Mourners at the funeral of Bishop Francis Lagan were told how the former Diocese of Derry Auxiliary Bishop was kind and gentle in the face of turmoil.
Bishop Lagan passed away last Tuesday and his funeral was held at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Strabane last Thursday.
The bishop of Derry paid tribute to Bishop Francis’ kind and gentle nature, something he said was an indicator of great strength, both as a teacher and a curate.
“He was known as a kindly teacher. There is nothing as strong as real gentleness and nothing as gentle as real strength,” he said.
“After five years here in Strabane as a curate, he was put in charge of St Mary's, Creggan – at a time of widespread chaos and violence.
“But his talents had been noticed and in 1988 – in the midst of chaotic events following the Gibraltar shootings – he was ordained as Auxiliary Bishop of Derry.”
Born in Maghera, Bishop Lagan was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Derry in 1960 at Maynooth College.
His ministry began with teaching appointments at St Columb's College, Derry (1961-1963), Carndonagh College (1963-1973), and Carndonagh Community School (1973-1977).
He then served as curate in Strabane and Administrator at St Mary’s Parish, Creggan before being appointed auxiliary bishop for the diocese in 1988.
Bishop McKeown told those present in the church and those watching online that Bishop Lagan had urged him to keep things ‘simple’.
“For Bishop Francis, the restrictions imposed by Covid have been ideal in enabling him to be buried with little fuss. In life and in death, he was a simple man,” he said.
Bishop Lagan retired to what Bishop McKeown described as his ‘beloved Strabane’, but was buried in his native Maghera, in whose life and culture he was deeply rooted.
Bishop McKeown recognised the loss felt by Bishop Lagan’s family and friends and acknowledged how faithful they had been during his final days.
“The loss of a loved one is painful, it touches the depths of who we are. A wound is left where a person is plucked from us. It is healthy to recognise that pain,” he said
“Today we recognise the loss felt by the large extended Lagan family and by Bishop Francis' circle of faithful friends. He was much loved by them. Pain is the price we pay for having loved.
“In the hospital, I commented how faithful the family were in accompanying him and each other in his last days. "He was very good to us," came the reply.”
Ending his homily, Bishop McKeown described Bishop Lagan as a man of peace and encouragement.
“He died in the early hours of the Feast of St Columba, a man of peace. And he is being buried on the feast of St Barnabas, whose name means 'son of encouragement'.
“Bishop Francis was a man who could claim to be a descendant of both.”
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