02 August 2022, The Tablet

Fr Dermott Donnelly is laid to rest

Fr Dermott Donnelly is laid to rest

Declan Donnelly (right) is embraced by his stage partner Ant McPartlin (left) outside St Mary's Cathedral, Newcastle, following a Requiem Mass for his brother Fr Dermott Donnelly, who died aged 55.

The funeral of popular Hexham and Newcastle priest Fr Dermott Donnelly, who died unexpectedly last month, attracted hundreds of well-wishers last week. Fr Donnelly, who was 55 on his sudden death from illness at the beginning of July, was laid to rest in a service at St Mary's Cathedral, Newcastle, on Friday 29 July. 

Fr Donnelly, ordained in 1992, had served for 30 years as a priest in the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, where he specialised in youth ministry. At the time of his death on Friday 8 July, he was the director of youth services for the diocese and the founder of the youth ministry team.  

As part of his work with youth ministry he helped to establish the Emmaus Youth Village in Consett, and was a founding member of the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation of England and Wales. In 2017, on his Silver Jubilee, Fr Donnelly founded the Significance charity, an organisation aiming to provide grants to young people to help them realise their own significance.

The Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, Robert Byrne CO, paid tribute to Fr Donnelly in a statement, saying that the priest “truly lived his faith, and in doing so gave so much to others. It is with great gratitude that we will remember him and all he selflessly gave”. During the funeral itself, Emeritus Bishop Séamus Cunningham, former Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, praised the deceased’s energy and wisdom: “Some people talk a lot but do very little.” Bishop Cunningham said, “Dermott said little but did a lot."

In a tribute during the requiem mass, Fr Dermott’s brother, television presenter Declan “Dec” Donnelly, paid tribute to his brother’s “big dreams”. “Unfortunately” he said, “today our world is a slightly worse place because Dermott is no longer with us. He still had so much more he wanted to do, so many more lives he needed to influence, inspire and change and we can't believe he's gone.” 


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