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In memory of Mrs. Kathleen McParland

In memory of Mrs. Kathleen McParland

16th December 2022

Celebrant: Fr. Des Loughran

St. John's Church, Gilford

As we enter the final days before the birth of Christ, the Church uses what is known as ‘The Great ‘O’ Antiphons which are the great distinctive prayers in Advent.

During the ‘Middle Ages’ throughout the monasteries of Europe these antiphons were sung during evening prayer from the 17th – 23rd of December. A different monk always intoned the Alleluia but the Abbot always sang the antiphon.

During the singing of the antiphon the largest bell was rung from the tower, and that was how “The Angelus” as we know it today, came to be.

One of the antiphons is of Advent is: “O Key of David and scepter of Israel. What you open no one can close, and what you close no one can open”.

We all open and close many doors many, many times every day, and we do it because we have to get from one place to another, or we do it because someone else didn’t close it in the first place. We open a door to go out and we close a door to keep in. We open a door to welcome people and we also close the door to shut people out.

In our gospel we see a door being opened to Joseph, that of Mary his betrothed being pregnant. We also see Joseph wanting to close that door, not wanting to open it.

At times in our lives people have done and will do things to us that will cause us, make us and even force us to close our door to them. We will not want to see or hear from them ever again. And when we have been hurt it is an automatic reaction to want to shut them out of your life. Even Joseph was going to close the door on Mary, but God let him see the whole

picture and Joseph did as it were a complete U-turn.

I have no doubt that if we were able to see the whole picture, we would probably do a U-turn too, but rarely do we ever get a glimpse of the whole picture.

As a priest, I have come across many situations, whereby people wanted blood as a pay back. They would settle for nothing less than banishment for the one who hurt them, or who damaged the family name, or who brought shame and disgrace to the home, and the list goes on, but in all my dealings I have always tried to bring out the line from that particular ‘O’ Antiphon, ‘What you close no one can open’. The reason why is because I have also seen the other side too.

The one who was banished never ever came back home. I have known parents to leave this world wondering where their child is, wondering how they are, and longing to see their face and to hear their voice again, all because someone closed them out because of something they did, or did not do, or said, or did not say or whatever.

If Mary and Joseph had both closed the door to God’s plan for our eternal redemption, they would not only have closed off everything good that Jesus has done for the last two thousand years, but they would have closed off our destiny of eternal life which is God’s plan for us.

I don’t think any of us will ever have a trouble-free life, but I think the secret of living this life is to be open to all that comes your way and try to deal with it, cope with it, accept it and ultimately live with it.

I think all of us would agree that our lives would and could have been very different if we had a chance to glimpse the whole picture.

If that had been the case then we could and would

have made different choices and decisions when

certain things came our way.

As every door has a lock, so indeed do our lives too, and the only key that will fit that lock is Jesus Christ himself and if we hold on to him then we cannot be excluded from heaven but if we let go of Him then we cannot gain entrance and Kathleen held on to her Lord and Saviour and entry into heaven is now a natural progression for her.

Kathleen would know the differences and difficulties closing the door on others would mean as she spent all her life opening doors to and for those who needed them opened.

I remember Kathleen well from when I was a volunteer in Newry Gateway Club. She often called up to see her students as they gathered for

their weekly social night in the old Abbey Grammar School. I also remember Kathleen and John being at Sunday Mass in Gilford when I first came to the

parish of Tullylish in 1990.

Kathleen was born the eldest of eight children and after leaving school she wanted to train to become a teacher in a Special Care School. In those days, the Special Care Schools were under the Health Service and not Education as they are now.

Kathleen went to Muckamore Special Care School in Antrim and worked as a classroom assistant. Following her success in this role she was accepted into Muckamore to train as a special needs teacher. After Graduation, Kathleen taught in Ceara School in Lurgan and in a short time became acting Principal, later moving to Sperrinview in Dungannon as Principal.

Kathleen was offered the headship of Rathfriland Hill School in Newry, where she remained until her retirement and by the time she retired, Rathfriland Hill Special Needs School in Newry was the largest in the Southern Education and Library Board District and highly respected as was Kathleen.
Kathleen volunteered for many years in Tullylish Credit Union in Gilford working both behind the counter and on the various committees too.

In the middle of all her work and volunteering Kathleen met her husband, Gus. The first the staff knew that she had married was when one of them called her Miss Cunningham, to she was politely corrected and told that her name was Mrs. McParland. The news delighted everyone and Kathleen enjoyed her ready-made family in Gus’s children and she maintained a loving relationship with them throughout the rest of her life.

Kathleen still kept in touch with her schooling friends over the years lunching and chatting about days gone by. Kathleen was always a lady, polite, kind-hearted, knowledgeable and always giving of herself and her

time for others.

Today, we give Kathleen back to God in thanksgiving for all that she was to us and for us.

Every year from now on as a family you will be more keenly aware and remember the gift of Christmas that we are born to live for all eternity, that life for us does not end in death, it really only begins when we leave here and go to heaven and that is where Kathleen now goes, to the Father’s mansion of many rooms.

There she will see us as God see us. There she will know only happiness, joy, peace and love and who could deny her such gifts. And just imagine the joy she will now know celebrating Christmas in heaven.

And until it comes our time to be with Kathleen again, let us simply pray Eternal rest….

I would just like to take a moment to offer my sympathies to Kathleen step family of Damian, Philip, Carmela, Gabrielle, Timothy, Josepha, and Andrew. Also, to Ann, Sr Vianny, Liam, Mary, John, Hugh, Gerard and Maura and to all her step grandchildren, her nieces and nephews, neighbours and friends assuring you of my prayers and support.




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