|Today at 11.30am the Funeral Mass for Zoey Coffey RIP will take place in Saints Peter & Paul’s Church, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, in the Diocese of Waterford & Lismore. Today the Mass will be livestreamed on https://www.churchservices.tv/clonmelpeterpaul. The principal celebrant for the Mass will be friend of the family, Father Michael Toomey, who is the Parish Priest/Administrator of Ardfinnan & Newcastle/Fourmilewater, and chaplain of CBS High School, Clonmel.
Concelebrants of the Mass will include Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, Bishop of Waterford & Lismore; Father John Treacy, who is the Parish Priest of Saints Peter & Paul’s Church, Clonmel; and, clergy of the diocese. The Church of Ireland will be represented by the Dean of Cashel, Rev James Mulhall.
Before the beginning of Mass
– A guard of honour will be formed by students of Presentation Secondary School.
– As Zoey arrives into the church, the choir will sing the welcoming hymn The Clouds Veil.
– A book of the Gospels will be placed on the coffin, along with a crucifix and Zoey’s baptismal candle, by Father Toomey, as he prays: “In baptism, Zoey receive the light of Christ and the sign of the cross. May she now share in Christ’s victory over sin and death.”
– Father Toomey will welcome the mourners and invite some quiet prayer.
– The Eulogy will then be delivered by Zoey’s sister, Clara Coffey.
– Fiona Bolger, religion teacher in Presentation School, narrates as the following symbols are presented:
1. Joan (Zoey’s aunt) carries a picture of Zoey and her dog Kendra also known as “Ken”;
2. Ava (Zoey’s friend) carries a bottle of fake tan. Zoey took her fake tan very seriously before nights out.
3. Megan (Zoey’s cousin) carries Zoey’s work uniform from Sam McCauley’s.
4. Chloe (Zoey’s friend) carries Zoey’s school hoodie from the Leaving Certificate class of 2023 which she helped to organise. It will represent the very esteem in which Zoey was valued by her classmates.
Music during the Mass will be performed by the choir from Presentation Secondary School.
Opening hymn One Step Beyond
First Reading will be read by Zoey’s cousin Leanne Hewitt.
A reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-7):
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.
A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build.
A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak.
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm choir sing Be Not Afraid
Gospel proclaimed by Father Brian Power, Parish Priest of Kilsheelan and Kilcash, and who baptised Zoey. John (14: 1-6):
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; if there were not, I should have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too. You know the way to the place I am going.”
Thomas said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
Homily preached by Father Toomey – (Father Michael wears a rose coloured vestment, and is explained in the homily)
At any funeral Mass, as well as the Church’s intention that we celebrate today the loving mercy and compassion of God at this funeral Mass for Zoey, the family have asked me to also make this a celebration of her life.
So, you may be wondering why I am wearing this vestment. I want to clarify this it is not pink! This is a rose-coloured chasuble. It is one of the vestments that are worn throughout the Church year and this vestment I received in Rome at a visit a few years ago.
On one Sunday each Advent and Lent each year, on Gaudete and Laudate Sundays, we wear this rose chasuble. Because on these two days, the Church expresses hope and joy in the midst of our sombre Lenten and Advent fasts and penances.
During the darker days of these seasons the priest wears a dark purple colour. But this change in colour to rose on these two Sundays that I have mentioned, indicates a glimpse of the joy that awaits us at Christmas in the birth of Christ; and at Easter as we celebrate His resurrection.
In short, the colour rose gives us joy and a promise of hope when the darkest and hardest of days come upon us. Our whole town and community are in need of both joy and hope after these last few difficult days.
Pope Francis has put a lot of emphasis on joy and even dedicated an entire encyclical to the The Joy of the Gospel, published in 2013. He writes in the opening paragraph:
“The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew”.
I recently heard an explanation behind the colour of the rose vestments. Besides rose being a colour of joy, it is also one of the last colours seen before the sun rises.
If you were to get up early tomorrow and witness the sunrise, the sky would be marked with a beautiful hue of rose and you would know that the sun is not far behind.
So too with Gaudete and Laudate Sunday. The Church expresses her joy that the Jesus will be born; and that Christ will rise from the dead. The Church cannot contain her joy at the coming and rising of her Saviour, for she knows that He will bring victory over sin and death.
As Christians, this gives us great hope in these last tragic and unimaginable days here in Clonmel, in Kilsheelan, and Kilcash – indeed the whole country and around the world.
In the Gospel today, which Father Brian just read – and who baptised Zoey – we hear Jesus say: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me”. In faith, as difficult and challenging that is, we put our trust that Zoey has gone into that room prepared for her by Christ through His birth, death, and resurrection. Her baptismal candle given by Father Brian to her family, when she received the Eucharist from Father Michael Hegarty in Saint Oliver’s, and confirmed by Bishop Cullinan, those words: “No one can come to the Father except through me” allow us to know – in faith – that Zoey is safe in the hands of God.
Today we come for many of us for the third day in a row, to a funeral of a fun bubbly and central person in our lives. Zoey went to school in Saint Oliver’s and then to the Presentation Secondary school.
Zoey loved dancing. At the age of three she was a member of ‘On Your Toes’ but very much kept her mam on her toes throughout all her life! It was at majorettes that she became best friends with Grace McSweeney and the two of them were inseparable ever since.
On a trip to Paris, Zoey’s little logistical mind came to the fore. She would make a list of everything that was needed to be packed, how much money she needed, how to spend the days and times of her schedule, and who was funding it all! Even her friends said of Zoey: “She just always wanted to have fun, but was also such an organiser. Zoey was always the first person to text someone on their birthday. If Zoey wanted something done, she was going to do it.”
At the age of three she became a mini-housekeeper. When her mum Demelza was doing anything, including using the washing machine or hoovering, Zoey would ask: “What are you doing mammy?”, and began to take over. She loved cleaning and making sure her bedroom, and Clara’s bedroom, were always tidy.
She loved playing with her dolls and, since a young girl, always wanted to be a school teacher because of the inspiration that her teachers had on her. Zoey’s granddad, Terry – whom she was very close to – at times also had to be in the made-up classroom, and often went to charity shops to get clothes for the dolls and even he himself had to be dressed up appropriately.
Terry was her rock and his passing a few years ago upset Zoey, but she, through her own darkness, saw light and became the very funny, happy, outgoing, wonderful friend and child we all remember, when she wasn’t bossing everybody around at the same time! Among her many friends she was described as the ‘mammy of the group’.
She also was a great cook and Thursdays was her day. In receiving her Leaving Cerificate results last week, she had hoped to go to Mary Immaculate College and fulfil her dream of being a teacher. She told Clara: “I’ll probably have to move in with you – but I’ll do all the cooking. I just don’t like your stir fries five days a week!”
Zoey was never in bad form except on a Monday. The song I don’t like Mondays was probably her theme tune that day, so everyone needed to avoid Zoey! She used to tell everyone she didn’t believe in boyfriends, but she had in mind for her future to marry a big wealthy farmer, have six gorgeous children and to have a big white Range Rover car.
On the very back of your booklets today you will see the class photo which includes Zoe and Grace. It was their graduation ceremony, and the graduation jumpers of the class of 2023, which were organised by Zoey.
The quote at the end of the class picture, composed by Zoey’s class who won the election for the graduation, says: “I wish there was a way to know you we are in the good old days before you actually left them”. Zoey then drove the graduation – and what a wonderful job she did!
If ever there were prophetic words spoken by someone. These are days when in the midst of mourning we have appreciated what we have, namely: our family our friends and our community. Zoey and her class have left us these words in the hope that as we all move together through this grief, as difficult and as long as that will be, perhaps let us remind ourselves that with every night comes a dawn, every darkness ends in light, and that every memory brings a smile.
As a people, and a family, in mourning, may our tomorrows’ dawn begin with a rose colour, may we slowly move out of this darkness, because in our Eucharistic Prayer we will use the line: “Life is changed – not ended”, and may the joy and hope of the Resurrection be our comfort in our loss of Zoey.
May Zoey rest in peace. Amen.
Prayer of the Faithful
Read by Elaine O’Carroll, Zoey’s Year Head; Róisín Hennessy, Deputy Principal of Presentation School; and Zoey’s school friends, Caoilfhionn Conway, Marisa Bermingham, Kacie O’Shea and Caoimhe Crotty:
1. For all here present: that our remembrance of Zoey may be a source of comfort and strength to us. Zoey brought people together in her life and her passing now unites us in our grief.
Response: Lord hear us
2. We remember all of Zoey’s friends who also feel her loss so deeply. May they come together to talk, to cry, to laugh and to remember stories in their shared grief. We recall Zoey in our hearts, and we pause to honour her memory.
Response: Lord hear us
3. We are thankful for the gift of Zoey in our lives, for her smile, her warmth, and her determination. She was vibrant and funny and loved by all. Zoey will be missed greatly.
Response: Lord hear us
4. We ask that Zoey’s mother Demelza, her father John, her sisters Clara, Anna, Olivia and Piper, her grandparents and her extended family find strength and comfort in the outpouring of love and support from their friends and their community.
Response: Lord hear us
5. We remember Grace, Luke and Nikki who have also been taken from us so suddenly. We keep the McSweeney and Murphy families in our thoughts during this difficult time.
Response: Lord hear us
6. We thank the emergency services, the medical staff and all those who assisted everyone affected by this tragedy. The work you do is greatly appreciated and valued by the whole community.
Response: Lord hear us
Prayers will also be included for the O’Reilly after the tragedy in Cashel earlier this week.
Offertory Hymn I Will Be the Vine will be sung by Zoey’s Godmother Aoife Landers. Zoey’s cousin Shauna Landers will bring forward the bread and wine to the altar in preparation for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
During Communion the hymns A Mhire Mháthair and Voice of an Angel will be sung by the choir.
A Communion reflection and an expression of gratitude will be read by the school principal of Presentation School, Michael O’Loughlin. The reflection reads:
“Zoey, we will treasure you always.
We will remember all the words you ever said to us, Some funny, some kind, some wise.
We will remember all the things you did for us, all the things we now recall through tear-filled eyes.
We will remember your cheeky smiles, your vibrant ways, and how you got the job done in your unique and gentle determined ways.
We will remember every moment we shared; our love for you will fall in tears. Your name forever etched on our heart.
It is really hard to say the words that ‘you are gone from us now.’ But one thing that will never be taken away:
Zoey, our memories of you, will reside as treasures inside our heart always.”
Father Toomey will give a final word of comfort and support, and offer his gratitude for the outpouring of love shown by all of Zoey’s, Nikki’s, Grace’s and Luke’s families, friends and by the wider community at this time of heartbreak and loss.
Final Commendation by Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan
Bishop Cullinan will offer the following reflection, and lead the Final Prayers of Commendation, during which the coffin is sprinkled with Holy Water and incensed:
“The whole country has been affected by the tragedy that occurred in Clonmel last Friday night, and by the loss of such wonderful young people whose lives have been cut all too short. On behalf of the whole community, and the entire Diocese of Waterford & Lismore, our priests and people, I offer my sincere sympathies to Zoey’s parents Demelza Fraher and John Coffey, to Zoey’s sisters Clara, Anna, Olivia and Piper, Nanny Eileen, grandfather John Coffey senior, aunts, uncles, cousins, relatives, to her classmates, teachers, neighbours and large circle of friends.
“We gather as people of faith to remind ourselves of the truths of faith – that Jesus Christ is human and divine, that He was born of Mary, worked with human hands and loved with a human heart, wept for his friend who had died, that He suffered and died and, three days later, rose again, and so He is our hope. May we use well the time we have been given. We get this opportunity to share in Christ’s work of our Redeemer and to pray for Zoey to bring her into eternal rest.
“And so we commend Zoey to God and we ask for a greater faith in the Resurrection, that Jesus Christ who is stronger than death and has risen from the dead will gather her to Himself, as we ask for strength and consolation for the whole family and indeed for us all.”
Burial will take place afterwards in Saint Patrick’s Cemetery, Clonmel.