The body of the late Most Reverend Dr. Seamus Hegarty, former Bishop of Derry and former Bishop of Raphoe, is resting in St. Eugene’s Cathedral until his Funeral Mass on Monday, September 23 at 12.00 noon.
He passed away peacefully on Friday at Letterkenny University Hospital after a lengthy illness.
Burial will take place in the Cathedral grounds.
Many tributes have been paid to the former Bishop.
Archbishop Eamon Martin said he was saddened to hear of the death of Bishop Hegarty.
In a statement, he said that speaking as President of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, he wished to acknowledge the contribution of Bishop Hegarty to the work and outreach of the Conference over thirty years – first as Bishop of Raphoe, and then as Bishop of Derry.
"He was an active member of the Commission for Education in NI and on the Council for European Affairs, but what stands out is his dedication to the plight of Irish emigrants and their families, and his response to Irish prisoners overseas. Bishop Hegarty often intervened at conference meetings to draw attention to the personal, social and economic challenges facing emigrants, and he supported efforts to raise vital funds for the mission to those who face challenges far from home," he said.
He continued: "On a more personal level, I am grateful to Bishop Séamus for his encouragement and support to me as my bishop in Derry from 1994 until his retirement in 2011. He was unstinting in his support for my role as teacher and President of Saint Columb’s College. Having been a school principal himself for many years, he was passionate about the importance of education for young people and he had a strong awareness of the issues facing school staff and managers. He worked tirelessly to secure the new school sites for girls’ post-primary education in the City of Derry and to ensure that the very best facilities were being made available for our young people. When he came to Derry, he often spoke lovingly of his native Donegal, yet he quickly made many friends among the parishioners of the Diocese of Derry, including among the Irish language community – he was a native speaker himself. Bishop Séamus was strongly pro-life and he was always anxious as a faith leader to nurture the fledgling peace process."
The Bishop of Raphoe, Alan McGuckian SJ said that it was with sadness that the bishops, priests and people of the Diocese of Raphoe heard of the death of Bishop Hegarty.
A native of the Parish of Kilcar, Bishop Hegarty served the diocese for many years as priest and bishop.
In a statement, Bishop McGuckian added: "Bishop Hegarty had a long episcopal ministry. He was ordained Bishop of Raphoe on 28 March 1982 and was subsequently appointed Bishop of Derry in 1994. His ministry as bishop was deeply challenged. During those years there was the tragedy of serious crimes of child sexual abuse perpetrated by priests in the diocese. Bishop Hegarty was challenged about his management of those situations. Addressing failures on his own part, Bishop Hegarty asked for forgiveness from those who suffered cruelly. Following his resignation in 2011 on grounds of ill-health, he (Bishop Hegarty) stated, “I am deeply sorry that anyone was hurt through my management of allegations historically.”
The Diocese of Raphoe offers sincere sympathies to all those who loved Bishop Hegarty and grieve his passing.
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