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In memory of Ryan Conn


Ryan Conn

In memory of Ryan Conn

1996 - 2021

Funeral Mass on Wednesday 24th March 2021

Celebrant: Very Reverend Canon G. Powell PP

“If only”…. Words we often use, but especially when we experience tragedy or great loss … like the sadness all of us experienced at the shocking news of this tragic passing of Ryan. And we find the same sentiment expressed by Mary in the Gospel today. She says to Jesus:

“If only you were here, this would not have happened”.

It’s a natural reaction. In life when we meet a situation of extreme frustration, as all tragedies are, we will find 2 very strong emotions – blame and guilt. Both are natural but neither is helpful. They are just expressions of the anger of frustration.

Today we are part of what is probably most painful of all for those who are left behind, the sudden death of someone so young. No human thoughts can understand it, not even the words of Jesus can give it meaning. In our prayers, we look for the grace of acceptance of what we will never understand among our questions and doubts.

There is as the Scriptures remind us, a time for every season under heaven. As we gather in this church today we reflect on the mystery of time and that we 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. 

Since the sudden passing of Ryan you, his family and friends, have shared memories of who he was and what he meant to us. We are heartbroken at his passing, we cherish his life and the memories we have.

Ryan was born on 30th May 1996 to Michael and Sharleen Conn, the second of their three children. After a very difficult birth in Craigavon Hospital, Ryan had to be resuscitated and then spent the first month in the baby. After he came home he didn’t sleep for a year.

He attended St. John’s Primary School in Gilford before attending St. Patrick’s College in Banbridge. Ryan didn’t find school easy as he was dyslexic but, thanks to a positive attitude from his parents, dyslexia never held Ryan back. He worked to his strengths and had the skill of entrepreneur in his teenage years. When he realised the children from country areas didn’t have the same access to sweets as he did, he promptly bought a stock of goodies from the Spar and sent up his own wee business during breaktime. All went well until his mum received a phone call from the school. The problem wasn’t so much the selling of the sweets but the fact he was selling them to a class of children with ADHD! Their sugar level went through the roof and that didn’t bode well for afternoon classes! When we wanted a new phone, his mum said if he raised half the money, she would match it. So, he borrowed his dad’s lawnmower, strimmer and power house and set up his own garden service with 18 regular customers, earning £200 a week. ! He also walked dogs for people who were on holidays.

After school Ryan worked for Agnew Engineering and if a job needed two men, Gerald would say – King Conn will do it! Obviously due to his stature, Ryan was affectionately known as King Conn.

He also worked for a short time at Green’s nursery before getting a labouring – his most recent job was with Flavell’s where he loved driving the dumper. He used to joke that he was able to do 15,000 steps per day according to his smart watch! This more in fact due to the fact that every time he put his foot on the dumper accelerator, it counted as a step!

In addition to his work as a labourer, he cleaned lorries on Saturdays for Bairds in Loughbrickland. As his mum said, they had him spoiled.

It is obvious that Ryan was an extremely hard worker.

He was, at one time, a member of Gilford Gun Club where he made many friends. Indeed Ryan was a very popular young man with friends of all faiths. But where Ryan was most loved was at home. Affectionally known by his parents as ‘Our big son’ and by his sisters Emma and Sarah as ‘my Ryan’, he was both loved and adored – and he knew he was! As his mum said, he was a gentle giant with hands like shovels - the life and soul of the party!

Around 18 months ago, Ryan suffered an acute bout of depression and sent 10 days in Bluestone unit, but he recovered well and never looked back. He loved his training sessions with Clodagh McComiskey where he lost a lot of weight.

On Saturday evening, Ryan was in great form and shared a Chinese meal with his parents at home before heading out with his friends. Unfortunately, Ryan didn’t come home.

As his mum Sharleen said, in the short time he lad, he lived his life well.

We can look on this sudden death in different ways – A dark cloud, a moment of intense loneliness, and an experience we resist and don’t wish to speak about. You will all deal with it in your own individual way but can you see it as part of the outstretched hand of God’s support or the light beyond the cloud that is dark; or the companionship of Christ in this fearful moment of loneliness? Our faith tells us that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

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. But the way is often uncertain and at times we can lose our sense of direction and we forget how to live. I do not think for a moment that Ryan wanted to die; my heart tells me it was just in a moment of uncertainty, he forgot how to live.

This is a time of sadness. We are sad today because we are gathered to mourn Ryan 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. 

Today we pray to Almighty God. With whom there is mercy and fullness of redemption. In the funeral prayers we pray that he will “forgive any sin we committed through human frailty”. We also recall that God remembers the good that we have done and forgives our sins. In that spirit we pray today for Ryan, remembering the words of Jesus from the cross:

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”.

In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all and it comes with bitter agony. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time.

This weekend is a time of hope, wishing for brighter days after a long winter, time to put the clock forward to remember Ryan in happier times, places and events that shaped and formed you. To think about your own lives, where they are coming from and when they are going. may we all have the courage to live our lives as best we can in the service of God and one another so that we may all share in the Risen life of Christ. Amen 

With the parish community I would like to express our sincere sympathy to Michael and Sharleen, sisters Emma and Sarah, also Chris and Matt, grandfather Alec, and the entire family circle. May Mary 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.




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