I read about your work on the islands off Mayo and how much you enjoyed it.
I wondered about you heading off to celebrate Mass and the sacraments on Innisturk and Clare Island or your visits to Caher Island. Your feet, between boat and shore, brought something very special and sacred.
I stood at the water’s edge on Lough Derg and watched barefooted men and women walk around me, focusing on their prayers and being pilgrims. Searching for something of Heaven and finding it – I hope and pray. I watched the waters but looked beyond them to people gathering in Westport, to walk past you – not barefooted but broken-hearted, bless themselves and offer a prayer and wonder “why?” I heard them whisper to your parents and your brothers how wonderful you were and how shocked they are. Your loss to them is immeasurable. Certainly, you didn’t know the fullness of all you meant to people. I wonder where you are in all of this? I can’t help but believe you believed in the Resurrection you preached to so many and that you are now fully caught up in it.
Then water splashes onto the slabs at my feet. Water of the lake meeting the solidness of stone. Changing its shade, moistening its hardened surface. How often you poured the waters of baptism on an infant’s head and watched it trickle back into the font from which it came. Parents smiled and so did you for it was God’s work. Your last Sunday was John The Baptist’s Day.
I sensed you stepping ashore as the waters of Lough Derg met the stone beneath the pilgrims’ feet. I walked away from the water’s edge, believing you had found solid ground too and put your own mark on it as the stones were coloured by the lake’s edge this evening. I was proud of you as a priest, glad we met and grateful for your occasional texts and phone calls.
Pray for us Pat. We need someone to take your place. Be “vocation” now. Call people to walk where you walked and to cross the waters to the islands where you encountered something of a church we all want – a church of belonging and a church of shared vision.
Rest in peace Pat. You’ve crossed that point where the waters meet the land.