Fr Stephen Hume OP Homily for Funeral Mass for Fr David Hume

07/07/2014

Fr David Hume Funeral News Story
Photography: Alfred Boudib

Bishop Anthony’s Introduction to the Funeral Mass for Rev Fr David Hume, St John XXIII Church, Stanhope Gardens, Monday 23 June 2014

Welcome all to this Funeral Mass for Fr David Hume, Parish Priest of this parish of St John XXIII. We are all of us, I am sure, shocked by Fr David’s untimely death. We gather to commend our brother to God with “a sure and certain hope” in God’s mercy and with great confidence in the merits of Fr David’s service. We intercede that God will take Dave to His throne where he may intercede for us and so continue in heaven that ministry that was cut short on earth.

I welcome especially Fr Dave’s siblings and in-laws, Mary, Bernadette and Stephen, Joseph, Frank, Anne and Fr Steve who will preach the homily; his nieces, nephews and grand-niece, Meagan, Andrew, Madeleine, Martin, Brooke, Erin, Kate, Daniel, Hannah-Rose and Madeleine; his many friends; the pastoral staff of the parish; and his beloved parishioners.

I acknowledge the presence of: Bishop Emeritus of Parramatta Most Rev Kevin Manning; the Vicars General, Very Rev Fr Peter Williams VG EV and Very Rev Fr Christopher de Souza VG EV; Fr Dave’s classmate Fr Robert Riedling, the very many concelebrating priests, and representatives of the Christian Brothers and the students of their schools in which Fr Dave laboured. I also welcome Rev David Wrightson from the Quakers Hill Uniting Church.

Fr Dave was only 57 years young. After two decades in the Christian brothers – and while you can take the man out of the Christies you can never really take the Christie out of the man – he joined the seminary and was ordained by Bishop Manning in 2005 as a priest of the Diocese of Parramatta. His first appointment was as Assistant Priest at St Patrick’s Cathedral. Thereafter he served as Assistant Priest at Marayong, Administrator at Winston Hills and finally as Parish Priest here at Stanhope Gardens. He was also Dean of the Hawkesbury Deanery.

He brought to his priestly ministry his qualities and experience as a teacher and spiritual leader. Known as a man with a big heart filled with Jesus’ presence, he poured himself out in indefatigable service to his flock. A generous, humble and salt-of-the-earth figure, we will miss him very much and so now we commend him to our heavenly Father.

Homily given by Rev Fr Stephen Hume OP for Funeral Mass for Rev Fr David Hume, St John XXIII Church, Stanhope Gardens, Monday 23 June 2014

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our primary assay at this point is to reflect on what God is saying to us in His Word. On an occasion such as this when all of us have suddenly lost someone most loved, the Lord’s Word makes sense of our hurting hearts. In short, it gives us the meaning of death into Life.

In our first Reading from Revelations, the Holy Spirit tells us that those who die in the Lord are most blessed. Now they can rest from all their earthly labours and troubles and rest forever with their good works.

To die in the Lord is to die in the faith that we live in Christ and Christ lives in us. God’s Breath of the Holy Spirit breathing within our souls and senses brings this about. Resting forever in peace transforms our death into Life. We no longer belong to this world, we pass into God’s heavenly home.

Our Gospel from St John elaborates on this. In God’s heavenly home there are many rooms. For each of us there is a room or place awaiting us. This room has God’s imprimatur on it. Why? Because God has lovingly prepared it with personal love and particularity.

Fr David Hume Funeral News Story
Photography: Alfred Boudib

What road do we take to reach it? Take the road less travelled. The road which Jesus trod. A road of sacrifice and selflessness. A road that doesn’t lead to worldly possessions or endless self-seeking treasures which can never satiate the thirsty soul, but which can only destroy it!

Yes Jesus, our Way, Truth and Life, trod the road less travelled. To be His disciples we only need to follow our Good Shepherd’s way and He will most certainly lead us to living waters which will satiate our thirsty souls.

Now while we are travelling that road of life with our Shepherd, we may or may not know that what we say and do has a profound influence on others – either for better or worse.

If we live in and for the Lord, our lives will always reflect love, peace and humility. People will literally know we are Christians by our loving actions. Our travelling way of life will be a flashing light to others that we belong to the Lord.

St Paul certainly is adamant about this today. We belong to the Lord in life through Baptism, the sacraments – especially the Blessed Eucharist – and most of all through deep personal prayer to the Lord and His blessed mother.

Indeed, Mary our loving mother can do wonders for us if we but let her. To speak to the mother of God is a wondrous privilege. If we entrust ourselves to her she will lead us closer to her Son and deepen our love for Him.

She will also help us to renovate our lives and help us to die to self so as to live in the Spirit. Her rosary is to be prayed at least once a day. Notice that in her rosary every Mystery concerns God’s will, the life of her Son – including His death, resurrection, ascension and pentecost. It recounts her own immaculate conception, the virgin birth and her being taken up into heaven body and soul as the culmination of her life.

Now in heaven she is significantly called the mother of God, queen of heaven and earth and own living mother who intercedes and intervenes for us. Please, please let Her!

So far this homily has been on spiritual matters which sustain our faith and given us an undeniable meaning of life and co-equally a definite meaning of the transcendence of death into everlasting life.

Some of you might be thinking we have heard all this before. The question is asked; yes, but how have we assimilated these truths? Are they bits of knowledge in our heads or do these truths live in our souls?

If the answer is ‘yes’ to the second option then our lives will reveal these truths in our actions. If the answer is ‘no’ then they are but academic cerebral facts and figures – which go no deeper and take no root.

The final question in this first part of the homily is: Do we know ABOUT Jesus and His Word or do we actually KNOW Jesus in His Word?

Dave. We reflect now on our dear Priest Father in his presbytery. There is no doubt he died of a massive heart attack. He would have felt a moment of pain and quickly passed away. He often prayed that this was his preferred option if given a choice, no doubt we all agree.

He had been fighting a cold for the last week of his life. He did see his doctor who deemed it wasn’t necessary for him to take antibiotics since there was no congestion in his chest. So why did Fr Dave die so suddenly at the age of 57?

For starters he was too good a priest. He could never say ‘no’ to anyone for anything. He had been working horrendous hours every day for the past five years here. To take his day off seemed a luxury and to take a full month off for annual holidays was impossible for him.

The most he ever took was 10 days, when he took our sister Anne down to Bowral, or would visit his very good friends, the Johnstons on the Central Coast.

Yes, Fr Dave was a tireless working priest. He absolutely loved being here at Stanhope Gardens. He recently told me that he was the happiest he had ever been in his life. He would refer to his parishioners as ‘his family’.

Recently, I have heard many, many stories from people here who told me what Fr Dave had done for them. They told me many times that he was not a normal priest. (My reply can’t be admitted here!) He was a friend to everyone. He was present and available, morning, noon and night.

Printed in the parish bulletin was his mobile number, not the presbytery number. No matter wherever he was, people could reach him 24/7. Even at our family gatherings, his phone would often ring and, of course, if I ever commented on this I was left in no doubt as to where I should go.

The same was true when I dared to tell him about taking his day off. Bishop Anthony didn’t have much success in this area either.

Yes, my brother David was stubborn, bull headed, single minded, obstinate and downright ornery. And these were his positive traits! He did not suffer fools and had no trouble in dealing with them very charitably. In short, David was a true Hume. We seven children are all tarred with the same brush. We have our mother to thank for that.

Fr Dave was not always a priest. He always had a dual vocation. Like myself, and my brothers Joe and Frank, we were taught by the Christian Brothers at St Thomas’ Lewisham and then CBHS Secondary, Lewisham.

When David finished his HSC he entered Mount St Mary’s Novitiate Strathfield. His CV of appointments you can see in your booklets. I was very privileged to celebrate his Mass of Final Profession in 1976.

I also enjoyed staying with many of his communities and getting to know his friends, Brothers like Mick Hoffman, Bernie Gartland, Chris Peel, Des Kelly (deceased), Col Smith and many others whose friendship to our family will never be forgotten.

For 20 years Dave lived the Edmund Ignatius Rice life. He was a remarkable teacher, dormitory master and counsellor. His students would recount their deepest respect for Fr David Hume CFC. A teacher who commanded such respect through his stillness of presence, and patient understanding.

This power to teach was a gift from God. It certainly put him in good stead as a preacher when ordained a priest. The call to become a priest was something he had for a long time. He often spoke to me about it. We both agreed he would know what to do when the time came.

The time came after serving Christ for 20 years as a Christian Brother. David knew that he had to prepare to become a priest. This he did after having to overcome numerous difficulties. Someone from the nether world tried every trick in the book to stop him. David’s stubbornness was more than equal to the task. So was his faith and relentless praying.

Fr David Hume Funeral News Story
Photography: Alfred Boudib

I cannot possibly enumerate the things that Fr Dave did in his nine years of priesthood. Suffice to say that in his ministry he was: servant, friend, counsellor, visitor and giver.  He often gave so much of himself that there was nothing left in the tank.

His outrageous sense of humour bordered on ‘fun at all costs”. He was a light-hearted man who made it very easy for anyone to approach him. His zany sense of humour was often shared with me over the phone. Our combined sense of humour in public was too much for most people to bear.

We both loved the ridiculous, e.g. Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther series, Morecombe and Wise and their many mannerisms, and certainly Leslie Nielsen as Lt Frank Drebin, who when offered a cigarette by name would say “yes I know”.

Finally, what permeated Fr David’s words and actions as a priest was his deeply personal relationship with Christ. This had its primacy of being through deep personal prayer. He would rise early every day, go to his presbytery chapel and spend a holy hour with the Lord. Often, during the day, he would be found praying in the church. It was most notable that my dear brother was growing closer and closer to Christ. And in Christ he was enabled to do the same with his family of people.

I am not trying to canonise David. He certainly had faults and failings like anyone else. His most major fault was being a St George Dragons supporter. He and Joe were notorious in their one-eyed support of the Saints. I pity you poor people here who had to endure the nausea of Fr Dave’s ranting about his beloved team.

In conclusion, to all parishioners here today I extend my sincere feelings of sympathy. I empathise with you in your state of loss, shock and grief. I know that Bishops Anthony and Kevin and all the clergy here would want to join in that sensitivity and compassion.

It is only fitting that I end this lengthy homily with a quip from Morecambe and Wise. At the end of each show Eric Morecambe would ask the audience: “What do you think of it so far?” And a voice which my brother is yelling from above “‘RUBBISH’ now get off!”

Bishop Anthony’s conclusion to the Funeral Mass for Rev Fr David Hume, St John XXIII Church, Stanhope Gardens, 23 June 2014

Thank you for your prayerful attendance at this Mass today. A special thanks to Fr Peter Williams, Fr Andrew Bass, all my brother priests, Tanya, Sue, Neville and all who have helped prepare today’s Mass and refreshments, to Fr Steve for preaching, and to all of you who have loved Fr David and now commend him to Christ whose priest and brother he was and ever will be.

Go to Fr David Hume Funeral Photo Gallery 

Vale Rev Fr David Hume - by friend and parishioner Trevor Tye


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