By Sarah Mac Donald - 28 November, 2013
Prayers were said for those who are still “locked in the tragic, self-destructive pathology of conflict” by the Bishop of Down and Connor at the funeral of Fr Alec Reid in Belfast on Wednesday.
In his address, Bishop Noel Treanor urged all, in a gesture to Fr Alec’s memory, to “redouble” their commitment to bring about the “peace, good will and ‘reconciled diversity’ to which Father Alec gave himself with such dedication.”
The Bishop said that in commending “this artisan of peace to the mercy of God,” he called on “that small minority of people who continue to believe that violence, destruction and fear have any part in human affairs to think again.”
He continued, “We call on them, not in the tired and blood-soaked rhetoric of the past but in the hope-filled and positive language of the future, to which the children and young people of this generation attach their dreams, to stop their dark, futile and backward-looking violent activity now.”
“Such activity has absolutely no basis in the will of the Irish people, and is completely contrary to the will and call of God,” Bishop Treanor warned.
The Redemptorist church at Clonard monastery in West Belfast was packed as religious, political and community leaders turned out to pay their respects to the ‘chaplain of the peace process’ and joined family and friends of the priest credited with helping to bring the IRA to the negotiation table.
Among the mourners were Nobel Peace laureate, John Hume, and former president of Ireland, Mary McAleese and her husband, Martin.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by Commander Alan Bolger, while President Michael D Higgins was represented by Col Brendan McAndrew.
Methodist minister, Rev Harold Good, who witnessed the decommissioning of IRA weapons with Fr Reid, took part in the ceremony. Cardinal Sean Brady joined Bishop Alan Abernethy of the Church of Ireland, Rev Norman Hamilton of the Presbyterian Church and Rev Heather Morris of the Methodist Church.
Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, was represented by the DUP’s Simon Hamilton and Jimmy Spratt.
The Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness as well as Mark Durkan and Alex Attwood of the SDLP and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams were also there.
Elsewhere in his address, Bishop Treanor said Fr Alec Reid’s priestly service was a “ministry of consolation, mediation and reconciliation” from his early work with the travelling community in Belfast, through his contribution towards the peace process and in his tireless endeavours in ecumenical engagement.
“He was an ambassador of God’s peace, mercy and loving-kindness,” the Bishop said.
“As Father Alec knew only too well, the process of building peace after decades of violent conflict requires commitment to the often slow and arduous process of healing, encounter, dialogue and compromise. The wounds of violence and injustice are so visceral and deep that for many even the possibility of healing will inevitably and understandably be gradual and slow, if it is possible at all.”
“That this son of Tipperary, of great hurling prowess in his youth, chose to be buried here among us speaks eternally of his bond with the people of Belfast and the generations he served during his forty years of priestly ministry here.”
Fr Reid was later buried at the Redemptorist plot in Milltown Cemetery.