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Craigavon's 'running priest' Martin McAlinden dies aged 51

By David Young

Published 14/06/2016

Well-loved: Martin McAlinden
Well-loved: Martin McAlinden

Northern Ireland's 'Running Priest' - Fr Martin McAlinden - has died.

Fr McAlinden (51) became a familiar and popular figure around Craigavon as he pounded the roads in his running gear, training hard to compete in charity fundraising marathons.

Lurgan SDLP councillor Joe Nelson described Fr McAlinden as "a real gentleman".

"I'm saddened to hear of his passing. Priests in the diocese will be devastated by this news," he said.

Mr Nelson added that Fr McAlinden, who had been seriously ill for some time, was well- known for his charitable and ecumenical work, and had been extensively involved in cross- community activity before his illness.

"Fr McAlinden was very well thought of in the area," said Mr Nelson.

"He was a real gentleman who worked hard for his parishioners in Moyraverty,

"He'll be greatly missed by his colleagues and former parishioners."

Well-known as the chaplain of Newry Hospice, Fr McAlinden raised funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Formerly parish priest in Moyraverty and in Dromore, Fr McAlinden took up an appointment at Maynooth in 2014.

Maynooth spokesman Monsignor Hugh Connolly said: "Fr Martin McAlinden has departed this life after an extraordinarily courageous and inspiring struggle with terminal illness.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his grieving family, brother priests in the Diocese of Dromore, and all his colleagues and students here in Maynooth.

"May almighty God grant eternal life to Fr Martin and may he grant comfort and consolation to all the bereaved.

"May he rest in peace."

Church of Ireland bishop Bishop Harold Miller also paid tribute on Twitter, saying: "One of the most wonderful ecumenical priests I have known died today after a long battle with cancer: Fr Martin McAlinden.

"Thank God for him".

There will be a requiem mass at St Peter's Church, Lurgan at 1.00pm tomorrow.

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