A deeply moving funeral ceremony took place today in Derry to celebrate the lives of Derry teenagers, Reuven Simon and Joseph Sebastian.
The boys, both aged 16, died in a tragic drowning incident in Lough Enagh on Monday.
Today was to be their first day back at school after the summer break. Instead, their schoolmates donned their uniforms to form a guard of honour outside their funeral.
Hundreds gathered at St Mary’s Church, Ardmore to honour the “huge gift” that Reuven and Joseph made to their families and their community in their short lives. Several hundred mourners stood outside to watch the joint funeral Mass on a large screen.
The mass was conducted according to the rites of the Syro-Malabar Church.
Tributes from friends of Reuven and Joseph, lovingly called ‘Joppu’, recalled the boys’ playful personalities and how they never failed to put a smile on their faces.
In her speech, Reuven’s cousin Juliet took the opportunity to honour the sweet, kind and positive attitude of Joseph and the selfless and loving ways of Reuven.
The two boys, who were great students of St Columb’s College, were snatched away from the loving embrace of their family in Enagh Lough on Monday, said Bishop of Derry Dónal McKeown.
Bishop McKeown said the tragedy was the “worst nightmare” for any parent and very unsettling for their teenage friends.
“These two boys were a huge gift to us in their short lives,” the Bishop said.
The funeral heard that Derry is a city that knows suffering, and it is hoped that Reuven and Joseph’s families, who are suffering so sorely, can draw from the deep well and empathy of love that their adopted city is ready and willing to offer.
Following the Requiem Mass, the remains of Reuven and Joseph were interred in the cemetery adjoining St Mary’s Church.
A candlelit vigil was held on Thursday night at St Oliver Plunkett’s Church in Strathfoyle to pay tribute to the two boys, whose wake was held in St Columb’s Church in the Waterside.