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In memory of Jim Connolly

Let us pray:

Almighty God and Father of all, you strengthen us by the mystery of the cross and with the sacrament of your Son’s resurrection. We pray for JIM grant him peace. Welcome him to the eternal joy of the kingdom and give us all new hope in our sorrow that one day we shall all be with you and with each other in your home where every tear will be wiped away. Grant, this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Charles Dickens wrote many great classics, among them Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. He also wrote a Tale of Two Cities, the opening lines of which read:

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

It was the age of wisdom; it was the age of foolishness,

It was the season of light, it was the the season of darkness,

it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair”.

The prophet Isaiah wrote something similar:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, upon those who dwelt in a land of gloom, a great light has shone. You Have brought them abundant joy – for a child is born to us, a son is given to us –

There is, as the scriptures remind us today, a time for every season under heaven. As we gather in Clare church, we reflect on the mystery of time and providence that are in God’s hands: there is indeed a time to die, a time to keep silence, a time to speak, a time to love.

Having attended school in Gilford Jim at the age of 14 went to work for Turleys before heading to Watford and Derby in England, as a builders labourer. He returned home 20 years ago.

We gather today as a Christian community and our presence here today is our way of reaching out to all of you who loved him and will miss him and to you we extend our sympathy.

We can look on this sudden death in many ways:

A dark cloud, a moment of intense loneliness, and an experience we resist and don’t wish to speak about. You will all deal with it in your own individual way but can you see it as part of the outstretched hand of God’s support or the light beyond the cloud that is dark; or the companionship of Christ in this fearful moment of loneliness? Our faith tells us that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

 Like St. Paul we carry our faith in earthen vessels and death can either shatter or deepen our faith.

To be a Christian is to be a pilgrim on a spiritual journey. To be a pilgrim is to go along the way of faith, hope and love. The goal is certain – eternal life in Christ Jesus. But the way is often uncertain and at times we can lose our sense of direction and we forget how to live.

This is a time of sadness. We are sad today because we are gathered to mourn Jim and say our final farewell. We are here today to console you in your sadness by our presence, our prayers and our words of consolation.

This is a time for asking forgiveness.

It is right to ask God, our loving and forgiving Father to extend to Jim his forgiveness. We are assured by our faith that God forgives always, totally and immediately.

And finally it is a time of hope.

Our faith tells us that at death life is changed, not ended. We are then filled with hope that Jim is now at peace. Thank you to all who cared for him especially at Crozier House where his sense of humour was much admired and also the staff at Millmount House, Banbridge. We are confident in this hope that God has taken him to himself.

We extend our sympathy to his son Laurence, brothers Michael, Dom, Stan, Trevor, Bill, Larry and Steve; nephews, nieces and the extended family circle.

May Mary the mother of God who buried her own son be with us to see the mind and the plan of God in our lives at this time.

May he rest in peace. Amen.

 

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