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Death of Craigavon priest Fr John Byrne shocks community

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Sad loss: Fr John Byrne

Sad loss: Fr John Byrne

Sad loss: Fr John Byrne

Tributes have been paid following the death after a short illness of a popular Co Armagh-based priest.

Fr John Byrne, parish priest of Moyraverty and Seagoe parishes in Craigavon, died on Saturday at the Southern Area Hospice in Newry.

Fr Byrne, a school governor who had close links to the local GAA club, was still celebrating Mass until recently.

He was diagnosed with a serious illness just five weeks ago, according to one social media post.

The parish priest's remains will be reposing at Mayobridge Parochial House until removal to St Patrick and Colman's Cathedral in Newry today at 6.15pm.

Those who wish to pay their respects may do so along the route this evening or at the Cathedral from 7.30 pm until 10pm, observing social distancing, his funeral notice said. Funeral Mass, to be attended only by close family, will be at the cathedral at 1pm tomorrow, followed by burial in St Mary's Cemetery.

In a statement Eire Og GAC in Craigavon said the priest had continued to lead worship until recently.

"Fr John Byrne, our parish priest, died peacefully this morning in Newry Hospice following a short but devastating illness.

"Fr Byrne was only diagnosed five weeks ago, and was still up until very recently celebrating mass at St Anthony's.

"On behalf of Eire Og GAC we offer our condolences and ask members to keep Fr Byrne's family in their prayers over the coming days."

"Ar dheis De go raibh a anam. (May his soul be seated on God's right hand)."

Lismore Comprehensive, where Fr Byrne had been a governor, said: "It is with great sadness that we have learned of the untimely passing of our esteemed Governor, Parish Priest and Friend of Lismore, Fr John Byrne R.I.P.

"The Lismore Community offer the support of their prayers and deepest sympathy to Fr Byrne's family, friends, and parishioners at this time.

"Go dtuga Dia suaimhneas siorai do (God rest his soul in peace)."

St Peter's Parish in Lurgan said it was "desperately saddened by the untimely but peaceful death of Fr John Byrne".

"We pray he will look after us just as well now from the Father's house," the parish added.

Originally from Newry, Fr Byrne was the son of the late Dr Patrick and Bernadette Byrne.

His funeral notice said his death was "deeply regretted by his sorrowing brothers, sister... family circle, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Bishop John McAreavey, the Priests and Religious of the Diocese and the parishioners of Moyraverty and Seagoe parishes and also the parishes where Fr John served and his many friends".

At a funeral service in late April for community organiser Peter Toland, Fr Byrne told mourners: "The world can be a very bewildering and cruel place, particularly in the situation we are living through."

Belfast Telegraph