Fr Jack Finucane funeral Mass held at Kimmage Manor

Concern co-founder brought ‘humanity to the most inhuman situations’

The remains of Concern co-founder Fr Jack Finucane are carried out by  Joe Sweeney and Jack Finnucane jnr and others at the Church of the Holy Spirit, Kimmage Manor, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

The remains of Concern co-founder Fr Jack Finucane are carried out by Joe Sweeney and Jack Finnucane jnr and others at the Church of the Holy Spirit, Kimmage Manor, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

The late Fr Jack Finucane helped save and improve the lives of millions of people, said Concern chief executive Dominic MacSorley. “He brought order to chaos” and “humanity to the most inhuman situations”, he said at the funeral Mass of Fr Finucane in the Church of the Holy Spirit at Kimmage Manor in Dublin on Monday.

Fr Finucane, who worked with Concern, died last Wednesday aged 80 at Kimmage Manor. He and his late brother, Fr Aengus, first came to worldwide attention in the late 1960s when they shipped thousands of tons of food to starving Biafrans in West Africa.

Subsequently they were involved with relief efforts in Bangladesh in the 1970s, Ethiopia in the 1980s, Rwanda in the 1990s, Sudan and the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and thereafter.

“They say the character of a nation is closely defined by the heroes it chooses. In Ireland we have created a special place for writers, sports stars and politicians but surely the humanitarian giants such as Jack and Aengus, whose impact extends far beyond these shores, deserve to sit at the top of that table,” added Mr MacSorley.

He recalled Fr Jack’s influence on famine relief work by Bob Geldof and Bono, initially in Ethopia in the 1980s, and how Bono, who is on tour, expressed shock at Fr Jack’s death, saying he was “humbled that we ever got a glimpse of such a man”.

Suffering in Sudan

Fr Jack’s niece, Susie, spoke of how she, deeply distressed at the suffering she witnessed in Sudan on a 2004 visit, asked him how he could have spent four decades in such an environment. He told her, “Susie, don’t get into this business if you think you’re going to change the world, because you’re not. Our world is much too complex. But if we can make the life better of even one person then it will have been worthwhile.”

In his sermon, Fr Mick Reynolds recalled how in the Spiritan congregation’s provincialate “there are files on each one of us and in Jack’s file, under the heading ‘character’, there are just three words – ‘efficient’, ‘pious’, ‘obedient’.”

While he could understand “efficient”, he demurred at “pious” and “obedient”.

Current Spiritan provincial Fr Marc Whelan remarked, at the end of the Mass, how in a church and a congregation often criticised for not getting things right, “sometimes in very dramatic fashion getting things wrong”, it was also the case that they had got things right as well.

“And Jack is a shining example of that in living his Christian faith and his belonging to our congregation at the service of others,” he said.

Chief mourners were Fr Finucane’s siblings, Joe and Sr Patricia. His sister Mary was unable to attend.

President Michael D Higgins was represented by his aide de comp Col Michael Kiernan, and South Dublin Co Council by Mayor Gus O’Connell. Among the large attendance were Concern co-founder John O’Loughlin Kennedy, Goal founder John O’Shea, Ali Hewson, former Concern chief executive Tom Arnold, Concern board members Nora Owen and John Treacy, and former minister for overseas development Tom Kitt.