Bishop Tom Deenihan has welcomed nine families of the Disappeared to a Mass in the Diocese of Meath this evening.
The bishop appealed for information to help find the bodies of those who are believed to have been abducted, murdered and secretly buried arising out of the Troubles in the north.
At a Mass in St Catherine's Church, in Oristown, Co Meath, Bishop Deenihan urged those with information on the Disappeared to contact the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains or his office.
Bishop Deenihan said they were gathered to celebrate the vigil Mass for the first Sunday of Advent. He said:
"Happily, six of these nine families have had their relations remains recovered, three are still waiting, praying and searching. Three of these bodies were recovered near here."
Bishop Deenihan said the deaths of the Disappeared were "unexpected, unprepared for and unnatural".
He acknowledged that waiting is never easy.
"When the outcome is not certain, it is even more difficult. I welcome the nine families here tonight and the others who are also here and have supported them throughout the years.
The McKee, Megraw, McConville, Simons, Wilson and Ruddy families with us tonight have found their loved one and that has been a huge consolation.
"The relatives of Joseph Lynskey have been waiting to find his body since 1972, the family of Columba McVeigh, who was just 19 when he was abducted, have been waiting to find a body since 1975. That is 47 years ago, and Seamus Maguire’s family have been waiting since 1973."
Bishop Deenihan said the relatives of those whose bodies have yet to be found deserve the opportunity to be able to lay their loved ones to rest.
"Indeed, when we read of accidents at sea, we always say a prayer that the body will be found. It allows a family the consolation of having a grave to visit and affords the deceased the dignity of a Christian burial."
Bishop Deenihan said there is a belief that the bodies of some of those who were abducted and killed still lie in Meath in unmarked graves.
"That is why these families and I are here this evening. Time is passing. Some of those who may have some shred of information may also be getting old. Indeed, some of those who may have information or may have been involved may have died.
"My predecessor, Bishop Michael Smith, came here previously and appealed for information. That appeal did bear fruit. That is important. Can I appeal to you again tonight? No family deserves not to have the consolation of a grave. No Christian, no child of God, no one made in the likeness of God, deserves to be abandoned in a field or bog."
He said as people grow older and as some die, it may be easier for those who feel that they may have some scrap of information to come forward.
"That is our hope this evening," he said, adding that it is important to point out that the appeal involved compassion, not retribution or even justice.
"An independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains has been established. This Commission is independent of police and courts. My appeal tonight is not based on retribution or even justice but is based on compassion, decency and, simply, doing the right and honourable thing."