Words of Bishop Denis Brennan at the Funeral Mass of members of the Alexander family at Cushinstown, New Ross, Co Wexford
The tragedy which unfolded here last Monday has touched and saddened the whole country.
The Irish Bishops were gathering in Maynooth for their Winter Meeting on Monday evening when word of the accident came through.
They were as shocked by it as everybody else and proffered their sympathy to all involved, a sympathy which I now pass on to the Alexander, Ryan and Keevey families.
An American writer, Thorton Wilder has written ‘there is a land of the dead and a land of the living… and the bridge is love.’
That bridge, the bridge of love between the Alexander, Ryan and Keevey families is strong and enduring… it has endured over the years and reached across the Atlantic.
The presence of four members of the Alexander family for Winnie’s funeral is testimony to that strong bond.
The three families have suffered an unbearable loss. Four people who loved you deeply have been taken from you in an instant.
You also mourn for Winnie and we remember her today as well.
But the bridge you built up over the years, the bridge of love remains.
Lily, Doug, Steven, and Doug Junr. have been taken from your sight, but they will never be taken from your hearts… all you were to each other in life remains in death.
We now pray in thanksgiving for the love that Lily, Doug, Steven and Doug Jnr. had as family over the years, in the words of Scripture ‘a love stronger than death.’
We pray that they are at peace in the presence of the Him who said; ‘ blessed are those who mourn, they shall be comforted.’
We pray also for Debbie and all the members of the Alexander, Ryan and Keevey families in Illinois, Limerick and here in Cushinstown, that they will, with the help of God,and the support of family and friends, be blessed with the strength they need at this most difficult of times.
The American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson has written ‘ every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn.’
It’s hard to see that now so we pray that over the weeks, months, and years ahead it will reveal itself to those who grieve today.
Funeral Homily of Fr. Seán Devereux PP Cushinstown.
Gathering words for today has not been easy. Trying all week to be some little support to the Keevey, Ryan and Alexander families has often made me stand back, asking why and wondering if this darkness will ever pass.
A journey to grieve a sister, sister in law, and aunt ended abruptly, stunning those close to Doug, Lily, Steve and Doug junior. When the realization of the immensity of the tragedy began to sink in, I experienced a great pouring out of love and support. People showed themselves willing to do whatever had to be done to make the lives of those grieving a little easier.
Home baking, cars provided and beds offered. A real sense that community living is not dead but alive and well in the hearts of the people of this area.
We gather here today to pray, to remember and to accompany grieving relatives and friends of Doug, Lily, Steve and Doug junior. A Christian family gathered to do what Jesus asks of us, namely to care for each other, to walk the pilgrimage of life together even when we have to carry each other.
Doug and Lily lived the American dream. They went to the US to build a life for themselves and through hard work they did this. But they also enjoyed life moments and your memories spoken about them over the past week tell of a couple who shared what they had with others. They were generous to the end
Doug junior had traits of both his parents. He enjoyed life and was hard working. He brought joy to others through music and had a generous spirit.
Steve served his community as a police officer and helped to make dreams come through with his workforce through service provided to the Special Olympics. He gave hope to so many young athletes as he encouraged them to achieved their dream.
Four people with individual gifts that they did not box up and use only for themselves but shared with family, friends and with the community. They will live on as you remember their goodness, kindness and selflessness.
Advent is a season of waiting in hope for the birth of Jesus. The Gospels tell us that Jesus reached out to those who had lost hope, the sick and the voiceless. Wherever he travelled he left goodness in his wake. Though our hearts are broken today we give thanks to God that we were privileged to know four people who – each in his or her own way – gave hope, brought laughter and left people who knew them feeling good.
So we are left with a legacy, shoulders to stand on, and an example to follow. The hope and the zest for life that Lily, Doug, Steve and Doug junior had is not experienced by all in our world. When we get a glimpse of the lives of these four people that we are commending to God today we should be encouraged as individuals, as a community and as a nation to bring to an end the suffering of homeless people, to end the lost hope of those on long hospitals waiting lists, the fear of people who live under the shadow of financial strain, the lack of self worth caused by unemployment.
The state, the church and the community are represented here today to pay our respects to people who ‘did their bit’ to help others. In their memory let us strive to create a place of hope for all we know and with whom we come into contact.
Our faith becomes tangible when it finds expression in love and most especially in the service of our brothers and sisters in difficulty.
This past week we have experienced an out-pouring of such love and support. Let us keep the flame alive and spread the goodness of God made visible in our actions to others.
May Lily, Doug, Steve and Doug junior Rest In Peace.