Funeral Homily – Fr James Minogue – Retired Parish Priest of Castleconnell, Co. Limerick – St. Joseph’s Church, Castleconnell, Thursday, June 7th, 2018
Born on January 25th 1925. Fr James was a native of Bodyke, Co. Clare and was a priest of the Diocese of Killaloe for 67 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 1951
His first appointment was in the Diocese of Brentwood in the U.K. in service to the Emigrant Apostolate. He returned to Ireland in 1955 to become curate in Killanena. In 1956 he was appointed to O’Callaghan’s Mills and in 1957 he was appointed curate in Crusheen. His next appointment was in 1969 as curate in Sixmilebridge and in 1977 he was appointed curate in Newmarket on Fergus. From 1983 to 1988 he was Adm in Shannon and in 1988 he was appointed Parish Priest of Castleconnell. He retired as PP on reaching retirement age in 2000 but continued to work as a priest of the parish until this year.
He died on June 4th 2018 in Milford Nursing Home, Limerick, RIP.
Feast of Corpus Christi
On Sunday, the feast of Corpus Christi, it was a day of such contrasting news and reality.
In the Cathedral in Ennis the first of two very sad and tragic funerals were taking place following the death of two young adults, entering into their prime, as a result of a drowning accident.
At the same time in Killone Abbey in the parish of Clarecastle-Ballyea a television Mass was being celebrated for the feast day and it was a joyful celebration of the splendid beauty of nature and a faith community gathering at it’s best.
One Priest Begins – Another born to eternal life
A few hours later preparations were underway for another great community and faith event, the ordination of a man for service to the priesthood of Killaloe diocese, a native of Quilty. At the same time a sad phone call came from the Parish Priest of Castleconnell, Fr. Brendan Kyne that just as one priest was getting ready to offer his life in service to the Lord – a very loyal servant of the Lord was getting ready to depart the world as we know it. Fr. J.Minnogue following a long and wonderful life was ready to return to his God.
Two New Births
The newest priest of the diocese was being born into a new ontological reality in Jesus Christ and the second most senior priest of the diocese was being born into eternal life in Jesus Christ, having served a long and full and faithful life in the service of the Lord after 67 remarkable years of priesthood. What a life of dedication and outstanding service that he was active in the Parish of Castleconnell until this year.
Eucharist – heart of our Faith
The backdrop to all these realities, sad, joyful and real as they all were was the feast we were celebrating – The Feast of Corpus Christi. At the heart of priesthood, at the heart of Church, at the heart of our faith is love for and dedication to the Eucharist, the Sacrament of thanksgiving and most profound prayer that we as Christians have – a prayer and sacred ritual that Fr. James loved so dearly.
Pray for Salvation
In this funeral Mass, we not only thank God for the wonderful life that he lived, but we pray for the happy repose of Fr. Jim’s soul. We pray that the Lord might look kindly on whatever faults or failings he might have had, that we all have as weak human beings and that he would be rewarded for the huge amount of good that he did, in so many ways. We pray also for the consolation of his family, relatives, friends and past parishioners who mourn his loss.
What a beautiful Gospel we have today in the beatitudes, with the blessedness or characteristics of God so reflective in each blessing of the beautiful text. The beatitudes we know so beloved and aspired to by Fr. James in his prayer in his preaching in his life as a priest of that Jesus of that Gallilee scene of the beatitudes.
The text in the scripture of the day 2 Timothy 2:8-15 captures the reason for our hope and consolation on a sad occasion like this:
If we have died with Him,
Then we shall live with Him.
If we hold firm, then we shall reign with Him.
About a month ago I had a most pleasant visit and relaxed chat with Fr. James in what had become his home for a number of years – Millford Care facility. He had just recovered from a time of illness and hospitalization and was in good form. The impression I got was a man who was very much at peace. I felt he exuded a sense of inner contentment and got a sense that he was a man that felt he had lived a good and long and happy life. I got a feeling that he was a man very much, without having said it, was in control of his own destiny and was happy where he was going.
Even at the age he was at, 93 years young he was very well up to date with current affairs, what was going on in Castleconnell, the diocese, the world of sport. He was still interested in his flowers and plants and was a most afable conversationalist. The following day I received an e-mail from him following on the conversation and offering prayers and support for the on-going restructuring work in the diocese. Not bad for a 93 year old! One of the interesting things he claimed being unique was that he served under 9 bishops. I meant to tease this out in more detail with him. I know he encountered at least 6 in Killaloe… One in Brentwood… perhaps claiming Limerick as well and maybe he was on a secret unknown mission somewhere, the secret of which is now gone to the grave with him!
Living Life to the Full
Fr. James was certainly a man that lived life to the full and used his talents for the greater glory of God and His Church. What an adventurous life from Bodyke to St. Flannan’s to Maynooth, Brentwood, Killanena, O’Callaghan’s mills, Crusheen, Sixmilebridge, Newmarket-On-Fergus, Shannon, Castleconnell and Millford.
Quiet – Unassuming
In consulting some of the senior priests of the diocese I am told the was a most warm, friendly, committed, dutiful, priest, generous in service, strong in faith, full of integrity. He was I am told a shy, quiet and unassuming pastor and that he hated being in the spotlight.
He was part of a group of what has been described as a strong generation of talented and fine people who gave generously of their considerable skills and talents.
Fr. J’s sporting pedigree is well known.
In the world of Hurling, captaining St. Flannan’s to glory at provincial and national level in the early and mid 1940’s, claiming a Harty and Croke Cup win in 1944, winning a senior championship with Bodyke in 1947, hurled aslo with distinction in Maynooth and playing also in London and for Clare on a number of occasions.
He was also a keen footballer and an accomplished golfer.
Homilies – Thorough and Complete
As a pastor, Fr. James was thorough, hardworking and conscientious.
They say that people in glass houses should not throw stones (!) but I am told that Fr. James wasn’t prone in his preaching to giving short sermons or taking short cuts! His homilies I believe were substantial and I am told one would not want to be in a hurry back home, or have a cake in the oven – if Fr. James started warming to his topic, as was his wont to do on many an occasion. No half measures from the loquatious Bodyke man!
Care for the Elderly
Fr. James took great care of the elderly and vulnerable in his ministry.
Older folks used to love him I am told, especially in the nursing home.
Care for Young People
He had a great gift with young people as well and could relate to them extremely well.
Care for the Special Needs
He also had a special talent with Special needs children and spent considerable time ministering in St. Vincents in Lisnagry.
I am told he would often arrive up to an hour early for Mass in order to spend time chatting and accompanying the people of special needs there. I recall Fr. Brendan on the occasion of confirmation in Spring remarking and quoting Fr. James that if all the Masses in the parishes were to be cut – the one place that it should continue was in Lisnagry because of the closeness of the special needs people to the Lord.
A favourable comment I heard yesterday was that Fr. James was always available. Locals comment on the lovely sight of the light in the window of his house, the old parishes priests house, here in Castleconnell. People always knew if Fr. James was in because the light would be on in his office window facing out onto the road. The light was a beacon of welcome and warmth for so many.
On a similar vein to the Sunday picture painted at the beginning – Fr. Ger Fitzgerald, a native son of this parish told me last evening of a conversation that Fr. James and Ger had some weeks after Ger was ordained and James was celebrating his diamond jubilee. Fr. James made the comment that he was at the end of his life of service Fr. Ger was at the beginning, so his advice was to “let us keep each other in the prayers”.
One of his favourite sayings when situations in life got challenging was “Tá Dia láidir agus tá máthair maith aige”!
I am told that there was a well worn prayer or blessing that he used to recite at the end of almost every Mass.
Prayer at the end of Mass
May God the Father bless you,
May God the Son heal you,
May the Holy Spirit enlighten you,
May God protect you from harm and grant you salvation.
May the fruits of this prayer be the lot of Fr. James as he is born into eternal life – the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal gaelach.