You recall and cherish so many memories of Philip, since he was a baby, to the day close to a year ago when he captained the Ballyhooly Junior Football team to its first ever County Final victory.  And of course you have so many other beautiful personal memories.  All of you his close friends from Ballyhooly GAA club, and from the Cork Institute of Technology, and the new friends he made in Ocean City, are all recalling your own particular memories.  All of us recall a young man full of enthusiasm, who loved life and loved people, was outgoing, friendly and witty, and who was equally comfortable in the company of old people, children, or those of his own age group.

And you, his family – you grieve not only for what you have lost, but also for all that could have been – the hopes and the dreams, for his future in sport, in the career he might have chosen, the husband and father he might have become.

In the midst of our sadness here today, is it possible for us to lift our hearts, and believe that Philip is alive.  Can we dare to believe that while one stage of his life has come to an end, another stage, a more important stage has only just begun.

A few weeks after my own mother’s death – a time before texts and emails – our family received a letter of sympathy from cousins in Boston.  It included the following poem, which touched all of us very deeply:

“If a tiny baby could think, it would be afraid of birth.

To leave the only world it has ever known, would seem a kind of death.

Immediately after birth, the child would find itself in loving arms, showered with affection and cared for at every moment.

Surely the baby would say, I was foolish to doubt God’s plan for me.  This is a beautiful life.

For the faithful Christian, passing through death is merely a birth into a new and better life.

With Jesus, and Mary, they await the day, when they will welcome us with joy.

‘Do not grieve too much they say to us.  We are living and are still with you.”

Can we hear an echo of the Gospel message in that little poem, the message of new life, that God speaks to us every time a little baby enters the world.  Similarly he speaks to us through the changing colours of the seasons.  God’s message comes to us through two books, The Word of God, and The Book of Nature.

Do you hear an echo in that in that poem of the first reading which boldly proclaimed: “The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God. No torment shall ever touch them”.  At the heart of our Christian faith is the conviction that death does not have last word.  God speaks the last word and that word is “Life”, the fullness of life, a life which knows no sadness or suffering, no pain or parting, and no ending.

Philip, we pray that you may hear the words of Jesus your Saviour and friend: “Come you blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.”  Amen.

Prayer of the Faithful

Father Scanlan, “God the Father brought Jesus his Son through the darkness of Calvary, to the glory of the Resurrection.  We are confident that he will bring us too through the darkness of death to his kingdom of light and peace.  Let us now turn to him with our petitions”:

  1. Read by Nora Twohig, a first cousin of Philip: That Christ, to whom Philip was united in Baptism, may welcome him into heaven, and give him a share in his glory.  Lord hear us.
  2. Read by Owen Twohig, a first cousin of Philip: As death surprised Philip with its suddenness, may Christ now surprise him with his mercy and kindness.  Lord hear us.
  3. Read by Joanne O’Connor, a family friend: For Philip’s mother Ann, his brothers William and Patrick, his relatives, and friends: that they may find comfort in their faith in God, and strength through the support of the community.  Lord hear us.
  4. Read by Eunne Woodlock, a first cousin of Philip: For all here – that we may grow in faith so that we can stand firm, even when hardship, misfortune, or even tragedy visits us.  Lord hear us.
  5. Read by Ronan Twohig, a first cousin of Philip: For all those, both here at home and abroad, who have shown such extraordinary kindness and support to the Leahy family during this very trying time; that the Lord may generously reward them.  Lord hear us.
  6. Read by Jessica Woodlock, a first cousin of Philip: For all those who have left this world in God’s friendship, especially Philip’s father Philly, and all who were dear to us.  Lord hear us.

Father Scanlan, “Heavenly Father, give us the certainty that beyond death there is a new life, where there is rest for the weary and joy for the sad; and where we will be united again with our loved ones.”

Offertory Procession: Mary Walsh (aunt of Philip) and Ann O’Connor (close family friend)

Holy Holy: sung.

Memorial Acclamation: He is Lord.

Holy Communion: Jealous of the Angels; Be Not Afraid; You Raise Me Up.

Post Communion Reflection: O Lord Hear My Prayer (sung)

Recessional: The Scientist.

Final Commendation: The Mass will conclude with the prayers of the final commendation.  This will involve incensing of the coffin, blessing with holy water and the final prayers.  Hymns and music will accompany the family and congregation as the remains of Philip Leahy will be carried to the place of committal in the adjoining cemetery.


For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444