Father Peter Kelly RIP

The Church in Dunvant was full for Father’s funeral. As Father’s brother said – after Father Kelly, God threw away the mould. May he now rest in eternal peace.

The Homily for Father’s Funeral Mass follows:

Funeral Homily for Fr Peter Kelly (by Fr John Browne)

As we know, Father Kelly ministered in this parish for over half a century, and served the patients of Singleton Hospital for almost the same amount of time. His was a truly remarkable life.

But could Father had done the things that he did, if not for his faith? 

The Christian faith, Father’s faith, our faith, is above all a faith about life.  We believe in God who is God of the living.  Our faith is that our lives will reach their fullness, not in this flesh and blood life, but in a new kind of life to come.

And this faith in a life that is to come does not reduce the importance of this flesh and blood life that we are living now.  The women who went to Jesus’s grave on Easter Sunday, were struck with amazement when they saw Jesus alive – but they were soon sent away from the place of his resurrection, back into the real world, the world of flesh and blood. The world in which Father Kelly ministered.

Christ’s teaching about bringing us the fullness of life, should help to create within us a deeper love oflife.  And a true love of life cannot be just a love of our own life; that would be narcissism. Faith in a life that endures reveals that every human being has a life that is worth something. A valuable life. Something which was at the heart of Father Kelly’s hospital ministry. His inspiration was, he said, the nurses, who helped the patients live the best life they could whilst they were in the ward.

Spending so much time in the hospital, Father would have been quite familiar with human suffering. And suffering is something no human being is immune from. We will all know it, in some shape or form. It is, of course, love, and love alone that can bring even suffering to a different level; and change and redeem what human life is about. This was the quiet work that Father Kelly spent his life doing.

I recently watched the film, the Two Popes. And in that, we see an extended view of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. It pictures vividly the sadness of the condemned and the happiness of the saved.  But the bold central figure in the painting, is the person of Jesus Christ.  He, it would seem, is the key which enables us to unlock the meaning of eternal life.

Which, as I understand it, is our complete incorporation into the love of God. Heaven is the place where we will see God’s face and live, and enter into communion with God himself. Which is what we pray for today, for Father Kelly, and for all our dead.

But before we get to that point, each of us must, of course, taste death. Not even the best of us can avoid it. And death is the moment of supreme loneliness, if we are not hopeful of the fact that we are to be taken up into God’s mercy, hopeful that we are to be redeemed.  For the believer, death and entry into life eternal marks the end of the loneliness, the isolation, and the self-centeredness which are all the things that drag us down, in this life. 

Father Kelly has now tasted death, and he has gone from our sight.  And we treasure in our hearts his memory.

We thank God for his ministry. We pray that he now enjoys holy communion with God, for all eternity.

We remember him for the good that he did, for the help that he gave, and for his witness to the God of life. We pray that he, and all our dear departed, are witnesses to the face of God, and no longer have to search for him, from a distance, down here on earth, as we still do.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.