Northern Ireland news

Deacon who died month after ordination remembered as man of deep faith

The Rev Paul McCormick
Mairead Holland

A deacon-elect who trained with tragic Paul McCormick has remembered him as a man who had "confidence in God's plan for him".

Rev McCormick (57), a married father-of-two from Downpatrick, died on Thursday, just a month after his ordination service.

Requiem Mass took place on Saturday at St Patrick's Church in the town where concelebrants included Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor.

Rev McCormick, who worked in Ulster Bank, had been diagnosed with a malignant tumour in October after suffering problems with his vision, and his ordination was brought forward by two months.

At the funeral service, mourners heard of the "courage and strength" Rev McCormick showed to everyone that day.

Jackie Breen, a deacon-elect who trained with Rev McCormick and became a close friend, was among the many people who paid tribute to him.

He said: "For the past five years I came to know Paul through our mutual studies, travelling to and from Belfast. What began as travelling companions for the academic demands, grew into a warm and dear friendship. This extended to our wives and families. We enjoyed social times together and supported each other.

"The friendship was not confined to Paul and myself but extended to the full diaconate group."

Mr Breen said that through Rev McCormick's "illness, suffering, courage and faith in God", he came to appreciate the depth of his spirituality.

"He was inspirational in his witness, and his confidence in God's plan for him undoubtedly helped his family and friends. ... He was a man of wit and wisdom. His giftedness and vision will be missed by all," he added.

Parish Priest Fr John Murray described Rev McCormick as a "wonderful man" and said he would have been a big help to the parish.

Among other online tributes paid was one from Elaine Kelly, a former Belfast barrister who left the profession to become a nun.

She wrote: At peace now Paul, thanks for your friendship, with prayers and heartfelt blessings for Geraldine, Liam, Niamh and all the family parish."

Another woman wrote: "Thank you Paul for all the spiritual guidance you gave me. May you continue God's work from your heavenly home."

SDLP MLA Colin McGrath said Rev McCormick's passing had been met with "absolute shock" in the community.

"He was one of the second round of deacons that were being professed through the diocese," he said.

"That will be a loss because he was about to provide a new approach. He was going to have a lot to give.

"He was a lovely man and his death sends ripples around the parish".

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