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Archbishop John McDowell pays tribute to Bishop Tony Farqhuar

Archbishop John McDowell pays tribute to Bishop Tony Farqhuar

Archbishop John McDowell has issued the following statement of tribute following the announcement of the death of Bishop Tony Farqhuar, which took place on Friday evening (17th November):

It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Bishop Tony Farqhuar, priest, sportsman, ecumenist and raconteur.

I first met Tony in 1974 when he was an assistant Catholic Chaplain in Queen’s University, Belfast. The Catholic Chaplaincy had just been rebuilt and was at that time the last word in modernity and convenience. On top of its no doubt vibrant spiritual life the Chaplaincy ran a host of social activities. Some were presided over by the scholarly Chaplain and distinguished historian Fr Ambrose McCauley and some by the young gregarious and sports loving Fr Tony Farqhuar. For many from the Protestant tradition these first encounters with Catholic faith and society formed in us nothing but memories of warmth and hospitality.

Tony loved most sports but was particularly knowledgeable about soccer and became a sort of unofficial chaplain to the Queen’s and Queen’s Graduate teams. With a soft spot for the unglamorous underdog he maintained a particular fondness for Dundela FC and would be found often on the terraces of The Hen Run in East Belfast.

It was my privilege and pleasure to encounter Tony again nearly fifty years later, when I represented the Church of Ireland on the Irish Council of Churches and at meetings between members of the Church of Ireland House of Bishops and the Irish Episcopal Conference. In many ways Tony was a pioneer of the now fashionable ‘receptive ecumenism’ avant la lettre. For Tony authentic ecumenism was the sharing of memory and experience drawing on an underlying unspoken and indefinable communion which exists for those resting on the gift by the baptismal covenant. Ecumenical encounter was rather like showing a friend family photographs in the faith that they will share the feelings of warmth and affection of other families as well as their own.

Tony was a great encourager and I never left his presence without feeling slightly the better and wiser for it. A man of God and a man of the people, he will be greatly mourned and greatly given thanks for by many people, not least within the family of the Church of Ireland.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilís

Church of Ireland Press Office

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