top of page

Image ©Mazur/


A Eulogy by Fr. Christopher Colven at St James's, June 7, 2024

The ascended and glorified Jesus stands at his Father’s side, ever making intercession for us – his arms wide in embrace, his heart broken open, out of love for every one of his brothers and sisters

There could not be a better day for a Funeral Mass than this, the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In this one, evocative symbol, we sum up everything we know of him who describes himself as: “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” The ascended and glorified Jesus stands at his Father’s side, ever making intercession for us – his arms wide in embrace, his heart broken open, out of love for every one of his brothers and sisters. We do indeed come to the Father though him, with him and in him, the only begotten Son of God.

We have come together to share in the funeral rites of a Christian. It is important to establish that fact from the beginning – therein lies our hope for Chris – therein lies reassurance for ourselves. Brought up in far from easy circumstances in 1950s Dublin, it was the faith of his Grandmother that Christopher Daly imbibed and to which he was to remain loyal to the very end. 

Traditional Irish piety has more to do with the heart than with the head, with getting on and doing something rather than stressing about motivation. I don’t think Chris would ever have been much use as a catechist, certainly to my knowledge, he never listened to a sermon, always having something to do in the sacristy when the priest began his homily, but he was the perfect example of what the Apostle James has to say about faith demonstrated through good works. For me, that was summed up in the shrines he would create here in the sanctuary for Our Lady’s Assumption each August – flowers and candles arranged in a way that spoke of beauty and betrayed something deeper of a devoted faith.

There was, it must be said, something of the showman about Chris Daly. He knew how to put on a good performance. Noel Coward might well have advised Mrs Worthington not to put her daughter on the stage but that, of course, is the path that Chris did choose for himself: literally, as a dancer in his younger days and then as a dresser when his legs were not quite so supple. His drink of choice was prosecco, and after a glass or two or three he could be very witty – even scandalous - about those he had worked with in the theatre – of the likes of Tommy Steele whom he loathed, and Nicholas Lyndhurst about whom he retained only the kindest of memories.

Chris was associated with this building for nearly fifty years – it was central to his life, as he was central to its ministry. Priests came and priests went, but for half a century the one constant factor at Saint James’s was Chris Daly. No one knew more about the personalities involved, nor the immediate history of this place, than its long-serving sacristan. It is hard to imagine the sanctuary here without him busying himself around it. Hour after hour, week after week, year after year, decade after decade, if there was something to be done in church or rectory there he was, and as we share in this Mass we thank God for all that he did, for his constant willingness to go, and to give, the extra mile. “Well done, good and faithful servant” – rightly, we pray that you will soon enter fully into the joy of your Lord. 

But I must not make the mistake of eulogising Chris without recognising that, like all of us, his was a complex character and that there were times when he could be far from easy to deal with. During my thirteen years as Parish Priest at Spanish Place we only fell out dramatically on one occasion, but I soon learned that confrontation was never the way to handle someone who, when feeling insecure, could become prickly and fractious. Chris’s nature seemed to necessitate being at odds with at least one, if not several, people at any given time. He could be maddening, and irrational but he was who he was. He came at a cost but, ultimately, for those of us who benefited from his hard work and fundamental generosity, it was a cost worth paying.

For someone who had spent so many hours in the gym, and who kept himself in such good trim, these past few years of illness and growing incapacity must have been extraordinarily difficult. Essentially, a very private person, not given to over-thinking any situation, Chris’s way of coping was not to ask questions and to get on with life as best he could. To Nancy, in particular, who supported him through thick and thin and was always there for him, a debt of great gratitude is owed, and to Yvonne, Brian and the other members of the Family we offer our condolences and our prayers. The reassurance for those who knew, and valued Chris is the knowledge that all that now awaits him is a merciful judgement, and his taking up of that place which his Lord and Saviour has already prepared for him. “Do not let your hearts be troubled (Jesus says to us).Trust in God still, and trust in me.”


That traditional Irish piety in which Chris was reared from his early years combines a tender love of the Mother of God - and no one who heard Chris rattle at break neck speed through the rosary in May and October  will ever quiet forget the experience – together with a great warmth of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Lord himself speaks to us in the Gospels and offers us words that are so appropriate for this day, and for this Mass: “Come to me, all you who labour and are over-burdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Today, we ask Our Lady’s intercession for Chris Daly as he makes this last, wonderful, incredible journey home to the Father – and we commend this faithful servant to the loving Heart of Jesus that he may find peace of soul and rest in eternal life. 

“Go forth, Christian soul from this world in the name of God the almighty Father, who created you: in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God who suffered for you: in the name of the Holy Spirit who was poured out upon you. Go forth, faithful Christian! May you live in peace this day, may your home be with God in Sion.”

bottom of page