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In memory of Eugene McNally

 Eugene McNally

We gather here today in sadness with the family of Eugene Mc Nally. Our thoughts are for you. We ask God to send his Consoler to bring his peace to your hearts and to your homes. We give thanks to God for the life that he gave Eugene and to pray in faith that he will welcome Eugene to everlasting happiness in heaven.

Today we are part of what is probably most painful of all for those who are left behind, the sudden death of someone who has died long before his time. No human thoughts can understand it, not even the words of Jesus himself can give it meaning. In our prayers we look for the grace of acceptance of what we will never understand.

There is as the Scriptures remind us, a time for every season under heaven. As we gather in our Church today 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 weep, a time to mourn, a time to keep silence, a time to speak, a time to love.

Since the sudden passing of Eugene, we his family and friends have shared memories of who he was and the memories we have of him over the years. We mourn his passing, we cherish his memory.

Above all we have remembered a loving husband, father, grandfather, a brother, a work colleague in the Fire Service, a friend. Today as we gather in sorrow to remember Eugene, a burden of pain, a burden of loss, a burden of grief weighs heavily on us all. 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.

We can look on this sudden death in many ways:

A dark cloud, a nightmare, a moment of intense loneliness, an experience we resist and don’t wish to speak about. We will all deal with it in our own individual way but can we 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.

Today we shed tears for you Eugene but our tears have a healing effect. Today we no longer cling on but let you go to be with the Lord forever. We pray that on this Saturday afternoon – we pray that our mourning may not make us less human but more Christian.

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. We pray for all who have been saddened by his death, his loving wife Christine, daughters Linzi and Laura, son Paul, Sisters Maria and Aileen, brothers Stephen, Adrian, Kieran and Michael, sons in law Eamon and Gary, brothers and sisters in law, grandchildren and colleagues in the Newry Fire Service, and all the family circle. We pray that in the desert of your sorrow a deeper love and hope may flower. The family are very grateful for all the assistance they received from the first responders in the Police, Fire Service and Ambulance and medical teams at Daisyhill Hospital. And so we pray for Eugene. Eternal rest ….

Eugene was born on the 23rd of June 1959 in Liverpool, third son of Patrick and Anna-Maria McNally and younger brother to Stephen and Kieran. Together the family went on to welcome Maria, Aileen, Adrian and Michael.

He attended Tannaghmore primary school, and when the mood befell him, St Paul’s High School in Lurgan. Whilst a devotion to his studies was somewhat lacking in his own early years, he strongly encouraged it for his three children, the university of life having taught him that it may make their paths in life that bit easier.

Tragedy unfortunately befell Eugene and his family at a young age with the passing of their father Patrick in 1979. As typical of his character, Eugene did not allow the pain and hurt of this loss to overshadow his life, but rather it added to his determination to do better.

On the 3rd of May 1980, at the age of 21, Eugene married his childhood sweetheart Christine, and together they had three children Linzi, Laura and Paul. Their immediate family was to grow further following the birth of their first grandson Ben in 2001, with granddaughters Ailey following in 2010 and Eryn in March of this year. His determination to provide his family with a comfortable life resulted in him joining the retained fire service on the 21st of June 1982 leading to a career spanning 32 years, serving the communities of Belfast, Lurgan and Newry.

From the outside Eugene was not a deeply religious man, however he truly taught his children and grandchildren the meaning of faith by the way in which he chose to live his life. Family was his centre.

He put the needs of his family before those of his own, his goals in life inextricably tied to those of his children, he comforted them through cut knees, cancer and broken hearts, he provided shelter of both the physical and emotional kind and most of all he was present within his family. If called upon, no matter the hour or the emergency, he came, he helped, he was there. It is therefore lucky for those of us who knew him that, in Eugene’s eyes, the distinction between family and friend was slight. When he became your friend he became your family, and if you needed him, no matter the hour, no matter the emergency, he was there.

One of Eugene’s great loves in the last number of years was cycling, a sport he may have come to a bit later on in life, but which he approached with the enthusiasm and competitiveness of youth. He was unselfish also with this passion, participating in numerous charity cycles over the years to raise funds for others in the community he served. He was particularly happy to be able to raise funds for the southern area hospice who helped care for his mother in the weeks before her death in 2012.

Another love of Eugene’s was the art of socializing, if an achievement or an event called for a celebration, he was there - front and centre. He would gladly welcome you into his home and openly offer his hospitality, except if it involved him having to part with any of his beloved Jameson’s whiskey….every man has a limit.

When we look back at Eugene’s life, we see one of constant motion. He never stopped nor gave up. He was not a man who could be persuaded to rest and was happiest when he had a project to complete or a problem to solve…even if sometimes he may have brought some of those problems upon himself! In his final years he achieved a long time dream and he built his own home, pouring hours of his own labour and love into its completion, a testament to the labour and love he poured into every aspect of his life.

The sudden loss of Eugene will be a very hard cross for us to bear and the void that is left will at times feel impossible to cross. We must follow the lead that Eugene left us, a living example of the concept of faith, we must keep working at it, we must not give up, no matter how difficult, now is the time for Eugene to rest and for us to work.

A Firemans Prayer

 

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