FATHER GRAHAM COLBY OF THE ORATORY WAS BURIED YESTERDAY AFTER 12 NOON MASS AT THE ORATORY IN LARNE.
“Many funerals are celebrated by priests and ministers who did not know the deceased when they lived.
That can lead to the celebrating priest or minister painting a very unrealistic picture of the departed person.
That is not happening today. I knew Father Graham for 20 years and he has lived near me in Larne for 15 of those years.
Most of Graham’s friends had a love/no love lost relationship with him. And t hat was he and I too.
Our relationship was a mixture of warmth and frustration.
Graham was born in the South of England. He parents were very aloof and they gave Graham the impression that was not as good and others – which gave him a feeling of inferiority and a fear of groups of people.
This left him feeling rejected, hurt and at times angry and lonely.
He was born into the Church of England but very early felt called to the Catholic Church and so he converted. Steadily he felt called to priesthood and having a great love for tradition and the Latin Mass he joined the Society of St. Pius X at Econe in Switzerland. He loved the rebel archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
Eventually he moved to a French archdiocese and later returned to England where was ordained by an independent catholic bishop.
In the early 2000’s he found himself without a bishop and appealed to me to adopt him – and I did. He joined The Oratory Society in 2004.
Graham would have been a perfect candidate for one of those TV shows about hoarders who fill their homes with attractive and unattractive bric-a-bac.
Those who involved in his two most moves knew to our cost, the amount of clutter he had collected over the past 50 or 60 years.
Because of his childhood experienced very severe anxiety condition and also a very debilitating essential tremor. He also developed a social phobia.
He tried handling these conditions with copious betablockers which did his heart no good. He also developed an addiction to what Ian Paisley used to call the Devil’s Buttermilk. And that became a very big problem.
Last year I spent a solid 6 months driving Graham to all kinds of doctors and counsellor. Eventually we arrived at the day before he was due to go into hospital for detox and rerhab. We had one last appointment that day with a consultant who told him that the treatment would cost £20,000 and therefore he asked Graham to declare that he would make a very serious effort to decide not to drink again. In his posh English accent Graham replied
ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE PESKY TEMPERANCE SPOIL SPORTS THAT WOULD DEPRIVE A MAN OF A GLASS OF WINE ON CHRISTMAS DAY”?
We were both quickly ushered out of the doctor’s office – and that was the end of detox and rehab.
There was no detox or rehab and so it was back to cider soup.
Many people were very good to Graham.
There was Brother Jim – a fellow Little Brother – who cooked for him, did his laundry and was at his beck and call night and day. It started off well but Graham’s demands became impossible and there was a divorce.
There was his ex army chum – Colin – an army cooked who made him many nice dinners. But that relationship was choppy too.
There were Carole and Kevin who had him in their home and visited him in hospital.
There was Alison – the supervisor of the fold we got him into some time ago.
There was Angela who cleaned and shopped for him.
And then there was Father Paul – an Oratory priest – who visited him regularly – listened patiently to his woes and who washed his laundry.
Life throws up all kinds of problems in our paths. Often we find solutions. But some problems have no human solutions.
And that’s when Doctor God steps in!
Graham had finally run out of options and solutions and God said: “Big Fella, its time you came home to me”.
That happened at 2 am last Friday morning when Graham, already unconscious simply stopped breathing.
He heart and liver had failed.
St Augustin said
” OUR HEARTS WERE MADE FOR YOU O LORD AND WE SHALL NEVER FIND REST UNTIL WE REST IN YOU!
Graham is finally at rest – no anxiety – no essential tremor.
And for that today we say”
THANKS BE TO GOD.