A gentle man with special qualities, ‘The Monsignor’ shared our joys and sorrows

Life is full of ups and downs, of joys and sorrows, and Monsignor Charles Travers navigated that uncertain journey with thousands of parishioners with an empathy, compassion and kindness

“He did so much for so many”.

  The words of Fr Eamonn O’Connor, during the Homily at Tuesday’s funeral Mass for Monsignor Charles Travers.

  “His life has been a great gift to us” Bishop Kevin Doran added, as local clergy led a celebration of the long life of their much-loved colleague.

  You knew, given his uniquely humble nature, that Monsignor Travers never particularly wanted to be at the centre of anything.

  And yet he was at the very centre of parish and community life in Roscommon for decades, to the point where he had a very special place in the affection and hearts of generations of families here.

  Monsignor Travers, who died on Saturday at the age of 94, was a remarkable person.

  A curate, later parish priest, he became ‘The Monsignor’. He was known to some people as Monsignor Travers, Father Travers, Monsignor Charles, Charlie even…and to a great many people as simply ‘The Monsignor’.

  ‘The Monsignor’. It was said with warmth and affection – ‘The Monsignor’ – because, in the context of our parish, our town, our county, our community, our monsignor, it was a byword for the best of values and the best of qualities.

  The Monsignor. Those two words, uttered at any time within 10 or maybe even 20 miles of Roscommon Parish, immediately brought to mind one man – and all that man stood for.

  Life is full of ups and downs, of joys and sorrows, and Monsignor Charles Travers navigated that uncertain journey with thousands of parishioners with an empathy, compassion and kindness that was applied in just the right way at just the right time.

  In many ways the Monsignor became a custodian of our community, a Church leader of course, and also a wise and kind presence in everyday life.

  A man of exceptional humility and selflessness, he gave of his time with great generosity. That he seemed not to realise just how special he was was in itself one of the personality characteristics that marked him out.

  As the imprint of his great pastoral work grew over the decades, one could only admire – and be grateful for – the enormity of his deeds. He got things done, quietly, with a smile…his actions marked by courtesy and humanity, and that distinctive unassuming manner we came to know so well. He gentle persuasiveness worked wonders as he helped thread together important parish initiatives and drive and support positive community causes.

  In times of need we looked to him for support; usually he was already there. His easy-going nature was underpinned by that endearing humility and total lack of ego.

  For so many years he always seemed to be present for all Church occasions, large and small. Monsignor Travers celebrated thousands of ceremonies for thousands of local families…baptisms, communions, confirmations, weddings and funerals. He shared our joys and sorrows.

  He also visited people in their homes and in hospital, engaging with young and old everywhere he went (including on pilgrimages abroad).

  To watch him in a room – for example at a launch in one of the local hotels – could be fascinating. This gentlest of men would chat to everyone, always in that familiar and inspirational way…a mixture of serenity, holiness and practical support, with the right amount of humour thrown in.

  He had a great relationship with young people, with a lifelong commitment to education. He offered words of praise. At least as importantly, he offered words of encouragement.

  I liked a phrase someone wrote on Twitter this week, when they said that Monsignor Travers “saw life through the other person’s eyes”. I thought that was very apt, reflecting as it does how interested he was in people, his caring nature and natural empathy ensuring that he looked out for others first and foremost.

  Looking back on a long life devoted to spreading the word of God, I would sum up Monsignor Charles as a gentle man of great faith and special personal qualities. He made an enormous contribution to community life here, impacting positively on so many individuals and families.

  Charles Travers – ‘The Monsignor’ – is gone to his well earned reward. On Tuesday, he was laid to rest in the grounds of the Sacred Heart Church, still close to the beating heart of our community. It will no doubt be a calming and rewarding experience to pause there in memory of him. His legacy – and spirit – will live on.

  May he rest in peace.