Tributes paid to Canon Jim Musgrave at service

Rev. Canon J. R. Musgrave.
Rev. Canon J. R. Musgrave.

Tributes have been paid to Canon Jim Musgrave, who passed away at his Moira home last Wednesday.

A service of thanksgiving for his life was held in St Mark’s Parish Church, Ballymacash on Monday (February 16) before a family committal at Roselawn Crematorium.

Canon Musgrave, who had been in his 95th year, was born and reared and received his early education in the Parish of Tumna, County Leitrim in the Diocese of Ardagh. He received his secondary education at King’s Hospital School in Dublin and from there proceeded to Trinity College, Dublin to read Mental and Moral Science.

After ordination training was made Deacon in 1944 to serve in St. Andrew’s, Hope Street in the Sandy Row area of South Belfast. From 1946 to 1951 he served as Senior Curate in the Parish of Derriaghy with the main focus of his ministry in the Ballymacash area.

Incumbencies followed in Duneane and Ballyscullion (1951-54), St. Stephen’s, Belfast (1954-64), Magheragall (1964-85) and then, after a break of just over a year, became Bishop’s Curate of Killead and Gartree where he remained until retirement in 1998.

Throughout his 54 years of full-time ministry, not only did Jim render sterling service within the Church but also made a significant contribution to the whole community through such initiatives as the Samaritans of which he was a founder member of the Belfast Branch and in his pastoral outreach to the Army Air Corps. Indeed there was much rejoicing in 1997 when he was awarded the MBE in the New Year’s Honours List of that year.

Speaking at the service, Canon George Irwin said: “Jim’s effectiveness as a pastor flowed, of course, from the spiritual and moral virtues he possessed, but the exercise of these virtues was greatly enhanced by his verbal dexterity. Jim had a well-stocked mind and a wonderful way with words. His skill in conversation with people enabled him to defuse many a potentially fraught situation, and with a few well-chosen words could transform an intense or nervous atmosphere into something more positive.

“Those of us who had the privilege of knowing Jim not only as friend, but as a confidant, have especial reason to be thankful to have benefitted from his spirituality and intellect.”

Canon Musgrave is survived by his son Stephen and his daughter-in-law Beth.

Donations in lieu of flowers were made to The Samaritans NI and The Mission to Seafarers.