Queen’s academic launches new book about the life of Fr Gerry Reynolds
Dr Gladys Ganiel, a research Fellow from the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute at Queen’s University Belfast, has launched a new book on the life and work of Redemptorist priest, Fr Gerry Reynolds.
Fr Reynolds, a member of the Redemptorist community in Clonard Monastery in West Belfast for over thirty years, made a significant contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process that led to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.
A native of Mungret in Co Limerick, Fr Reynolds spent the early part of his priestly ministry in Dublin engaged in the work of publishing and communications. He worked at developing a more creative presence in the media and played a leading role in modernising Catholic journalism in the 1970s.
He lived and worked in Redemptorist Communities in Esker, Co Galway, and Mount St Alphonsus Limerick, before coming to Clonard Monastery in 1985.
Fr Reynolds devoted himself to peace-making in the area of peace and reconciliation among the Christian Churches, and worked tirelessly to establish cross-community bonds by reaching out to other communities.
Speaking about Fr Reynolds, Dr Ganiel, author of the book said: “Gerry’s vision was one of an island reconciled, not just politically. For him it was perhaps even more fundamentally a vision of an island on which Catholics and Protestants recognised each other as sisters and brothers. Gerry thought of the Church as ‘God’s peace process in human history’ and a divided Church did not model that vision; in fact, he believed that a divided Church had cost lives.”
Along with friend and Presbyterian Minister at Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, Rev Ken Newell, Fr Reynolds developed the Clonard-Fitzroy Fellowship which in 1999 won the international Pax Christi award for its role in promoting reconciliation during the Northern Ireland peace process. He also formed ‘the Clonard Unity Pilgrims,’ a group of people who each Sunday, in addition to attending Mass, took part in the principal service of the day with different Protestant congregations across Belfast.
Rev Newell asked Dr Ganiel to write Fr Reynolds biography in 2015. Before his death in November 2015, Dr Ganiel had a series of meetings with Fr Reynolds who gave her access to his diaries and other writings. She continued work on the book, interviewing Gerry’s family members, friends and Redemptorist brothers.
“Gerry agreed to the biography because Ken convinced him that sharing his story could inspire others to continue the work he had dedicated his life to, and I hope this book helps carry that work on,” said Dr Ganiel.
Fr Reynolds passed away in November 2015, aged 80.
Unity Pilgrim: The Life of Fr Gerry Reynolds by Dr Gladys Ganiel is published by Redemptorist Communications and will be officially launched at Clonard Monastery on Wednesday 22 May.