Funeral of Fr. Pat Moore in St. Mary’s, Asdee – 4/05/’17 Fr Gearoid Walsh
This morning three realities have converged to gather us together here in St. Mary’s Church, Asdee and they did so also yesterday evening at Fr. Pat’s wake; and those realities are faith, friendship and death. We are celebrating his Requiem Mass; that is a matter of faith. Our coming together from near and far is rooted in friendship. And the reason for our presence is because our friend has died. Of course one definite way of integrating Pat’s personality into proceedings, both sacred and profane, is by incorporating an element of mischief or intrigue or by creating some confusion! What other logical explanation could there possibly be for printing one Gospel text in the funeral booklet, and then proceeding to use an entirely different one! But there were in fact two very good reasons for choosing that Gospel passage: firstly, because it was the Gospel text for last Sunday, which turned out to be Fr. Pat’s last Sunday on this earth; had he been well enough to celebrate the Eucharist on that day, then it is the Gospel he would have used. Sunday – the day of resurrection, An Domhnach – the Lord’s day, the most important day of the entire week for a Christian. The 2nd reason for using the text from St. Luke that recounts the seven mile walk of the two disciples from Jerusalem to Emmaus, is precisely because the account of their experience along the way has echoes of the three realities that have brought us together: faith, friendship and death.
At many funerals there’s probably one question that’s often asked – it may not necessarily be expressed aloud, but it is certainly a thought in somebody’s mind on seeing another whose presence arouses curiosity; and the question is: How’s your man here? Or: What’s your wan’s connection? There are many connections here today. In my own case it dates back almost 44 years to September 1973 when, after the Intercert, Pat transferred from St. Michael’s College, Listowel to continue with his secondary education in St. Brendan’s, Killarney; then it was on to Maynooth for three years; and from there we went to the Irish College in Rome for four years. And I wish to acknowledge the presence of colleagues from other dioceses, along with contemporaries from our days in the St. Brendan’s, Maynooth and Rome. Whoever and whatever it was that created the connection and forged the friendship, that’s who we all are – friends who are connected by and through a friend; friends who recall the life of a friend – be it through school or college, or from the stage, be it through parish, or poetry or film or radio. It reminds me of an occasion when WB Yeats is reputed to have visited the Municipal Gallery in Dublin, wherein he found himself surrounded by the portraits of the great and the good of Irish social, cultural and political life; as was his want, he penned a poem for the occasion, which concluded with the words: “think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends”.
As friends we come to offer sympathy and the support of our prayers to Fr. Pat’s family: to his brothers Michael & Diarmuid, and their wives Jacintha & Geraldine, to his niece and nephews, to his cousins in various generations, to his neighbours and to all who supported him and cared for him during his illness. In our prayers we remember also his parents Mick and Peg – Mick’s 20th anniversary is this year, and Peg’s 3rd anniversary will be in September. We’re here therefore not to be mere spectators, as one might be at a football match or at a concert; we’re here to participate in the prayer of the Church, to pray for his forgiveness and healing, to pray for his happiness, and to pray for his eternal repose and his peace. We’re here because we believe that through the resurrection of our Divine Saviour, resurrection is also possible for us. Resurrection is not resuscitation; rather it is transfiguration. Words of the apostle Paul to the Philippians(3:21) seem apt: “from heaven comes the saviour we are awaiting for, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will transfigure these wretched bodies of our into copies of his own glorious body”. That’s the faith of the Church, that’s the faith that gathers us together and that’s the faith from which and through which we derive consolation. But lest we forget, wherever there is faith, then frailty is never too far away; there will always be an angel of Satan to wrestle with. In this regard the inscription on the souvenir card of Fr. Pat’s ordination is instructive: “Lord, look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church.”
There is grief and heartbreak at the death of our friend and colleague. Like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus who had lost their friend, our faces are also downcast. But now that Fr. Pat is dead, is that the end of everything? At this time of grief, let’s not lose sight of what priesthood is, and the purpose of Fr. Pat’s ministry and the ministry of all who serve the Church, in whatever capacity. The Gospel text gives us an insight into ministry when, walking with the one they supposed to be a stranger, it tells us that the two disciples “pressed him to stay with them”. Why? Because the conversation along the road had been riveting; because “the stranger” had opened the eyes of their minds and, as it were, had peeled away their blindness to help them understand who God is; thereby he had nourished them with his wisdom and he had nourished them in their search and in their emptiness and he had awakened in them a desire to seek more. But for that to happen, there had to be and there has to be an openness; otherwise the conversation would be as fruitless as ploughing a desert. Openness to God is a risk, as it may mean we will be disturbed in our comfort zone and we may be taken to places we would rather not go.
In the Easter issue of the catholic weekly, The Tablet, there was an article about the Jesuit Philosopher Frederick Copleston, with whose work Pat would have been acquainted. And when reflecting on the great minds of Copleston’s era, the author of the article concludes as follows: “The lesson of history … is that while change overtakes us, equally nothing is lost. The task for laity and Religious, therefore, is not to take comfort in nostalgic reverie or lament a lost age, but to re-engage, be it in different circumstances, in the intellectual and cultural work to which those earlier figures were committed and to which they contributed so much ad maiorem dei gloriam – (for the greater glory of God)”. That, in essence, captures what it means to be a priest, but not just to be a priest, but to be a Christian, and it sums up also the purpose of the Church in its many manifestations. Let everything be done for the greater glory of God.
When Fr. Pat visited your house, quite often he would not arrive alone but in the company of another, perhaps a complete stranger. If there were an advance telephone call, which was most unlikely, it would replicate the introduction at the kitchen door: “I’m calling in for a minute because there’s a wonderful person you must meet”. He could have done that not alone in Kerry, but just as easily in Dublin or Belfast or Galway or elsewhere, from where people have travelled today to be with us. And that’s why he could be enthralling and frustrating in equal in measure – and never more so than when you had enough food for one or two at suppertime and out of the blue, there are four – or more! He loved conversation and he revelled in company, perhaps even craved company. And God rest his mother Peg, he must have broken her heart arriving unannounced with yet another unexpected mouth to be fed. But since this latest episode of his illness emerged in February 2015, many have said it was a blessing that she was gone before him, because she had been through a lot of stress when Fr. Pat was ill 22 years ago. Prior to Peg’s death, he had been her carer for a considerable number of years; but in recent times the kindness of many to him, in several different ways, had been, in turn, Peg for him.
As we bid him farewell, we cherish the memories and the conversations. And the arguments! And as we reflect on his journey, in its many strands and complexities, one of the lessons we can learn is this: perhaps the less we are able to do – as distinct from the less we do, which is laziness – perhaps the less we are able to do, the more we are able to accomplish. And this gathering bears eloquent testimony to that truth. But above all we must not abandon or forget the purpose of his ministry and the ministry of all priests, but endeavour instead to keep that ministry alive. In many respects that will be the true measure and the true depth both of our friendship and of our faith, because it was the mutual search for Jesus Christ that was the source of our friendship, that gave meaning to our friendship and that is it’s ultimate conclusion. Otherwise, Fr. Pat will not just be gone, but he will also be forgotten, and his living and his suffering will have been in vain.
A Phadraig, a chara, tá súil agam go shroicfidh tú an Ríocht bheannaithe, agus ‘s mo dhócas go mbeimídne, agus gach éinne atá bailithe anseo inniu, araon le chéile arís in oileán na bPárthas. Slán abhaile, agus suaimhneas síoraí i gcomhluadar na hEaghlaise neamhaí. Amen.
Pat Moore, priest, educator, author and friend was born in Asdee in Kerry in 1957. He was ordained a priest in 1982 and ministered for 33 years, till being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in January 2015. Pat told his own story in his book Weathering A Storm which was published last year. The special connections Pat has made with so many people was demonstrated at the launch in Listowel. From St. Michael College Listowel, to St. Brendan’s College Killarney, to St Patrick’s College Maynooth to the Irish College in Rome, Pat made great friends and connected in a wonderful way with people. His first parish was Listowel and then following training in Mount Oliver he became Director of Primary Religious Ed. and Assistant Director (Diocesan) of Adult Religious Education in our diocese. In 1994 he became curate of Rathmore (Gneeveguilla) then Lixnaw (Irremore)1998 then 2004 parish priest of Duagh. Everywhere Pat ministered he gathered people and friends. Pat was central to the Horizons Radio Kerry programme and he worked on several sets of Just A Thought. Pat approached everything he did with creativity, a contagious energy and enthusiasm. He is sadly missed but we are all better for having known him.
The final poem in Pat’s Weathering A Storm 2016
AN OFFERING TO ALL
Because Illness brought me to a place where I spend much time alone I now feel myself getting more mindful.
I am doing something when I think I am doing nothing
As the mind empties of worries I listen and feel
I am in the moment
I accept what is – a creaking door
Watch a field of grass in the wind or rain
A friend, a stranger, a situation that comes to mind
I can hold it in love
I don’t have to rush to or towards
Time stands still though seconds tick
I don’t have to be anyone else, anywhere else.
Calmness, newness awe fills the mind
I am moving to the place of simplicity
Less is more
Gestures are equal to words
Strangers in my head are becoming familiar
Daft things I feel and think find a place
They are less obtrusive.
Prayer is the full stop at the end of the paragraph not only the first word.