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Information for media on the funeral liturgy of Anne O’Sullivan RIP

At 1.30pm today, the Funeral Mass for the late Anne O’Sullivan RIP will be celebrated in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Kanturk, Co Cork, in the Diocese of Cloyne.  Father Toby Bluitt PP will be chief celebrant at this Mass which will be concelebrated by Father John Magner CC. 

In accordance with current public health restrictions, Mrs. O’Sullivan’s Funeral Mass will take place privately, and will be live-streamed on https://www.churchservices.tv/kanturk.  

Introduction and Welcome
This afternoon we gather together to celebrate the Funeral Mass of Anne O’Sullivan.

I welcome those who are joining us online for this celebration of a life and a commendation to the Lord of Anne’s soul.

Anne lost her battle against her illness. She died, as we might say, before her time. As was characteristic of her she accepted her fate with dignity and courage but lost out in the end. And that is what brings us here this afternoon.

I know that we are conscious of the fact that Anne’s untimely passing was not the only tragedy in her life. We here in our community are well aware of the recent painful and tragic loss that Anne suffered – a tragedy that affected us all.

We acknowledge the fact; we recognize a wider context for our grief today. We know that there are other clouds behind the landscape of our sorrow. We note this but it is not for us to pass comment or judgement. We simply acknowledge the fact.

We are here in this Parish Church in Kanturk today where, in normal times, the Christian community gathers together for all of the rituals that make us one with God and with each other. This is where the community comes to pray, to express its belief in God, to celebrate all the spiritual events of its life.

Today, though we have to celebrate our Mass in a Covid context, we have something that is very important to do: we want to do what the Christian community always does at the passing of one of its own: we want to celebrate a life and commend its passing to the Lord.

While we want to mourn, we want also to say thanks. We want to remember and to pray. We want to gather around Anne for a last final farewell in the place that nourished her faith and fostered her hope.

In the Christian vision of the world, we believe that Anne’s life has changed but not ended, and that she has gone to another life, a life to be shared with God himself. A place where she will stay with the Lord forever.

So, if I may quote Saint Paul in writing to the Thessalonians: “With such thoughts as these we will comfort one another.” (1Tess 4:18)

On behalf of Bishop Crean, Father John and the Christian communities of Castlemagner, Kanturk and Lismire, I extend our deepest sympathy to Anne’s family, relatives and friends.  I wish also to extend our thanks to the wider community who have expressed sympathy and support to all involved at this time.

In our Easter feature in front of the altar here, there is a quote: “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are an Easter people”

In that hope we celebrate Anne’s funeral Mass.

Homily preached by Father Bluitt PP
I suppose in an ideal world we would like to think of ourselves as living long and happy lives with friends and family to support us to the end.         

It would seem like a great gift from life to be thus blessed, to go to our forebears fulfilled and content that our work was done, that we had played our part in life’s great rotation and that our own cycle had come to an end. We had no more to do.

Like I said, in an ideal world.

We don’t live in an ideal world, that’s the problem.

Illness can come and challenge us and defeat us. Tragedy, and serious tragedy, can come and haunt us and change our lives irreparably. The clouds that can, and do, settle over our lives sometimes rob us of fulfilment and peace, of an ordered and easy existence. They bring a darkness into our lives that we feel cannot be shaken. We feel helpless and, even perhaps, afraid.

Darkness came into Anne’s life when she lost her family in very sad and tragic circumstances, and when she lost her battle with the illness she had fought so courageously.

All of which brings us face to face with the mystery of life: of its meaning, of the sense of it, and why, sometimes, life troubles us and troubles us deeply. We can find ourselves in a dark place. We can be troubled.

Yet, in the face of all darkness, even that of death itself, Christians never lose hope. We are people of hope even when trouble comes our way.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled” Jesus says in the gospel that we have just heard, “Do not let your hearts be troubled but believe in God still.” These are comforting words at a time like this, when we come to celebrate the life of Anne and in this moment also to say our ‘good byes.’

The fact is that when someone dies there is this great sense of emptiness, this enormous sense of loss. And we have an added sadness, I think, that for Anne, for one family, life didn’t work out the way it might have. So, that we are in fact troubled, we are at a loss.

Yet Jesus is saying “Keep your spirits up: Keep your hearts full of hope, believe in me and all will be well in its own time.”

In a way Jesus is giving focus not to the sense of emptiness that we feel at a time like this but to the unanswered questions that arise when we mourn. There are questions about our existence: where have we come from, where are we going. Right now, we want to know where Anne is, where has she gone?

So, Jesus moves in to answer that very pivotal question, to provide the answer that explains our journey onwards from our earthly existence. He assures us that there is a place for us, for Anne, beyond this life and it is a special place because it is a room in God the Father’s house.

And furthermore, he assures us that this is in fact the case. “There are many rooms in my Father’s house”, Jesus says, . . . “if there were not, I should have told you.” So, it’s not an empty promise, this is a promise that is true, we can depend on it.

A nurse by profession, Anne brought an attitude of care and concern towards those who were entrusted to her.  Now she herself has found care, the care of a loving Father who has brought her to Himself to care for her, to look after her, to love her for all eternity.

Living quietly an ordinary life in her own home she always knew through her faith in God that she had another home too, one not made with human hands but real nevertheless, more real in fact, because this was a home that would be her home forever, forever and always.

I read somewhere that the Hindu people refer to death as the quenching of a lamp because dawn has come. Anne’s death was just like that. It was the silent blowing out of a candle flame, and now, Anne knows, in a way that we do not, why she doesn’t need that light of a flame to lead her anymore. For Anne, the dawn of a new eternal day has come and this is a day that will never end.  It will always be bright, always be light. A place where there is no more weeping, no more tears.

It’s springtime. The days are getting longer, life is springing up all around us in the budding of leaves and in the singing of the birds.  There is hope in nature, there is hope in the world, there is hope for Anne as for us all. We Christians are people of hope.

Whatever sadness there may have been, whatever darkness may have overshadowed us we remember the words of Saint Paul: Nothing can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:39)

Anne has been caught up in that same love of God and is at peace in his embrace. May she rest in that peace. Amen.

Participants:
Liturgy of The Word: 1st Reading read by Emma Sherlock (cousin), 2nd Reading: Martina Forde (cousin).

Prayer of the Faithful: Barry Sherlock (cousin), James Sherlock (cousin), Jack Forde (cousin), Caoimhe Forde (cousin)

Reflection after Holy Communion: Louise Sherlock (cousin).

ENDS                                                      

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long +353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Katie Crosby +353 (0) 86 862 3298

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