Fr. Michael Paul Gallagher R.I.P. – homily at reception of his remains


(1939-2015;   died November 6th).


Entrance:  Confitemini Domino ,

quoniam bonus   

Confitemini Domino,   Alleluia 

Reading:   Isaiah 43: 1-7.


Even in the darkness, You are near,     

Your right hand holds me fast,                

Your right hand holds me fast.

Gospel:  Mark 4:35-41.


We come here in sadness and thanks.

Sadness – so much more to give has been

taken from us.  In thanks for the huge

contribution one man made to the

greater glory of God and for the

happiness of many people. He will be

missed, particularly Ireland and Rome.

We gather the prayers and good wishes

and sadness of so many here this night.

From Bellarmino, Viet-Nam, UCD, USA

courses, early days in Clongowes and


Readings were about the spirit of prayer

and motivation. From the inside comes

the work! From this devotion to Christ

and to prayer came Michael Paul’s

ministry.   May I recall one or two


The lady whose children had stopped

going to Mass and was she annoyed?

Upset?  A long condemnatory chat about

them and the school etc.  A pause.  MP

said something like you seem to be very

concerned about them. Yes!  Are you


concerned?  But

that comes from

love.  Your

concern is your

love for them –

which you want

them to have

what you have from faith.  They will find

their own way but keep being concerned

for them. That is what God wants. In the

middle of the darkness his own and

others’ he saw the light, he could find a

positive in every negative. She went

away encouraged to love her children

which she had been doing for years, and

really leave their faith alone!

He did not judge.  He had an openness to

people I often envied in Monkstown

days.  I might be at high doh about

someone and I would know from his

grunt or sort of harrumph, that he agreed

with me but saw more to the person, or

that we might move on from petty

annoyance. One person getting his grunts

recently was Flannery O’Connor whom

he admired a lot but felt he should have

words with.  His  genuine openness –

born of prayer and his friendship with

Jesus Christ, and long listening. He lived a

high density of the love of God. He will

enjoy that now. May he continue to

inspire us now as he did in life? 

Our readings – trust in the time of

danger. Through waters and fire,-  he had

much of that in three bouts of serious

illness. In the last weeks he went through

darkness and light – our psalm; he was

distressed the last few days – I said call

now on the graces of the last months,

and don’t be afraid. He maybe needed the

encouragement on Friday night to let go!

So the gospel, the storm at sea, and the

presence of the Lord he loved even when

the Lord seems not caring.

A word has to be said that he wrote a

book till the end. His computer got stuck

and he couldn’t edit it any more. He gave

me a memory stick, and then said, it is

done!  The book, Into Extra Time, will

soon hit the shelves, but we will need

neither a memory stick nor a book to

remember him.   It will mirror in words

and images an  intellect that was always

in touch with the heart and with

imagination.  The last weeks and months

were memorable for me and for many, as

were the long years of friendship, advice,

good fun, prayer.  We will never forget


Litany:  (response Bernadette Farrell)

Saints of God in Glory, Be with us

Remain with us,

Sing praise with us, and pray with us




Our Father and Blessing

Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiæ,

vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.

Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevæ,

Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes

in hac lacrimarum valle.

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos

misericordes oculos ad nos converte;

Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris


nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.

O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo


Please join us after the service for refreshments; an article by Michael Paul, The Prospect of

Dying, which was published in the November current Messenger will be available.

Born in Colooney, Sligo in 1939, Fr Michael Paul Gallagher joined the Society of Jesus

in 1961, after studies in France. Committed to a lifelong interest in the theology and

lived experience of faith, he worked as a lecturer in English in UCD where more than

half his time would have involved with the faith life of students on both a personal and

community level. He left UCD in 1986, beginning a career in Rome which lasted until

January 2015 when a returning cancer forced him home to Ireland. During the months

preceding his death he continued his apostolate of writing in many magazines and

has completed a book, ‘Into Extra Time’, soon to be published – his own journey

through illness to the last weeks before his death on November 6th. During the 25

years he worked in the Gregorian University, and lectured throughout the world. A

five-year stint in the Pontifical Commission for Unbelief tried both his patience and

love of the church, and he was glad in 1995, to return to academic and pastoral

ministry, in Rome, Ireland and elsewhere, and in his work as Spiritual Director in the

Gesu Scholastic House in Rome and later as Rector of the Bellarmino College. He will

be gratefully remembered by many in his home country, for both his contribution to

the lived life of faith in times of doubt and stress (his book Help my Unbelief – Veritas

1983, and Milltown lecture ‘Atheism Irish’ Style’ – ~Furrow 1974 – had significant

pastoral impact), and maybe as much for his hours of listening to human and faith

issues of young people. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.


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