Funeral takes place of former archbishop Dr Joseph Cassidy
Up to 1,000 people attended the funeral of Dr Joseph Cassidy, retired archbishop of Tuam, at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Tuam on Saturday, where mourners were told he was one of the outstanding preachers of his time. photograph: ray ryan
The former archbishop of Tuam, Dr Joseph Cassidy, was a man who had the ability to touch the lives of thousands, mourners at his funeral heard at the weekend.
Up to 1,000 people attended the funeral of the retired archbishop at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Tuam, Co Galway, on Saturday afternoon.
Dr Cassidy, who was recognised as one of the most forward-thinking bishops of his time, was fondly remembered at the service by parishioners from across the archdiocese of Tuam and the diocese of Clonfert, where he was ordained a bishop in 1982.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore attended the Mass. President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were represented by their aides de camp. Mr Kenny attended the removal on Friday evening.
The chief celebrant was current Archbishop of Tuam Dr Michael Neary. Eight other bishops and about 70 priests concelebrated the Mass.
‘Strong, compelling voice’
“Joseph Cassidy was a master of words. Words, to paraphrase Yeats, ‘obeyed his call’. Their master’s strong, compelling voice is silent now. A voice that once summoned them to serve the Gospel is heard no more,” said Dr Neary.
“He will be remembered by different people for different things. However, he will be remembered by everyone who has heard him speak as one of the outstanding preachers of our time.
“In his homilies he made contact with real life which is there in our streets, our hospital beds, in broken homes and breaking hearts where love and hate, war and peace, grace and despair intermingle.”
The retired archbishop had served the diocese of Clonfert for 28 years after his ordination, before a move to the Tuam archdiocese as archbishop in 1987. He died at his home in Ballinasloe on Thursday last after a period of illness.
As well as being a renowned orator, Dr Cassidy wrote two books on the art of writing and delivering homilies, These Might Help and These Might Help Too.
Archbishop Neary spoke of the unique ability Dr Cassidy had to bring words to life, both as a teacher in his 20 years at Garbally College in Ballinasloe and as a priest.
“Few preachers speak with quite the power of imagination that was his. He brought to his preaching the precision of a careful scholar and gave life to these dry bones with all the narrative skills of a novelist and the powerful imagery of a poet. In him we found a rare combination of warmth, insight and vitality,” he said.
Dr Cassidy is survived by his sisters Concie, Angela, Mary, Bernadette, Patricia and Imelda, by his extend family and his wide circle of friends.
He was buried in the grounds of Moore Church near Ballinasloe, where he served as parish priest after his retirement as archbishop of Tuam in 1995 until 2009.