Sunday 17 December 2017

Bishop's tribute to Bree pastor

Extract from the address by Bishop Denis Brennan at Saturday's funeral of Fr Aidan Kavanagh

On a human level this is a very sad day for Fr Aidan's family, for the people of Bree, Galbally and Ballyhogue, for his brother priests in the diocese. Here in Bree Fr Aidan was a patriarchal figure. Because he was here so long he had touched practically everybody's life in a caring, positive way.

Just take one year and think of the baptisms, the communions, the weddings, the funerals, the house calls, the parish meetings, the school visits, the board of management business, the hospital visits, the phone calls, receiving parishioners in the parochial house, keeping the parish records and accounts. Just think of that for a moment. Then multiply it by 30 and you have some idea of his role in the life of this community over the past three decades.

Fr Aidan was liked and admired by all who knew him. He was liked because he was a man with no guile, a man of obvious sincerity and good will. I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that over the years Fr Aidan became a role model for us all.

We all feel a sense of sadness today, coming to terms with the realisation that this huge, caring presence, which has been part of our lives for so long, has gone from us. On the other hand we feel a sense of gratitude that he was part of our lives for so long, part of our special moments as family, part of our special moments as parish, and part of our special moments as diocese.

Fr Aidan brought a warmth and a wisdom forged on his own spiritual journey, a caring presence garnered from his own experience of life and priesthood over the years.

Fr Aidan didn't do spectaculars, he didn't need to. His life of quiet service spoke for itself. Three years ago we celebrated his golden jubilee here in Bree. It was a wonderful occasion, an occasion full of pride, gratitude and appreciation.

Over the past 30 years his presence here in Bree has been almost unbroken. He has always been here. In an age of rotas and rosters, job sharing and flexi-breaks, this is an amazing record of service.

My abiding memory of that jubilee is the pride and affection of the people of Bree for Fr Aidan and his happiness at the way the parish celebrated that milestone in his life. A comment one parishioner passed to me that night has stayed with me since. Speaking of Fr Aidan, he said: 'I never met a man so wrapped up in his priesthood.'

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