THE funeral mass was held by a popular West Cork priest who earlier this year went viral online after posting an emotional farewell video message to his parishioners after his diagnosis of terminal cancer.
Father Ger Galvin, who served the Sheep’s Head peninsula in West Cork, died last Wednesday at Cork University Hospital surrounded by his family.
The priest, who was in his sixties, had developed incurable cancer of the bones and lungs. He posted a poignant farewell on the Muintir Bháire Community Council Facebook page in August, in which he thanked parishioners for their support.
During her funeral at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in her native Timoleague, the Church of Ireland, the Reverend Anne Skuse thanked the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Cork and Ross Dr Fintan Gavin for giving him the opportunity to talk about Father Galvin from the altar.
Reverend Skuse said she was a close friend of the late priest.
“The very fact that I’m here today at Ger’s request perhaps tells you a lot more about who he was than it does about me and I could stop there. But I’m grateful to him for his love. and his confidence Like I said I really feel honored.
“Let your self be his true” was his motto and he has tried in all aspects of his life to live by it. Ger had a deep faith in the Lord that never failed him, even in the most difficult days.
“Ger Galvin was ordained a priest 42 years ago. He often explained that it was the people who made him the priest he was.
“By his own admission, Ger has always been interested in promoting unity between Christians and the Church community in Ireland will fondly remember the many ecumenical opportunities that have been shared.
“He was open-minded, funny and honest. Great company with so much to say for himself. He had a sharp intellect and was well read. He had a deep appreciation for the arts. He had a natural gift. to make the gospel easy and accessible to all and he preached with honesty and integrity. “
Meanwhile, Father Joe Coughlan, a retired priest from the Catholic Diocese of Cork and Ross, who celebrated Mass, said Father Galvin appreciated all the great kindness shown to him in the community before his death.
He said Father Galvin was a “larger than life, gregarious, fun loving” man. He said he was aware of the large number of people watching the live broadcast, including fellow priests that Father Galvin met while studying in Spain. After mass, Father Galvin was buried in a family grave in the cemetery adjoining the Church of Timoleague.
Father Galvin’s online video message saying goodbye to his parishioners received a huge response online last August. In his post, he said it was a recording he had no choice but to make as he was unable to say goodbye in person.
“It’s a very difficult time in my life, my shoulder is very painful, my lungs are very painful, it is very difficult to sleep… I cannot. I have no more energy,” he said. he stated in the online post.
Father Galvin, who had been pastor in the area for more than twelve years, struggled to hold back tears as he paid homage to the locals who had touched his life.
In his work he served the three main population centers in Durrus, Ahakista and Kilcrohane.
In his post, he said he was supported in a way he will never forget.
“Your prayers gave me the gift of healing and helped me. Cancer is not my life. Cancer will not be my life.
Father Galvin was an advocate for victims of clerical sexual abuse. In 2005, he refused to read a letter to mass from the Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley, following the Ferns report on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. He felt the letter was incomplete and did not go far enough.
In 2017, during a sermon to the Sacred Heart of Durrus, he also lambasted the church for its failure to protect the innocent, following the revelations of the Tuam babies.
Fr. Galvin was ordained at the Church of the Nativity of Our Lady of Timoleague in June 1979. He had attended St Patrick’s College in Maynooth and the Seminario de San Jeronimo, Burgos, Spain. He also served in other Cork parishes such as Skibbereen, Passage West, Monkstown and Clonakilty.