DURING the summer months, graveyard or cemetery Masses will take place in many local places of burial.

I often marvel at the attention many people give to the burial space of their loved ones – a sign of deep affection and, hopefully, a source of comfort and consolation.

We never forget a loved one who has gone before us, and while the pain and absence of their loss remains, time leads us gently to a place of acceptance.

In ministry, I celebrate many funerals.

These are always an important ritual, which honours the unique life being remembered at such a moment.

Recently, I celebrated three funeral ceremonies, upon which I would like to briefly reflect.

Mrs Peig Monaghan, 1 Pairc Mhuire was a most wonderful, kind, generous and deeply affectionate lady.

She was a mother, wife and faithful friend. Peig’s life, particularly her final years, suggested to me how God is active in the loving care and attention of family and carers, giving kindness to loved ones who become immobile and dependent.

Peig had a beautiful smile and loved to sing.

These days, I pray for her dear husband John, married to his best friend for more than 67 years.

Mrs Eileen Dalton, Corries Cross, Bagenalstown passed from this life in the loving and caring environs of the Alzheimer’s Unit in the Sacred Heart Hospital.

Eileen had a remarkable intellect and enjoyed a creative life with her husband Seán, rearing her family in her beloved Corries.

In her younger, professional life, she quickly rose through the ranks of the British civil service, becoming secretary to the minister of agriculture, a rare achievement for a young Irish citizen at that time.

Eileen brought with her gentleness, love and deep compassion. Her illness was borne with courage, resilience and dignity; her husband Seán and family outstanding in their care and support.

Alzheimer’s is an illness of letting go … letting go of memory and familiarity in that place of deep vulnerability that the people of Carlow are blessed by the outstanding care given in the Sacred Heart.

Every resource possible must be maintained, as this Alzheimer’s unit gives dignity and love to those who carry the cross and burden of such illness. Michael Ryan, Main Street, Graignamanagh was a kind and gentle soul. Over the past number of years I, like many, affectionately regarded him as ‘Uncle Mick’.

He had a wonderful gift of integrity and compassion.

Fuelled perhaps by his own vulnerability, his wisdom and sincerity endeared him not just to his family but to the people of Graignamanagh and beyond.

Folklore regarding his life as publican is legendary.

I experienced Mick as a deeply spiritual man. His final words to me included the words ‘life is very sacred’.

Resurrection is core to the Christian belief.

That is for those who have gone before us; life has changed, not ended. I suggest the best tribute and eulogy we can offer loved ones who have gone before us is to carry on the journey of this life with a sense of appreciation, compassion and a genuine desire to grow and indeed to change.

The moment we stop growing, we start dying.

Resurrection is all about beginning again.

These days, I marvel at the abundance of the emerging fruit on an apple tree in my garden.

After a bleak winter, new life erupts with plenty.

May all who have gone before us, enjoy the abundance of heavenly joy and may they rest in peace.