HOMILY BY MONSIGNOR LARRY DUFFY PP AT THE FUNERAL MASS OF FR TOM FINNEGAN PP, RIP.
Tuesday 2 January 2018.
Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Lower Magheracloone.
My Dear Friends,
Fr Tom Finnegan celebrated his last Mass on Wednesday last.
On the Feast of St. John, the beloved disciple.
St. John is the Church guide and teacher in the days after Christmas.
He speaks of Jesus as the Word made Flesh, the Life, the Light.
Ancient tradition would say that John lived to be an old man and was loved by early Christians who loved to hear him preach.
John’s sermons could be captured in three words GOD IS LOVE.
The very essence of God is to reach out in loving embrace and care for His people.
The Word became Flesh to invite us into the love, the life and the family of God.
That is the call of every Christian.
Fr. Tom Finnegan shared this faith with passion.
It was a faith that shaped the course and direction of his life.
A faith that drew him to priesthood and ordination in 1968.
After ordination, he spent 10 fruitful years between Garrison and Broomfield.
In 1978, he moved to the Agricultural college in Monaghan.
His interest and background in farming, allied to his ease with youth, made him a suitable and successful Rector of the college.
In his 20 years there, he kept in touch with the latest advances in Agriculture, and helped the students to contribute to the economy and better lives for themselves.
Long summer breaks are part of college life; and Tom didn’t waste them.
He made himself available for parish work in the US and in Europe.
Fr. Tom enjoyed this opportunity as he loved travel and meeting new faces.
Many of the friendships formed in those years lasted his lifetime, as did many of the tales of places he has visited.
In 1999, he was appointed PP of Magheracloone; a role which he filled with great dedication and generosity for the past 18 years. In recent times, he and Fr. Phillip Crowe, made a great team.
St. John describes Jesus as the light of the world;
– a light that shines in the darkness… but
– a light that darkness cannot overcome
That light was especially appreciated by the weak, the vulnerable and marginalized of society.
Jesus invites us to radiate that same light by our love and generosity, by the way we live, and how we treat others.
An altar server saw that light in Fr. Tom’s sense of gratitude; how he always thanked people for their efforts.
That light shone through in his kind and gentle manner with people;
– in his love for school children
– in his visits to the sick at home and in hospital
– in his commitment to the sick in Lourdes
– in his care for his predecessor Fr Mohan
– in his smile
– and in so many other ways
Fr. Tom had a great sense of diocese.
Always willing to support diocesan events, and any priest needing help or support.
He was a model of hospitality
His home being a place of welcome, nourishment and celebration.
Fr. Tom never forgot his roots.
Home and family were always a priority.
All appreciated his visits, and his sharing and generous spirit.
He loved to read books, the daily paper, attended football matches, and find a worthwhile horse.
It was a special joy for him to be PP of Magheracloone when the team won the county final in 2004.
I know that Fr. Tom would want me today to express his gratitude to all who supported him in recent weeks and months; especially his family, Sr Brenda, Fr. Phillip and so many, many, more..
Some years ago, Fr. Tom was diocesan Vocations Director.
That role is an exceptionally challenging one today
Priestly and Religious vocations were never more needed in our country.
In relation to vocations, I like the saying “Anyone who would reach for the rose, risks leaving a drop of their blood on the thorn”
A drop of one’s blood is the price of any precious thing.
Today we need young Christians who will reach for the rose of priesthood and are prepared to pay the price.
We all need to pray and encourage our young people.
In the same vein, each one of us can honour Fr. Tom, by giving a positive response to the question How can I best help and support my parish at this crucial time?
Fr Tom loved blessed John Henry Newman. In his words we remember Fr. Tom:
“May he support us all the day long, till the shadows lengthen
and the evening comes
and the busy world is hushed
and the fever of life is over
and our work is done-
then in his mercy-
may he give us safe lodging
and a holy rest
and peace at the last.”