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In memory of Kathleen Smyth

Funeral Liturgy and Sermon for Kathleen Smyth who died on 13th February 2009

Requiem Mass celebrated by Very Reverend Gerry Powell P.P.

I welcome you to this funeral liturgy for Kathleen Smyth.

Death is always a shock; even more so when it’s the death of someone close to us who has died after a long illness. We all come here to remember a remarkable lady, to give thanks, even in our grief, for her long life, to offer each other, and especially all 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 KATHLEEN; our sadness is that she has gone from us.

Our sure Christian hope is that the Lord our God will welcome her 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 Katheen.

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 KATHLEEN, 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

The lesson of old age is that of endurance and faith. In all our lives there are the valleys and the hills, the good times and the bad times, the successes and the failures, the joys and the sorrows. We are all given a certain number of years and those who live the longest become deeply aware that this time is not given so much for our enjoyment, but rather to work out our salvation.

There is we know a time for mourning and a time for joy. These two emotions will surely find a place together in our hearts today. At the end of Kathleen’s long life of 91 year it maybe that the need to praise God is uppermost in our minds because it is so clear how rich God’s blessings have been to her:

“My soul gives thanks to the Lord and never forget all his blessings”.

We are happy today because we know deep down that Kathleen’s life was complete and she was ready for God. You have received much from her –

Every human story is the story of a journey, the journey of life. Christ is with us on this journey, even though at times we do not recognise him. He is so close to us that our stories merge with his. He shares with us his victory over sin and death.

When all is said and done it is only Christ’s story that makes sense of ours – glory achieved through suffering and death. The resurrection of Christ opens all our stories to the prospect, not of a good ending but of a glorious ending. The last word in each of our stories belongs to God.

Now we have to let Kathleen go. Her life gave glory to God. And now she has stretched out her tired old hands for the last time and God has taken her to himself. Let us pray with hope and gratitude for the eternal rest of this valiant lady and join again in prayer: “My soul give thanks to the Lord and never forget all his blessings”.

Let us celebrate her homecoming, with thanks to God for her long life, for the example her faith gives us; for the lessons that we learned from her about living well and dying well.

God knows the reality of deep pain – the pain Kathleen endured in Alzheimer’s for over 15 years – the past 10 years spent in bed been so lovingly cared for by Frances and Pat. We remember a lovely person, a lady who was a treasure to you all. Letting go of her today is not going to be easy for Kathleen was a great lover of family, people and life itself. It surely seems so cruel that she was struck down and faced such suffering. Today then we bid farewell to Kathleen. Despite your sense of loss, you will face the future with courage and hope, knowing that that is what she would want you to do. We comfort one another in the sure confidence that for Kathleen life has changed, not ended. We also derive comfort from the conviction that she is at peace with God.

Kathleen was born 91 years ago in Lisommon of a family of seven. She married Patsy, a local man from Gilford. They were married for 53 years. She was a loving, kind mother and had a gentle nature with a great sense of humour. She loved nature – all animals but especially birds whom she baked for every day and fed them. She was a lifelong Pioneer. We pray in this mass for all her deceased loved ones, especially her husband Patsy, and also her brother Kevin who died recently.

When we remember her today we cannot help recalling the things she said and the way she said them, the things she did and her way of doing them but sadness is tinged with hope and expectation. We pray that she is with the Lord and we look forward to the day when we will be reunited with her. Christ’s resurrection assures us that if we follow him we will rise again. It is only with death that life really makes sense, it’s our leap into eternity, it is God calling us home to be with him forever. At a time like this we come face to face with our own mortality.

Living a truly Catholic life is about waiting in hope and as people of hope we believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

She brought love, care and friendship to those who knew her. Always faithful to her Church, prayer and fidelity to the mass and the sacraments were second nature to her. She died after her strength could no longer meet the challenge of life. Today then we bid farewell to Kathleen. Despite your sense of loss, you will face the future with courage and hope, knowing that that is what your mummy would want you to do. We comfort one another in the sure confidence that for Kathleen life has changed, not ended. We also derive comfort from the conviction that she is at peace with God.

With Fr Mc Donagh I extend our deepest sympathy to her daughter Frances, niece Pat, sister Hannah, sister-in-law Kathleen, nephews and nieces. May she rest in peace.

 

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