The following is the text of the Homily by Bishop Larry Duffy, Bishop of Clogher, at the Funeral Mass for the late Bishop Liam MacDaid, in St Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan, on Saturday 26 August 2023.
Jesus Christ did not have it easy.
His Life and message were not always understood or accepted.
In today’s Gospel reading, his close friends and apostles, James and John, and indeed their mother, were far removed from the attitude of Jesus himself. Their thoughts were all about self; their future status and glory. In contrast, Jesus lived and died for others.
For Jesus, greatness is about service, being the good Samaritan, washing feet of others.
Mary, his mother, had given Jesus wonderful examples of service.
On Tuesday last, 22 August, we celebrated the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, and the Gospel passage was the Annunciation. As I read it my thoughts were about Bishop Liam and his call to be Bishop 13 years ago. Like Mary, the Angel said to him “rejoice so highly favoured one the Lord is with you. I have important news, The Lord has chosen you to be Bishop of Clogher.”
And Liam thought how can this come about because of my health- and- surely there are others in the Church more suited to this than me. But the Angel said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the most hight will cover you with his shadow.”
In response, Liam said “I am a servant of the Lord let what you have said be done onto me.”
Liam was to serve as Bishop of Clogher for the following 6 years. Gratitude was the reaction of priests and people of the Diocese to his decision.
We were blessed by his wisdom and deep faith; his ability to listen, his sense of humour and his spirit of compassion.
Liam believed in forgiveness and in the possibility of redemption – that there is always a second chance. No doubt his experience as a teacher and as a principal in St. Macartan’s College was invaluable and helped him in his time as Bishop. So also did his pastoral experience in Fivemiletown and in Tyholland.
Liam was a proud Donegal Man. A tight defender for both club, county and college, it is said that you needed passport clearance to get by him.
He loved to travel abroad particularly with The Willow Wheelers Cycling Club, founded by his brother Christopher. Liam was happy to support their charitable work which brought him to many places in the Third World where he saw at first hand the possibilities that charity and sharing of resources can have for people.
Liam valued greatly the deep and friendly relationships he had with many families. I know that today he would want me to thank them for this friendship – and especially to thank those who supported him in recent times, Margaret and Marie and Anne Tuffy and Family as well as all the nursing and medical staff who cared for him.
Liam loved to quote Archbishop Oscar Romero. Let me conclude with one of Oscar Romero’s reflections, one which invites us to take a step back and take the longer view:
“We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development.
“We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.
“We are prophets of a future not our own.”
We pray that Bishop Liam’s future is in the hands of our loving God and that in His presence he may share in eternal life. May he rest in peace.
Homily by Monsignor Shane McCaughey PP VG
at the Liturgy for the Reception of the Body of Bishop Liam MacDaid
in St Macartan’s Cathedral on Friday 25 August 2023.
Today we wish to show our appreciation and our respect for the man who at the age of 24 said “Yes” to the call of Christ in priesthood, and who served God in our diocese over the last fifty four years, firstly in vigorous youthfulness in St Macartan’s College, then through middle years of mature ministry as a consigliere providing wise counsel in the diocesan office, in senior years as the shepherd of the diocese, and then latterly when through the progressive limitations of illness he showed profound stoicism in the face of trial, and bore earnest witness to the God he fervently believed in. We pray that God will now welcome Bishop Liam into the Kingdom.
When we encounter someone like Bishop Liam, who carried their cross of indiscriminate illness with good humour, with kindness and with love, we are privileged to witness the presence of God in that person. Liam refused to be either defined or confined by his illness and endeavoured by any and every means at his disposal to stretch and strain the presumed limitations of his condition.
As a child one of the treats of a day at the seaside was to get a stick of rock, labelled ‘a gift from Bundoran,’ and I always marvelled at how the word ‘Bundoran’ could be ingrained in the confectionary right the way through its entire length. Liam Mac Daid was hewn from the rock of Bundoran and the word that was engrained in him the length of his 78 years was the word wisdom, and for Clogher diocese he was truly a gift from Bundoran. From his first arrival as a 12-year-old boarder in St Macartan’s College, I am told, the leadership abilities were clear for all to see. As student, prefect, teacher, and President Liam made an immense contribution to the college. Fortis et Fidelis, Strong and Faithful is the motto of the Sem and it could equally apply to Liam. He was unusual in that he was a man of vision, capable of seeing the big picture who undertook the huge extension to the school, while at the same time having the tenacity to micro-manage the project to bring it to its splendid completion.
When he was appointed to Fivemiletown in Tyrone, his shrewd parish priest Canon Pat Mc Caughey said of him ‘He is no ordinary curate’ and having spent 3 short years in the beautiful Clogher valley Bishop Duffy called him in to the diocesan office where his meticulous attention to detail and wise advice was a reassurance to all who sought his guidance.
In 2010 when he was ordained Bishop in this cathedral there was much so much joy and celebration that all of us felt a pep in our step. Motivational speakers quote the famous Chinese general Sun Tzu who spoke of treating one’s soldiers as though they were one’s sons and they will stand by you even until death. We priests were made to feel as though we were his sons and this respect, this graciousness, enabled us as his clergy, to face enormous challenges alongside him. The faithful too experienced at first hand the generosity of his spirit and the directions given in the Gospel by Jesus to St Peter were apt of Liam too ‘Feed my sheep, feed my lambs, look after my sheep. The pain and hurt of the child abuse scandal took a huge emotional toll on him, for he realised the enormity of the damage inflicted on those innocent lambs and he strove with all his might to address the needs of those afflicted.
On the sports field, the young Liam was described as a colossus, though he rarely spoke of those special days on the Maynooth Sigerson winning team, St Joseph’s Ballyshannon/Bundoran Ulster Club winners, or on the Donegal county team. Ecumenism for Bishop Liam went far beyond discussions of philosophical or theological concepts. He believed it needed to have a practical dimension. I had the privilege of accompanying him to games in Clones where he enabled his good friend, Bishop John Mc Dowell, to experience the cut and thrust of Gaelic games. In 2012 when Donegal won the All-Ireland for just the second time, in the Hogan stand, Bishop Liam did not get carried away, just a clenched fist salute reminiscent of Nelson Mandela, hinted at the intensity of the joy he experienced.
Bishop Liam had a great love for France and as a young priest spent many summers there. More recently he looked forward to spending time on the Mediterranean coast, where he could immerse himself in wonderful French culture. Victor Hugo’s famous novel Le Misérables is set in Paris in the early 19th century in a time of revolution where the central character is a freed convict Jean Valjean, who having served 19 years in prison, finds it impossible to make an honest living because of his record. One night he is given food and refuge by the kindly Bishop Myriel. During the night Valjean robs the bishop’s house and makes off only to be arrested by the authorities who bring him back to the bishop where his crime is presented, which will result in imprisonment for life. The benevolent bishop protests that Valjean had not stolen from him but had been gifted the merchandise by him. He then tells Valjean that he has purchased his soul for God, and he should go now and live an honest life, which he does. In that moment, the journey from evil to good, falsehood to truth, hell to heaven, nothingness to God is revealed. I believe Bishop Liam would have been extremely comfortable in the role of Bishop Myriel. He always wished to give the person a second chance, an opportunity to find a new beginning, a shot at redemption. Taking a gamble, while making oneself vulnerable, could provide the opening for renewal and deliverance for the other person and it is this quality which endeared Liam to so many people he encountered and befriended on the journey of his life.
Isaiah, foretelling the coming of Christ, spoke of one whose voice would not be heard on the streets, who would not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering fame, who would open the eyes of the blind and free captives from darkness. These are the hallmarks of Bishop Liam’s ministry. His soft voice and gentle turn of phrase gave hope to many who were faltering, gave courage to those who were fearful, gave true friendship to those who were lost, and brought the love of Christ to those whose faith was crushed or wavering.
In the musical Les Misérables, one song made famous by Colm Wilkinson, makes a heartfelt plea for God’s divine mercy and deliverance. Today it is our prayer for dear Bishop Liam. ‘God on high, hear my prayer, bring him home, bring him home.’