A question I try to get the candidates for Confirmation to reflect on is “Who would you like to influence the sort of person you are, now and in the future?”
They chat about parents and teachers, older siblings and their heroes from the worlds of sport, entertainment, music and the wider world. Young people have an amazing capacity to admire and imitate, to idolize and dream. At some point, they have to actually act on those thoughts and learn about what motivates the people they admire. They come to realise the hard work that those who influence them have put into their lives and development of their talent and skill.
This past weekend we were all very aware of how Fr Tony influenced many people in this parish, in the wider church and across the country. His passion for life, his love of God, his relationship with Jesus, his sense of hope and his determination to keep spreading the Good News, even in illness, was evident.
His friend Fr John Kelly described him as a pilgrim, one who was always searching for God, reading about his faith and open to people from all walks of life. It was clear that Tony’s world was not contained within the sanctuary and the celebration of the sacraments, but embraced all that life had to offer and he journeyed with any pilgrim companion he met along the road. He leaves a legacy of a life lived to the full, a life centred on relationships with family, community and above all with his Lord and Master.
Thanks to all who made this memorable weekend possible. The tree planted in Mount Merrion, the bench in Kilmacud and the plaques in both locations will be constant reminders of Tony and will encourage all of us to live while we can, to be constantly renewing our faith, caring for each other and reaching out to those in need.