Northern Ireland

Peacemaker priest Fr Gerry Reynolds from Clonard Monastry passes away

Fr Gerry Reynolds pictured in  Clonard Monastry where he ministered for more than 30 years. Picture by Mal McCann
Fr Gerry Reynolds pictured in Clonard Monastry where he ministered for more than 30 years. Picture by Mal McCann Fr Gerry Reynolds pictured in Clonard Monastry where he ministered for more than 30 years. Picture by Mal McCann

Well-known Redemptorist Fr Gerry Reynolds has died after a short illness.

The popular priest, who was primarily known for his work for peace and reconciliation, passed away this morning in Belfast. He was 80.

Fr Noel Kehoe, Rector of Clonard, said: "It is with deep regret that the Redemptorist Community at Clonard announce the death of Fr Gerry Reynolds CSsR.

"Fr Gerry passed away in the care of the Royal Victoria hospital at 6.50am this morning, 30th November 2015 after a short illness. He will be greatly missed by his Redemptorist confreres and colleagues, his family, friends, and the many people whose lives he touched through his Ecumenical, Peace and Reconciliation Ministries.

Born in Limerick, Fr Reynolds was based at Clonard Monastery in west Belfast for more than 30 years, arriving when the Troubles were still raging.

The monastery was the focus of secret negotiations between Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and SDLP leader John Hume that provided an impetus for the start of the peace process in the early 1990s.

The discussions were initiated by the late Fr Alec Reid, a close friend of Fr Reynolds.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams expressed his “deep sense loss” at news of the death of Fr Reynolds.

Mr Adams described the Redemptorist as a “champion of the peace process”.

SDLP assembly member Alex Attwood said he had lost a "great friend".

"Gerry Reynolds was a holy man who touched the lives of countless numbers," he said.

"He brought people together. Across our community, our Churches and our conflict he worked quietly and relentlessly forging new relationships so that old differences could be resolved.

"He was forever working to make peace. His special work with Fr Alec Reid was one example of this. His life was defined by such work, seeking out the opportunity for good to prevail.

"He was devoted to the monastery, the people of Clonard and all of west Belfast. He brought Christian witness into private lives and public spaces.

"My family have also lost a great friend. Gerry was at our wedding, baptised our daughter Nora and concelebrated my mother's funeral Mass in May.

"At birth, during life and at death Fr Gerry Reynolds was part of the lives of many, many people. He was deeply loved."

Sandra Peake, CEO of the Wave Trauma Centre, has said she is “shocked and saddened” by the news.

“Father Gerry was a good friend to Wave over the years,” she said.

“He was quietly supportive of the work and was particularly close to the families of the Disappeared. He will be missed by everyone who had the privilege to know him".

Speaking on behalf of the families of the Disappeared, Kieran Megraw described Fr Reynolds as a “great friend and support to the families”.

"He was with us only a few weeks ago to lead prayers at the All Souls Silent Walk at Stormont as he had done for a number of years.

"He rejoiced that the bodies of Kevin McKee and Seamus Wright had been recovered during the summer and prayed for the return of the remaining four Disappeared. May he rest in peace."

Fr Reynolds speaks to a group of visiting students from the Georgetown University in Qatar's Zones of Conflict/Zones of Peace Program on the role played by Clonard during the Troubles