Belfast Telegraph

Priest's pursuit of peace is hailed as Fr Reid laid to rest

BY CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

Politicians were urged to become peacemakers at the funeral of Father Alec Reid.

Yesterday hundreds of mourners gathered at Clonard Monastery in west Belfast to pay tribute to the 82-year-old priest who was a key figure in the peace process.

Fr Reid died in a Dublin hospital last week and during the Mass was hailed as a "messenger of Christ who announced peace".

Among mourners were Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, former SDLP leader and Nobel Prize winner John Hume and Sinn Fein chief Gerry Adams.

Also in attendance were UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, DUP representatives and clergy from other denominations including fellow IRA arms decommissioning monitor and senior Methodist, the Reverend Harold Good.

Former Irish President Mary McAleese paid tribute to Fr Reid calling him a "humble and ever-faithful servant who saw all human beings are members of one large family. Day in day out, year after year, he never lost faith".

Many hymns and readings reflected Fr Reid's quest for peace.

Father Michael Kelleher said: "I'm sure Fr Alec would like me to offer you an invitation today. An invitation to become peacemakers here in the shadow of Divis and Cave Hill and beyond. An invitation to go from here having put on the armour of God. Know that without the Lord we can do nothing."

In his address, Bishop Noel Treanor prayed for those "still locked in the tragic, self-destructive pathology of conflict".

He 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 cleric was laid to rest at Milltown Cemetery.

Fr Reid acted as a vital communications link between Sinn Fein and the Irish government as the peace process developed.

One striking image of the Troubles was of Fr Reid on his knees, his face smeared in blood, as he delivered the Last Rites to two soldiers dragged from their car, beaten and shot by the IRA.

Fr Kelleher observed at the funeral: "Fr Alec's second lesson from the streets was that the dignity of the human person is the supreme moral value in all human affairs."

Inside his pocket as he prayed over the two soldiers was a blood-stained letter from Sinn Fein to Mr Hume.

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