Earlier today, Derry and indeed the world, said goodbye to the gentle giant that was John Hume. The man who brought peace, and instigated the peace process to Ireland in 1998. The man with a vision and the man who served his people, his city and his country.
John Hume is known as the peacekeeper, Noble Laureate, and bringer of hope. But in humble terms as Father Paul Farren said today, he was a Good Samaritan. As Fr Paul spoke of the gospel of the ‘Good Samaritan’, he related it to John Hume in everyday life. He said, ” We live our faith by how we treat other people.” He said, “John Hume never passed by on the other side. He never kept a distance. He stopped; he got involved. John never put anybody or any specific group first – he put everyone first.” John was our Good Samaritan.
In regard to peace and John’s vision for peace, Fr Farren said; “John made peace visible for others. John never lost faith in peace or in his ability to convince others that peace was the only way.” And peace is what John will always be remembered for. The peace that we now have here on our island. “There are people alive today who would not be alive had it not been for John’s vision and his work,” Father Farren said. “It could be any one of us.” Such is the result of the peace John Hume brought to the country.
John Hume loved his home city of Derry. He loved the people of Derry. Fr Farren told the funeral congregation today; “John was a proud Derry man first and foremost. His aim was to bring life and prosperity to the city. He said his proudest achievement was the establishment of the Derry Credit Union.” Derry was his very soul.
Fr Farren also told us today how important God was in Johns life. John loved coming along to St. Eugene’s Cathedral to mass. “He was often late,” Fr Farren joked, but he added, “the house of God is where John found his greatest peace. Here before God, the humility of John was clear to be seen.” He continued, “Today we can be confident that a son of God has gone home.”
Bishop McKeown said before mass started today, “John knew that participating in life was important, not just observing.” That is what John Hume did. He participated and he made things happen. Bill Clinton sent the words; “He was Ireland’s Martin Luther King.” Bono said; “We were looking for a great leader and we found a great servant. We found John Hume.” The Dalai Lama and Pope Francis also sent kind words about John Hume.
John Hume Junior spoke eloquently about his Dad. He told us how he loved his chocolate. “He kept the Irish chocolate industry in business for years.” He described his mother as being his father’s “greatest achievement.” He said, “We’ll remember the man who was rooted in his community. A man who loved Derry at its best. A man who truly believed in Derry and it’s people.” He also spoke of his fathers love of his adopted county of Donegal. He thanked the staff at Owen Mór Care home on Derry’s Culmore road, where John spent his final years. John Junior thanked his father for “a life well lived.”
John Hume is known for his work. But at the heart of John’s life was his wife Pat. Father Farren shared with us John’s own words on his wife: “I am a parcel, and Pat delivers me.” Pat was there supporting John always. “There is an old comment that says behind every good man there is a good woman. In Pat’s case this is only one quarter of the truth. Pat stood behind John to defend and support him” said Father Farren. “You stood beside him to love and comfort him even in the most difficult times. When his health failed and his mind got weaker, you walked in front of him and led him.” “Your work” Father Farren told her, “made his work possible. When the history of Ireland is written, if Pat Hume’s name is not beside John’s, it will be an incomplete history.”
If ever the world has known a ‘Good Samaritan’ it was John Hume. Rest in peace John, and thank you for being you. Blessed are the peacemakers.