Fr Micheál Mac Gréil SJ 1931-2023

On Thursday, the funeral of a 91 year-old Westport Jesuit priest took place in his native Mayo. The death of Fr Micheál Mac Greil SJ, a noted academic and campaigner, made national headlines on RTÉ and on the front page of The Irish Times yesterday….

Fr Micheál Mac Gréil, Photo Frank Fullard

The Irish Times article, below, is followed by a link to the homily by Archbishop Emeritus Michael Neary and a Facebook link to Fr Micheál’s funeral Mass. His brother, Fr Owen, was chief celebrant.

The funeral of the Jesuit priest was told he was central to the legal case seeking the decriminalisation of homosexuality and was actively involved in the rights of minorities

The funeral cortege of Fr Micheál Mac Gréil passes through the village of Loughloon, Westport, Co Mayo,
in the foothills of Croagh Patrick. Photograph: Michael Mc Laughlin

Tom Shiel

Thu Jan 26 2023 – 16:36

The well-known Jesuit, sociologist, and social justice activist Micheál Mac Gréil was laid to rest on Thursday afternoon in Aughavale Cemetery.

Large crowds attended the earlier Requiem Mass in St Mary’s Church, Westport. One of Fr Mac Gréil’s brothers, Fr Owen Mac Gréil was the main celebrant.

Dr Michael Neary, former Archbishop of Tuam, a colleague of Fr Mac Gréil at Maynooth College, delivered the sermon. Journalist and publisher Liamy McNally gave a eulogy.

In his sermon, Dr Neary recalled Fr Mac Gréil’s life as a university lecturer, trade unionist, campaigner for various causes including the revival of the Irish language, the rights of minorities, promotion of the Irish language and the reopening of closed railway lines.

“But he was always primarily a priest,” Dr Neary noted.

Dr Neary went on to describe his late friend’s life as “radical yet profoundly traditional”.

It was radical, he maintained, in the true sense of the word, a life of forging back to the roots of where we came from, back to St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Patrick and Jesus Christ.

Joe McHugh pictured with his former lecturer Fr Micheál Mac Gréil
at the opening of the new School of Education at Maynooth University in 2019. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Delivering the funeral eulogy, Liamy McNally described his late friend as “a colossus in mind, body and spirit”.

He continued: “Regardless of opposition, church or state, justice was his mission. He was central to the legal case seeking the decriminalisation of homosexuality.”

“Fr Micheál was ahead of his time”, he remarked.

Mr McNally went on to describe his late friend as a great ecumenist and supporter of women in the church, always wanting women to have more responsibility rather than ‘little jobeens’.

He also encouraged priests who afterwards married to “Offer your services. They need you all”.

Éamon Ó Cuív TD delivered the first reading while the second reading was given by Geraldine Delaney, a former student at Maynooth College.

The final prayers were recited by the present Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Francis Duffy.

President Michael D Higgins was represented at the funeral by aide de camp Col Stephen Howard.

Fr MacGréil, who died on Saturday last at Mayo University Hospital, aged 92, was laid to rest in Aughavale Cemetery.

Link to Archbishop Emeritus Michael Neary’s homily:

Link to Fr Micheál’s funeral Mass from St Mary’s Church, Westport:

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