A tribute to Bishop Brian Hannon
While mourning the passing of Bishop Brian Hannon (1936-2022), we also want to celebrate the wonderful person he was, as well as the significant contribution he made to the work of Mission in Ireland, and to CMSI as a former President of the Society.
At his funeral in St Macartin’s Cathedral, Enniskillen (where he was Dean, before becoming Bishop of Clogher from 1986-2001) a number of very moving tributes were given. The Right Reverend Lord Eames (below), described him as “above all a pastoral Bishop”, recalling being with him in Enniskillen Hospital on Remembrance Day 1987, visiting injured victims after the bombing at the cenotaph,
“I saw then so vividly the pastoral strength of his ministry as he reached out to friend and stranger, as he didn’t preach, he didn’t lecture, but he held out a hand, he gave a smile and he’d a word of comfort”
Brian’s eldest son, Desmond (below right), speaking on behalf of the family, described him as
“a vigorous man, full to bursting with life”, but also someone who “chose to be kind, chose to be humble and chose to make people’s lives better, often in very practical ways.”
This was echoed by Neil (Brian’s youngest son, the singer songwriter and frontman of The Divine Comedy) who commented in an online tribute,
“Dad …always had time for people. Always looked for ways to unite rather than divide. The genuine warmth and fondness with which he is remembered is a testament to his years of service in our troubled community.”
The Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson (who had succeeded Brian as Bishop of Clogher) also spoke warmly of his remarkable gift of relating to others,
“Such was his intense commitment to, and interest in people and their lives that he accepted what they offered, he took what they gave and he heard what they said. And so in that way there was a tremendous relationship that he built up and which will always be remembered”
Canon Cecil Wilson (Former Director of CMSI, below) added in a written tribute,
“Bishop Brian took his role as President (Chairperson) of CMS in Ireland very seriously, and before every Board Meeting he would set aside a day to meet with the Mission Director to go through every aspect of the business agenda.
It was a time of great change in the mission world and this was impacting on the Irish Society. At that time we were the Irish (Hibernian) Auxiliary of CMS in Britain and difficult decisions had to be made about the way forward. It was through Brian’s wise leadership and gentle guidance that the Church Mission Society Ireland came into being, and in doing so he helped the Society to lay the groundwork for all that has followed since.
This was ratified at a wonderful Service in St Anne's Cathedral Belfast on our 180th Birthday in 1994. Bishop Hannon led the Service which was attended by representatives of all the Dioceses in Ireland and the preacher was the Rt Rev Michael Nazir Ali, the General Secretary of CMS Britain.”
Brian was much more than a committee man though. He took a great interest in CMSI Mission Partners and the work in which they were involved. He took part in their Commissioning Services and relished the opportunity to visit Uganda to see some of the work first hand. He particularly encouraged young people to get involved, resulting in a number of Mission Teams going out from Clogher, culminating in a 30 strong group travelling to Kajiado in the year 2000.
He is fondly remembered as a gentle and caring pastor, who practiced what he preached. We offer our heartfelt condolences to his wife Maeve, and sons Desmond, Brendan and Neil, and to all the family circle.