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In memory of Joseph Fitzpatrick

Funeral Joseph Fitzpatrick Large Web view

 

I welcome you to this funeral liturgy on the feast of the Sacred Heart for Joe. Death is always a shock; even more so when it’s the death of someone close to us who has died suddenly.

We all come here to remember a good man, to give thanks, even in our grief, for his life, to offer each other, and especially those who will most miss him, the consolation of our love and our presence with you today; and to offer also the promise of eternal life.

Our consolation will be the happy memories we have of Joe; our sadness is that he has gone from us. Our sure Christian hope is that the Lord our God will welcome him home and that one day we will be united together in heaven. In the depth of our loss and hope we now pray and offer this Eucharist for Joe.

We come to God, knowing we need his mercy and forgiveness, and so in preparing to celebrate the Mass we call to mind our sins.

Lord, you suffered and died in our name. Lord have mercy.

Lord, your heart was moved with compassion for the sick and the bereaved. Christ have mercy.

Lord you suffer with your people at the right hand of the Father. Lord have mercy.

And may almighty God, have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and bring us to life everlasting.

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 JOE, 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.

HOMILY

Most of us don't travel by boat nowadays. But I think of my trust in cars when I drive one. I trust the car, the mechanic, the manufacturer. If it breaks down, I'm annoyed. Can't life be like that? We cruise along in life and then suddenly some shattering experience. Maybe a marriage goes wrong, or a son or daughter has gone astray, or if young you fail an exam, or today we have a death in the family. We lose confidence in ourselves. Then we find that the more we have loved, the more terrible is the loss.

You remember the story of the day Jesus and the apostles went fishing. Christ was asleep in the back of the boat and a storm came. The apostles were like that, they didn't need Christ help. They rowed away, confident they could do without him. "Just let him sleep there!" When the storm comes they turn to Jesus, their confidence in themselves vanishes but their confidence in him remains. They call on him for help. "Master do you not care? " They still had to learn that while Jesus slept, his heart was awake. Just when they lost heart he gave them heart.

It's just like us, isn't it? We voyage through calm waters, and then we are hit by a sudden storm. Perhaps it comes as a wavering of faith or a kind of spiritual blackout which shuts off our awareness of God.   We tend to panic. We cry out in our need: "O Sacred Heart of Jesus, have you no mercy"? And the Lord stills the storm to a whisper and life goes on. And we thank God for his love. For his heart was pierced by our sins and he shed his blood out of love of us.

Today as we gather in sorrow to remember Joe, a burden of pain, a burden of loss, a burden of grief weighs heavily on you. We gather as a community - our presence here today is our way of reaching out to those whose burden is heaviest and whose loss is greatest.

Joe was born 76 years ago, son of Joseph and Agnes, Keady Row, Gilford. There were 8 children, six boys and two girls. He served on the altar and was a lifelong Pioneer. He was very faithful to his religious duties. He never missed Mass and the Sacraments. He left school at 14 to work in the mill most of his life in Gilford and Hazelbank, then Moypark which he disliked. He enjoyed a flutter on the horses and his football - a lifelong supporter of Celtic. He could be quite independent. He had a passion for fishing when he could.

Today we shed tears for Joe but our tears have a healing effect. Today we no longer cling on but let him go to be with the Lord forever. I know it’s hard to understand why Joe had to die suddenly. As with the life of Our Lord there will always be the feeling that there was so much more Joe could have done, so much more that life had to offer him, so much more that he would have liked to do, if only circumstances had been kinder. It was not to be.

The basic value of this life is that the life and death of each one of us has its influence on others as St. Paul tells us. In his leaving there is a lesson. Perhaps we can all see more clearly how much more he meant to you. But if we are sad today, there is also much to be thankful for. We are grateful for the life he did have, grateful for all the joy he brought into your lives and his many interests and involvement.

It is only to God we can turn at this time to try to find some meaning, some consolation; some hope in the situation we find ourselves in. Prayer will bring you through this time. In our sadness and grief, in the midst of things we cannot understand or explain, let us commit Joe and ourselves to God's never failing love and care, knowing that he will give us strength and courage to face the days ahead, just as he gives Joe new life in his heavenly kingdom. Amen.

I would like to extend our heartfelt sympathy to Joe’s loving family, brothers Jim and Brendan, sisters Peggy and Sheila, brothers in law and sisters in law, nephews and nieces and the entire family circle.

 

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