It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of Rev Fr Godfrey O’Donnell, last Friday 14th February, in his home in Swords.
Fr Godfrey served as President of the Irish Council of Churches (ICC), and co–chair of the Irish Inter–Church Meeting from 2012–2014; the first representative from the Orthodox traditions to do so.
Born in Co. Derry/Londonderry, Fr Godfrey served as a Jesuit priest for 28 years before leaving the order. He married Ruth and later joined the Romanian Orthodox Church, becoming instrumental in its establishment in Ireland. In 2004 he became the first Irish–born person to be ordained priest in the Romanian Orthodox Church.
In 2013 his work to establish the Romanian Orthodox Church in Ireland, and his service to the Romanian Orthodox community were recognised in the awarding of the accolade of ‘Stavrophore’, the highest award bestowed upon married priests in the Romanian Orthodox tradition. It conferred on him the right to wear a cross as a special honour and symbol of this service.
Reflecting on Fr Godfrey’s contribution to inter–church work, current ICC President Rev Brian Anderson (Methodist) expressed that:
Godfrey was generous to all he met. He had that lovely ability to make you feel welcomed. He also gave so much to his own church and the ecumenical community in Ireland.
He was always active in ecumenical and interfaith engagement, serving for a time as Chair of the Dublin Council of Churches. He represented the Romanian Orthodox Church on the ICC for many years, becoming Vice–President in 2010 and President in 2012, during which time links with the orthodox churches were greatly developed and strengthened.
He is remembered with great fondness by all who worked with him in the ecumenical community because of his generosity, gentleness, welcoming nature and dedication to church unity.
— Rev Brian Anderson, ICC President and IICM co–chair
— Bishop Brendan Leahy, IICM co–chair
With the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
give rest to the souls of thy servants, O Saviour,
preserving them in that blessed lifewhich is with thee,
who lovest mankind.
In the place of thy rest, O Lord,
where all thy saints repose,
give rest also to the souls of thy servants,
for thou alone lovest mankind.