The funeral takes place tomorrow of popular Lurgan priest Fr Martin McAlinden.
Tributes have been pouring in for Fr Martin who passed away on Monday morning at Newry Hospice.
Fr McAlinden, who was 51, had been a very popular figure in the St Anthony’s Parish and throughout Lurgan.
He grew up in Ashwood, the son of Barney and Mary McAlinden.
Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey said he had a “common touch that allowed people to approach him, to work with him and to form deep bonds of trust and friendship”.
Dr McAreavey said “Fr Martin was appreciated for his gift of empathy and friendship. He was a deeply spiritual and reflective priest whose pastoral care and preaching touched the lives of many people.
“His ministry touched not only Catholic parishioners but members of other churches. Particularly in Craigavon, he worked closely with the clergy of the other churches in the area.”
He added Fr McAlinden was a “life-long student, a priest who got energy and inspiration from reading, reflection and writing”.
“He had the unusual gift of being both personable and studious, both personally warm and academically disciplined and rigorous.”
SDLP councillor Joe Nelson described Fr McAlinden as “a real gentleman”.
“I’m saddened to hear of his passing. Priests in the diocese will be devastated by this news,” he said.
Cllr Nelson added that Fr McAlinden, who had been ill for some time, was well- known for his charitable and ecumenical work, and had been extensively involved in cross- community activity before his illness.
“Fr McAlinden was very well thought of in the area,” said Mr Nelson. He was a real gentleman who worked hard for his parishioners in Moyraverty,
“He’ll be greatly missed by his colleagues and former parishioners.”
Church of Ireland bishop Bishop Harold Miller also paid tribute on Twitter, saying: “One of the most wonderful ecumenical priests I have known died today after a long battle with cancer: Fr Martin McAlinden.
“Thank God for him”.
Fr McAlinden was also remembered as the chaplain of Newry Hospice and he was an avid fundraiser for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Fr Martin was ordained on June 24 in St Peter’s Church and has been a curate at a number of parishes, including Newry, Saval, Drumgath, Tullylist and Seaptrick.
He became Parish Priest in Moyraverty in 2004 and remained there until 2012.
Then he was appointed as Parish Priest of Dromore where he stayed for two years.
Subsequently he was appointed to the staff of St Patrick’s College Maynooth in 2014.
Last night a special all night vigil was held for Fr Martin at his former parish of St Anthony’s where his remains were reposing.
Fr. Martin’s remains will leave St Anthony’s at 12.15pm tomorrow (Wednesday, June 15) arriving at St Peter’s Church, Lurgan for Requiem Mass at 1.00pm.
His burial in Lylo Cemetery, Craigavon.
Monsignor Hugh Connolly of Maynooth said: “Fr Martin McAlinden has departed this life after an extraordinarily courageous and inspiring struggle with terminal illness.
“Despite being a member of the Maynooth faculty for a comparatively short time he has made an enormous contribution to the Pontifical University and National Seminary as Director of Pastoral Training.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his grieving family, brother priests in the Diocese of Dromore, and all his colleagues and students here in Maynooth. May almighty God grant eternal life to Fr. Martin and may he grant comfort and consolation to all the bereaved. May he rest in Peace.”
He is survived by his parents, his sister Linda, his nieces Charlene and Sinead and nephew Conor uncles and aunts.