The funeral cortage of Ashling Murphy makes it way to Lowertown cemetery after her funeral mass in the Church of St. Brigid, Mountbolus earlier today. Pic: Ger Rogers.

Ashling lived "a life of hope, a life of love, a life of trust"

Mourners at the funeral of murdered schoolteacher Ashling Murphy were told today that she had lived "a life of hope, a life of love, a life of trust" and that her many gifts were not "kept on a shelf or wrapped up" but were freely "given and shared through music, through sport and through her vocation as a teacher."

These were the words spoken by Fr. Michael Meade, parish priest of Mountbolus and chief celebrant at her funeral mass in the Church of St. Brigid to a congregation which included President Michael D. Higgins and his wife, Sabina, An Taoiseach, Michéal Martin and the Ministers for Education, Justice and the Arts.

Fr. Meade said the pain of Ashling's family, parents Kathleen and Ray, sister Amy, brother Cathal, and her boyfriend, Ryan, was "raw and fierce" and he said in coming together for her funeral mass "together we grieve, we pray, we hurt."

In a special address to mourners, the Bishop of Meath, Tom Deenihan said " depraved act of violence" had deprived "a kind, talented, loved and admired young woman of her life" and has since then "united the country in grief and support."

The full test of the homily preached by Fr. Michael Meade PP and by Bishop Tom Deenihan at the funeral of Ashling Murphy can be read below:

Homily preached by Father Michael Meade PP

I extend a warm welcome to all who join with the Murphy Family and with Ashling’s faith community. Together we grieve, we pray, we hurt – this is the heavy price we pay for love – we gather as a family of faith, to be with, to support by our prayer and our presence, those whose darkness is deep, whose pain is raw and fierce. Kathleen and Ray, Cathal, Amy and her boyfriend, Ryan - you have been robbed of your most precious gift - a gift that gave only joy and love, fun and laughter to many beyond your family.

Many centuries ago, four very important words were delivered by angels first to Mary who said yes – then to lowly shepherds who came to see - we all need to hear those same words again ‘Do not be afraid’ - these words are for all of us who have walked with, who have gathered in vigils, who gather today in wherever space we are – let us not be afraid to pray for one another, let us not be afraid to make change a reality in all our lives, change for what only is good.

The issues raised in many ways and by many voices since this horrible act of violence invaded all our lives will, we pray, continue to evolve and bring the change we need so much, to simply give and show respect.

Now we are here in another home where Ashling and her family joined in prayer with her larger family. Here her journey in faith began with baptism, here and at home in Cully that faith blossomed into a life of love, a life of hope, a life of trust. That same love and joy was not kept on a shelf or wrapped up – it was freely given and shared through music, through sport, through her vocation as a teacher. Today we give thanks for the privilege of sharing in this most wonderful gift of Ashling Murphy, today we share our love, our grief, our faith and our comfort with the Murphy and Leonard families.

We comfort each other also by our scripture: we pray that as Isaiah reminds us the Lord may wipe away our tears and Saint Paul calls to think on his words ‘nothing can come between us and the Love of Christ’.

Our Gospel story is our story, it is exactly what we all have been doing these last few days – the real challenge is to trust that God walks in our shoes too.

We complete this journey with heavy hearts, we go as far as we can to a graveside and just as Jesus made a promise to his followers, his words are now Ashling’s words for Kathleen and Ray, for Amy, for Cathal, for her boyfriend Ryan and for us, ‘know that I am with you always, yes to the end of time’

Ashling is not now welcomed by strangers, she is welcomed by ones she herself loved, I pray there is comfort for us as we hand her into the warm embrace of God and especially the warm embrace of her grandparents Sheila and Paddy, Lily and Joe.

Perhaps they may welcome with words like these from the Song of Songs:

‘Come then my love

My lovely one come.

Show me your face

Let me hear your voice

For your voice is sweet

And your face is beautiful’

May her gentle soul now rest happily in God’s arms and may Christ now enfold her in his eternal love.

Address by Bishop Tom Deenihan, Bishop of Meath

Before the Prayers of Commendation, I would like to offer a few words of sympathy and support, on behalf of the people and priests of the Diocese of Meath, to Ashling’s family and friends.

The past few days have been a nightmare. A walk on a mild and sunny afternoon in January should be a happy event, promising the brighter and warmer days of spring and summer. That, as we know, was not the case. A depraved act of violence which deprived a kind, talented, loved and admired young woman of her life has since united the country in grief and support.

The crime has also asked questions of ourselves and of society. It has questioned our attitudes and, particularly, our attitudes towards women and it has questioned our values and our morality. Whether those questions will be addressed or passed over remains to be seen but we cannot allow such violence and disregard for both human life and bodily integrity take root in our time and culture. Pope Francis in his homily for New Year’s Day just two weeks ago said that violence against women was an insult to God.

We all know that no individual should die like Ashling and no family should suffer like Ashling’s. Respect is an old-fashioned word but it is an important one. Respect was missing last Wednesday but it has re-emerged here all the stronger. Let us respect each other.

However, today is about Ashling and her family and friends. I also think of Aisling’s pupils and the staff of Durrow National School who have lost a wonderful colleague and teacher. Their grief and their loss must be acknowledged and supported. As we return to our lives after today, their grief and loss remains.

If there is a chink of light to last week’s darkness it must be the outpouring of support and sympathy that we have all seen. It was manifested at the various vigils, it was manifested by those who assisted here, at the family home and in Durrow school over the past few days by those who quietly and discreetly provided refreshments, stewarding and whatever help that they could. Community is important and community works. Community is needed to overcome evils such as this and community will be needed here in the weeks ahead.

Today, we bury Ashling as we must. We bury a woman who lived the short years given to her to the full, who developed her talents, who reached out to others, who made a difference, who brought happiness and who was loved.

At moments like this, our faith in Jesus Christ and in His Resurrection come to our aid. Death is not the end, the grave is not our final destiny. We must remember that. We need to remember that.

The Prayers of Commendation which we are about to begin talk of ‘dispersing in sorrow’ but with the hope of meeting again. In the bitter reality of one let us not lose faith in the other.

Saint Paul talks of the ‘Communion of Saints’, that union of those who lived good and holy lives, lives of generosity, lives that brought happiness. One day, the prayers say, we shall see Ashling again and enjoy her company. Until then, we commend her to God, consoling ourselves and each other with that other line from the ritual. ‘Blessed are they who die in the Lord, let them rest from their labours for their good deeds go with them’.

May Ashling’s memory be a consolation and may she rise in glory.