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In memory of Jim Fitzpatrick

Jim Fitzpatrick b Medium Web view

There is, as the scriptures remind us today, a time for every season under heaven. As we gather in St. John’s, 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 keep silence, a time to speak, a time to love. A sad occasion like this today is an occasion to reminisce and to allow the mind to linger on moments from the past. Memories flood back of childhood experiences of being cared for, encouraged and loved. This is a time when gratitude for a loving father wells up in your hearts for a “job well done”. It is a time of awakening to an appreciation of the gifts and blessings received. It is only in hindsight that the gift becomes clear. Life is lived going forwards but understood looking backwards.

Home we all know is where the heart is and today the heart is not at home. The heart has gone to a different place. For it is true that today home is joined to heaven in a more profound way.

So we give thanks to God for Jim’s life and it is with confidence that we pray to the same God to give him eternal rest. Since the passing of Jim you have all shared memories of him in many respects – his talents, achievements and interests –

Jim was born on the 5th September 1937, the fourth in a family of eight children of Joseph and Agnes Fitzpatrick. The family lived in Cross Row, Gilford and Jim attended Gilford Primary School until, like the majority of people in the area at that time, left school for a job in Gilford Mill. After his days in ‘the Mill’, he worked as a labourer for most of his life, with many different firms, including Goodyear and also spent a bit of time working for our parish. He literally married the ‘girl next door’ when he married Bernadette McManus here in St. John’s Church on 7th January 1964 and they set up their first home in Keady Row. 45 years ago, they moved to the present home in Castleview. He loved telling how he and Bernie had their wedding reception in the Bonne Bouche, or as Jim called it, the Bonny Bush) in Tandragee. Together they had three children, Michael, Deirdre and Anne. Tragically, Deirdre died aged just 5 months and that’s something a parent never recovers from. Every year on her anniversary the trip was made to her grave. After the sudden death of his wife Bernie in 2003, Jim’s life revolved around his grandchildren and great grandchildren. They gave him the reason to go on. He loved all of his grandchildren and great grandchildren - his grandson Sean lived with him and he was ever so proud of ‘the twins’ – his champion boxer granddaughters.

Jim loved to go fishing with his brothers and he was an ardent Down fan. In his youth he played for the local Gilford GAA team - ‘Geraldines’ and then later for Tullylish. He liked a ‘pint’ and a flutter on the horses. With his great friend, Jackie McDowell, he loved walking along the tow path and, like the rest of his family; Jim was a community man and a trustee of the G.C.C. Hall in Gilford.

Sadly his health took a downward turn last year and 6 months ago he became a resident of Aughnacloy House where he passed away on Thursday morning

We gather today as a Christian community and our presence here today is our way of reaching out to all of you who loved him and will miss him and to you we extend our sympathy.

We remember a good man who was a treasure to you all. Letting go of him today is not going to be easy for Jim was a great lover of family, people and life itself. Today then we bid farewell to Jim. Despite your sense of loss, you will face the future with courage and hope, knowing that that is what your daddy would want you to do. We comfort one another in the sure confidence that for Jim life has changed, not ended. We also derive comfort from the conviction that he is at peace with God after all his infirmity.

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.

This is a time of sadness. We are sad today because we are gathered to mourn Jim and say our final farewell. We are here today to console you in your sadness by our presence, our prayers and our words of consolation.

And finally it is a time of hope.

Our faith tells us that at death life is changed, not ended. We are then filled with hope that Jim is now at peace after all his suffering. We are confident in this hope that God has taken him to himself.

Today we extend our sincere sympathy to Anne and Michael, sisters Peggy and Sheila, brother Brendan, daughter in law Dorothy, son in law Damien, grandchildren, great grandchildren and family circle.

May Mary Our Lady of Knock, 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.

May he rest in peace. Amen.





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