By David Raleigh
The Bishop of Limerick has described as “moving and inspirational” a gesture by the 11-year-old son of the late Munster rugby star Anthony Foley in asking people to go to Mass and light candles over the next eight Sunday’s for their own deceased loved ones.
Endorsing the #8masses4no8 Facebook campaign launched yesterday by Tony Foley and his family, Bishop Brendan Leahy said he it was a deeply touching and selfless gesture at a very tragic time for the Foley and Hogan families.
“This is both moving and inspirational. The Foley and Hogan families have found themselves in one of the worst places imaginable. But yet this young man has been moved by the support they have received to, in turn, think of others," Bishop Leahy said.
Anthony Foley, aged 42, was laid to rest in Killaloe, Co Clare last Friday, his coffin carried to his final resting place by his former Munster and Ireland rugby brothers. An estimated 20,000 people came to pay their respects to the Munster coach and former captain at his reposing at St Flannan's Church the previous day.
The father of two passed away in the Munster team hotel in Paris on October 15. The results of a post mortem on the Munster icon’s body, released to the media by French authorities, concluded he had died from a build up of fluid in his lungs caused by a heart condition.
“Like everyone, I was very struck last week by (Tony's) mother Olive’s strength in the face of this tragedy, not least in her eulogy at the Funeral Mass on Friday. She is clearly a woman of deep faith and it will help her through this very difficult time. That faith is clearly passing off onto her sons," Bishop Leahy said.
“The beauty of this Facebook campaign is the courage that the family is showing in acknowledging they are not on their own, that there are many, many like them who have lost loved ones also."
“The campaign starts next Sunday, which is on his Dad’s birthday and that adds even more poignancy to it. But we are also moving into November, which is the month when we remember those who have gone before us. Tony’s call is, therefore, hugely timely as while people never forget those who are gone, Mass is the greatest prayer we have to remember them with."
“This really is a powerful movement that this young man has started and the response has been huge by all accounts. It’s really is a movement of love and remembering inspired by an 11 year old boy. He really is a credit to his father and mother.”