A friend of mine died last weekend.
His name was Fr. Sean O’Driscoll and he was a very good man.
I first got to know Sean 9 years ago when I began my studies for an MA in School Chaplaincy. Sean was one of my lecturers. Sean had two jobs with my group – he lectured us, and he supervised our day to day interactions with students.
As a lecturer Sean was always well prepared, concise and informative. His topics included issues such as Suicide, Self Harm, Rape, Abuse, Bullying.
After I completed my studies, I remained friends with Sean, met for an occasional coffee, and later he became my supervisor for my own counselling/chaplaincy work within my school.
Sean loved life. In his home you would be treated to nice tea or coffee – he loved hosting. He loved nice things in life – his art, his friendships.
At the funeral I learnt things about Sean that I had never suspected – he had a private pilots licence, spoke fluent spanish, and once had hair & a beard.
The funeral itself was arranged by Sean himself months ago. Typically of him, he did not do things in the conventional manner.
He was cremated earlier in the week, and as you entered the Church of the Resurrection in Farranree in Cork you received a booklet with a picture of Sean plus his bio, along with the readings & hymns for the mass.
At the top of the church was the same portrait of Sean, beside his urn. At this point I began to cry. This was final.
The mass itself was a celebration of his life and his faith. People sang their hearts out, people replied at full volume to all the responses, people cried, people laughed. And afterwards, people hung around & chatted.
Sean died from skin cancer. He was diagnosed just over a year ago, at the age of 50. He was 51 when he died, and that is so young.
Throughout his illness he was in good form. Many times he told me his spirits were good. At the funeral it came out that he believed that prayers from many different people gave him the grace to deal with his illness.
Anyone who knew Sean will appreciate having known him, and having had him as an influence in their lives.
I am blessed for having known him, and so, so much poorer now that he is gone.
Sean, goodbye my friend. I’ll miss you.