Bishop Fleming’s Homily at the Memorial Mass for the late Garda Anthony Golden R.I.P.
Memorial Mass for Garda Anthony Golden R.I.P. – St. Muredach’s Cathedral – Sunday October 18th, 2015
For the past seven days, on the air and in the print media, thousands of words have been spoken in tribute to Garda Tony Golden. They have also been spoken in sympathy for his grief-stricken wife, children, parents, family members and friends. No words caught the mood of our nation better than those spoken by his brother Patrick at the end of his Funeral Mass; ‘hero, gentle giant, family man, caring, rock and idol, someone who made me feel so secure and protected. These words cannot explain how good a man he was and how much we all love him’. And no words of mine could add anything to these.
The security and protection, which Patrick, his brothers and his sister Mary experienced growing up, must surely have influenced Anthony’s choice of career in membership of An Garda Siochana. The dedication of himself to the preservation of the peace and the protection of the freedoms which we enjoy in this country, and often take for granted, was part of his nature. But when he made this choice he must also have been conscious of the dangers involved in his work; conscious in particular of the over eighty members of An Garda Siochana who had by that time given their lives in the service of the people of this country. Undaunted by this fact, he made his choice and remained utterly faithful to his commitment; to the point that, without thought for his own safety, he protected two vulnerable lives on Sunday last and saved them from death at the hands of a murderer. He truly was what the title of An Garda Siochana means; a guardian of the peace; for which he paid the ultimate price.
As we gather in shock and grief, it is important for us to remember the many people who do in fact follow Anthony’s example and lay down their lives in so many different ways for their friends. At a time when self-interest and self-promotion is uppermost in many minds, the death of Garda Anthony Golden is a stark reminder to us of the very many people in our country, including An Garda Siochana but not only them, who still put service of others, care for the preservation of order, the protection of peace and the freedom and the welfare of society before themselves and their personal interests. In paying tribute to him, this evening therefore we pay tribute to them also.
The notion of laying down one’s life for the good of others is central to the Christian message. It is also ingrained in the Christian faith which Anthony received from his parents, his family, his schools here in Ballina and from this community. ‘Greater love than this no man has than that he should lay down his life for his friends’; the words of Jesus spoken in the Gospel. It is well for us to remember, at a time of great sadness like this, that this self-sacrifice of Jesus, which like Anthony’s death lead to his death, ultimately also lead to his Resurrection. After his self-sacrifice, the life of Jesus now is the life of the Resurrection; it is our Christian belief that Anthony’s sacrifice of himself is now rewarded with the same gift of eternal life and that he is now at peace, safe in God’s presence. With thoughts such as these we too should comfort one another at this time.
Breege, David, Kenneth, Sean, David, Patrick and Mary. You have been at the centre of national and international media attention during the past seven days. It is my sincere hope and prayer that you will now be afforded the privacy that you need to grieve as a family and to begin to come to terms with your immense loss. I am sure that I speak for everyone here tonight, when I assure you that you will be in our thoughts and prayers over these coming days and weeks. May the Lord console you. May he give eternal rest to Anthony.