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Warm tributes paid to the late Fr John McCormack

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HELD IN HIGH ESTEEM The late Fr John McCormack.

Michael Commins

FR John McCormack, a native of Caherafort, Roundfort, died peacefully last week in the kind care of the St Theresa’s Nursing Centre, SMA House, Blackrock Road, Cork. He had celebrated the golden jubilee of his ordination just a few months ago.
Fr John had ministered in Breaffy since 2007 where he was held in the highest regard throughout the community. He served in Irishtown from 1999 to 2002 and also spent a time in Moylough, Co Galway.
Prior to that he also served for close on three decades as a member of the Society of African Missions (SMA) in Liberia and the Philippines. Many messages of condolences were received from grateful parishioners in both countries over the last few days.
Fr Michael Murphy, PP, was the chief celebrant at the Funeral Mass in Roundfort Church on Saturday and he was he was joined by Archbishop Michael Neary and Fr Seamus Nohilly (SMA) who was based in Breaffy from 1998 to 2007.
Archbishop Neary, in his homily, said when he was growing up in Castlebar, those who were considering priesthood had basically three options: the SMA Fathers, the Columban Fathers, and the Archdiocese. 
“There was a very strong attraction towards the missions in view of the very dedicated missionary priests whom we had known from the area, and many of these were SMA priests.
For the first 15 years of his priesthood, Fr John ministered in Liberia until 1985.  Then in 1985 his ministry took him to Manila in the Philippines for four years. 
“It was a source of great joy for the Archdiocese of Tuam when Fr John indicated his wish to minister here in the Archdiocese. I would like to avail of this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to the Provincial of the SMA Fathers, Fr. Malachy Flanagan and the SMA Society for their willingness to allow John to minister here in his native diocese. 
“There has always been a great relationship between our diocese and the SMA Fathers going back to the time when they had the school in Ballinafad and many native sons of the diocese became SMA Fathers. 
Great rapport
“John enjoyed a great rapport with young people and many of them came forward as volunteers to help with Church related organisations.  His interest in and support for Breaffy GAA was something that was appreciated very much by the club, its players and members.”
The Archbishop recalls the joy surrounding the celebrations to mark the golden jubilee of his ordination last Christmas. Christmas “It was a wonderful expression on the part of God’s people in Breaffy of the esteem in which he was held by the people.  There was a huge gathering of appreciation and support for him on that occasion. 
“For the past two nights residents in Breaffy placed lights on their windows and prayed between 8 and 9 o’clock as an expression of their love for Fr John. Strangers passing through Breaffy were reminded of what Christmas night was like in Ireland in the past with those illuminated windows.
“While he ministered here in Ireland he was always very much in touch with the missions and visited annually his former mission territory in the Philippines. Fr John became our contact person here in the diocese with the missions. In this he did wonderful work encouraging parishes and church areas throughout the Archdiocese as they contributed and prayed for the missions.”
Referring to the prevailing health-related issues in the country right now, Archbishop Neary said there was a sadness too in the hearts of so many people who could not come together to celebrate Fr John’s life at this time.
“The sad reality of parishioners and priests not being in a position to gather as a community for the Eucharist today and the necessary restrictions on those who can be present at Fr John’s funeral mass, will, I believe, help us to more fully appreciate our need of the Eucharist and will bring us to celebrate it more enthusiastically when this pandemic passes and restrictions are lifted. 

Sadly missed
“Fr John will be sadly missed by his own family and by those who have experienced his gentle but very effective ministry in Breaffy and elsewhere.  Joining with Fr Séamus Nohilly and with Fr Michael Murphy, I offer my sincere sympathy and the promise of my prayers to Fr John’s family, his parishioners in Breaffy, and Fr. Malachy Flanagan and the SMA Fathers. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam usual gaelach.”
Due to the HSE, Government and Church guidelines, the funeral at all stages was strictly private for family only. The Funeral Mass was streamed on Roundfort Robeen Carras Parish Facebook page. Interment took place in Roundfort cemetery.
Fr John, who was predeceased by his parents Patrick and Mary (nee McGrath), will be greatly missed by his family, Una Roman (New Hampshire), Mary Moran (Kilmaine), Michael (Roundfort), Pat (Manchester), George (Wokingham), Kathleen (Cricklewood), Seamus (Claremorris), brothers in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, grand nieces, grand nephews, relatives, neighbours, parishioners and friends at home and abroad and his confreres in the Society of African Missions.
A Memorial Mass to celebrate the life of Fr John will be held at a later date.