Mourners were invited to remember how Dean Millar’s smile would light up a room as the family and friends of the young Creggan man finally got the chance to say their goodbyes at his Funeral Mass on Tuesday.
Chief among mourners at St. Mary’s this morning were the late 18-year-old’s parents Deirdre and Patrick, and his sisters Shannon and Kelsey.
They were supported by a large congregation which gathered in the Creggan chapel to pay their final respects to the teenager. Pupils from Dean’s alma mater, St. Joseph’s Boys’ School were joined by students from St. Mary’s College and St. Cecilia’s College, as the wider Creggan community stood in solidarity with the Millar and McDaid families.
Some of Dean’s friends, many of whom walked the banks of the River Foyle in the five and half weeks preceeding the discovery of his body near Newbuildings on Easter Tuesday, lined one of the aisles.
Their T-shirts told how Dean will be “forever in our hearts” and bore a picture of the young Creggan man’s smiling face.
In his homily Father Joe Gormley recalled that smile, stating: “Dean was a gift from God to Patrick and Deirdre. The smile in the photograph that was taken at Dean’s eighteenth tells of someone who knew he was loved by you both, by Shannon, Kelsey, by Granny Josie, Grandad Eugene and Patsy, aunts, uncles and cousins. God’s love was lavished on him through them.
“Dean’ smile and presence would light up any room. He was full of fun with his friends and willing to share that with others as a boy in Rosemount Primary School and then at St. Joseph’s Boys’ School. He was happy in school and would like going to school, ‘as eager as Forrest Gump’, as some of his family have commented.
“In Pilots Row Youth Club the loss of Dean is deeply felt by the youth workers and his friends. They knew that Dean, as well as being full of fun, was also caring and sensitive. Today we thank God for such a beautiful gift of a person.”
Fr. Gormley told mourners countless prayers were offered up during the five and a half weeks of torment endured by his family.
None were as poignant as his mother Deirdre’s plaintive and direct appeal to God, however.
“Of all the prayers that have been said there was none more heartfelt that the one said by Dean’s mother Deirdre: ‘Bring him home Jesus so that I can give him back to You in the right way.’
“Today we have an answer to the prayer of Patrick and Deirdre, Kelsey and Shannon, the Millar and McDaid families and the people of this city.
“That prayer being answered became present in the work of so many people searching for Dean.
“The volunteers of Foyle Search and Rescue, Community Rescue from Strabane, the police, community representatives and organisations, and hundreds of people, many the same age as Dean who gave up their days and evenings to bring Dean home.
“Dean’s family thanks God for them. We are also very mindful of the prayers and support needed for Jack Glenn’s family who have walked this painful road alongside them.”
Dean was laid to rest in the City Cemetery immediately after the celebration of his Funeral Mass.