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Homily at Funeral Mass for Fr Greg Hannan

Text of homily preached by Diocesan Administrator of Achonry, Fr Dermot Meehan, at the Funeral Mass of Fr Gregory Hannan, P.E., Ballymote.  Mass was celebrated in the Church of The Immaculate Conception, Ballymote, Co. Sligo on Friday September 6th, 2019.


In France – a country and culture very close to Fr Greg Hannan’s heart – there is an old custom of celebrating a person’s name day. So, in addition to marking birthdays every year, French people traditionally give a small gift to family members and friends on the feast day of the saint they are named after. By a curious coincidence, Fr Greg passed peacefully from this life on September 3rd, his name day, because in the Church’s yearly calendar, the third of September is the feast day of St Gregory the Great, a Pope who died in the year 604 and is still remembered and revered today as a wise and holy pastor.

God called Greg to himself on his name day and it is our hope and prayer, in this gathering of family and friends, that God will gift Greg now with a place in the resurrection and the life of the world to come, all that God promised Greg on the day of his baptism in St Patrick’s Church, Gurteen on 15th May 1937, all that is the reward reserved by God for those who serve him faithfully, as Greg did, especially in his fifty-seven years of ministry as a priest in our diocese of Achonry.

To his ministry, in school and parish, Greg brought his unique, God-given set of skills and talents: his keen intelligence, his lively and life-long interest in new ideas, his easy way with people, especially with the young, his great good humour and sense of fun, the energy and enthusiasm he brought to projects he was engaged in. To the people of the communities in which he served, Greg carried too the compassion and care of Christ in whom he believed so strongly and he favoured always the Gospel law of love more than the seemingly  stricter commandments and harsher ways of the Old Testament.

Many memories of Greg have been shared over the past few days by family and friends, past pupils and parishioners. He will be greatly missed.

He will be particularly missed by his family for Greg was a much-loved brother and uncle. You will each have your own treasured memories of Greg, of his presence at family gatherings and special occasions, of his warm ways and his thoughtfulness, all that made him so special to you. When the diminishments old age so often brings took their toll on Greg in recent years, you showed how much you valued him in your care for him, and your support enabled him to continue to live in his own home until a few short weeks ago. That care was there to the end, particularly in Sr Bernadine’s supportive presence during Greg’s recent stay in hospital and his final days in the Nazareth Nursing Home.

His past pupils from his days in St Nathy’s College have many fond memories of Greg also. We will remember an engaging teacher who introduced us to the language, literature and culture of France, who gently guided our choices in life in his role as Careers Guidance Counsellor and who encouraged talent in tennis and handball, drama and music. Those of us who were boarders at a particular point still speak, more than forty years later, of the radio station Greg set up in his room and broadcast to our dormitories at night.

People in the parishes in which he served will remember Greg as a caring pastor who enjoyed celebrating baptisms and weddings and who was a sure support at times of sickness and sorrow. He engaged with people of all ages and, especially in his younger days, was a popular presence among the youth with whom he built up a particular rapport.

Among his colleagues in this diocese Greg will be remembered for his convivial company, his sharing of interests and ideas, his contributions to our conferences and meetings for he was never shy in expressing his opinion or making his point in a discussion. Ordained in the year the Second Vatican Council met for its first session, Greg embraced its teachings with enthusiasm and constantly strived to implement the spirit of the Council in making the Gospel relevant to the reality of parish life in the modern world.

For all our memories of Greg, in whatever capacity we knew him, today, together, we give thanks to God. We pray that God will gather Greg and his goodness to himself for, in the words of the second reading, Greg has fought the good fight, he has finished the race, he has kept the faith. We commend Greg to the care of the risen Christ and ask that Christ, Greg’s brother and friend, will lead him now through the dark door of death that becomes for believers the gateway to resurrection.

Mentioning resurrection, some years ago, Greg shared with me the difference in the depiction of the risen Christ in western art and in the icons of the Orthodox churches of the East. In western Christian art, he pointed out, Christ is always pictured rising from the dead alone. In the icons of the Orthodox churches of the East, Christ is shown emerging from the world of the dead, holding the hand of Adam and of Eve and leading the whole company of the dead into the light of heaven and the peace of God’s eternal presence. That image of the risen Christ from the icons of the East made sense to Greg and says so much about the Christ he put his faith in.

So, in faith, we pray now that the risen Christ may take Greg’s hand and lead him into the life with God that lasts for ever to enjoy the promise of peace and the reward of rest and the experience of unending joy.

Fr Gregory Hannan, R.I.P.

Fr Gregory Hannan, R.I.P.

The diocese is saddened to learn of the death of Fr Gregory Hannan, R.I.P.  Gregory was born in Gurteen, Co. Sligo and ministered in the diocese of Achonry since his ordination in 1962, serving in St Nathy’s College, Swinford, Kilmovee, Ballisodare and Ballymote.  Retiring as Parish Priest in Ballymote he remained as “Priest in Residence” until a decline in health led to his retirement.  He died on the Feastday of St Gregory The Great, in the care of the staff of Nazareth House, Sligo.


Reposing at Nazareth House Chapel on Wednesday 4th September from 5pm with Liturgy of Prayers at 7 o’clock.

Reposing at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Ballymote on Thursday from 5 o’clock until 8 o’clock concluding with Prayers.

Concelebrated Funeral Mass on Friday 6th at 12 noon. Interment afterwards in the Church Grounds.


Lourdes Bound

The annual Achonry-Killala Pilgrimage to Lourdes is fully booked with 170 pilgrims travelling in the company of Bishop John Fleming, Bishop of Killala and Fr Dermot Meehan, Diocesan Administrator of Achonry.  The Pilgrimage takes place from August 29th-September 3rd, flying directly from Ireland West Airport.

Please remember the pilgrims in your prayer and know that your intentions will be remembered in Lourdes.

Vocations Sunday 2019

The diocese of Achonry welcomes those who might be considering a Vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood to get in contact. Our diocese includes twenty-three parishes in Counties Roscommon, Mayo and Sligo.  At the moment, each parish has at least one resident priest and, in a small number of our parishes there is a second priest – often a man who has retired after more than fifty years service to the diocese but who chooses to continue to minister to God’s people.

Currently we have no students for the priesthood and, like most other dioceses at home and abroad, are looking to the future and hopeful that there may be some people out there – possibly you who are reading these lines right now, who might feel a calling to serve God and His people as a Catholic Priest in the diocese.

If this is something you have considered, wondered about or wrestled with? Maybe now is the time to talk.

Our Vocations Director is Fr Paul Kivlehan and he would be more than happy to discuss this with you.  

Why not get in contact?




Biography Launched

There was a wonderful gathering this evening in the Father Peyton Centre, Attymass where Fr Tom Mulligan, a priest of the diocese, saw the launch of his biography on the life of The Rosary Priest, Fr Patrick Peyton, C.S.C. The book was launched by our Diocesan Administrator, Fr Dermot Meehan.

Fr Peyton, born 110 years ago this day, in the parish of Attymass is undoubtedly its most famous son. Emigrating to the United States in the footsteps of other family members he felt called to the priesthood and entered the Seminary, as did his brother Tom. During his studies, Patrick became quite ill and begged Our Lady to cure him. Being cured, he attributed his recovery to her and committed to dedicating his ministry to promoting devotion to Our Lady. He was ordained along with his brother and kept his promise.

Enlisting the help of many of Hollywood’s most famous stars “Of various faiths and none” as Fr Meehan put it, Fr Peyton reached out to people with a call to pray and, more especially to pray as family. “The Family that prays together, stays together” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace” were two of his most famous phrases.

Fr Mulligan ministered in Attymass parish for many years and, following his retirement last year, decided to dedicate study and time to a man he had come to know and admire through his contact with the people of Attymass. Commenting on this, Dara Calleary, T.D., said he knew that Fr Mulligan’s energy would not allow him to become a full time golfer!! It is a blessing to us all that his energy was devoted to the research and publishing of this book “The Rosary Priest”. Senator Michelle Mulherin spoke too of the wonderful work done in Attymass through the Father Peyton Centre and congratulated Fr Mulligan on the great work he had done in bringing this story a-fresh to a new wave of readers.

In his opening remarks, Fr Meehan described an elderly parishioner’s recollections of her teenage years when she went to Ballaghaderreen in 1954 to hear Fr Peyton address a Rosary Rally. Small in stature, she found herself unable to see him, so she crept through the legs of people and around them until she arrived at the front row and could see the man she was listening to. This remains a highlight of her life. It is remarkable that she is numbered among more than 27 million people who heard him speak during his worldwide travels with the Rosary Crusade.

Fr Meehan made the point that Fr Peyton is well known to an older generation but truly believes this book will bring his story and call to family prayer to a new generation.  There is no doubt there is a story to be shared and Fr Mulligan’s work will help, in no small way. towards that end. “It is a wonderful book and an incredible read”, Fr Meehan concluded, “but I hope you won’t just take my word for that but find out for yourselves”.

Fr Mulligan spoke of the humility of Fr Peyton and of his total dedication to the promise he made God and Our Lady.  He personally found this inspiring and wanted to help bring Fr Peyton’s story to our time. He referenced one country where Fr Peyton took his “crusade” and that the Catholic population was very small.  It emerged nonetheless that his message on Prayer within the home, was welcomed and implemented by other religions. This appears to have been a trait of his ministry, that his message, though firmly rooted in Marian devotion, had a very broad appeal and impact. He commented on the fact that four Popes were in contact with Fr Peyton and his word was heeded by all.  Pope Francis declared Fr Peyton “Venerable” last year, a significant step on the road to Canonisation. Fr Meehan had commented on this saying “It would be wonderful for our Diocese of Achonry to have a recognised Saint among its numbers”.

The book, simply entitled “The Rosary Priest” is published by Veritas and is the first Biography of Fr Peyton to be written in Ireland and, indeed, outside the United States.  It is available in all major bookshops (click here for details)

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