Fr Aidan McLoughlin, O.Carm. (1933-2011)

Given at the Requiem Mass in the Carmelite Church, Knocktopher, Co Kilkenny, on June 22, 2011, by P. Kehoe, O.Carm.

 ‘The life and death of each of us has its influence on others’ (Romans 14:7-12) are words that we have all heard before, but today they take on a new meaning for Fr Aidan’s family.

Aidan as a young boy born in the City of the Tribes – Galway – was certainly influenced by his late mother and father and his brothers Dermot and the late Bishop Jim. His education by the Patrician Brothers at St Mary’s College, and by the Carmelites in Terenure College, were to influence him in his calling to become a priest.

Aidan took his First Profession in the Carmelite Order on September 28, 1952, in Kinsale. He then left Kinsale to begin his studies in Dublin. On July 12, 1959, the day of his ordination, Aidan would have heard the words spoken to him by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid: “Share with all men that Word of God which you have received with joy.” Then he laid on him the responsibility to “see that you believe what you read, teach what you believe and that you translate your teaching into action.”’

So Aidan was called to be a prophet and to speak out from a lived experience of the Gospel. His task was to deliver the message to the men and women of his time, in season and out of season. Like the prophets of old – Elijah and his successor Elisha – Aidan was also called to be a man of prayer, meditating on the Word of the Lord day and night.

Over the fifty two years of priesthood Aidan was to develop his love for his Carmelite Saints, in particular St Thérèse of Lisieux. She above all our saints was to influence him in his sufferings. Aidan knew her ‘Little Way’ and in her Oblation of June 9, 1895, she wrote “I thank You, O my God! For all the graces you have granted me, especially the grace of making me pass through the crucible of suffering. It is with joy I shall contemplate you on the Last Day carrying the sceptre of Your Cross. Since You deigned to give me a share in this very precious Cross, I hope in heaven to resemble you and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of Your Passion.” For nearly four years Aidan certainly carried the Cross of suffering and bore it with great dignity.

His vocation of suffering was accompanied by the grace and strength to carry the cross and in suffering he is redeemed and purified. Those of us who were privileged to witness his suffering often marvelled at his patience and his good humour.

Aidan died in peace and with dignity, as he lived the Gospel. His funeral today is a celebration of the power of the grace of God and a dramatic message to all on how to be truly human, on how to rise to the challenge of illness in ways that are enriching and life-giving and above all a proclamation that a human’s real life is with God in eternal happiness.

From illness accepted with human dignity we all learn to live in the perspective of God’s kingdom. Aidan often said to me, that he did not want a eulogy or a long homily on his achievements but simply to be remembered as Aidan – Brother, Carmelite, Priest, Uncle and Friend.

‘The life and death of each of us has its influence on others.’ As we are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Aidan, we thank the Lord for the many good things and ways that Aidan influenced us. And I pray today that Aidan’s memory will remind us to influence others in our daily tasks.

Aidan had many interests in life – Judo, Wrestling, Referee, St John’s Ambulance Brigade, Biker, Computer Wizard. He was a good friend to the poor and listened to many who were downtrodden by the burdens of illness, pain and sin. He was kind and generous with his time, resources and talents and tried to live the Gospel to the best of his ability.

He would often say in jest, “Ah what would I know, I’m only a simple friar,” and then he would chuckle to himself as he went off for a smoke.

The instruction in the first reading from the Prophet Micah tells us that “this is what the Lord asks of you, only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.” Those words of the Prophet are words which for me describe Aidan as a humble man, shy, a good sense of humour, who sought no notoriety, but went on quietly doing the Lord’s work.

Aidan also had a love of Blessed John Henry Newman and often recited his prayer at the end of his Mass before the final dismissal: “Lord support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed and the fever of life is over and our work is done! Then Lord, in your mercy grant us a safe lodging and peace at the last.”

Aidan your work is done, may your gentle soul now rest in the peace of Christ.