Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, described the late Dr Thomas Kenneth Whitaker as “a true public servant, a man of integrity, a family man and a Christian” in his homily at the Reception of Remains, which took place yesterday 12 January at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Donnybrook.
Dr Whitaker, former public servant and economist, died on Monday 9 January aged 100. He is considered the architect of the modern Irish economy and was named ‘Ireland’s greatest living person’ in 2002. His Funeral Mass was celebrated at the Church of the Sacred Heart, in Donnybrook, Dublin. Father Lomán Mac Aodha was chief celebrant of the Funeral Mass. President Michael D Higgins, and the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, were among those in attendance.
In his homily, Archbishop Martin described Dr Whitaker as “a true public servant, not by virtue of a title or a profession, but by virtue of his willingness to place his talent at the service of the wider public and the common good – and indeed by doing so with remarkable enthusiasm in an oft cynical and sceptical culture. He was a servant not just in the years of his professional life. He placed his talents at the disposal of many aspects of life and society and indeed within the Church.”
Archbishop Martin continued, “He revolutionised the Irish economy, not through being an proponent of this or that economic theory, but through focusing economic reflection on what it really should be about: the good of men and women and children of this country in their fight for a better life, for their dreams of being freed from deprivation, poverty, lack of employment opportunities, and of the possibility of achieving these basic human dreams without having to leave their country.”
Archbishop Martin concluded, “God blessed him with a long life, a full life and above all a good life in the true sense of that word, a life of seeking what goodness means, what truth and integrity mean. To his own family of many generations he showed with love means. His family gives thanks for his life and can today enjoy that special realisation that his long life and the wisdom of age made him an even more a model and inspiration for them, for us and for the younger generation of Ireland. May the life of Ken Whitaker inspire many young people to look to the vital value of public service, lived with integrity and imagination, humility and creativity.
“Death can be a lonely moment. But for Ken Whitaker, the Christian believer, he left this life accompanied by those virtues of integrity and love and goodness – which are the true crown of life which lead into life eternal; when, as we heard in the first reading, the mourning veil and the shroud which entangle us in this life will be lifted by a Lord who, as our Gospel reading notes, is the ‘source of life’ and whose voice assures that, ‘those who did good will rise to life and the fullness of life’.”
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s full homily can be read on www.dublindiocese.ie.