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Mourners told crash victim Joan McAlister was 'always devoted to her Christian faith'

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Mourners at the funeral of Joan McAllister

Mourners at the funeral of Joan McAllister

Joan McAllister

Joan McAllister

Mourners at the funeral of Joan McAllister

Mourners at the funeral of Joan McAllister

Mourners at the funeral of Joan McAllister

Mourners at the funeral of Joan McAllister

Mourners at the funeral of Joan McAllister

A Co Armagh woman who died in a road collision in the Republic was described as a woman "deeply devoted to her Christian faith" at her funeral yesterday.

Joan McAlister was the passenger in a 4x4 vehicle involved in a collision with another car last Friday evening.

Mourners attended the service yesterday afternoon at Thomas Street Methodist Church in Portadown, with the 68-year-old woman's local church at Battlehill not able to accommodate the many within the community who wished to support her family and friends.

Those in attendance heard moving tributes from five of Ms McAlister's closest friends, while the Rev Alan Wardlow reflected that the former teacher and gospel outreach worker had made a huge impact both locally and further afield.

The woman, who grew up in the Battlehill area between Portadown and Armagh, had a rural upbringing before attending school in Portadown and later training as a teacher.

"She taught in Whitehead and then also in Richhill, and that is where she remained before she retired from teaching in 2000 after taking early retirement," said Rev Wardlow.

"Joan grew up on a farm and so her background is rural but also coming from a very deeply devoted religious family. She was a valued member of Battlehill Methodist, which was her home church and just up the lane from her house.

Rev Wardlow spoke of Ms McAlister's work with the Irish Evangelistic Band which took her across the island of Ireland preaching the gospel.

"In her own Christian life she always had an interest in missionary work and she was also a great singer, so she kept all those interests up when she retired from teaching and attended Belfast Bible College," he said.

"Her work with the Irish Evangelistic Band took her to the Republic of Ireland. Particularly down the west side of Ireland.

"All the islanders around that part would have known Joan fondly from her time visiting their homes and conducting meetings. She shared the gospel with them.

"Her faith always played a key role in her life. She was a very devoted Christian woman. She felt a calling to go into this work and, while she still had her home here in Portadown, she would often be away a lot carrying out her work."

Rev Wardlow told mourners that Ms McAlister went about her life with "cheerfulness, humility and grace" and emphasised that she was always willing to help others who were in need, doing it "quietly without making any fuss".

"She shared the love of Christ with people, that was her whole reason for being," added the minister.

"I don't think we will ever fully appreciate the number of lives she would have touched over her time. They are beyond the known."

A private family internment followed the service.

Meanwhile the funeral service of Ms McAlister's colleague Ian Kennedy will take place today at 2pm in St James' Church of Ireland, Donemana.

The funerals of Mary Faxton, her son Kevin and Bryan Magill will also take place today. All three were killed in a motorway crash in Dundalk on Saturday.

Belfast Telegraph