Fr Sean Melody - Words of Appreciation

 

On behalf of the people of the Sacred Heart Parish I want to express our thanks for the blessing that was Sean Melody and I say that in the truest sense of the word- we have been blessed for almost 14 years.


I should start be saying I’m going to call him Sean through what I am going to day because I only ever called him Fr Melody if I was being sarcastic , so he has to be Sean for this .


There could not be a more appropriate way to start Sean’s funeral Mass than with here I am Lord, because those 4 simple words were the mantra for Sean Melody’s life. Every waking thought he had was directly or indirectly in the service of the God he passionately believed in.  Even in immense discomfort and when his energy tank was empty, making his way over here to celebrate the evening Mass was his principal goal each day. He took all the steps to keep making that happen right up to this night last week.


He was concerned that his increasing infirmity was a burden to the people and interfering with their worship so two weeks ago, with a homily that you could only describe as heroic, he told the weekend congregation that his preference was to continue saying Mass in the church with us but that he would step back if that was the peoples wish. That was met with thunderous applause and Sean was left in no doubt that we wanted him to stay with us here for as long as he could.


Sean had a terrific work ethic. Before his illness, he could survive on about 4 hours sleep and wondered why no one else could. You’d have to remind him that it was one in the morning and that you needed sleep even if he didn’t. He worked constantly, always available to anyone who needed him. His own needs were always the last consideration- he regularly ate nothing from breakfast until late at night because he hadn’t stopped all day long. He was meticulous, pedantic, nit picking and persistent to the end that anything that was being done, had to be at the level of perfection.  As I look above the altar, I think of the first installation of the ring of lights. As you can imagine, to get up there you need a cherry picker. Well the first night, they were installed was a Wednesday night, and at 10.30 after a parish council meeting, Sean asked if anyone was free to come in to the church with him. A few of us did and there was the electrician, on the top of the cherry picker awaiting instruction. Sean proceeded to turn each bulb on one at a time, see where its light was falling and then issue instructions to on how to move it an inch, left or right or up and down. I don’t know how long it took them to get it all done, I lasted about 40 minutes and I went home wondering where the electrician  was getting his  patience from. But Sean wanted it just right, and of course, that’s what happened.

Sean had a most amazing mental capacity, he remembered everything, he was always thinking, plotting, planning, analysing, His vision for how something should be was incredible. You only need to look around this church to see that, the beauty of the place is a hallmark of Sean Melody’s. Not long after he arrived, he removed the rail around the sanctuary- he passionately believed that we are all God’s people- lay and clergy and that we are all equal in the sharing of Eucharist and in the witness of the presence of the Lord so the sanctuary should be open to the congregation. His was the vision for the baptismal font, the two areas for holy oils and the book of the gospels and he wanted to soften the cold look of the church so he got the carpet that runs all the way to the tabernacle.


He saw the need for a social space at the church, and started to work on the parish centre. Before a sod was turned, Sean Melody had in his head how it would be used for children’s liturgy, for funerals ,for faith related social gatherings He would have totally approved of having his wake there and all the hospitality of the last few days being there too. He’d have been thrilled with the community spirit that was so evident here yesterday, everyone pitching in, doing their bit to help. He worked ferociously to make sure that this parish that had been heavily burdened with debt in the past would not suffer the same fate under his watch, so within five years, the parish centre debt was totally cleared.


Sean was an innovator; always a few steps ahead of everyone else, Indeed, when the diocesan pastoral plan came out in 2007, the Sacred Heart Parish already had virtually all the recommended structures in place.

He visited the sick of the parish in the hospital every week for many years, often bringing drinks/ magazines for those who had no one else to visit them. He was still doing his first Friday round at the beginning of May, even though he was by far the sickest person involved.

 

Sean’s ability to preach and relate the gospel to ordinary life was endless. He conveyed his message by generously allowing us into his own life experiences. Many’s the time we were transported to the Nire Valley, with breath taking imagery of the wonders of nature that he clearly loved. He shared so much of his own family story, that it was absolutely clear that Sean came from a loving, caring family where his work ethic was nurtured and where his faith was grounded. He spent hours preparing his homily each week, working and reworking it, until it had reached his level of perfection. When it came to celebrating a funeral, his homily was always capture the essence of the deceased. He had four central ideas for the basis of most funeral homilies- all of which could be used to define him- full of faith, full of life, full of love, full of courage.

 

I think what most people would say in tribute to Sean was that he had a most unique and special relationship with people. Everyone he came in contact with felt like they had a piece of him. He was a father figure to so many people, a sounding board for solid advice, a calm head in the middle of crisis and a man that always had the right words at the right time. Every member of this parish community could tell their own story of him and things he did for them that no one else knows about.


Sean loved to stand at the door before and after Mass and greet people. Of course, as well as being social and affable, he was using this as his opportunity to rope you I to doing something for the parish. He was a man you could not say no to- he would twist the situation to getting you to do what he wanted. I’ve never figured it out how he managed it but he did. The example I can give you was that on the first parish council, in 2003, I approached him on the steps after Sunday Mass to ask him to give my apologies for the meeting on Wednesday. I said I can’t make it and got no further; He said I suppose you’re going watching the match. (Man united was playing and we were both supporters). I was stunned that he could guess that and I said yes that was right, having intended to go to the pub with friends. But his next line floored me, he said I’ll be recording it and you can come over to the house with me to watch it after the meeting. And that’s what happened.  I went over, he put me into the TV room poured me a vodka, provided what he called OPF (other peoples food he had been given) and set about watching the match. Little did I know that that first visit to 21 the folly would set the path that we have since shared.  


Sean Melody was an immense man, a magnificent priest and pastor, a man of enormous generosity of spirit, a true and loyal friend , an inspirational leader, and above all else a faithful servant to his God’ Without any offence to the gathered clergy, it would be fair to say    Ni bheidh a leithead aris ann.

Sean,  you have paid us the ultimate compliment by choosing to be buried here on the grounds of the church and while as you’d have said yourself so often only a body that could no longer sustain human life goes into the grave, your kind , dedicated spirit will always be in our hearts  On behalf of the people of the Sacred Heart Parish, I promise you David, Pat and Maura, that’s Sean’s final resting place will forever be a place of dignified quiet prayer , fully in keeping with Sean’s wishes.


Sean often finished with a poem or piece of prose and I found this verse in his office the other day, it just appeared in front of me and it’s perfect from what Sean would want to say. It says

 

You can shed tears that he has gone or you can smile that he has lived
You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him
Or can be full because of the love you shared
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
You can remember him only that he is gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on
You can cry and close your mind
Be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what he would want
Smile, open your eyes, love and go on.