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In memory of Leon Gaillard

Leon Gaillard

 

 

INTRODUCTION:

On behalf of Gaillard family I welcome everyone here to the Cathedral this morning including those from other Churches to the Requiem Mass and farewell ceremony for Leon Gaillard. We pray this afternoon that the Lord will welcome Leon into his Kingdom.

We are naturally saddened by Leon’s death, and today amid our sorrow we celebrate his life and we are grateful for the blessings God has given him during his life. We gather acknowledging the number of people whom he touched during his life.

Let us now pause briefly to call to mind some of the blessings we received during his life and to ask the Lord’s forgiveness for our own faults and failings.

Lord you bless those who trust in you.                                   Lord have mercy.

You give light to us when we walk in the shadow of death.            Christ have mercy.

You guide our feet into the way of peace.                               Lord have mercy.

HOMILY

We gather this morning to celebrate the funeral Mass of Leon, someone who believed in Christ as his Lord and Saviour. We are consoled by the hope promised us by God that our mourning will be eased in the knowledge that Christ has saved us by dying on the cross for us. Leon believed whole heartedly in the promises made to us by our Saviour.

The first reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes, chosen by Leon’s family, has many thoughts for all of us gathered in grief. It reminds us of the cycle of life. The author compares one’s life to the seasons of the year, which follow a certain pattern. Today for us, from a human point of view, is a time to mourn and we do at the same time express our gratitude to God for the many blessings bestowed on Leon and for the many graces received from God through the way he lived his life.

In the second reading also chosen by the family for Leon’s Requiem Mass we see in the passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans that each one of us can have an influence on the lives of other people, just as Christ had an influence on each of us.   Because of Christ’s influence, we belong to Him whether alive or dead. This reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans reminds us that a time comes for our departure. In Leon’s case he fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith. We are reminded by St. Paul of Christ’s death and resurrection and his gaining salvation for each of us. He stands at God’s right hand and pleads our cause.

Our Gospel story this afternoon is that beautifully consoling passage from St. John reminding us that there are many rooms in our father’s house. We are welcome; there is an open invitation to come follow him. We are reminded of Christ’s own words, “I have called you by name; you are mine”. He accepts us as we are provided we acknowledge that ‘Christ is the way, the truth and the life’.

In the Eucharist today, there is also for us a great sense of hope, of strength and healing. As we celebrate the funeral Mass we pray for healing as we do at every Mass. The Mass is the great bond between the living and the dead. We pray for an even greater appreciation of the teaching of the Church, “Lord for your faithful people life is changed, not ended”. Death is merely the doorway to eternal life.

I reassure all of us today, Christ is with us on our journey, even though we may not at times recognise Him. He is so close that our lives merge with his. As St. Paul reminds us in the letter to the Thessalonians “He shares with us his victory over sin and death.” We all hope and believe that when we leave this life that we will join the ‘communion of saints’ that the deceased and living are united in Jesus. Jesus overcame death not just for himself, but for all of us. He is the first to rise, but we will follow him. We believe that our dead are alive. They live in a new and changed way, thanks to the victory Christ gained over death.

When a person lives there is a story to be told. In fact each of us has a unique story to tell - the story of his/her life. Leon was born on the 9th January 1943 to Eddie and Sadie Gaillard. He was the eldest of three children. He grew up in Gilford, attended St. John’s Primary School in Gilford and then went to the Technical College in Portadown. After leaving the Technical College, he began his apprenticeship with Neeson’s in Banbridge, as a radio and television engineer. Subsequently he moved on to Visionhire. He lived in England for a short time and whilst there he had trails with Chelsea football club and was set for a successful career. However, he got was quite homesick for his home town of Gilford and he came back home. Leon was a keen sportsman, supporting Manchester United and his own native County Down. On his return from England, along with his brother Armond and Harry Convery they formed the Argonauts which later became the Burton show band and with the show band they travelled the length and breadth of Ireland. He enjoyed music, having had his voice trained and he also played the keyboard. Other pastimes which he had were shooting and fishing.  

Leon met Mary, they became good friends, the relationship developed and eventually blossomed leading to their marriage on the 16th October in St. Mary’s Church, Chapel St., Newry. Leon and Mary had two children, Michelle and Armond. Unfortunately, prior to the birth of his second child, Leon suffered a brain aneurysm which ended his career as a radio and television engineer. Sadly, in October Leon developed a serious illness and he received his final call on Tuesday the 16th February at 7.15am to come to God’s house.

This brings us back to our faith that Leon, chosen by God in baptism, and God whom Leon chose to serve in his life by receiving Him in the Eucharist has once again been chosen by God. God offers him His grace, His mercy and His protection. We pray this morning that Leon has joined the Blessed in heaven.

On behalf of Bishop McAreavey, the Priests of the parish, John McClelland, student for the Diaconate, on behalf of everyone here and on my own behalf I extend our sincere sympathy to Leon’s wife Mary, his daughter Michelle, his son Armond, his brother Armond, sister Julienne, his grandchildren Patrick, Myia, Max, Amelie, Alex and Lois, his nephews and nieces, his cousins, the entire family circle and his many friends. May Leon enjoy eternal life and receive the reward which he so richly deserves.

On behalf of the Gaillard I would like to thank everyone for coming to this, Leon’s Requiem Mass and farewell Ceremony. You will be in our thoughts and prayers in the days and weeks ahead. Go nDéana Dia Trócaire ar a anam.  

 

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