By Sarah Mac Donald - 22 May, 2018
The funeral Mass of the retired Bishop of Elphin, Christy Jones, takes place today at 1.30pm at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Sligo.
On Monday, Bishop Christy’s coffin was carried in procession from St Mary’s Presbytery by four groups of pall bearers: priests of the Diocese of Elphin; deacons of the Diocese of Elphin; Knights of St Columbanus and members of the Jones’ family.
Bishop Kevin Doran presided at the removal while the homily was given by Mgr Gerard Dolan of Elphin.
Mgr Dolan told the assembled mourners that Bishop Christy had “admirably taken his place in a long succession of Bishops of Elphin who have occupied the See of Saint Asicus over a period of 1500 years”.
“Generation after generation has kept the flame of Christian faith burning through the centuries in this part of the West of Ireland. Every period of time reflects the challenges in handing on the Gospel message either because of poverty, division, persecution, affluence or indifference.”
“Along with our clergy, deacons, religious, parish communities and families, Bishop Jones courageously shouldered that responsibility for a period of 20 years of transmitting the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to this generation.”
Mgr Dolan said Bishop Christy discharged his ministry at a time of seismic and rapid change both in civil society and in the church family.
“He continued to preach the Word of God with unfailing patience and sound doctrine and to minister as a good shepherd.”
He said the former leader of the Diocese of Elphin had come to know and love so many people throughout the length and breadth of the diocese and so many people had come to know and love him.
“Bishop Christy was very much a ‘people’s bishop,’” he said.
He recalled words spoken by Bishop Jones in Knock in August 2010, when he said he had very happy memories of his years as bishop and that he believed totally in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and especially on its emphasis on the role of the laity in the Church.
“The more involved they are, the more their lives will be enriched,” he stated.
According to Mgr Dolan, he also showed great concern for justice and for the dignity of the human person.
“I can only briefly refer to some of his pastoral initiatives, eg his work with the Travelling Community and with Sligo Social Services, which was a project very close to his heart, aimed at providing necessary services to meet the needs of people in the community. He took a special interest in the Youth apostolate and was closely involved in the Rockwood Parade Sligo Youth Project.”
He added that Bishop Jones strongly encouraged and promoted the apostolate of Catholic Education within Elphin diocese.
“The development of a new campus at Summerhill College, Sligo and the amalgamation of two diocesan colleges in Athlone were important highlights in this ministry.”
At national level, he chaired various commissions and councils of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference. In these areas he strongly supported Christian marriage and the family and was a powerful advocate for the right to life of the unborn.
Up to the last, according to Mgr Dolan, he maintained interest in everything that was happening throughout the diocese and in the wider church.