Below is the funeral homily from Sam’s funeral mass, written by Fr Pat Dalton.
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled; trust in God still and trust in me; there are many rooms in my Father’s house; I go to prepare a place for you’; I shall come back and take you with me that where I am you may be.’
These words were spoken by Jesus to his Apostles before he departed from them before his Ascension into heaven.
His words were meant to be a comfort to them in their grief of his going from them for good. These words of Jesus we just listened to again in the Gospel reading. They are words of comfort as we grieve because of the death of someone we loved. The words do not take away our feelings of sadness yet we believe with our Christian faith that the spirit of Sam Gibbons our departed loved one is gone to God, having been called back to God by Jesus.
The liturgy of today’s mass reminds us that when the earthly remains lie in death the spirit is gaining an everlasting dwelling place in heaven that Jesus, the Saviour, has prepared a place for all who in their lives have loved him.
I know that you the members of Sam’s family and you, his sisters and brothers are saddened at the death of Sam. You are somewhat comforted by the fact that his death brought an end to the suffering you saw him endure over the last few weeks. His death could be seen as a welcome release from suffering. Jesus came and called Sam to himself on Thursday following a few months of illness which he bravely and resolutely fought. As a family you are sad to see him go but because of your faith you believe he has gone to a better place, a place Jesus has prepared for Sam as a reward for his life of Christian witness as he followed Jesus as the way, the truth and the life.
In his baptism 75 years ago God called Sam his son and gave him the right to a heavenly inheritance when his human life would end.
He was born here in Dungarvan the village that he loved and would went to school here.
He would have made his 1st Holy Communion in the old church that is now called the village hall.
As I said at the beginning of mass Sam was one of the workers that built this present church that we are now assembled in. During the Golden Jubilee of its building Sam related to us the laborious job of bringing cement up on pulleys to wherever on the scaffolding it was needed to be put in its casing. Sam was a stonemason and there are numerous examples of his work not only in Dungarvan and Gowran but in many other places.
Sam was part of the Dungarvan Choir or Cligín Singers that rose up in 2000. He attended weekend mass here every Sunday and sang in the choir on choir Sundays. I know he played his part in the residents association work and rebuilt the broken walls around the old cemetery. Sam lived in Wicklow for some time and won an All Ireland Junior medal with Wicklow,
My association Sam goes back over 20 years from the FÁS Scheme in Gowran in 1993 to his later years as a resident in St. Mary’s Court in Gowran. In his work he strived for perfection, worked very hard and demanded the same of those who might be designated to serve or help in. He wasn’t always happy when they would not work as hard as he did.
When he came to reside in St. Mary’s Court he became a very valued resident always mad to be doing something.
At his request the Management of the Centre bought a lawn mower so that he could keep entrance and the surrounds of the Day Care Centre well trimmed. After one of his first illness while with us we had to hide the lawn mower because although he wanted to still cut the grass he really was not able and it was not safe for him.
He was hard to persuade. He really enjoyed the company of the residents and had a great relationship with residents and staff alike and was well respected by all.
He was at his best at the social evening on Wednesday nights where entertainment provided was at its best and the songs he himself sang were always sought. He used to say ‘These are great nights’
he built up his own song books, with help downloaded songs from the internet.
After a hospitalization about 3 months ago Sam was not able to sing and things looked bad. We all know what happened since and how much he suffered. His good deeds he has brought with him.
Like none of us he was not perfect but he was good and he will be missed by many. We gather today with Stasia and the family with his brothers and sisters and all his grandchildren to say good bye.
The good memories we will never forget.
Sam has now met his God; his faith he no longer needs because now he sees God face to face. For Sam’s spirit life has changed not ended and it has entered an everlasting dwelling place. Death is passing through the doorway of eternity where peace, happiness and joy abound. There he will meet the eternal creator and it could be an interesting conversation. I am sure there is or will be a happy re-union of the spirits of Sam’s parents, and brother who have passed on too.
It is written;
Eye has not seen nor ear heard nor has it entered the heart of man the good things God has prepared for those who remain loyal to him in life.
Today we commend Sam’s spirit to the loving arms of Jesus our Lord and Saviour. We ask the Lord give him happiness and peace, reward him for his labours, forgive him any sins he committed through human weakness and give him everlasting rest.
Saints of God come to his aid; hasten to meet him angels of the Lord.
May Christ who called you, so suddenly, take you to Himself. May the angels lead you to the bosom of Abraham where you will find eternal rest.