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Death of Bishop James Mehaffey 07.01.20

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 times.
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, at 1.30pm.
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