Married Catholic deacon man of ‘wit and wisdom’

Married Catholic deacon man of ‘wit and wisdom’

12 January 2022

TRIBUTES have been paid to the first ever married deacon of St Patrick’s Church in Downpatrick, who died last week just a month after his ordination.

The ordination service of Rev Deacon Paul McCormick was held earlier than planned after he was diagnosed with a malignant tumour in November.

Due to his failing health, he attended the service on December 4, which was concelebrated by the Bishop of Down and Connor, the Most Rev Noel Treanor, in a wheelchair.

The 57 year-old father of-two from Saul, who died last Thursday, had previously complained of problems with his vision.

His funeral took place at St Patrick’s Church on Saturday and was followed by interment in St Patrick’s cemetery, Saul.

Rev McCormick had been in training to become a member of the Permanent Married Diaconate for the last four years.

He did his final exams at Maynooth seminary in early November last year where he became known as an acolyte in the process.

He had already become involved in assisting in the local parish but after ordination, Rev McCormick’s duties were to have included visiting the sick and bereaved and bringing the Eucharist to the sick at home or in hospital, celebrating baptisms and marriages and presiding at funerals.

Permanent married deacons of the Catholic Church cannot celebrate the Eucharist or hear confessions.

Fr John Murray, Downpatrick Parish Priest, described Rev McCormick as someone who would have been a great help to the parish in his ministry.

He said: “He was a wonderful man. Nobody could have had a bad word about Paul.

“We were looking forward to his ministry because he would have been assigned to our parish and would have been a big help to us, especially with diminishing numbers of priests and ageing priests.”

Fr Murray said that Rev McCormick never got the chance to practice as a deacon due to his illness which only became apparent when he reported having difficulty viewing his computer screen while working at home.

Rev McCormick held a senior position with Ulster Bank and worked in the Downpatrick branch for 39 years.

One of Rev McCormick’s classmates, who was to have been ordained with in on February 19, paid tribute to him, his faith and how he bore his illness.

Deacon-elect Jackie Breen said Rev McCormick was a man of “wit and wisdom”.

“He was inspirational in his witness and his confidence in God’s plan for him undoubtedly helped his family and friends,” he added.

Rev McCormick is survived by his wife, Geraldine, children Liam and Niamh, mother Margaret, brother John and sisters Colette, Vivienne and Helen. He was predeceased by his father, Billy.