There have been many expressions of grief following the
shocking murder of Tom O’Gorman last week. Tom was a committed pro-lifer, who worked
with the Iona Institute and the gruesome details of his murder have caused
great distress to all his friends.
At the time of writing no arrangements have yet been finalized for Tom’s
funeral but a beautiful and very well attended prayer vigil was held in his
memory last week.
One of the most touching articles
, penned by Patricia Casey,
was published earlier this week in the Irish Independent on Monday January 20th
and is reprinted below.
GRIEF makes us all raw. The loss of an individual in
circumstances that cannot be contemplated, let alone spoken of, has starkly
confronted hundreds of people whom I know, and myself, over the past week. We
learnt of the death of our friend Tom O'Gorman as we woke up on Sunday morning.
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The actual details were only made public on Monday and they
brought with them revulsion, despair and hopelessness: revulsion at the
desecration that had taken place, despair that any human being could descend to
commit such vile acts and hopelessness because there seemed no way forward.
We were locked in a state of horror that froze all thoughts
except of Tom and the manner of his death. In the confused melee of emotion
there were questions that were unanswered.
Was the person who carried out this terrible deed mentally
ill? If so that might help explain the nature of the deed. But still no answers
There was also anger, first of all that he had died at such
a young age, when he was in his prime, anger at the manner of his dying and
anger compounded by the content of some of the reporting.
In the circumstances of a death such as this, there are no
social or cultural norms to guide us as there are with timely deaths such as
the loss of a parent or elderly friend in ripe old age.
The loss of Tom did not occur in his bed, surrounded by
loved ones. No! It was premature and disturbingly violent.
We respond to such loss in a state of emotional and social
blindness. We instinctively telephoned each other to talk about him.
We did so repeatedly and endlessly. We tried to understand
the mind of the person who could carry out such a deed. And we were numb with
We wanted to meet and support each other but we also had
jobs and families to attend to. The telephone was not meeting our emotional or
Then one of our friends organised a prayer vigil -- the huge
crowd that attended was proof of the need we all felt to do something to
remember Tom and to repair our collective emotional fragility.
I know that text books describe the importance of
"social supports" in various aspects of our lives but never have I
witnessed how it operates at the coal face of indescribable grief.
The vigil was an experience in healing such as I have never
before experienced. And speaking, even to strangers, it was clear they too felt
This powerful service touched both those of faith and those
It swept away the vileness of the previous few days that had
inhabited our waking hours and tormented our sleep.
It showed there was goodness and gentleness in the world as
well as suffering and wretchedness.
It helped restore our faith in ourselves and in others,
confirming that we all have the same needs when it comes to dealing with loss,
even in rare and unspeakable circumstances.
It took us to places that many of us do not often journey
In our hundreds we gave each other permission to cry, to be
silent, to talk and even smile when we thought of Tom.
The words of his friend the celebrant helped us to recognise
that this was about remembering Tom but also about helping us, the
congregation, deal with such a cruel tragedy.
The tribute to Tom delivered by a close friend did not
embellish Tom but spoke of the real man as we all remembered him, with his
foibles and his virtues, the same as the rest of us.
The darkness in the Church, except for a few flickering
candles, allowed us to weep without embarrassment.
Yet the dim light also told us that hope still existed.
The silence, so profound, that you could hold it, quelled
our anger and turmoil and it was finally laid to rest by the lone singer
entoning Faure's Pie Jesu -- (good Jesus) .
The words of the last line said it all "sempiternam
requiem, sempiternam requiem" (everlasting rest, everlasting rest).
Then the lights slowly illuminated the church. And we reluctantly
roused ourselves realising that we could talk and even begin to smile again as
we dallied in the aisles, comforted that there was a future transcending the
suffering of this world.
Since the time of writing details of Tom’s removal and
funeral have come to hand:
Removal to Our Lady Mother of the Church, Castleknock for
5.30pm, Thursday 23rd January
Requiem Mass on (Friday) at 11.30am followed by burial in