Information on the Funeral Liturgy for the late Bishop Anthony Farquhar RIP

23 Nov 2023

Requiem Mass for Bishop Anthony Farquhar will be celebrated today, Thursday 23 November 2023, at 12.00pm in the Church of the Good Shepherd, Ormeau Road, Belfast, in the Diocese of Down and Connor.  Following the Mass, interment will take place in the adjoining cemetery.
Live Stream
Click here for the live stream of the Requiem Mass.
Notes for Photographers / Journalist / TV and Radio
Out of privacy and respect for the family, no photography or filming is allowed within the Church of Good Shepherd.  Photographers and Journalists in attendance should make themselves known upon arrival to Father Edward McGee, Press Officer for the Diocese of Down and Connor.
Chief Celebrant
Bishop Donal McKeown, Apostolic Administrator of Down and Connor and Bishop of Derry.
Rev. Patrick Keown
Principal Concelebrants
Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh
Archbishop Luis Mariano Montemayor, Apostolic Nuncio
His Eminence, Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop Emeritus of Armagh
Very Rev. Brendan Hickland, Parish Priest of Holy Rosary Parish, Belfast
Very Rev. Robert Butler, Pastor Emeritus
Very Rev. Anthony McHugh, Parish Priest of Saintfield and Carrickmannon
Very Rev. Canon Patrick McKenna, Pastor Emeritus
Fellow Irish bishops will also be in attendance.  The celebrant and concelebrants will also be joined by the clergy of the Diocese of Down and Connor and visiting clergy vested in choral dress.
Ecumenical Representatives in Attendance
Archbishop John McDowell (Church of Ireland)
Bishop George Davison, Bishop of Connor (Church of Ireland)
Rev. David Turtle, President of the Methodist Church, Ireland (Methodist)
Rev. Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the Presbyterian Church, Ireland (Presbyterian)
Homily Delivered by Canon Patrick McKenna (To be checked against delivery)
‘O God, you chose to raise Bishop Anthony, and Bishop Paddy your servants, to the ministry of the high priesthood.  Grant that they may carry out worthily the office of Bishop, and under your governance in all things, may they direct by word and example the people entrusted to their care.’
This is the opening prayer said 40 years ago in Saint Peter’s Cathedral; when Bishop Cahal Daly ordained our two new auxiliary bishops for the diocese.  Today we can reminisce on Bishop Farquhar’s life of service where he used his God-given talents in carrying out worthily the office of Bishop in our Diocese.  May he now hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful Come and join in your Master’s happiness.”
I remember a Requiem Mass celebrated in this church by three brother priests for their sister, a faithful parishioner and they loved her dearly.  At the beginning of the Mass they announced, “We have come to bury our sister, not to praise her”.  Bishop Anthony was present both as a parishioner and retired bishop I remember the smile on his face, hearing those opening words.  He came here on many special occasions to celebrate the Eucharist and he loved imparting the Sacrament of Confirmation here.  This was his home parish and he had a tremendous regard for its parishioners.  Many knew him from his boyhood days, remembered him as a pupil of the old Rosario Primary School, as a student at Saint Malachy’s College.  They, along with his family helped foster his vocation, prayed for him in his student days at QUB and as a clerical student at the Pontifical College in Rome.  This parish celebrated his ordination with great joy in 1965 and celebrated again when he became auxiliary bishop of the diocese in 1983.
So we come to bury our bishop.  But just as the good Lord praised the person with five talents, we can do likewise with Bishop Farquhar.  We have come to thank God for the gift of a life that influenced the lives of thousands of people in Down and Connor; a life that impacted especially on the young people he confirmed; all ninety thousand of them.  His one message to confirmandi: “Never give up on your dreams”, advice inspired by his great friend Harry Greg.  He would mention the words on his Coat of Arms” Sapientia Proficere:” to increase in wisdom. “Get as much learning at school as you can, and wise up.”
Bishop Anthony taught Latin, Greek and Religion at Garron Tower for four years.  Bishop Donal was just one of his prize pupils.  He loved teaching and he loved Garron Tower.  He formed friendships with colleagues and students, friendships that have lasted a lifetime.  Eventually, he became assistant chaplain to Ambrose Macauley at QUB and afterwards religious lecturer in education and chaplain in NUU in Coleraine.  In both universities he influenced the lives of students, encouraged them during their years of study, influenced their social lives, joined with them in their love of sport, enhanced their love of the faith.  Close friendships were forged and maintained long after students had graduated.  He officiated at many of their weddings; being with them in good times and in difficult times, in sickness and in health.
Bishop Anthony’s first assignment was as a curate, in Ardglass.  He often talked to me about his days there and how much he loved the people, the Parish, and the golf course.  His crozier has a little fish designed on it to remind him of those halcyon days and how happy he was there.  His crozier reminds me of a story told about him and Bishop Paddy.  It might be false news.  On the day of ordination neither possessed a personal crozier.  Bishop Walsh procured access to a beautiful ornate silver crozier that belonged to the former bishop of the Diocese, Bishop Mageean.  Bishop Anthony borrowed the mahogany crozier belonging to the then Bishop of Derry, Edward Daly.  As they processed down the aisle after the ceremony, Bishop Anthony whispered to Bishop Paddy. “Paddy, you made it to the altar with an iron, I had to take a wood”.
Tony loved his golf.  I was with him and his friend Father Raymund Fitzpatrick in Portstewart the week the Papal Nuncio invited him to become a bishop.  But he had to remain silent about his appointment.  His golf was not up to scratch that day.  But his unique address of the ball didn’t change and spectators would often gather to see him address the ball and frighten the daylights out of it long time before belting it with venom down the middle of the fairway or, invariably with a quick hook, into the nearby bushes.
His other great passion was football, soccer as well as the GAA.; a loyal supporter of both games and had a special allegiance as President of the QUB Football Club, a loyal supporter during the Collingwood Cup Competition.  He had strong links with Dundela and a lifelong friendship with the legendary Dundela manager, the late Meryn Bell.  He would often go to Windsor Park to support the Northern Ireland team. You know, he could have been a special diplomat of peace and reconciliation during the reconstruction of Casement Park.  And then there was Dundee United for whom, unbeknownst to the Scottish FA, he was an unofficial spiritual director, where he was treated with tremendous deference, I don’t think he ever took the Ardglass Crozier with him.  In the final analysis, it was through sport he got to know and love so many young people.  Through sport, in his own unique way he communicated the Good News of Salvation.
“In your homily, always stick to the scriptures”. Is the advice, often given to homilists.  But scripturally speaking, when talking about ‘talents’ there is nothing in the scriptures about golf or football.  On reflection though, Anthony’s sporting interests and communication skills remind me of Saint Paul, the man who ‘fought the good fight, ran the race and kept the faith’.  He challenged others to go and do likewise. Isn’t that what Bishop Anthony was prepared to do in his life as a priest and bishop.  His great talent of course  was as a communicator whether talking to people or being involved in the world of radio and television or preaching a homily.  I always appreciated his thought for the day on UTV and in broadcast masses with the BBC.
God did not give him time to become involved with the Diocesan initiative, Pathways to the Future, which is our planning of the way forward in the diocese which he loved.  Had he been given the opportunity I know he would have continued to encourage the People of God, to become engaged.  He would have continued to be a promoter of religious and priestly vocations.  He would have continued to promote ecumenical dialogue with other churches.  In the whole field of ecumenical dialogue on a national and international level we thank him for his commitment and dedication.
Forgive me for being fulsome in my praise.  I’m not a lone figure in my thinking.  Facebook puts me in the halfpenny book when it comes to praise and thanks.  Today, I am reminded of the many appreciative comments made by those close colleagues who knew Bishop Tony even better than I did.  Bishop Walsh remembers him as a close personal friend.  Together, in those troubled years of tragedy and destruction they supported each other through very difficult times.  They worked as pastoral shepherds of their flock, offering comfort and sympathy to the many families whose lives were destroyed through violence and death and bloodshed. They never forgot the challenge given to them in the Introit of their ordination Mass “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach the good news to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted.”
When he retired in 2015.  Archbishop Martin talked about the respect with which he was held throughout the country as a teacher, lecturer, chaplain and in the area of interchurches relationships and how at Bishops’ Conference Meetings his intelligent and informed contributions were highly respected.  In his words he was “A profoundly spiritual priest, who had an innate understanding of the human condition with his God given gifts of warmth, wisdom and empathy leaving a lasting impression on all with whom he came in contact”.  Bishop Noel referred to the warmth and support he gave him personally, as a friend and colleague.  He mentioned his pastoral wisdom, guidance, and insightful knowledge of the diocese, his many personal talents, not least his smiling and hope filled presence.
Bishop Anthony leaves it to a younger generation of priests, religious and laity to continue the work of evangelisation and to present to the world a message of hope, peace, and love.  His life reminds everyone what vocation is all about.  May those young people in particular, the 90,000 whose lives he touched, take up the challenge with the same commitment and dedication that he had when, in the words of the poet, “Oh! bliss it was to be alive but to be young was very heaven.”
I end with a story Bishop Anthony often mentioned.  It is about himself as a junior student in Saint Malachy’s College where his uncle, Canon Walter Larkin was President.  There was a commotion in one of the classrooms and the President came to investigate the noise, to suss out the culprits and to meet out justice to those who were using foul language.  But nobody owned up to this unseemly behaviour.  So, he produced his trusty cane, lined up the whole class and gave them two slaps each.  Those were the days!  When he came to his beloved nephew, he muttered rather unconvincingly, I think, with a twinkle in his eye “The problem with you, Farquhar, is ‘irresponsible rearing at home’.”  His lovely sister Anne, to whom he was so devoted, and she to him, has a right to object vociferously.  So has Bernie, his devoted housekeeper.  So have the people of Holy Rosary Parish who remember him coming home from school each day taking time out to make his daily visit to the old Holy Rosary Church.  So would all of us here who come to offer our sympathies and thank God for his life.
We commend him to the Lord as one who carried out his life of service worthily as bishop of the diocese.  We commend him as one who knew that “when we have travelled all the ways, we come to the Lord who said, ‘I am the Way’.”
As we come to bury our bishop, may the Lord forgive him whatever faults and failings he had on his journey through life, for despite our sincere efforts none of us is really perfect, not even Bishop Farquhar.  May he who graced us with his presence for 84 years enjoy the fullness of life.  May his gentle soul rest in peace.
Holy Rosary Parish Choir


Notes to Editors

Bishop Tony Farquhar was originally born in the Belfast Parish of Holy Rosary in September 1940. Following primary studies, he entered Saint Malachy’s College, Antrim Road, Belfast in 1951 completing his secondary studies before commencing philosophical and Classical studies at QUB in 1957.  Graduating with a B.A. Honours degree in Classics from QUB, Bishop Farquhar continued his priestly formation and theological studies at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome in 1961 whilst residing in the nearby Pontifical Irish College.  He graduated from the Pontifical Lateran University with both a Bachelors Degree in Theology (B.D.) and a Licentiate in Theological Studies (S.T.L.) in 1965 before returning home to the Diocese of Down and Connor.
Bishop Farquhar was ordained a priest on 13 March 1965 and his first appointment in the Diocese was to the parish of Ardglass that following September.  In March 1966, he was appointed as Chaplain to Musgrave Park Hospital alongside Chaplaincy to Forster Green Hospital and Saint Patrick’s Training School, Glen Road.
In September 1966, Bishop Farquhar was appointed to the staff of Saint MacNissi’s College, Garron Tower where he taught until 1970 before taking up an appointment as Assistant Chaplain at Queen’s University Belfast.  In 1975, he became Chaplain and lecturer to the New University of Ulster as well as Chaplain to the Dominican College in Portstewart.
On 15 May 1983, he was ordained as an Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor and retired in December 2015.

Alongside his Diocesan Responsibilities as an Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor:
Bishop Farquhar served as an appointee of the Holy Father as a member of the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission (IARCCUM).
He served as Roman Catholic Co-Chairman of the Dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC).
Bishop Farquhar chaired the Commission on Ecumenism of the Irish Episcopal Conference when he steered it to take up its associate membership of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI).
He served as one of the Roman Catholic representatives at the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops from around the world (2008).
In 2008 his ecumenical work was acknowledged in an ecumenical Festschrift with contributions from leading ecumenists in these islands and around the world including a contribution by Cardinal Walter Kasper.
In 2016, Bishop Farquhar received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (DLitt) from Ulster University for his distinguished service to the university and to the community.