Tributes paid as Richhill rector is laid to rest

The Rev David Somerville
The Rev David Somerville

More than 700 mourners attended St Matthew’s Church of Ireland in Richhill yesterday (Monday) for the funeral of its rector, the Rev David Somerville.

Mr Somerville (57), who had served the parish since September 2013, died suddenly on Saturday morning.

The funeral sermon was given by the Rev Willie Nixon, rector of St Patrick’s Parish Church, Drumbeg, and a close friend of Mr Somerville.

Both the church and the church hall were full to capacity, with dozens of mourners standing outside. It is estimated that more than 100 members of the clergy were in attendance.

The popular father-of-three is survived by two children from his first marriage, Ian and Sarah, and another son, Dan, from his second marriage to May in 2005.

Mr Somerville had previously told loved ones that his funeral message should focus on three things - the cross, the resurrection and the second coming of Christ - Mr Nixon said.

He added, “I reminded the congregation that we have a great hope because Christ has died, therefore our sins are dealt with; Christ has risen, therefore death is defeated and our hope for heaven is that Christ will come again to take us there.”

He said that Mr Somerville came to faith as a young boy at a children’s meeting in Knocknamuckley. He was a Boys’ Brigade officer for many years, only resigning at 38 due to other responsibilities.

He also served 20 years as an RUC Reservist and later went on to serve 17 years as a teacher at Rathfriland High School.

Mr Somerville was ordained as a deacon in Lisburn in 2000, was priested in 2001, was installed as rector in Rathfriland in 2003 where he served for 10 years, and was then made rector at Richhill in 2013.

“People of that parish are just devastated,” Mr Nixon said. “One elderly man came up to me today and said, ‘He came to us as a stranger two-and-a-half-years ago and leaves us as our best friend’.”

He added, “When he came into a room you could have not have missed him. He knew about pain and he knew how to journey with people in pain. That is why he was such a good pastor – that was where his true gifting lay.”

Newry and Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin, who visited the family home, said, “I was totally shocked to learn of Rev Somerville’s sudden passing and visiting the family home and speaking to his wife and children it is very clear he was a dedicated family man and really one of life’s true gentlemen.

“David really contributed so positively to the life of Richhill village since he took up his position as rector and speaking to his parishioners he will be missed so greatly.”