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John McAreavey: New love has shown me ‘the beauty of life again'

John McAreavey, right, with Fr Richard Gibbons PP, Knock and Tara Brennan before speaking during the ‘Engaging the Heart’ Faith Festival in Knock, Co Mayo. Picture by Keith Heneghan, Phocus 

THE widower of murdered schoolteacher Michaela McAreavey has described how finding love for a second time with fiancée Tara Brennan has shown him "the beauty of life again".

John McAreavey told an audience of 1,000 people at the Knock Shrine in Co Mayo that five years on from his wife's shocking death, "I am able to love again".

Speaking at an event to mark the Catholic Church's Year of Mercy, the Co Down man also told how he did not want to be labelled as "the man whose wife was murdered on their honeymoon".

The 34-year-old described how his faith and Ms Brennan, to whom he became engaged last year, had helped him find forgiveness and rebuild his life.

Mr McAreavey told the congregation of his difficult journey following the murder of Michaela - daughter of Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte - in Mauritius in 2011.

"It is only in recent times, in the last year or two, that I rediscovered the faith and the real energy in my life and that the world is a beautiful place," he said.

"And coming from a situation where everything was dark and gloomy, with no light, it is a wonderful thing for me to be able to say that I am able to love again.

"My fiancée Tara has shown me the beauty of life again, all the good things about life and what I have learned is that I am able to deal with anything that life puts in front of me because I know that I will always have God at my side."

Mr McAreavey said he did want to be "identified as a victim" following Michaela's death.

"For me, 'poor tragic husband, the man whose wife was murdered on their honeymoon', that description does not say who I am or what I do," he said.

"I am a strong, confident person, full of love and integrity and other positive traits and this is how I identify myself.

"There was the pain of losing a loved one in such a cruel and tragic manner, then the injustice in the aftermath of that time.

"And I admit that there were times when there really was no hope left in my life and I could no longer bear such a heavy cross.

"When something like that happens, we can either react with bitterness or seek to transform suffering into a creative force and I decided to choose the latter."

He said his faith had allowed him to find that he "didn't have any more feelings of bitterness and anger".

"Forgiveness doesn't mean you are pardoning or excusing someone's actions," he said.

"It doesn't mean that you tell the person that he or she is forgiven. It doesn't mean we shouldn't have any more feelings about the situation.

"Forgiveness doesn't mean we should forget the incident ever happened.

"By forgiving, for me, I was simply accepting the reality of what happened."

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