Funeral Homily for Fr. Michael Sheedy, St. Senan’s Church, Kilrush, Saturday 6th of November, 2021
The Souls of the Virtuous are in the hands of God…
The first line of The Word of God today set the tone for the funeral liturgy today as we celebrate the Requiem Mass today.
It was with considerable shock and sadness on the Feast of St. Malachy on Wednesday last that we learnt of the sudden passing of Fr. Michael Sheedy, a great stalwart of the Killaloe Diocese, a good and faithful pastor that the psalm of today’s liturgy extols.
He returned to God on the Feast of Malachy, a great Saint of the Irish Church and we celebrate his Requiem Mass on the celebration of All Saints of Ireland that august Communion of Saints who would have inspired so much of what Fr. Michael believed and did during his years as a priest of Jesus Christ for 56 years of unbroken and dedicated service.
56 years of dedicated Service in Dromore, Birmingham, Youth Ministry, Nenagh, Kilrush at home in Cooraclare, abroad in Florida and As Vicar General in the diocese serving on various committees in the diocese.
With God on our side who can be against us…
The words of St. Paul in the second reading. These words sum up the unswerving, clear and courageous faith of Fr. Michael. A man who was steeped and influenced by the world of sport and the associated pursuit of excellence, the intensity of training, never giving up in the face of adversity, never dropping the chin … persistence … towards the goal…. He brought that sporting instinct to his life and love of faith. As you know well in all walks of life he didn’t suffer fools gladly and like any top player he was not inclined to pass the ball in such a direction.
With God on our side… who can be against us.
The month of November is a time that helps focus our minds on the last things, matters of the eschaton, death, judgement, heaven and hell. We pray that having spent a life-time weighing up, balancing, investigating, preaching about these liminal, elusive and mysterious things that he is reaping the benefits of what these heady matters convey. We pray that Fr. Miko is enjoying the delights of heaven, being forgiven for whatever human failings he may have had.
With God on our side – who can be against us…
Loyalty, dedication, duty, service, determination, persistence were the echoes of memory that I have heard repeated many times since Wednesday morning last.
Stoicism, frugality, detachment, independence, single-mindedness, clarity, simplicity, further come to mind from my dealings with him over 5 years in the pastoral area of Inis Cathaigh and on the Diocesan Trust.
If life could be compared to a golf course, straight down the middle of the fairway was the place Miko invariably was, with no tolerance for detours into the rough, or sinking into the sand or bunkers, created to trap the less focused. His close golfing buddies of many years in Lahinch might have been inclined to veer off middle course a little, perhaps being more fond of the hook to the left than the slice to the right, but for Miko it was down the middle.
Relaxation, retirement, looking after himself were just not in the lexicon or part of the make-up of Fr. Michael. He had a steely, unflappable, energetic nature that certainly wasn’t affected by the changeable winds of the world around him and he seemed to have a battery that just never wore down. He was determined to die in his boots and I suppose looking at the way he lived life – there is perhaps little surprise his passing this week was consistent with the manner he lived.
Pilgrimage and Adventure
Adventure, pilgrimage, trying out new ideas and means to spread the Gospel were key to his ministry.
Apart from his well-worn pilgrim path to Cusack Park and Lahinch, he was a regular in Lough Derg, where he always succeeded in gathering a crowd to go with him.
He was loyal to the priestly fraternity of the diocese of Killaloe.
A staunch supporter of the Diocesan Retreats in Esker, new initiatives in the Diocese, pastoral planning for the future, tireless fundraising for the Church her in Kilrush, Youth Ministry, Young Christian Workers or YCW, Pilgrimages to Taizé, along with Sr. Martina, always looking out for new ways of linking in with Young People with whom he had an extraordinary rapport.
Post Confirmation Retreat
One of my many happy interactions with Miko was in relation to the Sacrament of Confirmation. Each year when the annual Confirmation schedule was being organised he invariably wanted the sacramental occasion to be early in the season, preferably in February. This was not so that he could put up the feet and feel it was all done. Of course, it was with view to starting the real work of a post-Confirmation programme with the newly fledged, blooded and spirited Christians fresh on the block. I recall being invited to one of those sessions in the parish centre next door. I remember vividly being so impressed with Miko’s enjoyment in being at the centre of ice-breaker games for the young folk leading-on in a fun way to serious faith exploration.
Family was a key part of life for Fr. Michael. He loved visiting them all and invariably spent his holidays with his brother Fr. Pat in Florida and never missed a Sunday night phone call to him. He was very much looking forward to recuperating and spending time with family after his recent illness. He will be sadly missed by his brothers Fr. Patrick, Dan, Barney, Joe, John, sisters Maura, Breda, Anna, Concepta, Rita and Bernie, nieces, nephews, brothers in law, sisters in law, neighbours, friends and his parishioners in Kilrush, Monmore, Knockerra and Kilimer, Cooraclare, Nenagh and all the places he served. To you all we offer heart-felt condolences and pray for consolation in the face of the sadness of your great loss.
Come to me all you who labour and are heavy burdened…
The words of the Gospel. As the whistle is blown, as we have come to the final green of a life of labour and dedication we pray that Miko is enjoying the welcoming embrace of the One he served so loyally.
I could perhaps have spared you precious time and listening energy if I had read a message I received via email during the week, that in a succinct way sums up all I have been trying to say. It’s from a past colleague. It runs:
It was with great sadness that I heard of the death of Fr Michael Sheedy. He was for me as a young curate in Kilrush; a great source of inspiration and an exemplary role model. I was always impressed by his deep spirituality, profound sense of duty, his tireless work ethic, his love and connection with the youth, his compassion for the weak and vulnerable and his generosity to those in need and his openness to new evangelical initiatives. He strived to keep the flame of faith alive in West Clare and I amongst many others owe him a debt of gratitude! Well done good and faithful servant and the bed of heaven to you.
Ar dheis lámh Dé go raibh a anam uasal dílis and may he enjoy the company of All Saints of our Land this day and always.
Retired Parish Priest of Kilrush, Co. Clare.
Born on 16th September 1939.
Fr. Michael was a native of Cooraclare parish and was a priest of the Diocese of Killaloe for 56 years. He studied in St. Patricks College, Maynooth. He was ordained in Cooraclare on Trinity Sunday June 13th 1965. His first appointment was to the temporary mission in the diocese of Dromore. In July 1968 he was appointed to the emigrant apostolate in Birmingham, England. In 1971 he completed a course in youth ministry. In July 1972 he was appointed as curate in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary and as assistant director of youth work in the diocese. In July 1989 he was appointed curate in Kilrush, Co. Clare. In November 1994 he was appointed Vicar Forane. On Jan 1st 1995 he was appointed Parish Priest of Kilrush and Vicar General of the diocese of Killaloe. His final appointment took place in July 2019 when he became AP in the Inis Cathaigh Pastoral Area.
A reading from the book of Wisdom
The souls of the virtuous are in the hand of God, no torment shall ever touch them. In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die, their going looked like a disaster, their leaving us, like annihilation; but they are at peace. If they experienced punishment as we see it, their hope was rich with immortality; slight was their affliction, great will their blessing be.
God has put them to the test and proved them worthy to be with him; he has tested them like gold in a furnace, and accepted them as a holocaust. They who trust in the himwill understand the truth, those who are faithful will live with him in love; for grace and mercy await those he has chosen.
The word of the Lord.
Psalm: Like a Shepherd (sung)
A reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans
With God on our side, who can be against us? Since God did not spare his only Son, but gave him up to benefit all, we may be certain after such a gift, that He will not refuse anything he can give. Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen? When God acquits could anyone condemn?
Could Christ Jesus? No! He not only died for us – he rose from the dead, and there at God’s right hand he stands and pleads for us. Nothing therefore can come between us and the love of Christ even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked. These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of him who loves us.
For I am certain of this; neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height, or depth, not any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible through Christ Jesus our Lord.
The word of the Lord.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’
The Gospel of the Lord