The funeral mass for Bishop Eamonn Casey took place in the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Haven and St Nicholas this afternoon (Thursday).
The attendance included President Michael D Higgins, members of Galway City and County Councils, representatives of Trocáire and other organisations he lead, as well as people from all walks of society.
The principal celebrant was the Bishop of Clonfert John Kirby, former chairman of Trocáire, while the preacher was Bishop of Achonry Brendan Kelly, a former priest of the Diocese of Galway. Also at the altar were bishops and priests from dioceses across the country and the UK, where he ministered.
In his homily, Bishop Kirby said, “Eamonn Casey, whose mortal remains are with us today in this cathedral, had a long life as priest and bishop. He did much good. As a young priest with the Emigrant Mission in London, he enabled many young couples to acquire their first home, to rise out of tenements and homelessness and thereby anchor their families in positive community environments.
Later, back in Ireland, as bishop, in Kerry first and then in Galway, he acquired an even bigger profile as a man of energy and initiative. He was a doer. Not just within his dioceses, but on the national and international scene with the development, from 1973, of Trocáire, and as a defender of the rights of people who were oppressed and poor. He is particularly remembered for his courage as he attended dozens of stricken people when soldiers opened fire and many people were killed and injured at Archbishop – now ‘Blessed’ – Oscar Romero’s funeral in San Salvador in March 1980.
There are those of us who remember, with gratitude, his kindness and encouragement when personally we most needed it.
Then 25 years ago, the emergence into the light of other hidden realities in his life, beginning with the fact that he had a son, Peter, were profoundly upsetting for the Church and for people in general.
This is neither the time nor the place to go over the details which in any case are very well known, not only in Ireland, but all over the world. Yes we are all sinners, but irresponsibility, infidelity and sin are particularly shocking in the lives of those who preach the Gospel.
In 1992 Bishop Eamonn resigned and left the country. He expressed his sorrow many times, apologised and asked for forgiveness. He spent a number of years working on the missions in South America, and later in the south of England, before eventually coming home to live in Shanaglish.
But people had been hurt and wounded … wounds that do not always heal easily or quickly. We remember these people too today. We acknowledge their suffering. We pray for continued healing and peace for them.”
Bishop Casey’s remains were laid to rest in the cathedral crypt.