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Saturday, 28 July 2012

Creane - mother delivers passionate funeral eulogy ...could FIDDAMAN learn from this?

IN A CHURCH overflowing with young people for the funeral Mass of Sebastian Creane (22), the student stabbed to death in his Bray home, his mother Nuala Creane asked mourners to rise above fear, blame and anger, to cast out negativity and to honour her son’s life by “co-creating the most enlightened lives you can”.

In a composed, powerful and passionate eulogy at the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer, Bray, Co Wicklow, with her surviving son, Dylan, standing supportively behind her, Ms Creane explained how she had tried to rationalise “this incomprehensible act which took place in our home . . . this tragic incident which caused mayhem in all our lives and robbed D [Dylan] of a younger brother he was so proud of”.

Dylan, Sebastian and their friends Jennifer Hannigan and Laura Mackey had “faced a presence of demonic proportions that manifested through Shane Clancy”. Two boys died that morning when Clancy stabbed Sebastian to death and left Dylan and Jennifer – Clancy’s former girlfriend – severely wounded before taking his own life.

She noted the similarities between them. They were both 22; both had the same initials; both were entering their final year in college and looked set, even in these recessionary times, to have fruitful careers. “So many similarities. Yet on the morning of August 16th, my God of Small Things said to me, one boy represented the light, the other the darkness, as they both played their parts in the unfolding of God’s divine plan. And as a result, we – my beloved J [her husband James] and I – and all of you are faced with a choice. Do we continue in darkness, seeing only fear, anger, bitterness, resentment, blaming, bemoaning our loss, always looking backwards, blaming, blaming, blaming,” she asked passionately, “or are we ready to transmute this negativity? We can rise to the challenge with unconditional love, knowing that we were born on to this earth to grow.”

She also called on those present to support Jennifer Hannigan, asking them first to fill their hearts with memories of a happy moment in their lives and then to “bring your attention to Jen”. “She blames herself. Bathe her heart in that happiness and then forgive yourselves. The light that shone in Seb shines in you also, in its own special way. Let it shine and be at peace.”

Sebastian Creane was later taken to Leigue Cemetery in Ballina, Co Mayo, for burial after a service in St Muredach’s Cathedral on the banks of the River Moy. 10am Mass began – heralded by Bridge over Troubled Water sung by Tommy Fleming and accompanied by Phil Coulter – many of Sebastian’s old friends from St Gerard’s, Bray, and from college in Dún Laoghaire, huddled in the porch around the scrapbook of memories, tributes and photographs they would later present as offertory gifts.

The offerings also included a guitar – “a symbol of his love of music, one of the many bonds between him and [his brother] Dylan”; a camera; and – symbols of the “fun times” – a Nintendo console and a collection of photographs, including one of Sebastian sky-diving with his mother, Nuala.

Phil Coulter followed these with his own offertory gift – a specially composed, sweet piano lament.

Later six of Sebastian’s friends walked to the lectern to offer prayers for the faithful, thanking God for their friend’s creativity, for his “contagious enthusiasm”, for his willingness to take time out for those around him, for his music, skateboarding and photographs; they honoured his brother Dylan’s courage “in coming to the aid of Sebastian”.

Fr MacHale added a prayer for the family of Shane Clancy, making a brief reference to that time “when beauty disappears and only the demonic takes over”.

In his homily, Fr MacHale referred to Sebastian’s parents, James and Nuala, as people who summed up “very vividly” the depth of the psalm The Lord is my Shepherd.

“On Thursday, James said ‘It’s like I’m in a tsunami but I’m okay’. And then here on Saturday, as we prepared this liturgy . . . Nuala said ‘I grieve, I don’t suffer, I don’t believe we’re sent here to suffer.’”

Fr MacHale described Sebastian’s love of music as his act of thanksgiving and quoted from the writings of the poet and philosopher John O’Donohue:

“Though your days here were brief,/ Your spirit was alive, awake, complete:/ Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,/ As close to us as we are to ourselves.”

Sebastian’s music lives on from inside that rhythm of life and binds him to his parents, to Dylan, Laura and Jen and all his friends, Fr MacHale said, quoting another John O’Donohue prayer:

“Let us not look for you only in memory/ Where we would grow lonely without you,/ You would want us to find you in presence.”

One of Sebastian’s closest friends, Daragh Coulter, read from the Book of Wisdom: “Length of days is not what makes age honourable, nor number of years the true measure of life . . . They have been carried off so that evil may not warp their understanding or treachery seduce their souls; for the fascination of evil throws good things into the shade, and the whirlwind of desire corrupts a simple heart.”

The second reading from St Paul urged its listeners to “fill your minds with those things that are good and deserve praise, things that are true, noble, right, pure and lovely and honourable”.

At Communion, Something Inside so Strong, the Labi Siffre song written about Nelson Mandela and apartheid, was sung by Tommy Fleming, followed by a recording of Neil Hannon’s Songs of Love, during which tears fell freely:

“So while you have time/ Let the sun shine down from above/ And fill you with songs of love.”

At that point, Nuala Creane, accompanied by her surviving son Dylan, who was also severely injured in the incident, rose to deliver a eulogy rich in faith and encouragement, much of it clearly directed at the many young people in the church.

“The light that shone in Seb shines in you also, in its own special way. Let it shine and be at peace,” she said.

To the strains of Phil Coulter and Tommy Fleming singing Steal Away, the coffin was borne from the church and from there to Sebastian’s final resting place at Leigue Cemetery in his parents’ native Ballina, Co Mayo.

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