Northern Ireland news

Tributes paid to 'true man of God' priest following sudden death

Fr Aidan Denny passed away at the Royal Victoria Hospital on Saturday
Marie Louise McConville

THE funeral will take place today of a well-known west Belfast priest who died just days after falling ill.

Fr Aidan Denny, who was 88, passed away at the Royal Victoria Hospital on Saturday surrounded by his family.

The priest, who had officially retired in 1995 but had continued to assist as curate in Corpus Christi parish, fell ill last Wednesday.

From west Belfast and born in the parish of St Teresa's, Fr Denny was ordained in June 1956 and served in a number of parishes, starting as curate at Loughguile, Co Antrim where he remained until 1965.

He then became curate of Ballymoney until 1969 before moving to Carrickfergus, where he served as curate until 1977.

This followed with a move to Corpus Christi, where he stayed until 1985 before being posted to Holy Trinity in Belfast. Fr Denny also served in Kilclief, Co Down where he was parish priest until 1995.

He then retired but continued to assist as curate in Corpus Christi parish.

It was during this period that Fr Denny was targeted in a violent attack while at home in the parochial house.

In March 2003, Fr Denny, who was then aged 71, was assaulted by a youth who was let into the house when he asked the priest to hear his confession.

Fr Denny was hit in the face and bitten by the youth, who then demanded his car keys before stealing the priest's car.

The priest suffered a broken nose and an eye injury in the attack.

Fr Aidan Denny suffered a broken nose and an eye injury when he was assaulted in a parochial house in west Belfast in 2003. Picture by Brendan Murphy

Alongside his other responsibilities, Fr Denny was also a member of the Advisory Commission on Sacred Art and Architecture within the Diocese of Down and Connor from 1983-1995.

Following his death, parishioners took to Facebook to express their sense of loss.

While one parishioner commented: "Met Fr Denny whilst conducting various funerals. He was such a lovely priest with a warm heart towards everyone" another said: "RIP Fr Denny.. Such a faithful priest in our community for decades. You are at peace now".

Another added: "He is already with the big man and im sure he will be praying for us god knows we need it we will never get another one like him Rip Father".

Another said: "What a true man of God".

Following his death Fr Denny's remains were reposing for a time at the Church of the Annunciation to allow parishioners, past and present, and the priest's many friends to pay their respects.

Last night, his remains were removed to Corpus Christi Church for Evening Prayer.

Requiem Mass for Fr Denny will take place at noon today at Corpus Christi Church followed by burial at Milltown Cemetery.

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