Fr Gregory Cormican: Co Antrim-born priest had 'gift for friendship'
WHEN Father Gregory Cormican was appointed 'PP' of Ballyclare and Ballygowan aged of 38, he was thought to be the youngest parish priest in Ireland.
His death aged 61 last Sunday came early too, but peacefully after many days of discomfort from illness.
Born in 1956 in Glenavy, Co Antrim, Fr Cormican studied at St Malachy's College in Belfast and completed a BEd in Education at St Joseph’s before being ordained in 1981.
His first appointment was as chaplain of the Mater Hospital and curate at the nearby St Patrick's, Donegall Street. From 1983-88, during years of strife, he was also among the priests at St Peter's Cathedral.
Postings to Greencastle and Downpatrick followed, before he was made parish priest in 1994 at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Ballyclare as well as chaplain at Antrim Area Hospital.
From 2003-09 he served as parish priest in Glenarm and for the next seven years as PP in Coleraine, before stepping down in January 2016 due to ill health.
Fr Con Boyle, parish priest of Culfeightrin and ordained in the same year as Fr Gregory, delivered the homily at his funeral Mass at St Joseph's Church, Glenavy.
He said he was a man with a "gift for friendship".
"When Gregory came into the lives of us, his classmates and brothers in the priesthood, we soon learned that he was good company for there was something bright and attractive about him," he said.
"Often he was the life of a gathering - good humoured, he had a great laugh."
Fr Boyle revealed that in a text message before Christmas, Fr Gregory had told how he had received bad news but his faith remained in God's love for him.
"There must be a reason for this - all for the glory of God," he wrote.
He also told his family that he got through the pain of his illness by "offering up every minute, every bit of it, so that his newly-born great-nephew would become well enough to be brought home from hospital".
"And that's what happened."
Fr Cormican was buried in Glenavy on Wednesday.
Predeceased by his mother Georgie, he is survived by his father Art and siblings Frances, Roisin, Oliver, Owen and Conal.