Death of Bishop James Mehaffey
THE death has taken
place of Rt Rev Dr James Mehaffey, a former Bishop
of the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe and one of the
North West’s best-known church leaders of recent
Bishop Mehaffey, who was 88, died peacefully on
Monday evening surrounded by his family. Dr Mehaffey
led the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe for over 20
years, from his consecration in September 1980 until
his retirement in January 2002. Last May, a Service
of Thanksgiving was held in St Columb’s Cathedral to
mark the 65th anniversary of his ordination.
Publicly, Dr Mehaffey – who was born near Portadown
in County Armagh – is probably best known for the
extraordinarily close friendship he developed with
one of his Roman Catholic counterparts, the Bishop
of Derry, Most Rev Dr Edward Daly. The two men’s
joint ministry during some of the worst years of the
Troubles – when they released joint statements, took
part in foreign trips together and jointly led Carol
Services – was an inspiration to many in the North
West and beyond.
The late Bishop of Derry and Raphoe,
Dr James Mehaffey, and the late Bishop of Derry Dr
Edward Daly are pictured with the then Mayor of
Derry, Cllr Brenda Stevenson, after the church
leaders received the Freedom of Derry in 2015.
In March 2015, the then
Derry City Council acknowledged the two churchmen’s
role as peacebuilders by conferring the Freedom of
the City upon them at a reception in the city’s
Guildhall. Bishop Mehaffey had previously had the
Freedom of the City of London conferred on him on
27th November 2002.
The two bishops were founder members of the Inner
City Trust, an organisation which was responsible
for rebuilding much of Londonderry’s bomb-damaged
city centre, and they served together for many years
on the Trust’s board.
During his time as Bishop, Dr Mehaffey officiated at
numerous funerals of parishioners who had lost their
lives as a result of violence, among them members of
the RUC and the Ulster Defence Regiment. He was a
trenchant opponent of the use of violence for
political ends, a tireless advocate for
reconciliation in Northern Ireland and a staunch
supporter of the peace process.
The Rt Rev Andrew Forster - who was consecrated
Bishop of Derry and Raphoe last month - said that at
a time when Churches were often being depicted as
part of the problem in Northern Ireland, Bishop
James and Bishop Edward became part of the solution.
The funeral of the Rt Rev Dr James Mehaffey will
take place at St Columb’s Cathedral on Saturday
afternoon, January 11th. The Service of Thanksgiving
for Dr Mehaffey’s life will begin at 2pm.
Dr Mehaffey’s family have said that, in the
meantime, visitors will be welcome to pay their
respects to the late Bishop at the family home at 10
Clearwater, off the Limavady Road, from Wednesday
morning onwards between 11am and 11pm. Dr Mehaffey
will be cremated in Belfast on Monday, 13th January,