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Catholic primate pays homage to former auxiliary bishop Francis Lagan

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Caring: Francis Lagan

Caring: Francis Lagan

Caring: Francis Lagan

The former Auxiliary Bishop of Derry, who passed away yesterday, has been described as a "gentle shepherd" who worked for peace and reconciliation by the leader of Ireland's Catholics.

Francis Lagan (85) served as auxiliary bishop from 1988 to 2010, retiring from a ministry that began almost 60 years ago on June 19, 1960, when he was ordained at St Patrick's College, Maynooth.

Originally from Maghera, Bishop Lagan's ministry in the Derry Diocese started in the education sector, beginning with teaching posts in St Columb's College in Londonderry and Carndonagh College and Carndonagh Community School in Co Donegal.

He served as a curate in Strabane and as administrator at St Mary's Church in Creggan before being appointed auxiliary bishop.

In his tribute, the Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin recalled his own personal memories of his colleague.

He said: "I remember Bishop Lagan as a caring brother priest and a gentle shepherd.

"While awaiting appointment, my very first placement as a newly ordained priest was for a few months with him in the parish of Saint Mary's, Creggan.

"Bishop Lagan had a keen insight into the reality of people's lives and he never failed to bring his extensive pastoral experience to bear on discussions at the Bishops' Conference table.

"Bishop Lagan was a strong advocate for peace and reconciliation, having witnessed first-hand the terrible violence and heartbreak endured by people during the Troubles.

"He also understood the joys and struggles of his brother priests who often had to minister in the midst of great challenge, grief and community unrest. "

The Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, extended his condolences to the Catholic community in Derry.

He said: "I was very saddened to learn of the death of the former Auxiliary Bishop of Derry, Most Reverend Francis Lagan.

"He was a gifted pastor and distinguished educator, who will be remembered most of all, perhaps, for his great gentility and kindness to all."

Offering his condolences to Bishop Lagan's family, Mayor of Derry and Strabane Brian Tierney said: "Bishop Lagan was a hugely popular figure locally who dedicated his life to serving the parishioners of this City and District in a wide variety of roles.

"He will be particularly missed in Strabane where he lived for almost the entirety of his ministry.

"I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Bishop Lagan's family at this difficult time, may he rest in peace."

Belfast Telegraph