The following words were shared by Mgr. Joe McGrath at the reception of the remains of Fr Jackie Power OSA at Good Counsel College Chapel on Friday 21st December 2018
TOMÁS O CROITHIN was a Kerryman who wrote a very famous book – An tOILEÁNACH or the ISLANDER in which he described the lives and particularly the people of the Blasket Islands off the Kerry coast.
He ends the book by paying an extraordinary compliment to the people. That last sentence has become famous and overused very often , particularly on occasions like this. He wrote THERE WILL NEVER BE THEIR LIKES AGAIN.
As we welcome back the remains of Fr Jackie Power to the town he served and loved so well, I think we will be forgiven for saying it is highly unlikely that we will ever see HIS likes again.
There are as many anecdotes and stories about him as there are people in this church. I will leave the telling of them to the conversations afterwards. Most of them will centre on what he did as a priest. And to put it mildly HE DID EVERYTHING AND HE DID IT EVERYWHERE- even though he liked to give the impression that he never left Ross. Countless people in countless places have reason to be grateful for his generous giving of his time and energy in their service. But more important for us, rather than focus on WHAT HE DID is to reflect on WHO HE WAS.
Pope Francis published a letter some years ago on THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL. I mentioned the last sentence in TOMÁS O CROITHIN’s book. The very first sentence in Pope’s letter states ‘THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL FILLS THE LIVES AND HEARTS OF THOSE WHO HAVE ENCOUNTERED JESUS’.
So WHO WAS Fr Jackie Power? He was a person whose life and heart were filled with the joy of meeting Jesus Christ. And he was driven in everything he did and everywhere he went by the desire to introduce others to that same experience.
That is why he has been important in life and why his example is so necessary to us for the future.
You may be surprised to hear that the Catholic Church, the parish, the religious orders and the individual Christian - all have only one function- TO CULTIVATE PERSONAL FRIENDSHIP WITH THE JESUS CHRIST – everything else flows from that. All too often we get lost in THE WORK OF THE LORD and forget THE LORD OF THE WORK.
If we get our relationship with Jesus right, everything else that is good and wholesome and healthy flows naturally from that and becomes our living reality.
I think Jackie Power grasped that fact early on in life and spent himself in making it a reality.
We are indeed fortunate that he came into our lives. We have every reason to be grateful for his generous dedication to God’s project.
His memory will be best served in New Ross by our efforts to fill our lives and hearts with the joy of the Gospel.
In thruth - Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís.