The last week has certainly been a period tinged with sadness as we celebrated the life of Bishop Daly and mourned his passing.
As a diocese and as a city we gathered in Saint Eugene’s Cathedral to express our gratitude for the ministry and personal witness of Edward Daly. Growing up in Derry I was always conscious of Bishop’s Daly’s profile as a person who had a profound influence on public and civic life. True to his faith in Christ and being a man of principle he led by example. For a generation of people who bore the brunt of the violence and bloodshed which characterised ‘The Troubles’ he was a pastor in the true sense of the word. Ultimately Bishop Daly was a man of great compassion and empathy who ministered to the sick, the dying and those traumatised by violence. As a priest and as a bishop he certainly walked with his people, shared their pain and helped them to carry the burden of grief and fear.
Bishop Daly having witnessed the full horrors of violence on our streets was steely in his determination to confront and speak out against injustice and senseless slaughter. In response to atrocities he wasn’t afraid to speak the truth, to challenge those who inflicted suffering or promoted injustice, intolerance or division. Speaking to people you were stuck by the similar reactions and recollections. One hospital patient explained how during the dark days we couldn’t have asked for a more caring and compassionate pastor. He summed up the mood when he said:‘Cometh the hour cometh the man.’ In the local news last week, whether print, radio, online or television, all have been dominated by images of Bishop Daly. It’s only in the silence of the days and weeks ahead that the reality of the loss of such a father figure will sink in.
Bishop Daly provided our community with a moral compass and for many he was the one you looked to for guidance and direction. He seemed to speak with an integrity based on the respect he was held in, which gave his words a forcefulness which made you listen. Through our witness we are asked to speak to the world of our faith in Jesus Christ. We’re challenged to reveal the compassionate face of God’s mercy to the wounded, the lonely, those suffering from the burdens of life. Being a disciple we’re asked to make present here and now the Christ who came to bring fire on the earth, the God who wanted to disturb and disrupt the comforts zones in our lives. Jesus presents his followers with a radical call, we face many demands as we look to challenge a culture which often dismisses the weak and the powerless. The challenge begins with ourselves, can we place Christ at the centre of our lives and imitate his life of service? Can we reflect through our words and actions the God who desires to remake the world?