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In memory of Joan Byrne

 Joan Byrne 1 Medium Web view

Celebrant: Very Reverend Gerald Powell P.P.

Funeral Mass of Joan Byrne

We gather here today to remember in prayer Joan Byrne and to commend her soul to almighty God. Our thoughts and our sympathies 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 Joan and to pray in faith that he will welcome her to everlasting happiness in heaven.

There is as the Scriptures remind us, a time for every season under heaven. As we gather here 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.

You have shared memories of who she was and what she meant to you. We mourn her passing, we cherish her memory. Above all you have remembered the humanity of a good person. Today as we gather in sorrow to remember Joan, a burden of pain, a burden of loss, a burden of grief weighs heavily on you all. We gather as a community - our presence here today is our way of reaching out to you.

Joan was born in Belfast in 1941, the only child of Jimmy and Molly Shortt. She attended Strathern School and Miss Dunne’s school of typing in Donegal Square. After school, she worked in Robinson and Cleavers before becoming a dental nurse with Mr. Price and then a Mr. Green in Dunmurry before joining the staff of the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald and then her final job before ‘retirement’ was with the Ulster Clinic. Jim and Joan returned to Gilford ion 15th December 2001, at Joan’s request, and after a spell working with Home Care, she worked full time with Mrs. Forde until she suffered a mild stroke, forcing her to ‘retire properly’.

Joan and Jim met when she was 14 years old and he was 17. They met in Newcastle and were married on 19th September 1960, in St. John’s Church Gilford, two days before her 19th birthday and the same week that Down won the All Ireland. Jim and Joan watched the match on TV while on their honeymoon in Arklow!

They spent the first 41 years of their marriage in Belfast before returning to Gilford.

Joan had a great love for animals – and especially dogs. She loved walking her dogs and she enjoyed reading. Naturally she enjoyed Jim’s singing and was delighted when Jim’s voice was recorded at a recent church service. She was so proud of the CD and was thrilled to have ‘I watch the Sunrise ‘and ‘How Great thou Art’  on CD so she could play it at his funeral.  The second track (How Great Thou Art) will be played as her remains leave the church today.

Joan was totally devoted to Jim – she was a rock.

God knows the reality of deep pain – the pain Joan endured throughout her time of illness.  Letting go of her today is not going to be easy for Joan was a lover of life itself. Thank you to all who cared for her and loved her in life especially in her final days at Craigavon Area Hospital and Daisy Hill. Now her suffering is over. As Joan has died now a part of you dies as well. You are filled with sorrow because her death leaves a gap that no-one else can fill adequately. 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 Christian 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. Joan’s period of waiting is now over.

She brought love, care and friendship to those who knew her. She died on Wednesday afternoon after her strength could no longer meet the challenge of life. We commend her to the Risen Lord and Our Lady of Sorrows. May her gentle soul rest in peace.

But if we are sad today, there is also much to be thankful for. We are grateful for the life she did have, grateful for all the joy she brought into your lives. 

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 us through this time.

 You can remember her and only that she’s gone or you can cherish her memory and let it live on. You can try and close your mind, be empty and turn your back, or you can do what Joan would want; smile, open your eyes, love and move on. May her noble soul be at God’s right hand.

On behalf of the parish community I offer our sincere sympathy to her loving husband Jim, daughter Carol, son Roy, son in law, daughter in law, grandchildren and the family circle.

 Eternal rest …




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