Bishop Andrew Forster joined the Bishop of Derry, Dr Donal McKeown, and other clergy at the funeral of Mrs Pat Hume in St Eugene’s Cathedral in Londonderry this morning. The Requiem Mass, which was attended by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, was private, at the family’s request, owing to Covid restrictions.
Mrs Hume, who was the widow of the Nobel peace laureate, John Hume, died on Thursday after a short illness. Her husband had predeceased her just over a year earlier.
In his funeral address, the main celebrant of the Requiem Mass, Father Paul Farren, described Mrs Hume as a most humble and beautiful person. “Much has been said about John and Pat and their unity in peacemaking,” Fr Farren said, “and it’s all true. And if John brought the brilliant mind to the peacemaking, then Pat brought the pure heart.”
The priest told mourners, who included Mrs Hume’s five children and many of her grandchildren, that the empathy she had was unique and incredible. “That is why her work with Daphne Trimble after the Good Friday Agreement with those who are victims was so important to her, and that is why she found it abhorrent that anybody or any government would believe that a line could be drawn under the pain and the suffering of people. Her commitment to truth and to justice was consistent and unquestionable. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right; they shall be satisfied.”
In his homily, Fr Farren suggested that rather than just remembering Mrs Hume, those present in the church or watching her funeral online would be inspired to do as she did, and to see God in the other and so be true peacemakers themselves.
Before the Mass began, Mrs Hume’s eldest son, Aidan, gave a eulogy in which he said that for him and his siblings, their mother was “the calm at the centre of chaotic times,” able to impart a sense of safety and love which sustained them when the world around them was full of uncertainties. No matter how crazy or how difficult the situation, he said, his mother was simply unflappable.
“Dad would often say that he was a parcel and mum delivered him, but that only tells a very small part of the story. Mum was at his right hand throughout his entire life: his best friend, his closest confidante, his loving wife, his trusted advisor, his political antennae and – and I don’t think dad would mind me saying this – she was definitely the more glamorous side of the partnership.”
Mr Hume told the congregation that his mother always focused on the positive things in life – always smiling, always happy. “She was deeply spiritual and had an incredible faith, but it was a private faith; for all of us it was something she sought to guide us [with] rather than to impose upon us.”
Mrs Hume was laid to rest with her husband in the City Cemetery.