Funeral to take place of Catholic priest who died following 64 years of ministry
MOURNERS will gather in south Belfast today for the funeral of a Catholic priest who died following 64 years of ministry.
Canon Robert Fullerton (89), who was originally from Maghera in Co Derry, died peacefully in hospital on Tuesday.
He had been serving as a curate at Holy Rosary Church on Ormeau Road at the time of his passing and was last night described as "a much loved, highly respected, humble, prayerful and deeply caring person and priest".
Educated at St Malachy’s College Belfast, he began his seminary training with a degree in philosophical studies at Queen’s University Belfast before he undertook a degree in theological studies at the Pontifical St Patrick’s College in Maynooth.
Ordained in 1957, his first appointment was as chaplain in Nazareth House, before being appointed a curate in the parish of Holywood where he remained for eight years.
He also served as a curate at St Teresa’s Parish in west Belfast before taking up the role of administrator of St Colmcille’s Parish. He returned to St Teresa's Parish where he remained for nine years and became parish priest of Holy Rosary Parish in south Belfast in August 1997.
Three years later, he was appointed a Canon on the Cathedral Chapter.
Having retired as parish priest in October 2008, Canon Fullerton remained ministering as a curate within the parish of Holy Rosary.
Fr Brendan Hickland of Holy Rosary Church said Canon Fullerton was "highly regarded by his fellow priests, many of whom viewed him as a role model".
"He was always available for others and listened compassionately and gave wise advice. He had a wealth of stories and anecdotes many of which contained both humour and wisdom," he said.
"He was well known in our own diocese and in various parts of Ireland as a prime mover in the liturgical life of the Church.
"Although we are grateful to God that Canon Fullerton was in active ministry to the end and that he did not have to suffer long he will be greatly missed by his family, friends, parishioners where he served as a priest and by the clergy of Down and Connor diocese and beyond."
Posting on Facebook, St Joseph's College Belfast also wrote: "It is with great sadness that we hear of the passing of Canon Robert Fullerton. A former chair of our board of governors and a constant supporter and friend of the school".
Malcolm McFarlane, chairman of Bredagh GAC, said the club had got to know Canon Fullerton "quite well" in recent years, adding that he would be "sadly missed".
Requiem Mass for Canon Fullerton will take place today at noon at Holy Rosary Church followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery.