A Requiem Mass was held at St Chrysostom’s on Thursday 16th April for Mary Gomersall, Fr Ian’s mother. Mary had enjoyed worshipping at St Chrysostom’s when in Manchester, and making friends there. Revd Dr Kim Wasey, Ian’s wife, spoke at the Mass about Mary’s life, and her connection with St Chrysostom’s.
Mary Gomersall, always took a great interest in Ian and where he was and what he was doing, faithfully writing while he was at university, regularly visiting through curacy, still caring for and supporting him in practical ways too.
But of all the places he has lived and worked, St Chrysostoms had a special place in her heart.
Mary loved this place, and the people here, and she loved especially coming with us on the parish pilgrimage to Walsingham and sharing in the meals and worship and visits and of course the evening quiz! And through that, and her visits here to St Chrysostoms, she made some firm friends here, who I know meant a great deal to her.
Mary was a faithful pilgrim. In many ways her whole life was that of a faithful pilgrim.
There were often times when it was not clear what would happen next or how things were going to be ok, from the loss of her father when she was only 5 years old, to trying, along with her husband John, to make ends meet and build a life as a newly married couple – through times of unexpected illness and hardship and the change and challenge that life brings
She remained faithful. And she is one of a line of strong and faithful women, her mother and her grandmother before her, women who held families together through tough times, with fortitude and giftedness.
Mary had faith in people and was willing to see the good and the potential, even when others sometimes struggled to do the same.
But she was also willing to speak the truth as she saw it, especially if that was about speaking up for those who couldn’t speak up for themselves, or challenging with truths that might be a bit uncomfortable to hear.
She was faithful in prayer, so much so that, not long before she died, her rosary gave out and broke and she was anxious that Ian should send up a new one.
She was faithful in her commitment to her own parish church in Sedgefield, asking for the newsletter to be dropped round even when she was too unwell to get to church herself, and she was always very pleased when the rector brought her communion at home.
She was never failingly interested in the lives of her children, and grandchildren and great grandchildren. She and Dominic would chatter away on the phone, and she cared very much for Gregory’s uniqueness, how he was managing at school and so forth, and she always chose wonderful gifts that became great treasures to Annie, including the hello kitty lunchbox she takes to school every day.
She was a faithful pilgrim on the journey of family life – treasuring the stories of the past, caring for people in the hard times, and celebrating with them in the good – listening, accepting, loving and wanting the best.
She was a faithful pilgrim in her Christian life. Constant and committed, yet open to new insight and sharing the journey generously with all she met on it – from whatever background or circumstance in life.
In this time of Eastertide, we celebrate a foretaste of the joy of heaven, and of what it is to live in the light of the resurrection.
The poem we heard (Kipling’s The Glory of the Garden) that Mary chose for her funeral was picked up beautifully by the Rector of Sedgefield to talk about Mary’s life and you’ll see his words in the memories booklet.
He talked of how, that first Easter, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb looking for Jesus’ body, heard his voice, and met him resurrected in the garden. Mary Magdalene was deeply faithful in that journey she made, that pilgrimage, back to the tomb of Jesus, still to offer care to his body even after believing she had lost him to death. And she was rewarded for her faithfulness by witnessing the glory of the resurrection.
Mary Gomersall was faithful in tending to her family, her friends, her Community, and in tending and nurturing her faith. Now her pilgrimage has reached its end, and its culmination in the place God has prepared for her. May she now meet the risen Christ in the garden of resurrection that is eternal life.
May she rest in peace, and rise in glory. Amen.