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Tributes after sudden death of Fermanagh cleric Mark Watson

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Canon Mark Watson

Canon Mark Watson

Canon Mark Watson

Tributes have been paid to a Church of Ireland clergyman who died suddenly at his home in Co Fermanagh yesterday.

In a statement, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher Rt Rev John McDowell and the clergy of the diocese expressed their deepest sympathy and sadness following the unexpected death of their esteemed colleague, Canon Mark Watson.

Canon Watson (52) had been rector of Maguiresbridge and Derrybrusk parishes since 2017.

The married father-of-two was also a canon of St Macartan's Cathedrals in Clogher and Enniskillen and past County Grand Chaplain of Co Fermanagh Orange Lodge.

A diocesan spokesman said: "Our prayers and thoughts are foremost with his family and we particularly remember his wife Rhona and sons Peter and Samuel and the whole family circle at this time.

"Canon Watson was a dedicated and faithful pastor and will be greatly missed by his parishioners.

"We ask everyone to remember Canon Watson's family in their prayers as the family come to terms with his sudden and untimely death."

A spokesman for The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said it was "saddened to learn of the recent passing of Wor. Bro. Canon Mark Watson (Past County Grand Chaplain, Co. Fermanagh) and tender their deepest sympathies to the family circle".

The Police Service of Northern Ireland confirmed that officers had attended the scene of a sudden death in the Drumgoon Road area of Maguiresbridge on Monday morning.

"A post mortem is due to take place to determine the cause of the death.

"There are no further details at this stage," said the spokesman.

Many took to social media yesterday to express their shock, including First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster.

"This is such a shock and so terribly sad.

"My deepest sympathy to his wife and two sons and to the community in Maguiresbridge who will be shaken to their core when they hear this news," the Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA said.

Others described him as "a wonderful minister and friend to many", "a valued rector" and "a good man with a big heart".

Canon Watson, a native of Omagh, was ordained in 1995 and served as a curate in the parishes of Ballymoney, Finvoy and Rasharkin in Connor Diocese between 1995 and 1998.

He was Rector of Brackaville, Donaghendry and Ballyclog (Coalisland) in Armagh Diocese between 1998-2001.

Following this he was appointed Rector of Killesher (Florencecourt) in the Diocese of Kilmore in 2001.

Canon Watson moved to Trory and Killadeas parishes in Clogher Diocese in 2006, where he served for more than 11 years before making the move to Maguiresbridge.

Belfast Telegraph