Brother Ignatius Moore, O.Carm. (1926-2004)

Given by F. Lally, O.Carm., at the Requiem Mass in Terenure College Chapel on May 7, 2004.

A great part of our lives is taken up with our work, and we regard our work as of the greatest importance. If our work has a meaning and purpose it becomes a blessing and it is no exaggeration to say that for some people that work becomes their road to salvation. Vincent Van Gogh spent many years trying to find out what he wanted to do with his life. Finally, after much searching he discovered that he wanted to be a painter, an artist. From that day on his life changed. He said, “I have found in my work something to which I can devote myself heart and soul, and which gives meaning and inspiration to my life.”
I think Ignatius found himself in a somewhat similar situation. He wasn’t sure what direction to take in his life. He did a lot of soul searching before he finally decided to join the Carmelite Order. He too found a vocation where he was able to devote himself heart and soul in the service of God and his people.
Bro Ignatius was born in Eadestown, Co Kildare in 1926, one of a family of eleven. He joined the Carmelites and made his First Profession in 1953. Most pf Ignatius’ religious life was spent in Zimbabwe, and it was there that I had the privilege of working with him, and seeing first hand all that he achieved on the various mission stations in the Diocese of Mutare. He was a gifted carpenter and builder, and he devoted a lot of his time in passing on these precious gifts and skills to his workers. With the help of these men he built schools, hospitals and churches throughout the Diocese. These are his memorials, and his contribution to the work of the Church in Zimbabwe. I am also sure that when news of his death reaches our mission stations there will be a genuine outpouring of grief and sadness from the people he worked with. The old men will say, “Mhuka huru, wa Zorora” – “The great strong one, the leader of the herd has gone to his rest at last.”
The death of someone we loved and worked with casts a shadow over our lives, and yet with someone like Ignatius, who has achieved so much and left so much, there is a kind of elation as well as sadness at his passing. He was given very special talents by God, and he used them well. Memory is a wonderful gift, and those of us who knew Ignatius well will recall many funny and interesting stories and incidents that make us realize how special and unique a person he was. Ignatius was a man of action. He didn’t mince his word. He had no time for anything petty or mean, and he liked to call a spade a spade!
On one occasion while he was working on a project in the Hot-Sabi Valley, when he came to town to purchase building materials and supplies, he got word that the Bishop would like to see him in Drumfad, where the bishop resided. The bishop said he got a complaint that Ignatius had, on occasions, used inappropriate language when dealing with his workers on the building site. Ignatius replied, “My Lord, I don’t know what they are talking about, because when I talk to my workers I use builder’s language.” Bishop Lamont was stumped! He was a very learned man, but he had never heard of this new language.
On another occasion he was building a new block of classrooms at one of Fr Ardiff’s out-stations near Rusape. One of the teachers in the school had helped himself to some of the roofing timber to build himself a chicken house and fowl run in his back garden. When Ignatius discovered this there was tension in the air. He asked the headmaster to call all the teachers to the building site where he lined up his workers opposite the teachers and then proceeded to give them a lecture on the difference between a Guinness Dary Horse and a thoroughbred race horse from the Curragh in Kildare. In this holy place I cannot tell you the exact conclusion he came to, but I can tell you his workers were the thoroughbreds and the poor teachers came out of the comparison very badly.
Bro Ignatius had many out-standing qualities, his good humour, his generosity, his care, and concern for the weak and the sick, but the virtue that stands out above all others was his faithfulness. This was the great virtue of the Old Testament, sticking to one’s conviction through thick and thin, and Ignatius had plenty of problems and difficulties to face during his years on the missions. He lived a life of faithfulness to God, to Our Lady, and to the Carmelite Order. It can be truly said of him, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
After his labours in Zimbabwe, Ignatius also spent some time working in Turkana, Kenya. He went there to help Fr Robbie McCabe build rural clinics and shelters for the Masai Tribesmen in that very backward area. Finally, he returned to Ireland in the mid 1970s and joined the Community at Gort Muire. It was here he discovered the two great loves of his life: gardening and flowers, especially roses. Those of us who lived in Gort Muire, and people who visited there, know only too well the love and care he lavished on the grounds and flowers, especially his roses. They were the talk of the town.
Ignatius entered Mount Carmel Hospital at the end of last year for a hip replacement. The operation was very successful and he seemed to be doing fine, but complications occurred one after the other, and it became clear to all of us that he was losing the battle, and he passed away peacefully on May 4, surrounded by his community at Gort Muire. Today we bid farewell to Bro Ignatius, and despite our great sense of sadness, we face the future with courage and hope. We know that that is what Ignatius would want us to do. In the words of the Preface of the Mass, for Ignatius, life has changed not ended and we comfort one another in the belief that he is now at peace with God.
Ar dheis lámh Dé go raibh a anam dílis.