Bishop Brennan gave the following homily at the funeral Mass of Mgr Patrick Corish, former President of Saint Patrick's College, Maynooth, which took place on Sunday, 13 January at Saint Aidan's Cathedral Enniscorthy, County Wexford.
"When I die," George Bernard Shaw said, "I want to be all used
These words very accurately describe the passing of the late
Monsignor Paddy Corish.
When his home call came last Thursday morning his life was indeed
"all used up."
All used up living out his priesthood, all used up
serving the church, all used up relishing and celebrating the daily
wonder of being alive.
Back in 1990 a Japanese writer published a book which caused a stir
in academic circles at the time, it was called The End of History.
Monsignor Paddy's passing may not be the end of history but it is
certainly the end of an era.
It is the end of an era for his family and many friends. It is the
end of an era for Maynooth, the place Monsignor Paddy called home for
the last 72 years.
It is the end of an era for our Diocese of Ferns.
Monsignor Paddy was
the senior priest of our diocese and even though he never served in the
diocese, because of his longevity and personality he was seen as a
He had a deep love and loyalty to Ferns and Wexford and though his
life was lived out in the service of the church nationally he never
forgot us and until recent years returned frequently.
We for our part took pride in the contribution Paddy made to the life and work of the Church in Ireland and further afield.
He was liked and admired by all who knew him. Over the years he had
developed an impish, good-humoured line in pessimism. This combined with
his perfectly timed sigh and lugubrious look became his trademark.
called to see him before Christmas and because it wasn't Conference time
in Maynooth, when I walked in he said to me "what are you doing in
I said "I have come to wish you Happy Christmas," he just smiled.
We had our usual chat about the current state of affairs in Church
and State, we concluded as we normally did that the centre wouldn't hold
and that the end was nigh.
Then Paddy cheered up and said "ah, it
should be alright for my time."
So I said "can I say that you are optimistic in the short term?"
now realised that he had probably gone too far and was in danger of
appearing exuberant, so he paused for a moment, looked over my shoulder
and with the familiar sigh said "that might be stretching it a bit."
A martyr bishop Oscar Romero has written of priests "we plant seeds
that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that
they hold future promise."
Most priests do that in a pastoral situation.
Monsignor Paddy did it in academia, in Saint Patrick's Seminary. He did
so in a very pastoral and priestly way which made a deep and lasting
impression on his students.
For over fifty years he planted seeds in the
hearts and minds of young men preparing for priesthood, seeds of faith
and hope, seeds of affection and dedication to the Church.
He was a superb lecturer but as one of his past pupils said "he
didn't really lecture at all, he told the story."
He told the story with
a warmth and a wisdom forged out of his own spiritual journey, a wisdom
garnered from his wide learning and his own experience of life.
Paddy had an understated but passionate love for the Church. While he
would agree with John Tracy Ellis who used to introduce his courses on
Church history by saying "Ladies and gentlemen, be prepared to discover
that the Mystical Body of Christ has a lot of warts" he would also
concur with de Lubac when he confessed "for what would I ever know of
Him, without her."
To the end he remained current in his thinking, staying abreast of
events and new approaches.
Monsignor Paddy enjoyed and was horrified in
equal measure at the antics and acrobatics of the human condition, a
study which both perplexed and tickled him!
Paddy was a man of lasting values - a believer and a follower. I
remember him standing at this ambo in 1984 and urging us "to stick to
the hard centre."
He was a man of God for whom faith and reason rhymed. He had a
capacity to respect the requirements of angels and traditions while also
acknowledging new developments and current challenges.
The seeds that Monsignor Paddy planted during his long tenure in
Maynooth will have taken root and borne fruit in the lives of priests
all over Ireland and indeed all over the world.
For this we give thanks today.
We feel a sense of gratitude that
Monsignor Paddy was part of our lives for so long, part of our special
moments as family, part of our special moments as seminary, part of our
special moments as diocese.
In an age of rotas and rosters, job sharing and flexi-breaks his has
been an amazing record of service and dedication.
something he did, it was something he was, it was his life.
The words of
Paul to Timothy are very apt at this time "I have fought the good
fight, I have run the race, I have kept the faith."
We pray that the crown of righteousness which Paul goes on to speak
of to Timothy has been bestowed on a good and faithful servant, a great
Churchman and a good Christian.
May his gentle, good natured soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.