Death of Archbishop Michael Francis
The death has been announced of His Grace Archbishop Michael Francis, the first Archbishop of Monrovia, Liberia. The Archbishop, who died peacefully in his sleep on Pentecost Sunday morning, was 77 years of age.
Archbishop Michael Francis was born on 12 February 1936 in Kakata, Liberia. His early education was undertaken with the FMM Sisters there and, later, with the SMA missionaries in Sanniquellie.
He studied for the priesthood at the seminary in Pedu, Ghana and at Ss Peter & Paul Major seminary in Ibadan, Nigeria and was ordained a priest for the then Vicariate Apostolic of Monrovia on 4 August 1963. He was to succeed the bishop who ordained him, Rt Rev Francis Carroll SMA (who was also the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Liberia) on 28 October 1976. Five years later, 19 December 1981, Monrovia was raised to the status of an Archdiocese with Archbishop Michael Francis as its first Pastor.
From then until 2004 when he suffered a serious Stroke which left him seriously incapacitated and unable to discharge his duties as Archbishop, he built up a vibrant Church in Liberia and was an internationally recognised, and honoured, voice for the protection of human rights, particularly in Liberia which was enduring a long and vicious civil war. Despite the many threats to his life, Archbishop Francis never wavered in speaking the truth and demanding accountability from those responsible for so many attrocities against the Liberian people.
Read more about Archbishop Francis and his ministry here.
It was fitting that a man who was so full of God's Spirit and preached fearlessly should die on the Feast of the Holy Spirit. May he now enjoy eternal life with the Lord.
Funeral Rites for Fr Hugh McLaughlin SMA
The mortal remains of Fr Hugh McLaughlin were removed from the African Missions, Blackrock Road on Tuesday evening, 14 May to St Joseph's SMA Church, Wilton where it was received by Fr John O'Keeffe, SMA Wilton Community Leader.
After reading from Luke 4:16-21, Fr John shared the following thoughts: "In his priesthood Hugh found a life to which he was able to dedicate himself, heart and soul, a vocation which brought him fulfilment and, as a result, happiness. Hugh brought happiness to many a person, family and situation. The source of his happiness was rooted in his priesthood.
Loyalty to his friends, dependability, hospitality, kindness, his care for students and parishioners, indeed his entire pastoral ministry, are his gifts scattered throughout the dioceses of Ondo and Cork & Ross (Ballydehob, Passagewest, Goleen). On behalf of the entire Wilton community I offer our sincere sympathy to his sister Mary and brother Arthur.
We are confident that Hugh will meet his parents, Charles and Mary, and his sister-in-law Peggy in that place prepared for us all since the foundation of the world."
Funeral Mass, Wednesday, 15 May
Fr Hugh was laid to rest in the SMA community cemetery after Concelebrated Requiem Mass.
The Principal celebrant was the SMA Provincial Leader, Fr John Dunne assisted by Fathers Fachtna O'Driscoll (SMA Superior General), Alan O'Leary (PP of Schull, which takes in Goleen and Ballydehob where Fr Hugh ministered for any years), Colum O'Shea SMA and Michael Igoe SMA. More than fifty other priests, many from the diocese of Cork & Ross as well as SMAs from different parts of the country also concelebrated.
In a sign much appreciated by the family and the SMA, Bishop John Buckley also attended and led some of the Prayers of Commendation. Fr Alan O'Leary, PP of Schull, led a decade of the Rosary at the graveside.
Among the concelebrating priests were four SMA classmates of Fr Hugh: Fathers John Clancy, Michael Evans, Paddy McGovern and Frank Meehan.
Fr John O'Keeffe SMA acted as MC and the singing was led by Fr Cormac Breathnach SMA. Relatives and friends of Fr Hugh participated, including Jude and Madeline McCrossan who had travelled from Malin Head, Co Donegal and whose Marriage Fr Hugh had officiated at early in his ministry.
Pat O'Rourke read from Eccl 3:1-7, 11 and Hugh O'Brien proclaimed the Word of God from St Paul to the Corinthians (4:14-5:1). The Prayers of Intercession were read by Niamh, Derval, Teddy and Nell O'Brien.
The chief mourners were Fr Hugh's sister Mary and brother Arthur. In his opening remarks at the Mass, Fr Dunne welcomed the many friends and relatives who had travelled from all over the country as well as from the UK. He also spoke of the different religious congregations, including the OLA and St Louis Sisters and those from the Mercy Congregation.
Fr Damian Bresnahan SMA preached the homily reminding us that Fr Hugh was a man who said his prayers and who always tried to do good in his life. He was a man who loved the sunlight and was always of a happy disposition.
In the cemetery after Mass there was a short shower of rain and then the sun came out. It was a reminder of Fr Damian's words as we laid Fr Hugh to his earthly rest.
Afterwards the large gathering of mourners expressed their sympathy to Arthur and Mary, before all accepted the invitation of Fr O'Keeffe to come to the Community Dining Room for lunch.
May Fr Hugh rest in eternal peace. Amen.
Read an Obituary of Fr Hugh here.
Most of us have less of a sense of our talents and strengths than we should, much less of our ability to build our lives around these strengths.
Instead, guided over the years by our parents, teachers, mentors and psychology's fascination with mental illness, we can become experts in our weakness and spend our lives trying to repair these flaws, while our strengths lie dormant and neglected.
Yet, focusing on our character strengths in life and ministry, rather than our personality flaws, has shown to promote greater well-being and life satisfaction.
The Dromantine Retreat & Conference Centre are hosting a Workshop to address these issues from 4 - 7 June 2013. Further details here.