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Homily – Funeral Mass of Fr Michael Campbell (11th Oct 2016)

Note: Fr. Michael Campbell’s month’s mind Mass will be celebrated in St. John the Baptist Church, Kilbrin on Thursday 10th November 2016 @7.30p.m. 

 

FUNERAL MASS OF FR. MICHAEL CAMPBELL 11TH OCTOBER 2016

HOLY ROSARY CHURCH MIDLETON

(Homily delivered by Fr.Brendan Mallon)

 

My brothers and sisters in Christ, I welcome you here today as we gather in this Church of the Holy Rosary Midleton, to bid our final farewell to Fr. Michael Campbell- we are doing what Fr.Michael would want us to do – offering the Holy Mass for the Happy repose of his soul; the sacrifice of the Mass – in which we participate in the sacrifice of Calvary and receive the Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ.

While we come here with a great sadness in our hearts at the sudden and unexpected death of Fr. Michael, a wonderful priest and true servant of God:  we come also with great thanksgiving for the life of Fr. Michael who has touched all of our lives in so many ways. Our prayer of thanksgiving today is ‘well done good and faithful servant: thank you for being part of our lives’. May the Lord Jesus Christ, who called you by name – the Lord you served so well, have Mercy on you, and bring you now into the glory and joy of everlasting life in Heaven.

*The Scripture readings chosen for the Funeral Mass for Fr. Michael speak powerfully to us here this morning. The First reading from the Prophet Isaiah (50:4f): ‘The Lord has given me a disciple’s tongue. So that I may know how to reply to the wearied, he provides me with speech. Each morning he wakes me to hear, to listen like a disciple. The Lord has opened my ear, for my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away. I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle. The Lord comes to my help so that I am untouched by the insults. So too, I set my face like flint: I know that I shall not be shamed’.

When we think of Fr.Michael we can say that he lived this so well. Fr. Michael knew the Lord so well, that like a disciple each day – he listened to Him, so that he could be given a disciple’s tongue to speak to the wearied, to be a support and strength to all who were crushed by life and their experiences. Each day Fr. Michael lived his life to serve the Lord and all of God’s people without exception. As I said last evening in Kilbrin, Fr. Michael was not confined by the boundaries of parish – yes he was a priest of Ballyclough and Kilbrin, but his mission for the Lord was beyond boundaries.

The beautiful reading from St. Paul to Timothy had special significance for Fr. Michael. St. Paul in his letter encourages Timothy to be strong in faith always, and not to give up when trials, misunderstandings and difficulties come. St. Paul suffered many trials and misunderstandings for the sake of Christ, in his farewell to Timothy he says: ‘my life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish, I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord will give to me on that day, and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his appearing….the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed’.

This reading indeed has been so true of our beloved friend Fr. Michael.  Today as we celebrate his funeral Mass, we too can hear Fr. Michael telling us – my work here is done, it is time for me to be gone now and to be with the Lord more fully now. All of us who knew Fr. Michael can today with joy say from our hearts – it has been a blessing and a privilege to have known him. You and I have been blessed in so many ways; because Fr. Michael – your life and ministry to all of us came from the one you loved and served first above all things and that was God!

All of us have our amazing stories and encounters with Fr. Michael Campbell – all of us have been truly privileged to have known him – he was our Friend and for him everyone was his friend. What comes to mind, is the Gospel of John, Chapter 21: 24-25: when John says “it is this Disciple who testifies about the things he has recorded here and we know that this testimony is true. But Jesus did many other things; if all were written down; the world itself would not hold the books recording them”.

My friends in Christ, this is so true of Fr. Michael– since last Wednesday evening and indeed the last few days all us who knew him, have been recounting our own personal memories, experiences, and love for a beautiful simple, humble, loving, kind, gentle, caring, man of God, a Priest of God, who gave without counting the cost – everything he did was all about service of God who was his first priority: Knowing, Loving, and Serving God our Father first, his Son Jesus Christ, and his Mother Mary. A prayer familiar to you all and also to Fr. Michael which he prayed daily – give praise to the Father, Almighty, to His Son Jesus Christ the Lord, to the Spirit who dwells in our hearts both now and forever.

The last few days have been phenomenal, the love and affection that we have all witnessed and expressed by the people of God – for Fr. Michael.  I have known Fr. Michael since 1997, the year I was ordained – and I got to know him in Glantane parish where I was first appointed. In all of those 19 years – Fr. Michael and I have remained good friends, regularly in contact which other. As a newly ordained priest that was where I first encountered him, where he worked as a Chaplain in Nazareth House, and in the parish of Glantane.

I say encountered Fr. Michael – to meet him was an encounter with someone who was unique, a free-spirit, and a man who was so at ease within himself and with himself and made you feel the same. He never spoke ill of anyone – and always so that the good in you would shine through with his smile and apt words that always encouraged you. His particular ability and gift was to reach out to the broken, hurt, wounded, addicted, abandoned, the sorrowing, the grieving, the homeless, and all who was in any kind of need, advice, prayer – all was to bring the light of God to life’s experience.

My friends, all of us here – were the broken, the hurt, the sorrowing, the wounded, the hopeless and he wanted to carry our burdens on his shoulders – and bring the light of God’s presence to our lives, and that is truly what he did – you and I are testament of that. His kindness, his generosity of spirit, knew no boundaries – it had no limits.

In the challenges of being a priest today, Fr. Michael’s story gives us courageous witness. What the church needs today are good holy priests who give strong witness of God to the people. The testimonies last evening in Kilbrin from the Garda Sergeant, Newmarket Division, the Community Council Chairperson, the Principal of the local National School and local Parish Priest, all spoke highly of their Holy Priest. They went on to say that if you were sick, or lonely or in need of counsel he was the one you would want; or at an accident at the side of the road, or a tragedy, he is the one that you want standing beside you for the power of his prayer and the presence of God he brought to those situations.

In the Gospel passage today, there are ten bridesmaids, all of them waiting for the Bridegroom to arrive – at a time not known. Five were wise and were prepared for the unexpected delay and five were foolish and were not prepared. My friends in Christ – there were no foolish ones in Kilbrin and Ballyclough: because no matter what time Fr.Michael arrived they were ready and waiting because they knew the treasure that they had in their Priest. The lesson he was teaching us all – was the importance of ‘TIME’ – the importance of ‘GOD’S TIME’.

You read in books about Holy men and Holy women, and later about how they became Saints – but we had one who walked and lived among us our own Fr. Michael.  When the people of God have spoken so highly of one of our own, doesn’t it give us great encouragement again. Fr. Michael recognised peoples  hunger for God and he brought his presence in a real meaningful flesh and blood way, he was on the ground with people and YOU and I have been graced to have known him. Isn’t this what the Christian story is all about, the God who left his mighty Heavens to live among his people. Michael was the perfect witness, and we give thanks to God for his Holy and Humble life.

To conclude, Fr. Michael’s favourite party piece is a song that truly embodies the Christian message and is sums up what his whole life was all about:

“If I could help somebody as I pass along, if I could cheer somebody with a word or a song, and if I could show somebody where they are travelling wrong, then my living shall not be in vain………my living shall not be in vain…… If I can help somebody, as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain”

Fr. Michael your Life, and Your Living was certainly not in vain, for some work all life long and catch nothing – but YOU fished from the other side and the boats were filled to SINKING.

Fr. Michael, until we meet again, may your gentle soul now rest in the peace and joy of God’s Heavenly Kingdom. Eternal rest grant unto Him, O Lord, may perpetual light shine upon him. May he Rest in Peace. Amen.

 

Fr.Campbell-photoW

 

Fr. Michael Campbell

C.C. Ballyclough & Kilbrin

 

Born on 10th  October 1948

Died Feast of the Holy Rosary 7th  October 2016

 

Ordained to the priesthood: 12th  June 1976

 

Served in the following parishes:

01 September 1976, Portsmouth, England.

21 January 1978, C.C., Meelin

20 September 1980, C.C., Ballymacoda

11 June 1988, C.C., Saleen

17 June 1995, C.C., Coachford

13 September 1997, Sabbatical

07 December 1998, C.C., Glantane & Chaplain Nazareth House

19 July 2003-2016, C.C., Ballyclough and Kilbrin

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