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Fr Sean taught his colleagues to ‘make the best of things’

Homily for the Month’s Mind Mass for Fr Sean O’Driscoll, celebrated at St Michael’s Church, Rathbarry, Cork (Sean’s native parish) on 3 September 2013: homily based on John 15: 9-17.
The Gospel I just read is one of those given for the Sacrament of Ordination — and it’s all about love — and more specifically about the form of love most likely to give a priest a whole and happy life — that is friendship. We’re here because we’re friends of Sean’s.
You did not choose me, no, I chose you“, said the Lord. Sean did the same. We’re friends of Sean’s not because we chose to be — no, he chose us to be his friends. And whatever relationship we had with Sean — parishioner, colleague, classmate, family, even those closest — friendship was the most important part of the relationship, the primary part — and for that, we are grateful.
The Gospel starts with the Father’s love: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love.” And as Eoin so beautifully described it at Sean’s Funeral Mass*, it was the total and unconditional love that God had for Sean, God’s full acceptance of him as he was, that was the rock on which everything was built.
This loving God sent Sean out —as the Gospel puts it: “I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last“. Sean’s life and friendships have borne fruit in many beautiful and often unexpected ways — where he ministered, where he lived, where his friends are, there, his memory is cherished. He lives in art and beauty — joy now complete, as the Gospel promises.
For us, his friends, there is something we can learn and carry with us. Whatever situation Sean found himself in, he made the best of things. Who ever made the best of the Third World (working as a missionary in Peru) as well as Sean — or school ministry, or hospital chaplaincy, or parish? He made the best of cancer. And he even made the best of dying —  just as he made the best of living. There’s something there for all of us to learn and carry with us.
The Gospel and this homily ends with the simple command — the way Sean would want his friends to live: “What I command you”, says Jesus, “is to love one another“.
*The Funeral Mass was held on 8 August 2013 in the parish where Sean served as pastor, at the Church of the Resurrection, Farranree, Cork, on which occasion his friend and classmate Eoin Whooley preached the homily.

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One Comment

  1. Soline Humbert says:

    Thank you Sean for your loving and faithful discipleship!
    Following on from reading this piece , I was moved to reread one of Sean’s last postings on this web site. I came across this one and it particularly resonated with me because its ending,”New wine into new wineskins” is in today’s Gospel.
    June 5th, 2013 at 9:41 am
    From reading Brendan Hoban’s article and also Brendan Butler’s follow-on piece I felt compelled to share my experience of a church without a priest that survives very nicely thank you. And I’m not referring to 17th century Japan as highlighted above, but to my experience of less than 30 years ago in Peru. I believe the experience of church in the remote villages in the Andes is no different today, to back then. The impoverished remote villages in the mountains never had the experience of having a permanent priest in their parishes. These people had a tradition of having a priest visit their mountain village just once a year for the annual Fiesta. At this time baptisms, marriages, First communions and confirmations were celebrated along with masses for all those deceased in the past year from the community. Festivities lasted over several days and then the priest departed for his parish down on the coast again, till the following year when the community leaders of the village made the journey back down in search of a priest to come for the fiesta.
    Meanwhile back in the villages throughout the year the trained catechists kept the faith alive. Catechesis was delivered; people gathered for worship and scripture study each week; funeral services were carried out. The church truly matched the model of “people of God”. Amazing what lay baptised Christians can do when trusted and given freedom!!
    The expected disappearance of priests from the church landscape in Ireland over the next 20 yrs is merely mirroring the disappearances from the pews. I see no reason to panic at all. New wineskins for the new wine that will flow as the Spirit sees fit.

    Is Sean telling us to make the best of the situation and trust the Spirit at work in it?

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