'˜He was a man with a gift for friendship'

Tributes have been paid to Glenavy priest Fr Gregory Cormican, who passed away on January 14 after a long battle with illness.

Fr Gregory Cormican.

Mourners gathered at St Joseph’s Church, Glenavy on Wednesday, January 17 for Requiem Mass, where they heard Fr Con Boyle describe the popular 61-year-old, who served in parishes across Northern Ireland, as a good humoured man who was “often the life of a gathering”.

“When Gregory came into the lives of us, his classmates and brothers in the priesthood, we soon learned that he was good company for there was something bright and attractive about him. Often he was the life of a gathering – good humoured, he had a great laugh - and he was a man with a gift for friendship,” Fr Boyle said.

Ordained on March 31, 1981, Fr Cormican served as a curate and hospital chaplain before becoming Parish Priest of Ballyclare and Ballygowan in 1994 at the age of 38, making him the youngest Parish Priest in Ireland at that time.

From 2003 - 2009 he served as Parish Priest in Glenarm, and from 2009 - 2016 as Parish Priest in Coleraine before he was forced to resign due to ill health.

Giving the homily at Fr Cormican’s funeral mass, Fr Boyle said he and his fellow priests had “lost a brother”.

He continued: “A priest struggles the same as any of you in the face of terminal illness. On the Thursday before Christmas, a text from Gregory read: ‘...Didn’t get good news today...nothing more can be done but keep me pain free and comfortable and get me home to my sister’s. But faith remains in God’s love for me, there must be a reason for this – all for the glory of God!’”

Mourners heard how even in his final days, despite his pain, Fr Cormican was busy making preparations for his great-nephew’s baptism.

Paying tribute to his friend, Fr Boyle added: “For the whole of his adult life, Gregory sought to fulfil the words of the first reading from the prophet Isaiah: to speak the Good New of Jesus Christ, to accompany the broken hearted, to bring the liberating mercy of God, to give new hope and fresh heart to the suffering and bereft and, at the centre of his ministry, breaking the Bread of the Eucharist for God’s people.”

Fr Cormican was laid to rest in the cemetery adjoining St Joseph’s Church.