Fr Martin Farragher, O.Carm. (1938-2008)

Given at the Requiem Mass in St Colmcille’s Church, Knocklyon, on January 18, 2008 by F. Burke, O.Carm., Prior Provincial

Today we gather to comfort and console one another as we say farewell to our brother, Martin and to pray for his happy repose. We thank God for Martin; the brother, the Carmelite, the uncle, the friend. We thank God for his vocation to Carmel and for the many blessings which enriched the lives of so many people through his ministry as a Carmelite priest.
Martin died with dignity and composure. It was not an easy journey of acceptance from that dreadful moment when he was told last summer that he had only months to live to a point of inner peace and acceptance. The manner in which he lived those precious few months is a testament to the man. It is also a testament to his deep Christian faith, the foundation of which was laid in his home and nourished daily in his living of his Carmelite calling. Those who accompanied him day by day and, indeed, over the past weeks night by night on his final journey, have been inspired by his tenacity and courage.
Martin, a native of Ballinrobe and a proud Mayo man, was for more than fifty years a professed member of our Order. He was ordained priest in 1964. Immediately following ordination he was asked to go to the missions in Zimbabwe. Martin worked on various missions and in Mount Carmel College. Like many of our missionaries he returned, with a heavy heart, to Ireland when the political situation worsened and the threat to life increased in Zimbabwe in the mid 1970s.
Upon his return he held various appointments including Director of Vocations and National Director of Vocations. He was Prior of Whitefriar Street for six years. Over the years he was a member of our communities at Knocklyon, Knocktopher, Kildare and Moate. In recent years Martin returned to Zimbabwe and was appointed Prior of the Formation Community at Kriste Mambo, the community which is home to our pre-novices and novices. As prior he supervised a major renovation of the community house and other works. Like all missionaries he not only shared his faith with the people but did all in his power to alleviate their suffering. He was particularly committed to giving young people that most precious start in life, the oppor­tunity to receive an education. He had many generous sponsors here in Ireland, including his family, and I thank all of you for your support and generosity.
Ill health, however, forced him to return to Ireland in 2004. His most recent appointment, following recuperation from cardiac surgery, was as Prior of Knocklyon and assistant pastor in the parish. He had spent time in Knocklyon in the 1980s and he was very happy to be back here among you, the people of Knocklyon, for whom he had great affection and fondness.
Martin did not wear his heart on his sleeve but he was a caring and considerate man and a conscientious pastor. He didn’t stand on ceremony and was intolerant of hypocrisy or duplicity. His stoical attitude and unflappable approach could belie a commitment to doing the job meticulously and well. He was very practical and hands-on. One of my last memories of him in Zimbabwe was cutting up a fallen tree with a chain saw.
Martin enjoyed a challenge, the challenge of the golf course or of mastering the computer. He showed his more creative and artistic side in some fine photographic work, water paintings and a love of music. He was an able and competent administrator.
Martin was fiercely loyal to his friends. Being a very private man, it was only with the onset of his illness that we came to appreciate how many and diverse his friends were. He had shown kindness and given guidance to them when they were in need and they had not forgotten.
We pray for all who miss Martin dearly in Ireland and in Zimbabwe and indeed, in other parts of the world. We believe that, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus comes to us in the midst of our sorrow. His reassuring and comforting presence is an enormous support as we try to come to terms with our loss. For Martin the winter has passed. It is our belief and our fervent prayer that he has entered the eternal springtime of heaven. The God he believed in, a God of kindness and compassion, will bring him to his home. We ask Mary, Mother of Carmel, to whom Martin dedicated his life, to welcome him.