Tributes paid to the “untiring and infectious energy for harmony” of Bishop Tony Farquhar RIP

24 Nov, 2023 | Bishops, Church, News

In the Diocese of Down and Connor on 23 November, in the Church of the Good Shepherd, Ormeau Road, Belfast, Requiem Mass was celebrated for the repose of the soul of Bishop Anthony Farquhar (pictured).

The chief celebrant, Bishop Donal McKeown, Apostolic Administrator of Down and Connor and Bishop of Derry was accompanied by Principal Concelebrants; His Excellency Archbishop Luis Mariano Montemayor, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland; His Eminence, Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop Emeritus of Armagh; Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh; Father Brendan Hickland, Parish Priest of Holy Rosary Parish, Belfast; Father Robert Butler, Pastor Emeritus; Father Anthony McHugh, Parish Priest of Saintfield and Carrickmannon, and Canon Patrick McKenna, Pastor Emeritus.  Fellow Irish bishops were also in attendance joined by the clergy of the diocese as well as visiting clergy.

In his address, Bishop McKeown said, “Today we lay to rest one who had a tiny family circle of one sister Anne and no cousins but who was loved and cherished by many for his integrity, wisdom and pastoral heart.  A blood relation of few, he became a family friend to very many.  The world still needs wise and generous leaders who work for the common good and not merely for personal prestige.  Young people still respond to those who care for them and call them to greatness.  Our communities still cry out for those who will both acknowledge the pain of the past and present – but help them to hope.

“We thank Christ who called a young man in the 1950s and graced him to be a blessing on so many over 58 years of ministry.  I had the privilege of knowing him from his arrival as my A-level Latin teacher in Garron Tower in 1966 until I sat beside him last Friday night, praying the prayer of Simeon , Now let your servant go in peace according to your promise.  Today Bishop Tony would want us to commend him to God’s mercy – and to love one another as he has loved so many people.  May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”

Archbishop Martin also paid tribute to Bishop Farquhar, saying, “Bishop Tony’s encouragement of fraternity, dialogue, study and prayer with, and between, members of our fellow Christian denominations – especially during the Troubles – was of enormous support to sustaining the ongoing peace process.  His untiring and infectious energy for harmony and deeper friendship was greatly esteemed across the other Christian traditions on this island.

“On behalf of the Bishops’ Conference, I wish to express my condolences to Bishop Farquhar’s sister Anne and wider family circle, to Bishop Donal McKeown, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Down & Connor, the priests, religious and faithful of the diocese, and to all who knew and loved him.  Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilís.”

Archbishop John McDowell, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, said, “Tony loved most sports but was particularly knowledgeable about soccer and became a sort of unofficial chaplain to the Queen’s, and to Queen’s Graduate teams.  With a soft spot for the unglamorous underdog he maintained a particular fondness for Dundela FC and would be found often on the terraces of The Hen Run in East Belfast.

“It was my privilege and pleasure to encounter Tony again nearly fifty years later, when I represented the Church of Ireland on the Irish Council of Churches and at meetings between members of the Church of Ireland House of Bishops and the Irish Episcopal Conference.  In many ways Tony was a pioneer of the now fashionable ‘receptive ecumenism’ avant la lettre.  For Tony authentic ecumenism was the sharing of memory and experience drawing on an underlying unspoken and indefinable communion which exists for those resting on the gift by the baptismal covenant.  Ecumenical encounter was rather like showing a friend family photographs in the faith that they will share the feelings of warmth and affection of other families as well as their own.”



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