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Funeral of teenager Dean Millar who drowned in the Foyle told of mum’s prayers that his body would be recovered

By Donna Deeney

The priest celebrating Requiem Mass for Dean Millar told mourners that of all the prayers said throughout the city, there had been none as heartfelt as that of his mother Deirdre, who asked God to bring her son home so she could return him to God "in the right way".

The 18-year-old was laid to rest in the City Cemetery, six weeks after he was reported missing following a night out with friends in Londonderry.

Since then hundreds of people had joined the Millar family in the daily searches of the River Foyle and its banks led by Foyle Search and Rescue and the PSNI.

As the 1,000-strong congregation joined Mr Millar's parents Deirdre and Patrick and sisters Shannon and Kelsey at St Mary's Church in Creggan, many of the teenager's friends wore white T-shirts emblazoned with the message: 'Forever in our hearts, RIP Dean.'

Fr Joseph Gormley described Dean as "full of fun, caring and sensitive", with a smile "that would light up a room".

In his homily, the priest said: "Last Tuesday Dean was found, ending a long, five-and-half weeks wait for Patrick, Deirdre, Shannon and Kelsey, and the Millar and McDaid families.

"During that time many people in this city were praying that soon Dean's family would be able to bring him home, so that we could celebrate this funeral Mass for him.

"Of all the prayers that have been said, there was none more heartfelt that the one said by Dean's mother Deirdre: 'Bring him home Jesus, so that I can give him back to You in the right way'.

"We have an answer to the prayer of Patrick and Deirdre Kelsey and Shannon, the Millar and McDaid families, and the people of this city.

"That prayer being answered became present in the work of so many people searching for Dean.

"The volunteers of Foyle Search and Rescue, Community Rescue from Strabane, the police, community representatives and organisations, and hundreds of people, many the same age as Dean, gave up their days and evenings to bring Dean home.

"Dean's family thanks God for them. We are deeply grateful to God for this."

Mr Millar's body was recovered from the Foyle three weeks after that of another young man, Jack Glenn (23), who had been in the water for almost eight weeks.

Fr Gormley prayed for his family and for all families bereaved by suicide.

He added: "We are also mindful of the prayers and support needed for Jack Glenn's family, who have walked this painful road alongside them.

"Yet now we are also conscious that while the wait is over, the real pain of Dean's loss is only beginning for Patrick, Deirdre, Shannon and Kelsey and the McDaid and Millar families, and Dean's friends."

Fr Gormley reminded the congregation that while their "hearts are sore", they should remember the gift that Dean was.

He said: "Dean' smile and presence would light up any room. He was full of fun with his friends, willing to share that with others as a boy in Rosemount Primary School and St Joseph's Boys' School.

"In Pilot's Row Youth Club, the loss of Dean is deeply felt by the youth workers and his friends. They knew Dean, as well as being full of fun, also to be caring and sensitive. Today we thank God for such a beautiful gift of a person."

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