Archbishop Eamon Martin has issued the following statement on the death of Bishop Francis Lagan, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Derry:
“I was very sad to hear of the death this morning, on the Feast of Saint Columba, of Bishop Francis Lagan, retired auxiliary bishop of my former Diocese of Derry. I remember Bishop Lagan as a caring brother priest and a gentle shepherd. While awaiting appointment, my very first placement as a newly ordained priest was for a few months with him in the parish of Saint Mary’s, Creggan. He was held in high regard by the priests, religious and people of the diocese and it was no surprise to us when he was appointed as the first Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese to assist the Bishop Edward Daly and later Bishop Seamus Hegarty. He undertook this role with humility and dedication to service.
As a member of the Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Lagan brought a pastoral and informed voice to a wide range of issues, particularly Education, Catechetics and Pastoral Renewal. Bishop Lagan had a keen insight into the reality of people’s lives and he never failed to bring his extensive pastoral experience to bear on discussions at the Bishops’ Conference table. As a teacher in Derry and Carndonagh, he nurtured young people in the faith and encouraged them to make the most of their gifts and educational opportunities; this remained his message to the thousands of young people on whom he conferred the sacrament of Confirmation over many years.
Bishop Lagan was a strong advocate for peace and reconciliation, having witnessed first-hand the terrible violence and heartbreak endured by people during the Troubles. He also understood the joys and struggles of his brother priests who often had to minister in the midst of great challenge, grief and community unrest. Frank enjoyed the company of priests – on and off the golf course – and he was always quick to offer a calm and reassuring word in times of difficulty. In my last visit to him in hospital at Christmas time, despite his own illness and frailty, he went out of his way to ask about me and to encourage and wish me well. His parishioners likewise found him to be sincere and welcoming, a man of prayer and a warm and understanding confessor.
At this sad time for Bishop Lagan’s family and all those who loved and cared for him, his many friends in Derry, Donegal and Tyrone, Bishop Donal and his brother priests and bishops, I invite all to pray for the happy repose of his gentle soul. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.”
· Archbishop Eamon Martin is the President of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.