Tuesday 20 August 2019

Fr Crowe's a funeral a moment of inspiration

michael commane
michael commane

By Fr Michael Commane

I don't do funerals. By that I mean that I'm not a professional 'funeral goer'. I err on the side of missing funerals rather than on the side of going to too many.

Last Wednesday a Dominican friend sent me an SMS telling me that Fr Martin Crowe had died. Martin was a Dominican, five years older than I. He was living in our community in Ballybeg in Waterford.

I didn't know him very well. We had never lived in the same priory. Of course I had met him on a number of occasions and with 173 people in the Irish Dominican Province it's natural that I should know him.

Had we ever had a conversation with one another? We certainly had the occasional chat, but we seldom if ever crossed paths. I think I met Martin about four or five weeks ago when we said polite hellos. I remember on that occasion there was a great smile on his face.

Within a day or two of hearing of his death I decided to go to his funeral Mass.

I consider myself on the margins of the Irish Dominican Province. I have some close friends within the province but currently I don't live in community and live on my own.

I decided out of solidarity with Fr Crowe to attend his funeral Mass. When he joined the order there was the practice of giving a person a new religious name. I have always thought the custom was an insult to our parents. In solidarity I decided to go to Ballygarrett near Gorey in Co. Wexford to the funeral Mass on Saturday.

Wexford is unfamiliar territory to me and I had never before been in Ballygarrett. The Mass was scheduled for 2pm but it must have been close for 2.20 before the hearse arrived.

The parish church was filled to capacity. I counted 14 Dominicans and there was also a number of local clergy present. Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Alphonsus Cullinan attended.

It was a prayerful occasion. It was liturgy well done, with meaning and dignity.

The parish choir pulled out all the stops and added enormously to the solemnity of the funeral Mass.

The Dominican provincial Gregory Carroll in his homily spoke warm words of Fr Crowe. He recalled a woman once telling him that Larry/Martin was a great priest for lame ducks.

At the end of Mass Jimmy Crowe, a nephew of Fr Crowe's gave a eulogy in which he filled us in on the life and times of his uncle. He told us how Larry/Martin was the linchpin of the extended family and how he played such a pivotal role in the lives of all his nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. Both he and Gregory spoke in detail of how Fr Crowe always had time and energy to be with people who were fragile and weak and how he supported those who were hanging on by their finger tips.

After the Mass there were refreshments in the parish hall. It was a plasant gathering, where people reminisced about the life and times of Larry/Martin.

Funerals are sad occasions. Saturday's funeral was a moment of inspiration.

Before Satruday's funeral I really knew little or nothing about Fr Crowe. I may even have had some pre-concieved ideas about the man. All incorrect.

Almost by accident I turned up at the funeral and learned so much about a special priest, a special man, who spent so much of his time and energy consoling the weak and fragile. A priest for 'lame ducks'.

Shame on me but a lesson learned. I hope.

Wexford People