Bishop Eamonn Casey made mistakes and paid a high price for them but “as far as I could see he never resorted to self-pity ”, former Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan told mourners at Galway Cathedral Wednesday night.
Bishop Drennan, who recently retired, was speaking after he had received the remains of one of his predecessors at the Cathedral.
Bishop Casey (89) died last Monday at the nursing home in Newmarket on Fergus Co Clare where he had been cared for since 2011. He had suffered for many years with Alzheimer’s disease.
“I’d like to take one lesson from Bishop Eamonn’s life. Every Christian faces the task of turning their wounds into wisdom,” said Bishop Drennan.
St Thérèse of Liseaux “allowed the Lord to turn her wounds into wisdom,” he continued.
“Bishop Eamonn’s journey was rather different to that of St Thérèse, but with a similar outcome. If you believe that some values are worth fighting for - and he did - wounds are inevitable.
“His love for the Church enabled him to accept retirement from active ministry bravely,” Bishop Drennan said.
He recalled how when Bishop Casey was moved to Carrigoran nursing home “he faced two huge challenges. How would a man of his energy settle in a nursing home? He did. Secondly, there was the issue of giving up one thing that gave him many a thrill, driving his car. He let go of that too. That was wisdom at work.”
Then “as his memory deteriorated he tended to recall the positive in his life, especially his time in London. Gradually he found peace with his past. A strong belief in the mercy of God allowed him to leave the past to this compassionate God. Prayer led him to peace and trust and to the confidence that the past was in safe hands and the future was also in safe hands. God had turned his wounds into wisdom,” Bishop Drennan said.
He extended the sympathies of the Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin to the Casey family, and his own.
Among the large attendance of clergy and laity there were Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary, Bishop of Achonry Brendan Kelly and Fr Dermod McCarthy, former head of religious programmes at RTÉ.
There too were Justin Kilcullen, former director of Trócaire, and his successor Eamonn Meehan. Bishop Casey was Trócaire’s first chair.
Bishop Casey’s funeral Mass will be at 2 pm Thursday at which the main celebrant will be Bishop of Clonfert John Kirby, who succeeded him as chair of Trócaire. The homily will be delivered by Bishop Brendan Kelly, a priest of Galway diocese.
Afterwards Bishop Casey’s remains will be interred in the Cathedral crypt.
He will there join Bishop Francis McCormack (1888 to 1910), Bishop Thomas O’Dea (1910 to 1923), Bishop Thomas O’Doherty (1923 to 1936), Bishop Micheal Browne (1937 to 1976), and Bishop James McLoughlin (1993 to 2005).