REDEMPTORIST priest Fr Gerry Reynolds, who hailed from Limerick and passed away this week, will be buried in Belfast this Thursday.
The Mungret man, who was based in Belfast’s Clonard Monastery for more than 30 years, died on Monday following a short illness. He will be laid to rest in Milltown Cemetery in Belfast. He was 82.
The priest, who was ordained in 1960 and spent over 20 years working in various ministries before moving to Clonard in 1983, was, with Fr Alex Reid, deeply committed to working for peace in Northern Ireland.
Limerick TD Niall Collins said that Fr Reynolds was “one of the unsung heroes of the Northern peace process”.
“Quietly working alongside Fr Alex Reid, he was one of the key intermediaries who helped make the case for the Provisional IRA to turn away from violence.
“That was absolutely critical work that has never been properly recognised,” said Mr Collins.
“Fr Reynolds’ family and the Redemptorist community have lost a very close friend. Limerick has lost a very special son.
“Our thoughts go out to his family, his colleagues and his very many friends across the country. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a ainm,” added the Fianna Fail Deputy.
Gerry Adams described Fr Reynolds as “a champion of the peace process after he passed away in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast early on Monday morning.
“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,” said Mr Adams.
Fr Reynolds was born into a family that was steeped in the ways of the Redemptorists, with two of his uncles priests in the Order. A number of Fr Reynolds’ family still live in Limerick, where he would visit regularly.
Clonard said in a statement that he would 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”.
Gerry Reynolds was born in 1933, losing his father when he was just six years of age. He took his vows in 1953, studying in Galway and then theology at the order’s seminary, being ordained in 1960.
Stints around the country followed and he was appointed as Redemptorist Rector in Limerick in 1975, later moving to Athenry and finally Clonard.
There, with Fr Reid and others, he worked tirelessly to promote peace and the possibility of reconciliation. SDLP leader John Hume would meet Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein in Clonard in 1988, an encounter that would help to pave the way for a peaceful outcome to the Troubles in the North.
Fr Reynolds will be greatly missed by his sister Noreen, brothers Michael and Fr. Patrick C.Ss.R., sister-in-law Kay, nephews, nieces and a wide circle of friends.