FR FINAN – Obituary written by Chairperson, Board of Management

The death occurred on 2nd February, 2014 of Fr. Andrew Finan, late of  St. Nathy’s College, Ballaghaderreen.

Andrew was born to James and Helen Finan (R.I.P.) at  Stella Maris, Ballisodare,  Co. Sligo and was educated at St. John’s National School, Sligo and St. Mary’s Secondary School, Ballisodare. He later attended St. Patrick’s University at Maynooth where he graduated with a B.A. Hons. And B.D. Hons. He was ordained in St. Brigid’s  Church, Carrahownagh, Ballisodare in June 1980 by the then Bishop Thomas Flynn. Fr. Andrew worked in Kilmactuige Parish during that Summer and studied for the H.Dip.Ed . at University College, Galway. He taught initially at St. Mary’s College, Galway and was appointed to St. Nathy’ s College, Ballaghaderreen in 1981. During his long and distinguished career there, Fr. Andrew taught English, History, French and Religious Education at both honours and pass levels. He was appointed Vice President in 1997, a position he held until his recent illness. He was greatly saddened by the death in recent years of his cousin, Fr. Eddie Moore of the  Elphin diocese. His requiem Mass in St. Nathy’s Cathedral was concelebrated by Bishop Brendan Kelly and over 50 priests – co­ diocesan, classmates and friends. Among them were Fr. Keith Stokes and Fr. Gerry King of St. Joan of Arc R.C. parish in Highbury, North London where Fr. Andrew worked during his school holidays for over 30 years.

A man of profound religious faith, he also had an eclectic range of other interests in the fields of literature, history,  philosophy, music and art, to mention but a few. Erudite, convivial and witty, his presence enlivened and enhanced any company. Fr. Andrew was also a marvellous preacher. He celebrated Mass weekly in St. Nathy’s Cathedral and his homily was invariably a tour de force, replete with references to scripture, the classics, film or popular music, and delivered in his distinctive modulated tones. Often he would focus on a particular word in the readings, explaining its etymology and exploring its every nuance as he wove his own personal parable, the better to elucidate the lesson of the day. As a priest and a teacher, he found his true vocations. In the latter capacity, he enthusiastically imbued many generations of students with his own infectious love of learning. The fact that so many of them have distinguished themselves in their own careers is a fitting legacy for such a wonderful mentor. His last months were marred by a debilitating illness, but though the body declined, the fine mind remained robust – fitting for a priest whose weekly blessing to his congregation was for their “health in mind and body – in that order”.

Finally, silence came on 2nd February, 2014, bookending a fine and fulfilled life. The words of the poet, Emily Dickinson, in contemplation of her own demise are as apt of his passing as  they were of her own – “Because I could not stop for Death/  He  kindly stopped for me”.

Our deepest sympathy goes to those bereaved by his passing – his only sibling, Gerard, his aunts, relatives and his many, many friends. He will be greatly missed.