Mass of Intercession for the McVeigh and McAree/Treanor Families
My dear friends,
I feel privileged this evening to join with all you people of good will, with people of a variety of faiths and some with none, all expressing the best of their common humanity in seeking to end the distress of two families – McVeigh family and the McAree/Treanor families. We are in the middle of Church Unity Week. This may seem an unusual way to celebrate it, but could you have a more authentic expression of the love of God which has to be at the core of all Christian living? To have so many Christians wearing a variety of colours all leaving aside their own interests and needs to give their all in seeking to find healing for the pain and distress of their brothers and sisters – surely you could not find a more authentic expression of ecumenical outreach inspired by the love shown to us by Jesus Christ while he walked among us.
To the McAree and Treanor families we are all with you in our thoughts and prayers, in trying to understand the nightmare which the last few weeks have been, and in trying to find a way in which we can be of genuine assistance to you without being a nuisance or intruding in the private space you need for yourselves. There are inevitably questions you would love to have answered, explanations you would dearly love to have. None of us have walked on the moon, saw or touched its soil. We have to live at times on less than full answers and leave the rest to God. There are many precious memories which will always be a comfort to you. You loved the son that God gave you, and you showered your care for him with expressions of God’s love. He was a fine young man and all that has happened over the past month has confirmed the love and respect for you and for him which is alive in this community in North Monaghan.
If he has left behind the world we are searching for his body, he is still alive to all of us in the communion of saints. That is the communion of people which joins this world to what is to follow and which keeps us bonded to each other in the spirit if not in the body. And it is the resurrection of Jesus Christ which gives us the conviction to believe and proclaim the link between our world and eternal life. So rest assured that the God who gave you Kieran and who taught you how to love him will not be found wanting. He will take over from you for the time being and will care for Kieran until you meet again and have the opportunity to get the information which will fill in the present blanks and enable you to understand things that are baffling you now. If you continue to listen to God speaking to you through his Son Jesus Christ, you will have the confidence to believe that you can trust this compassionate Father who will look after Kieran until you all come together again. The last few weeks have shown you that you will not lack support in the efforts of the community to ensure he has a peaceful resting place for his body.
For the McVeigh family, this is not the first time you have come together in these circumstances. Your vigil has been a long and painful one. It would be lovely to think that this might be your last one. Events at Oristown have raised your hopes and all our hearts have been lifted along with yours. This evening, the good people of North Monaghan have joined you around the table of the Lord to pray for the same intention. Your experience and the experience of many other families here remind us of the horror of war and confirms us in the conviction that if we can find another way of solving our problems and getting around our difficulties, it has to be preferable to war. No mother and father who have gently rocked their child to sleep want to see blood stains on the shroud in which his body is wrapped in preparation for burial. It goes against nature and it moves us to give thanks and to rejoice in the more peaceful atmosphere in which we now live.
War and violence leave scars and it is to try and bring further healing that we are gathered here. Columba’s mother and father had to go to their grave not knowing where their son was buried. That is not an experience we want to inflict on any family. It happened in Oristown and it would be wonderful if we could rejoice in it happening again. Where the grace of God is at work nothing is impossible. So we appeal, all of us, to anyone who may have picked up a shred of evidence, even a small shred which you may think is of no importance, please, at no risk to yourself, I appeal to you to come forward and share it with Wave. It could lead to healing the burden of a family’s distress which they have carried for almost 40 years. You could give them back the precious gift of their sleep. If you can do this, you can do it unselfishly in the spirit of God’s love for us, and you will have done something worthwhile which you will never regret.
My dear friends and fellow Christians, the past month has been a time of emotional turmoil for the people of North Monaghan. But it has not been a time of total darkness. Far from it! The sky has been lit up with stars, notably those of Christmas and of the Epiphany. We celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ who came to save us from our mistakes and lead us back to God. Wise men were drawn to this light from other parts of our world. Jesus Christ is still with us in Word, in Sacrament and in the lives and actions of many good people. Jesus is no stranger to what we are doing. The night before his own violent death he left us bread and wine as a memorial of the love he shared with us. The most authentic response that we can make to his offer of breaking bread with him on this occasion is to do everything we can to give us reason to come back soon and ring bells of rejoicing for two families who will have the bodies of two loved ones returned for burial in a marked and peaceful resting place where they can gather in memory and express their affection.
May God reward those who have shown us the way and guide our feeble efforts towards success.
+Liam S. MacDaid, Bishop of Clogher, 21 January 2015