Fr. George was a priest who was ‘listener, counsellor and healer’

The late Father George Doherty, formerly curate of the Star of the Sea chapel in Desertegney, pictured here with gifts he received from local people to mark his Diamond Jubilee. (Contributed picture)
The late Father George Doherty, formerly curate of the Star of the Sea chapel in Desertegney, pictured here with gifts he received from local people to mark his Diamond Jubilee. (Contributed picture)

Father George Doherty was, for many, “the priest who was the listener, the counsellor, the healer,” mourners at his funeral have been told.

The Carndonagh native passed away on Christmas Day at the age of 87 and Requiem Mass was conducted by Fr. Eugene Hasson in Fr. Doherty’s final parish at Desertegney last week.

In his Homily delivered at the Star of the Sea Church, Fr. Hasson said it was “impossible” to condense 87 and a half years into a few minutes.

He said: “Fr. George’s story began not too many miles from here in Carndonagh where George was the youngest of a family of 14 siblings, three of whom died in infancy as you, his family, know.

“We express our prayerful solidarity with his surviving sister, Ann and his many nephews and nieces who have gathered here this afternoon.

“George was gifted athletically. As a young man he was a talented soccer player, playing centre-forward for Carn Rangers and he maintained an interest in soccer and many sports.

“George was also gifted musically with a beautiful singing voice.

“He loved the local drama scene and the Wexford Opera Festival was a highlight on his annual calendar. He was gifted with a unique cadence and tone to his voice, that made his speaking or singing in public very distinctive.”

He also listed the parishes Fr. George had served in during his service stretching back over 60 years in the Derry Diocese.

These included Greencastle, Co.Tyrone; Glenullin in Co. Derry; Lavey in South Derry, Dungiven in North Derry, Drung, Co.Donegal, Dunamanagh, where served 21 years as Parish Priest before being invited to minister in Desertegney at the age of 75.

“Fr. George was for many the priest who was the listener, the counsellor, the healer and he gave of his talents and his time generously.”

Among those attending the Mass were Bishops Donal McKeown, Seamus Hegarty, Francis Lagan and several local priests.

Mourners were told that while in the U.S. in his youth, Fr. Hasson was shown John Lennon’s protest record featuring ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’.

He said: “It was John Lennon’s response to the events of January 1972 in Derry. The lyrics were printed on the cover and there too was a photograph, the subject was a protest march in Dungiven with 13 people carrying white crosses walked to the police barracks and placed them there. And leading the march was Fr. George Doherty. Imagine a priest of the Derry diocese was chosen to grace a John Lennon protest LP!

Imagine, it was Father George.”