Funeral Homily for Canon Pat Taafe, RIP, Ennis Cathedral, Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020
Final Days – Returning to God
On the final day of last month, Saturday 29th of February of this leap year as Canon Pat spent his final few hours in the peace of Carrigoran Nursing Home before returning to God – storm Jorgé was raging outside. At the same time that the wind in the sails of the life of Canon Pat was petering out – in the flower beds outside his window, fresh daffodils were emerging from the earth and their buds to embrace the new life of this world.
All of this was following a challenging few days and weeks of sickness, farewell and preparing for departure.
As sure as our hope tells us when the daffodils are put into the darkness of the earth in late Autumn that they will reemerge in new life – our faith tells us that in the case of the passing of a loved one, like the emerging daffodils a new reality dawns, and buds, being born into eternal life. Our faith, our hope!
We are most certainly sad and broken hearted at his departure, but deep down serene in the sure knowledge that he has gone to meet his maker in whose company he was utterly at home through many hours spent in prayer and communion with the Lord.
Oíche Nollaig na mBan
The great Irish Poet, Seán Ó Riordán – wrote a well known poem called Óiche Nollaig na mBan. The poem written in commemoration of a notorious hurricane that swept through the country, wreaking havoc on the occasion of Women’s Christmas, the feast of the Epiphany in 1839, on Óiche na Gaoithe Móire.
Bhí fuinneamh sa stoirm a éalaigh aréir,
Aréir oíche Nollaig na mban.
The poem by O’Riordán is an expression of the fear the poet had of dying and confronting, in silence, head-on the reality of the transition from this life to the next. In the poem he hopes and prays that the day he dies – he would be able to avoid the dreaded silence of the passing and that a wild strom would rage to drown the whole experience out and with the noise offer company from the loneliness of that final silence.
Ba mhaith liom go dtiocfadh an stoirm sin féin
An oíche go mbeadsa go lag
Ag filleadh abaile ó rince an tsaoil
Is solas an pheaca ag dul as.
Oíche Nollag na mBan and The Calming of the Storm
The Gospel today in tune with that is Jesus Calming the Storm.
In recent months Canon Pat experienced storms with his illness and hosptializations after living such an eventful and content life that he certainly lived to the full. We pray today for him, for the happy repose of his soul. We pray his family whom he loved so dearly. We remember his brother priests and many friends and former parishioners. We pray that a time of calm after the storm, a calmness of the certaintly of him being embraced in the peace of Christ, as a reward for being a priest of deeply lived faith and pastoral zeal.
For the almost four years I have known Canon Pat, during that short time he left a deep impression that I am sure I will never forget. Gentle, peaceful, kind, witty, warm, prayerful, welcoming, engaging. You always felt he was totally present to you when in conversation. He had this lovely phrase when you asked him how he was – he’d say “all the better for seeing you!” Whether he meant it or not, you certainly went away from him feeling that you had engaged with a person who had an interest in you and really cared in a pastoral way. With his quirky humour he loved to tease people when he met them by asking them “who are you?”, especially those who knew him well and he loved gauging the reaction, a smile, a gesture of annoyance or a sense of alarm and worry.
Canon Pat gave a phenomenal 64 years of service to the priesthood, most of them in Killaloe diocese apart from a brief stint in Florida and studying liturgy for a while also. He was much loved everywhere he went, especially in Doonbeg, Ennis, and Corofin.
He gave great service to the Pioneers, Legion of Mary, Eucharistic Adoration and had huge interest in Community Development.
Back in the 1990’s in Bishop Willie’s time when Sr. Marie McNamamara and Br. Dick Burke were spearheading Parish Development – Fr. Pat was first in to volunteer Corofin as a parish interested in taking that progressive and courageous step, in pastoral planning. There was a lovely picture collage given on the occasion of his diamond jubilee and one of the phrases on it was “let me at it”, apparently one of Pat’s favourite phrases, intent on rolling up his sleeves and getting to work.
Canon Pat had a wonderful interest and outreach to people of special needs and was much loved as a chaplain in St. Claire’s where he was totally at ease ministering there.
Man of Prayer
His example and dedication to prayer was extraordinary. He was so much at home in the Blessed Sacrent Chapel here adjacent to the Cathedral. Without fail on a Thursday evening he was enthusiastically present in Westbourne for Lectio Divina, sharing a time of prayer and friendships with his fellow priests. His dedication to the breviary and devotional prayers was unstinting, even while very ill in the Bons Secours in Galway.
Canon Pat was an excellent table companion. He was invariably deferred to to offer the prayer and in the course of conversation was the reference point when facts needed to be checked or wise advice sought. He loved life, sport, people, his much beloved family, his native place of Tubber at the edge of the Burren. Along with all that he had a great sense of humour and could turn a potentially difficult situation into a light hearted moment at the drop of a hat.
On Sunday night I received an e-mail from a former parishioner of Canon Pat. It said the following:
Dear Bishop Fintan .
I was very sad to hear of the death of Canon Taaffe today. He was our curate in Doonbeg in the 1960s when I was growing up and he was dearly loved & respected by all the people of Doonbeg. He was responsible for starting & completing many projects such as :
- The GAA football field
- The West Clare Drama festival
- & Fund raising in the Parish for other various organisations.
Our beloved Parish Priest Fr Andrew McNamarra was very elderly & so it fell to Fr Taaffe to run the Parish. He carried out his vocation quietly and without fanfare. He was pleasant to everyone & had a great facility to bring people along with him through quiet leadership. It was a sad day when he said goodbye to the good people of Doonbeg. People spoke with great fondness of him always. He was a wonderful man.
Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dílis
A lady from Doonbeg commented yesterday to Fr. Tom FitzPatrick “they came and they went, but none of them came better than Canon Taafe”.
What a great final tribute to him to see Mgr. Seamus Horgan here today, who returned from Rome yesterday especially for the funeral, seeing that Canon Pat was so influential on he becoming a priest.
On Saturday night Fr. Jerry Carey put it in verse on social media and no more than the e-mail and the lady from Doonbeg it sums up the man so well:
Canon Pat Taffe…..
Gentle as the feather,
Sense of humour like no other.
Simplicity in his living
a hallmark of his service.
“The wise one” we did call him,
When full of bluster we did falter.
To the silent presence we’d
Smiling, quietly, he did council.
The bed of Heaven be your
Peaceful dreams for you eternal.
May the Angels bid you welcome,
May they guide us from your side.
Rest in peace ?
Canon Pat Taaffe
Ennis, Co. Clare
Born on December 24th 1930
Canon Pat was a native of Tubber, Co. Clare and was a priest of the Diocese of Killaloe for 64 years. He was a past pupil of St Flannan’s College, Ennis. He studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he was ordained on June 17th 1956
His first appointment was on temporary Mission to the Diocese of St Augustine, Florida and on his return in 1961 he was appointed curate in Doonbeg, Co. Clare. He moved to Ennis, Co. Clare as Curate in December 1973. He took a one year course in the Liturgy Centre, Portarlington in 1975-76 and then returned to Ennis as Curate. He was appointed Adminstrator in the Cathedral Parish in July 1988. In October 1990 he was appointed Parish Priest of Corofin, Kilnaboy and Rath Parish and was made a Canon of the Cathedral Chapter in 1992. He retired as P.P. in June 2003 and returned to Ennis as A.P where he ministered until last year.
He died on February 29th in Carrigoran Nursing Home, Newmarket on Fergus, Co. Clare
Faoi bhrat na Maighdine Muire go raibh sé ar feadh na síoraíochta.
Reposing in the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul, Ennis on Monday evening, March 2nd 2020 from 5.00 to 8.00 pm with prayers at 8.00 pm. Funeral Mass in the Cathedral on Tuesday, March 3rd at 2.30 pm followed by burial in Tubber Church grounds