Words of Welcome by Bishop Kevin Doran, at the Funeral Mass of Bishop Jones RIP

Words of Welcome by Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin at the Funeral Mass of Bishop Christopher Jones RIP

Tuesday 22nd May 2018, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo

Today is, in some ways, a formal public moment in the life of our Diocese, but it is also a gathering of the many families of Bishop Christopher Jones.

I welcome Bishop Christy’s sister Eileen and his sister-in-law Pauline and the extended Jones family. On behalf of all of us here (and so many others who cannot be here) I offer them, once again our sympathies and our prayers. I can assure you that who you are as a family is an integral part of the gift that Bishop Christy was and remains for the Irish Church.

The other “families” which were so much a part of the Bishop Christy’s life are all represented here and I want to extend a warm welcome to them:

  • I welcome the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Okolo, who represents Pope Francis and whose presence marks Bishop Christy’s share in the pastor care of God’s family the Church
  • I welcome Parishioners from all over the Diocese, including especially those from Tulsk and from Glinsk, where he had family connections
  • Members of the Travelling Community
  • Representatives of the various schools and colleges of the Diocese
  • Former colleagues and present staff of Sligo Social Services
  • Members of the episcopal Council for the Marriage and the Family and of Accord
  • Representatives of other Christian communities, led by Dean Arfon Williams, who is representing Bishop Ferran Glenfield
  • Religious sisters from all the congregations who serve in our Diocese
  • Nurses, doctors and carers, for whom Bishop Christy always had great regard and on whose kindness and professionalism he came to rely in recent years
  • Natives of the Diocese living in Birmingham, Manchester and London
  • Men and women who work for the common good in the various forms of public and civic service, in the city of Sligo and in the counties of our diocese.
  • The staff of the Diocesan Office, of St. Mary’s and of the Cathedral, past and present.
  • Bishop Christy’s brother priests of the Diocese of Elphin
  • The Kiltegan Missionaries, Spiritans, and other clergy who share in the mission of the Diocese
  • The eight permanent deacons of the Diocese.
  • His brother bishops who are with us in large number and some of whom were with us yesterday
  • Representatives of the Secretariat of the Episcopal Conference
  • And Bishop Christy’s very many personal friends

Some of the Irish bishops, mainly because of Confirmation commitments were unable to be with us today. We have received messages from Archbishop Eamon Martin (who is represented by Cardinal Sean Brady), from Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly and from many others who were unable to be here today. I am grateful to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and a number of other bishops who were with us yesterday evening. Fr. Tom O’Connor, Superior of the Kiltegan Missionaries has also sent a message of condolence and is represented today by Fr. Ciaran O’Flynn. A warm message of condolence was also received from Mary and Martin McAleese, long-time friends of Bishop Christy. 

Last September, it was agreed that the Icon of the World Meeting of Families would be welcomed today – May 22nd – at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Nothing could have been more appropriate, given the many years of service that Bishop Christy gave to Accord and the fact that he was the founding Chairperson of the Council for Marriage and the Family. The Icon represents three family scenes from the life of Jesus, the Holy Family at table in Nazareth, the Marriage at Cana, the raising of the Daughter of Jairus. Two members of Bishop Christy’s family – Hugh Jones and his wife Ann – were themselves volunteers with Accord and I invite them now to open the icon for us.

Some would suggest that bishops should be seen and not heard. There are others who still feel that, if the bishop would only say something or do something, everything would be ok. The reality is that bishops are just ordinary men; Christians who have been entrusted with a particular mission to teach, to govern and to sanctify in the name of Jesus Christ. Bishop Christy was aware of his own human frailty and this was brought home to him in a very particular way when, like so many other people, he experienced bereavement and when he began to walk the path of illness which led gradually but inevitably to his death last Friday. He carried his own share in the cross of Jesus Christ. His death, like the death of any Christian, invites us to look beneath the office that we hold and the clothes that we wear for the true meaning of our human existence. As the motto of our Diocese so aptly reminds us “The Lord is Our Hope”

Let us then entrust ourselves, along with Bishop Christy, to the gentle mercy of God as we pause for a moment to prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.

Bishop Christy and Bishop Kevin on the day of
Bishop Kevin’s appointment as Bishop of Elphin, 13th May 2014