Fr Gerry Reynolds R.I.P.
With the sad news of the death of Gerry Reynolds we carry links to BBC N.I. and UTV. We extend our sympathies to his family and to his Redemptorist colleagues. May he rest in peace.
Peacemaker priest Fr Gerry Reynolds from Belfast’s Clonard Monastery dies
Father Gerry Reynolds, a Redemptorist priest who worked for peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, has died.
Father Reynolds was based at Clonard Monastery in west Belfast for more than 30 years.
The monastery was once described by Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams as “the cradle of the peace process”.
With his friend and fellow priest, Father Alex Reid, Fr Reynolds was deeply committed to brokering peace.
Fr Reid acted as a go-between for the IRA and politicians and was one of the witnesses who confirmed the decommissioning of IRA weapons. He died two years ago.
Gerry Adams described Fr Reynolds as “a champion of the peace process”.
“He was central to efforts to develop a peace process years before it eventually took root. I want to extend to his family, and to colleagues in the Redemptorist Order, and to his many friends my sincerest condolences.”
Fr Reynolds was born in Limerick. His father died when he was six years old. His mother was deeply religious and two of his uncles were Redemptorist Priests.
He, too, found he had a vocation and was ordained a priest in 1960.
He worked in ministries in the Republic of Ireland until 1983, when he came to Clonard monastery.
In an interview with journalist Sue Leonard in 2009 for the Catholic magazine, Reality, he said that when he came to the city there was one challenge.
“It was ‘How do you stop the killing?'”, he said.
Fr Reynolds was a committed ecumenist, reaching out to other churches was vital to him.
“He was instrumental in helping to facilitate discussions between members of the Protestant churches and Irish republicans,” Mr Adams said.
Clonard is the focus of the project, Unity Pilgrims, where parishioners attend not only Sunday Mass; but also visit Presbyterian, Methodist or Church of Ireland Churches and the Clonard-Fitzroy Fellowship.
The links between Fitzroy Presbyterian Church and Clonard began in 1981 and were about encouraging mutual understanding and respect. In latter years, Fr Reynolds gave leadership on the Clonard side.
In his interview with Reality, Fr Reynolds said: “The people have changed since peace.
“But there is always work to be done. Every generation is like a continent to be won for Christ. That missionary task remains.”
Fr Reynolds loved poetry, particularly Patrick Kavanagh, Seamus Heaney and Gerard Manley Hopkins.
He died on at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital on Monday after a short illness.
In a statement, the Redemptorist community at Clonard said: “He will be greatly missed by his Redemptorist confreres and colleagues, his family, friends, and the many people whose lives he touched through his ecumenical, peace and reconciliation ministries.”
Story by UTV Staff, Belfast
‘Champion of peace’ Fr Gerry Reynolds dies
Fr Gerry Reynolds, one of the most prominent priests in the move towards peace in Northern Ireland has died.
Fr Reynolds, along with Fr Alex Reid, worked to end violence in Northern Ireland throughout the Troubles.
Fr Reid was one of the witnesses to the decommissioning of weapons by the IRA.
The news of his passing was confirmed in a statement issued by Fr Noel Kehoe, Rector at Clonard Monastery.
“It is with deep regret that the Redemptorist Community at Clonard announce the death of Fr. Gerry Reynolds C.Ss.R,” it read.
“Fr. Gerry passed away in the care of the Royal Victoria hospital at 6.50am this morning, 30th November 2015 after a short illness.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that Fr Reynolds was a “champion of the peace process.”
“Along with Fr. Reid and Fr. Des Wilson he was central to efforts to develop a peace process years before it eventually took root and he believed totally in the primacy of dialogue,” he said.
“Fr. Reynolds was part of the Clonard Church Ministry, a special peace-making ministry within the Redemptorist Order.
“It was based on the historic tradition of the Church’s providing sanctuary and was focussed on the importance of compassion as “the first principle of all human relationships.”
“Fr. Reynolds embraced the importance of dialogue with other churches.
“I want to extend to his family, and to colleagues in the Redemptorist Order, and to his many friends my sincerest condolences.”
Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt paid tribute to the work that the Redemptorist priest had done throughout the years.
“I knew him from my days in journalism when he was a vocal and visible member of the faith community pushing politicians to stretch themselves for peace,” he said.
“Alongside the late Father Alec Reid and others he was instrumental in the quiet diplomacy that was one of the foundation stones that led to the Belfast Agreement in 1998.”
The SDLP’s Alex Attwood also expressed his condolences and said that Fr Reynolds shared close links with his family.
“He was forever working to make peace. His special work with Fr Alec Reid was one example of this. His life was defined by such work, seeking out the opportunity for good to prevail.
“He was devoted to the monastery, the people of Clonard and all of West Belfast. He brought Christian witness into private lives and public spaces.
“My family have also lost a great friend. Gerry was at our wedding, baptised our daughter Nora and concelebrated my mother’s funeral mass in May.
“At birth, during life and at death Fr Gerry Reynolds was part of the lives of many, many people. He was deeply loved.”
Sad to hear the news…I have many happy memories of staying in Clonard monastery as a guest of Gerry’s, and even serving a Mass he presided at on one occasion…. I am grateful for all I received from him. His work is done,may he rest in Peace.
I am so sad to hear of Gerry’s death. Thank you for letting us all know.We spent a wonderful weekend in his company and that of his friend and ecumenical collaborator, Rev. Sam Birch in the early 1990s as they lead us here in Edinburgh through a weekend of ecumenical renewal. Our ecumenical project began in this archdiocese through the Parish Renewal Program written by another great and inspirational Redemptorist, Fr. Johnny Doherty, a Donegal man. After our first year as the Ecumenical Core Group of the archdiocese, we felt we needed a weekend of renewal. Johnny suggested to me that we invite Gerry to Edinburgh.
Keith O’Brien was then our archbishop and he was completely supportive of this initiative as he always was.
Our Ecumenical Core Group eventually became the official Ecumenical Commission of our archdiocese.
Gerry was a wonderful man and priest, completely devoid of the “rigidity” that Seamus has referred to. May God rest his soul as he enjoys his eternal reward.
I had the privilege of living and working with Gerry for nine years in Clonard Monastery. A Redemptotist, a priest, a prophet and a man of peace. He passionately believed that all of us, no matter what our history, politics or faith background were, were brothers and sisters to each other. He believed no barrier was so high, wide or strong that it couldn’t be crossed, overcome and broken down. He also had a great sense of humour! A wonderful confrere and a great community man. Will be hugely missed by all us Redemptorists, and his family and friends. The country owes him a huge debt of gratitude. May he rest in peace. Copiosa Apud Eum Redemptio.
Adrian Egan, C.Ss.R.