We ask your prayers for our brother
who died on Tuesday, 20th March 2018
in his 93rd year
and 68th year of his monastic profession.
May he rest in Peace
The Funeral Mass took place at the Abbey
on Saturday, 24th March
at 12 noon
Homily for Funeral of Br Kentigern
24 March 2018
We come to celebrate the long life that Br Kentigern lived and to assist his passing to God with our prayers. He lived an interesting life much of its earlier part was left untold except, for example, to a few of the staunch friends from his wartime days.
Thomas, or Sonny, as he was familiarly known by his family and friends, was born to loving parents, Helen and Thomas Heenan. He was brought up in the Townhead area of Glasgow.
Throughout his younger days he had an overwhelming sense of duty to serve his country. He joined the army at the age of 16, concealing his true age and signed up for the Tank Corps regiment. When his mother found out she informed the authorities that he was underaged to enlist. .However, undeterred, Sonny joined the forces as soon as he was of age. Following a period of service with the Tank Corps he volunteered for the parachute regiment. After basic training he joined the 13th Battalion of the Yorkshire Parachute Regiment where he was heavily involved in active service. He served his country in France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Belgium, and then in India, Malaysia and Singapore. His battalion witnessed the full horror of war.
For many years after the war was over, Sonny kept in touch with the surviving comrades of his parachute regiment and attended many of their regimental reunions at Scarborough where he was known as - believe it or not - as Braveheart.
After leaving the armed forces Thomas returned to Glasgow looking for some direction in his life. Following discussions with various Religious, he went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, and, after a period of discernment, was drawn to the monastic life. Some time later, he joined the community at Nunraw. After all his travelling, he had come - we might say- to join the army of the Lord in the monastery.
Thomas was given the monastic name, Kentigern (the patron saint of Glasgow.) He was the second postulant to enter. That was fairly soon after the Abbey's foundation. It wasn't long before he was sent to Buckfast Abbey in the south of England. The main reason for going there was to get some training in building with stone, not to sample the beverage much loved by many in the west of Scotland. When he returned to Nunraw he was sent to cut and transport stone from the quarry, fifteen miles away, to start work on the present abbey. That was also the beginning of many friendships he made through the Abbey Work Camp and among others who came to the guest house.
As the years rolled by and the building work stopped, Kentigern continued helping with the general upkeep of the buildings. He also worked at times on the farm. In more recent years his health deteriorated. However he remained the old soldier he was and kept marching on, never giving in to his ill health.
In the last few months Kentigern's health rapidly declined and he was confined to bed. During that time There were periods when he was too ill to see anyone and even asked for them to be told that. It took too much out of him physically. A fewtimes the doctor had to be called in to get over that. And this from someone who loved meeting people!
Before this decline in his health Kentigern had more time on his hands. He would spend a lot of it in prayer, especially for his friends and their concerns. The well-thumbed bible which he used for years and is now resting on the coffin is evidence of his love for the bible.
It was a little unusual in someone of 90 plus years and all that he had been through in his life that he still had a clear mind and had not lost his interest in all that was happening within and outside the monastery.
The scripture readings of this Mass tell us much about Br Kentigern and what made him the man and monk he was.
Old Simeon, who spent many years of his life in the Temple, praying and expecting the coming of the Messiah, found what he was waiting for in his life when Joseph, Mary and their Son, Jesus, went to the Temple. Being a man of the Spirit, he was daily ready to meet the One promised him before he died . Yet he had no idea that his hope would be fulfilled that day when this Family entered the Temple. But seeing the child, he knew God's promise had arrived. That, in its own way, is a message for each of us. We need to be ready to meet God daily in his gifts as well as the final gift of himself.
St Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, tells us not to grieve in the way those who have no hope do. It is only human to grieve at the loss of one we love. That is understandable and natural. Yet our firm hope of eternal life remains unshaken. Jesus died but he rose again, as we will be recalling in the coming days of Holy Week.
Job, in the first of our readings, was given the amazing awareness, so long before the coming of Christ on earth that there is really life after death. After his awakening, Job said, he knew that God would draw him close to him. And that is exactly what Jesus will do for each one of us. Taken up in the body of the risen Lord, we will become one with him in love and friendship in a way that is beyond our wildest dreams.