Body of Belfast-born priest recovered four days after US boating accident

Michigan-based Fr Stephen Rooney reported missing after Detroit River incident on Sunday

The body of Belfast-born priest Fr Stephen Rooney has been recovered four days after he was reported missing following a boating accident in the United States.

The body of Belfast-born priest Fr Stephen Rooney has been recovered four days after he was reported missing following a boating accident in the United States.

 

The body of Belfast-born priest Fr Stephen Rooney has been recovered four days after he was reported missing following a boating accident in the United States.

Fr Rooney, who was the pastor at St Joseph’s parish in Trenton, Michigan, and parishioner and friend Robert Chiles died after Mr Chiles’ boat capsized on the Detroit River near the island of Grosse Ile on Sunday. Seven children and three adults were rescued.

The Archdiocese of Detroit said on Thursday that it was with “great sadness” that it shared the news that Fr Rooney’s body had been found. Mr Chiles’ body was recovered on Wednesday.

Prayers had been said for Fr Rooney and Mr Chiles in Michigan and in the Short Strand area of east Belfast, where Fr Rooney grew up and where his family still live. He had been a priest in the Detroit area for more than 30 years, but returned frequently to Belfast.

Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile and councillor Mairéad O’Donnell said the entire community in the Short Strand had stood in solidarity with the Rooney family since he was reported missing.

“The Short Strand community is very proud of Fr Stephen and proud of the impact he had on so many others,” they said in a statement.

“Fr Stephen may have left the Short Strand to fulfil his vocation but the Short Strand never left him.

“Like so many others across Belfast and throughout Ireland, as well as in Detroit, Michigan and the United States, we are devastated by the tragic loss of Fr. Stephen Rooney.”