Sermon preached by the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton,
Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross
at the Funeral of the Reverend Adrian Peter Moran
Monday, 4th December 2017
‘For God’s testimony is; “You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” ..’ Hebrews 7.17
All deaths bring great sadness and impact widely on family and friends. The death of a leader in the community, in this instance, a serving priest within the Diocese, broadens the scope of grief. It is exactly thirty years ago this year since a serving priest of Cork, Cloyne and Ross died in service. Our grief is, of course, as nothing to yours, each of you Adrian’s family and loved ones.
Adrian liked tradition. Today we bring him to this place in the traditional way. We place him in the chancel, as a priest, from where he led worship. His coffin faces you, as he faced you, the people of God, Sunday by Sunday.
In that leading of worship, Adrian relied on the Book of Common Prayer as members of the Church of Ireland, as Anglicans, do. It is our way. Adrian did things by the book; it’s one of the things we admired in him. As I say, that’s the Church of Ireland – it’s the Anglican Way. In our part of the Christian tradition, the way we worship sets out the way we believe. The Latin phrase is Lex orandi; lex credendi – literally, ‘the law of prayer, is the law of belief’, or more colloquially, ‘the way we pray is the way we believe,’ Sometimes people add on Lex vivendi – the way we live – as we worship, so we will pray, and so we will live. This is the way Adrian lived.
So what does the Book of Common Prayer say to us about what we are doing here now? The Funeral Service, in its introduction, tells us why we are here:
- to remember Adrian before God
- to give thanks for his life
- to leave Adrian in the keeping of God his creator, redeemer and judge
- to commit his body to be buried
- and to comfort one another in our grief, in the hope that is ours through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
One of my abiding memories of Adrian is of him arriving at the Bishop’s drinks reception at the annual clergy conference in Ballylickey and, from my window seat, each year I knew, for sure, Adrian would come to the bar and ask what red wines were available. He would ask to see the bottles before making a choice. Fine wines were one of his interests, but they were far down the list of interests on his enquiry form sent to me when he was thinking of ordination. Right at the very, undisputed, top was family.
And we are here to support, comfort and sympathise with you Adrian’s family, and to thank you for sharing him with us through his ministry in the Church. Here, in this part of the world, we know Mary-Rose and Suzie best, but to all of you, all Adrian’s children, Elizabeth, Ludovic, Miranda, Aidan, his grandchildren, sister Hilary (who I’ve known since the early 1980s, long before I ever knew Adrian), brother Derek and all Adrian’s grandchildren, and family circle; and I add today, you the people of Cobh and Glanmire among whom Adrian was serving when he died; to all of you I extend our sympathy.
We remember Adrian and give thanks for his life. Adrian sent me his completed ordination enquiry form on 30th March 2004. 30th March, as it happens, was his birthday. He was born on that day in 1945 in the Rotunda Hospital Dublin, his father was Joseph and his mother was Kathleen (her maiden name was Orr) and the family lived at 5 Butterfield Park in Rathfarnham in Dublin. He was baptised in the parish Church in 1945 and confirmed on 29th May 1959 in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin He went to Primary School in that parish from 1952 to 1954 before going to The High School which, in those days 1954 to 1963, was on Harcourt Street in Dublin. Third Level education was at Trinity College Dublin where he did degrees, first in English Literature and then in Business studies. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in ireland, and had also undertaken qualifications awarded by the English Chartered Insurance Institute. When I met him first he was a self-employed financial planning consultant. Over the years he worked in Dublin, Limerick and London; at Craig Gardner/Price Waterhouse, at Limerick Savings Bank, Atlanta Trust (UK) and at National Guardian Mortgages (U.K.)
All of these considerable gifts and qualifications, Adrian brought to bear on his ministry, as a lay man – people’s churchwarden and rector’s churchwarden and on the Board of Management of St John the Baptist National School in Midleton, first as treasurer, and then as chairperson. He worked as a consultant to Midleton College. He was methodical, organised, attentive to detail, often serious and cautious, never impulsive, always self-confident, conscientious and diligent. His was a vocation that had a long and persistent gestation. All of these qualities characterised his ministry as a priest among us and alongside us.
On St Peter’s Day 2009 – appropriately for a man whose middle name was Peter – Adrian Peter Moran was ordained deacon by me in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, alongside Patrick Burke and Anne Skuse, and he served his time as a deacon in the parish of St Anne, Shandon. He had done training placements in Templebreedy Group, and in Douglas Union with Frankfield. After Saint Anne’s he served in Fermoy Union (2010-13), in Bandon Union (2013-14) and, since 2014, he has been with you here in Cobh and Glanmire Union as Priest-in-Charge, while always ready to help, if needed, where he could elsewhere in the Diocese. Here it has to be said he has given you fresh strength, new courage and confidence, and done you and us all a great service. As Mary-Rose sat with Adrian in his dying hours last Wednesday, I asked her to send him our love and prayers, and to say thank you from all of us.
We have benefited greatly and in so many ways from the friendship and co-working of this interesting and talented man, human, of course, like the rest of us, and vulnerable to an intrinsic part of the human predicament: illness. He dealt with his privately, stoically, optimistically, with great personal dignity, and a lot of privacy.
As we come here today to say ‘farewell in Christ’, we do so in the hope that is ours through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is popular at the ordination of a priest to allude to the letter to the Hebrews Chapter 7, verse 17: ‘For God’s testimony is; “You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek ..’ (Hebrews 7.17) It’s an easy mistake to make, but this is, of course, not a reference to the newly ordained priest, but to the great high priest, Jesus Christ himself: Jesus Christ who, died once for all and is risen from the dead, and who discharges his ministry on his people’s behalf in the power of a life which can never be destroyed. That said, all of us, the whole people of God, lay and ordained, are invited to share in the work and ministry of Christ, to proclaim the good news as St Paul puts it in one of the earliest proclamations of the gospel:
In fact Christ has been raised from the dead …For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. … The last enemy to be destroyed is death … Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed …thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15)
Because of this good news we can indeed proclaim and trust in what is said in today’s readings, that ‘the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end’ (Lamentations 3.22) and that Jesus leaves his peace with us so that’… our hearts should not be troubled…’, ‘nor be afraid’ (John 14.27)
As a lay man first, and as an ordained priest since 2010 Adrian proclaimed and lived that. Let us turn again to the Book of Common Prayer to remind ourselves what was said to Adrian on that Feast of the Visitation in 2010 when he was ordained to the priesthood:
Priests (or presbyters) in the Church of God are called to work with the bishop and with other priests as servants and shepherds among the people to whom they are sent.
They are to proclaim the Word of the Lord, to call those who hear to repentance, and in Christ’s name to pronounce absolution and declare the forgiveness of sins.
They are to baptize, and to catechize.
They are to preside at the celebration of the Holy Communion.
They are to lead God’s people in prayer and worship, to intercede for them, to bless them in the name of the Lord, and to teach and encourage them by word and example.
They are to minister to the sick and to prepare the dying for their death. They must always set the Good Shepherd before them as the pattern of their calling, caring for the people committed to their charge, and joining with them in a common witness, that the world may come to know God’s glory and love.
… You are to be messengers, watchers and stewards of the Lord; you are to teach and to admonish, to feed and provide for the Lord’s family, to search for God’s children in the wilderness of the world’s temptations and to guide them through its confusions, so that they may be saved through Christ forever. Your ministry will be one of joy as well as of responsibility, of happiness as well as of diligence. …
My friend, Father Kevin Morris, Director of Post-Ordination training in the Diocese of London at the time, preached at Adrian’s ordination to the priesthood on the Feast of the Visitation in 2010. Those who were there, may perhaps remember the joke he told about the cross nun, but we may not remember that Kevin also quoted Canon Eric James. Canon James wrote to a priest celebrating 40 years of ministry and called this the experience priesthood – ‘the experience of human mystery’ helping us to understand ‘Divine mystery.’ and he said:
You have held a baby’s head in the cup of your hand as you have baptised it, you have sometimes been overcome with a sense of the incredible miracle of existence; and the human mystery has opened up onto the divine, or sometimes a young man and woman have stood side by side before you and taken the marriage vows with utter sincerity to God Himself, the human mystery has opened onto the divine. Or you have stood in a hospital ward or some other room of death at the bedside of someone leaving this world and all they love and you have stood with them and those they love, it has been the human mystery opening onto the divine of which you have been conscious, indeed have been overwhelmed by and you have experienced the enormous privilege of ministry.
Adrian experienced the enormous privilege of ministry. We experienced the enormous privilege of Adrian’s ministry among us. All that aside, you his family knew him better and best: as husband, as father, as grandfather, as uncle, and as brother.
Having remembered him before God and given thanks for his life, we come now to leave Adrian in the keeping of God his creator, redeemer and judge. And we do so giving thanks ‘… to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’