By Jordan Nettles
GREENVILLE – On Friday, Oct. 25, loved ones gathered at St. Joseph Church in Greenville, Miss. for the funeral Mass of Rev. Jeremiah Francis Corcoran, known lovingly as Father Frank. Father Frank passed away on Oct. 17 at Delta Regional Medical Center at the age of 88.
Born in Nenagh Co. Tipperary, Ireland to a devout Catholic family, Father Frank answered a call from God to bring the Gospel to Mississippi, where he served for 65 years as a priest. In answering that initial call, he offered a resounding “yes” to God, which he continued to offer throughout his many years of ceaseless prayer and service.
The sanctuary in Greenville was packed with fellow priests, former parishioners, and friends and family members of Father Frank. Among the congregation were two of Father Frank’s nieces from Ireland, Michael Shalloe and Eimear O’Farrell. The service began with loving words from both of them.
“Today is a celebration of a great life,” said Shalloe, setting a tone for a Mass that would remember and honor the life of Father Frank. She recalled her uncle’s great love for family saying, “Family, to Father Frank, was everything.” O’Farrell spoke in Gaelic for several minutes, with a nod to loved ones watching the live-stream from Ireland.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz presided over the Mass and led concelebrants to the altar to the processional hymn, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You.” Father Mark Shoffner, Parochial Vicar at St. Mary Basilica and Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary in Natchez, gave the Homily.
Father Shoffner, who grew up in Greenville, spoke with love and humor about Father Frank. “Today we gather for Father Frank, one who golfed, and ate, and prayed, and ate some more,” he began. Father Shoffner then spoke in detail about the example Father Frank set for the many people whose lives he touched, often in a deeply personal way through the holy sacraments.
“It is important for us to live a life ordered towards God,” Father Shoffner said. “That is the great end in all of us, is to be ordered towards Him whom created us, who willed us forward from Himself. And [Father Frank] was showing that, and we know in his story has lived that, as an example.”
Father Shoffner highlighted Father Frank’s devotion to prayer and his acceptance of God’s plan, which led him to bring the word of God to communities thousands of miles away from his own in Ireland. “We’re blessed by that example,” Father Shoffner said. “He gave us a picture of fidelity, and that is what the Lord asks of us. A life of fidelity.”
Father Frank began his priesthood in Pascagoula, Miss. in 1954. He served across the state, also taking assignments in Jackson, Vicksburg, Meridian, Greenville, Crystal Springs and Hazlehurst. He retired to Greenville, Miss. in 2004.
Father Frank planned his own funeral, down to the hymns that should be sung and the priest who should give the Homily. This included informing Father Shoffner that he wanted him to preach at the funeral, before Father Shoffner was even in seminary.
Of course in the midst of sadness, there was great joy at the Mass, as well. As Father Shoffner pointed out, “He’s able to behold God [in] a way he has never been able to see Him before.”
(Jordan Nettles is the Marketing Assistant and Digital Publishing Coordinator at University Press of Mississippi. She graduated from the The University of Southern Mississippi and attends St. Richard Church.)