Before the final Prayer of Commendation Bishop Tom Deenihan, Bishop of Meath, will deliver the following address today at the Funeral Mass of Ashling Murphy RIP in the parish Church of Saint Brigid, Mount Bolus, Co Offaly, in the Diocese of Meath.
Before the Prayers of Commendation, I would like to offer a few words of sympathy and support, on behalf of the people and priests of the Diocese of Meath, to Ashling’s family and friends.
The past few days have been a nightmare. A walk on a mild and sunny afternoon in January should be a happy event, promising the brighter and warmer days of spring and summer. That, as we know, was not the case. A depraved act of violence which deprived a kind, talented, loved and admired young woman of her life has since united the country in grief and support.
The crime has also asked questions of ourselves and of society. It has questioned our attitudes and, particularly, our attitudes towards women and it has questioned our values and our morality. Whether those questions will be addressed or passed over remains to be seen but we cannot allow such violence and disregard for both human life and bodily integrity take root in our time and culture. Pope Francis in his homily for New Year’s Day just two weeks ago said that violence against women was an insult to God.
We all know that no individual should die like Ashling and no family should suffer like Ashling’s. Respect is an old-fashioned word but it is an important one. Respect was missing last Wednesday but it has re-emerged here all the stronger. Let us respect each other.
However, today is about Ashling and her family and friends. I also think of Aisling’s pupils and the staff of Durrow National School who have lost a wonderful colleague and teacher. Their grief and their loss must be acknowledged and supported. As we return to our lives after today, their grief and loss remains.
If there is a chink of light to last week’s darkness it must be the outpouring of support and sympathy that we have all seen. It was manifested at the various vigils, it was manifested by those who assisted here, at the family home and in Durrow school over the past few days by those who quietly and discreetly provided refreshments, stewarding and whatever help that they could. Community is important and community works. Community is needed to overcome evils such as this and community will be needed here in the weeks ahead.
Today, we bury Ashling as we must. We bury a woman who lived the short years given to her to the full, who developed her talents, who reached out to others, who made a difference, who brought happiness and who was loved.
At moments like this, our faith in Jesus Christ and in His Resurrection come to our aid. Death is not the end, the grave is not our final destiny. We must remember that. We need to remember that.
The Prayers of Commendation which we are about to begin talk of ‘dispersing in sorrow’ but with the hope of meeting again. In the bitter reality of one let us not lose faith in the other.
Saint Paul talks of the ‘Communion of Saints’, that union of those who lived good and holy lives, lives of generosity, lives that brought happiness. One day, the prayers say, we shall see Ashling again and enjoy her company. Until then, we commend her to God, consoling ourselves and each other with that other line from the ritual. ‘Blessed are they who die in the Lord, let them rest from their labours for their good deeds go with them’.
May Ashling’s memory be a consolation and may she rise in glory.
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