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In memory of Stephen Connolly
Sunday, 18 May 2008 20:28


Celebrant: Fr. Martin McDonagh


Entrance Hymn: Here I am, Lord

FIRST READING (Sharon Connolly)

Psalm — Eagle’s Wings (Sung)

SECOND READING (Michaela Green)

Life begins at 40, it is said. For Stephen, this beginning is the new day that will never end; a day without an evening, an everlasting day. His death has shocked us all.
Silence is the only response to death, yet when death is sudden and tragic, even silence is inadequate. In the Book of Lamentations we read “it is good to wait in silence for the Lord to save”. All we can do is wait for the Lord is the only one who can ultimately makes sense of a sudden death which leaves so many broken-hearted.
The question “why?” must give way to “what?” And “how?” What can we do to pick up our shattered lives and continue to live and hope. How can we respond – hope rather than spend our times blaming God, ourselves and others, and revisiting guilt trips. All the could-have’s and should-have’s must be laid aside in terms of the decisions made, the choices followed and the inevitable consequences accepted, otherwise we will never have peace of mind and journey forward.
God is in sadness, God is in tragedy, God desires to be at the centre of our lives to make sense of what makes no sense to us at this time. Tragedy proclaims the Mystery of Faith – Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again.
Tragedy and death forces us to face the Mystery of Life – God called us to life – to be. William Blake says: “We are put on this earth a small space, that we might learn “Beams of Love”. This is the focus of our celebration today, not the circumstances of death. The tragedy of this moment can not, dare not obliterate the love which inhabited this mystery of Stephen’s life – a life cut down, cut short by a kind of wayward carelessness. We celebrate all that was loving and lovely, tender and worth cherishing in the midst of this unexpected and intrusive death.
Each and everyone here has experienced something of the love sent out by the mourn today. When a young person dies we tend to look to the future and all the possibilities it might hold for that individual – we may say something like “too young to die”, “still so much living to do”, “had so much to offer others”, “if it wasn’t so sudden we could accept it better”.
In surmising like this we fail to give credit to the life span lived, the talents shared, the joy created, the sorrows faced, the love shared and, as Christians, we believe that God has allotted a certain number of days to each – short enough not to be a burden to others and long enough to complete the task given, the vocation realised. “It is accomplished”, the dying words of Jesus. The summation of life’s journey for all.
The Book of Ecclesiastes is the summary of the belief of someone who finds meaning in the Plan of God, amid the polarities of life. It takes a great act of faith to be able to say and really believe – “there is a time to be born and a time to die”....”God has made everything apt for its time”.
There is a time for grief and a time for hope, there is a time for forgiveness and a time for hope, a time for forgiveness and a time for peace. We all ought to forgive and seek peace, a characteristic of God’s children, as indeed we are, as we hear in the Second Reading.
In the Gospel we hear the story of the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus, a story that could be re-written in Gilford over these past few days. The sudden death of Stephen leaves many lives shattered, dreams unrealised, promises unfulfilled, the very meaning of life destroyed. The one who meant so much is no more – is dead. Like the death of Jesus whose death left the disciples sad, lonely, confused, without the one who had given meaning to their lives. Stephen’s death leaves many sad, lonely, and confused. Jesus’ resurrection gave hope to the distraught disciples. As we draw close to him on our journey of sadness at this time, we too will experience a new hope in our lives and will be able to pick up the broken pieces of our lives and move on.

Prayer of the Faithful
Fr. McDonagh: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that everyone who believes in him
may not perish but have eternal life. Therefore, let us pray to him with confidence.

Response: Lord, graciously hear us.
1. Leah Connolly
That we may let Daddy go with love and trust into the hands of God. Lord, hear us.
2. Leah Connolly
May God reward all those who cared for Daddy throughout his life. Lord, hear us.
3. Len Connolly
That Lisa, Conan, Mise, Leah, Odhran, Rosaleen and all family members may find comfort through their faith in God. Lord, hear us
4. Len Connolly
May God comfort and console all those who mourn Stephen and give them strength and healing in the days ahead. Lord, hear us
5. Mise Connolly
As death surprised Daddy with its suddenness, may God now surprise him with his kindness and mercy and blot out the sins he committed through human weakness. Lord, hear us.
6. Mise Connolly
That God may grant eternal life to those whom death has taken from us. Lord, hear us.

Fr. McDonagh: Lord, may you support us all day long, till the shadows lengthen and evening falls, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done; then in your mercy, Lord, grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at last. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen

Offertory Procession (Conan, Mise, Leah and Odhran)

Offertory Hymn: In bread we bring you, Lord

Communion Hymns : I watch the sunrise Songs of the Angel

Communion Reflection: “Our hearts are filled with memories” read by Sharon Connolly

Final Hymn: How Great Thou Art

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 August 2008 14:53



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