Today 22 March 2019, Archbishop Eamon Martin presided at the three Funeral Masses for the late Morgan Barnard, Lauren Bullock and Connor Currie, who tragically died in Cookstown on Saint Patrick’s night.

Speaking at the Masses the Archbishop of Armagh said: “Saint Patrick was only sixteen years old when he was cruelly wrenched away from his family, friends and loved ones by kidnappers who sold him into slavery in Ireland. He wrote about that lonely time, and about the terrible loss and fear his family suffered, not knowing where he was and probably asking themselves endless questions: Where is he now? Why did this happen? How will we cope? What if…?

“Since the terribly tragic events in Cookstown on Saint Patrick’s night we’ve all been asking those kinds of questions – and none more so than the families of Lauren, Connor and Morgan. Words fail us at times like this. All that really matters, and makes a difference, is love and friendship and compassion. And only faith can dare to speak into the darkness of these days to offer a glimmer of light and hope in this valley of tears.

“The young teenager, Saint Patrick, in the depth of his pain and isolation, wrapped himself around with prayer: “Christ on my right, Christ on my left”, he prayed. “Christ in mouth of friend and stranger”.

“Here in Co Tyrone this week – as families, parishes, schools and communities – we’ve been circling each other around with love and faith and kindness and compassion. The shocking events of Sunday last have reminded us that life is very fragile; we need to cherish every moment and always look out for each other, and keep each other safe.

“Thank you all for being here today to offer your prayerful presence and support. In the days ahead, we will cherish the memories of these precious and gifted young people whose lives have been so suddenly wrenched from among us; we will continue to hold their families, and each other, close in love and faith, praying as the young Saint Patrick did, “Christ behind me, Christ before me. Christ to comfort and restore me”.

“Saint Paul says: “Take comfort in knowing that everyone who died in Christ shall rise to new life and be with him forever”.

“God rest Morgan and Lauren and Connor and surround you, their loved ones with a blanket of love and faith, until one day, in the joy of heaven, we will see their smiling faces again. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha.”

ENDS