Former bishop James Mehaffey a force for reconciliation and peace, mourners told
A former Church of Ireland bishop who worked to reconcile the two communities was a powerful influence for good, mourners at his funeral heard.
Bishop James Mehaffey (88) passed away last Monday evening. He led the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe from 1980 until his retirement in 2002, developing a close friendship with the late Catholic Bishop of Derry Dr Edward Daly.
A large cross-community audience of church and civic leaders gathered in St Columb's Cathedral in Londonderry for his funeral on Saturday.
His predecessor Lord Eames led tributes, telling mourners: "Bishop Jim's priority was reconciliation as he worked with Bishop Edward Daly and other leaders to bind up the broken, to heal the wounds of the lost, to make people remember that in the short gift of a lifespan you must grasp every opportunity to do things for the good of all - across the barriers, across the river and across the divisions.
"This was his ministry as a bishop. It was a ministry exercised in those dark days of suffering, misunderstanding and suspicion. It was a ministry which was being true to the commission given to him in 1980 - 'Hold up the weak, heal the sick, bind up the broken, bring in the outcasts, seek the lost'."
The current Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Richard Clarke, was unable to attend in person but his tribute, read by the recently-consecrated Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, the Rt Reverend Andrew Forster, described Bishop Mehaffey as "a powerful influence for good".
He continued: "We all have our individual memories of Jim but all of us will recall with particular admiration his work with Bishop Daly, not only for peace, but also for reconciliation in this city. Together they brought hope and light into communities where there was precious little of either."
Bishop Mehaffey's daughter Wendy said her father always remained steadfast in his belief and faith. "During his last spell in hospital there was a day when, in a moment of brilliant and characteristic clarity, dad said: 'One helps the other'," she recalled. "May that be the profound message that we each take away from this gathering today."
The large congregation included the Lord Lieutenant of the City of Londonderry Dr Angela Garvey; Deputy Lieutenant Stella Burnside representing the current Lord-Lieutenant of the County of Londonderry, the Duke of Abercorn; Dame Mary Peters and various politicians.