Pastoral Homily by Fr Michael Toomey at the Vigil for –
Luke McSweeney, Grace McSweeney, Zoey Coffey & Nicole Murphy
There are occasions in life when no words seem appropriate. When we enter total sadness and desolation when we are numbed – speechless. This week – that’s exactly what everyone in Clonmel and in Ballypatrick and in Kilsheelan– and right across the country have felt. The grieving process many of you are experiencing is one of shock, pain, guilt, denial. If this applies to you then you have begun your grieving journey. A journey which will have most if not all of these emotions at different times in the days ahead.
It has been such a long weekend. For some it’s still not hit us that Luke, Grace, Nicole and Zoey have died. This doesn’t make sense. Why? Why them? The question we will sadly – never get the answer to. Not in this life at least.
I want to begin by firstly paying tribute to this town as a whole. It is typical and doesn’t surprise me at all – because when needed most – the people of Clonmel from all ages and backgrounds rally around together to help and support not just the family – but one another! No matter what the trauma and difficulty we face.
I would also like to thank all of the media who have been in Clonmel in these last two days for the respect and professionalism in the way they have shared our tragic story with sensitivity and care to the world. ￼
Particularly I also thank the emergency services who have a difficult job on any day – but particularly on Friday.
To Luke’s, Graces, Nicole’s and Zoey’s friends, you have been over and above exemplary this weekend in the way you have conducted yourselves, and come to support one another.
The best support you have right now – is not just your parents, family, teachers, counsellors, or even me – but the person perhaps right beside you! Your friends and former classmates!
And you yourselves can be the best support to anyone who is struggling – by doing what most of you have done – cried, hugged, laughed, sat in silence, minding one another – looking out for one another, talking to one another.
What we have done this weekend, and this evening in coming together, and in our schools in the prayer spaces – lighting candles and sharing memories, have all been ways in which I hope have helped one another in this most difficult time, and it is the most heart-breaking and strong tributes I have ever experienced here in Clonmel.
You should all be so proud of your respect and tributes you have paid. You are a credit to your parents and families, your schools, to this town, and above all, to yourselves.
As hard as Luke, Grace, Zoey and Nicole’s leaving us is, it is even harder to comprehend why them?
Speaking to many parents, they worry about you! It comes with the job! When you have the privilege of being parents in the future, you will know exactly what that is like.
You can see that the deaths of Zoey, Nicole, Luke and Grace is like a massive stone that has hit a stilled lake, and the ripple effect has sent shockwaves right across our family, our town, indeed our country, as tributes have been paid- led by the President, the school principals, The Taoiseach, Government ministers and religious leaders .
None of us will ever get over their deaths. But we will learn to live with it. It will become part of us. and as I said to many of you, it will make you stronger if you grieve Grace, Zoey, Nicole and Luke in a healthy way.
We are all here for you, and if you need any kind of help, no matter what the situation or whatever you have a problem with, either emotionally or with any challenge or worry, all you need to do is ask.
That’s what we do! That’s what we have done here across Clonmel this week, we mind, ourselves we look out for one another.
And so tonight we ask God to take Zoey, Nicole, Grace and Luke up in his arms, to pour his love, grace and mercy upon him. And to give their parents – brothers, sisters and close friends comfort in knowing that they are in the hands of God – at peace.
Let’s stick together, let’s look out for one another; and let’s do it for ourselves, but ultimately, let’s do it for Luke, Grace, Nicole and Zoey
May they Rest in Peace. Amen