In this week’s blog, Fr Paddy encourages us to remember that in times of darkness and despair, God’s presence is the gentle hand of friendship that offers hope.

Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist Papers

This column appeared on 30th September 2009

The tragic death of Lisa Doyle has shocked many throughout Carlow and beyond. We perhaps have become desensitized to tragic and violent deaths, described so frequently on our newspapers, radios and television. However, when such circumstance takes place in a village close to where we live, this dark reality is felt greatly. Life for the Doyle family is changed forever. A wonderful family, who truly loved and cherished Lisa’s unique light and warm personality. This indeed is a time of tragedy, a time when Lisa’s family feel utterly devastated and abandoned to a place of great loss and pain. The tragic death of Lisa has left many people in great shock and distress. Hearts that loved and were fulfilled are now broken, dreams and hopes are now left shattered and torn. As the Doyle family struggle to make sense of this great loss, the Gospel accounts of the Lord’s passion does offer a sense of empathy and support to no doubt their fragile and wounded hearts. I contemplate the word of Jesus, as his bruised and broken body, which suffered great violence, dying on the cross

‘My God, My God, why have you abandoned me’.

Similarly the sentiment of the Psalmist, expressed at a time of great burden and devastation

‘Friends and neighbour you have taken away, my one companion is darkness,’

The deadly darkness that surrounds Lisa’s death is not at all the story of her short lived life. Lisa was an inspiration to all who knew and loved her. Lisa’s story contained enormous depth and warmth, her resilience, determination, giftedness and great kindness leaves a rich legacy that will always be cherished. Lisa’s memory will forever be a light that will allow her family to walk forward knowing that her gentle spirit is always with them. John Henry Newman beautifully describes such a light, in a time when the shadows of loss may well overburden.

‘Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom. Lead thou me on.
The night is dark and I am far from home, lead thou me on.
Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see, the distant scene; one step enough for me.’

Lisa in her much too short a life, like golden daffodils and pink cherry blossoms, has given us a glimpse that is the beauty of God’s Kingdom. She was a young woman full of enthusiasm and infectious good humor. Her smile and enthusiasm endeared her to so many not just her colleagues in the Carlow branch of Argos, but to all who encountered this cheerful young lady. Lisa was deeply spiritual, she prayed daily to her angels in heaven. Her rich spirituality enhanced her great beauty. She cultivated a real friendship with the Lord, in her young life.

There are no answers in a time of great tragedy. All we are assured of is that God’s light is greater than any darkness. God’s presence is that gentle hand of friendship who offers hope in times of despair. May the Angels that you prayed to Lisa, take you by the hand and surround you with light, peace and joy.