Belfast Telegraph

McGavigan family heartache as funeral of toddler Ronan held in Derry

By Donna Deeney

Two majestic black horses brought the remains of little Ronan McGavigan in a glass hearse to St Columb’s Church, Derry for Mass of the Angels.

The adorable two-year-old died on Sunday in a tragic road traffic collision outside his home in the Lonemoor Road.

Hundreds of tearful mourners led by Ronan’s parents filled the church where Fr Eamonn Graham said the impact of Ronan’s death had reached far and wide and prayers were being said for him this week right across Northern Ireland.

So many floral tributes lined the interior of the hearse which were dominated by one that spelled Ro Ro, the families pet name for Ronan.

Mass of the Angels is said in Catholic Churches for children because, as Fr Graham explained to the congregation, a little child that dies will go straight to heaven and will not therefore need a Requiem Mass.

Before asking the mourners to pause for a few moments to reflect on their own thoughts and memories of Ronan, Fr Graham recalled: “It was just over two years since Ronan’s mother Laura carried him into this church to be baptised and it was only a few weeks ago the family gathered for a First Communion.

“Today, Laura carried Ronan back to this church for his funeral.  It seems so hard and so unfair.”

Five younger members of the family, including Ronan’s brothers carried up the offertory gifts to the alter which included a soft teddy bear which had angel’s wings attached and a photograph of Ronan.

In his homily Fr Graham said being present with the family was more important than anything that anyone might say to try and ease the terrible burden the family are facing.

He added: “Last Sunday was a lovely sunny day and it was a great delight to see and hear children playing, nothing could be more joyful or more uplifting.

“Yet in an instant that day of happiness was turned upside  down and little Ronan lost his life.

“I think over the past few days we have gotten to know the character Ronan was, full of love, full of joy and with a good helping of rascality which endeared him to all but he managed to do so much good in his sort life.

“I know the family has been overwhelmed by the support, kindness and love they have received from friend and stranger alike.

“They are most grateful for this bright light of linden’s in the midst of this most difficult and darkest of times.

“I had a phone call from a friend of mine in the Shank ill Road who is involved in the evangelical church there and he asked me to tell every one here today that Ronan was prayed for at his church, that’s the kind of reach, Ronan had.

“At a deeper level the life and death of Ronan had a profound effect, many of us have looked at our own lives and asked “how can I be a better person?”.

“Many people have reached the hand of friendship that tin the past would have been held back, that is Ronan’s work, a work that will continue always.

“The love that he gave and received will not end and whether our faith is strong or weak, we ask ourselves, why do these things happen, where was God?

“There are no easy answers but we can see the goodness of Ronan’s short life, the goodness that continues.”

After the sorrowful cortege left the church, it  made ts way to Derry’s City Cemetery where five helium balloons were released by Ronan’s sister and brothers as well as two white doves.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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