A Belfast parish priest has said the local community is devastated as news emerged on Tuesday that Nóra Quoirin’s body had been found.
Nóra – whose mother Meabh is from the parish of St Brigid’s in South Belfast and was baptised there – went missing on a family holiday in Malaysia over a week ago.
Authorities announced early Tuesday that her body had been recovered near where the family had been staying.
Parish Priest Fr Eddie O’Donnell told The Irish Catholic that people are “devastated”.
He said that news of the discovery was emerging as some 500 people gathered in the church on Tuesday morning for a Mass to pray for Nóra and her family.
“People are very upset, it’s every parent’s worst nightmare,” Fr O’Donnell said.
Fr O’Donnell said that people stayed together after the Mass with friends and family members of Nóra to offer support and solidarity.
At the Mass, Fr O’Donnell told the congregation that the community was “hoping against hope” adding that “our hearts are gripped with a terrible foreboding; we can only pray, ‘Lord, have mercy!’”
At the end of his homily, Fr O’Donnell invited the congregation to pray and reflect in silence. He told The Irish Catholic that he was struck by the poignancy of the silence in the church. “It was like everyone was holding Nóra in the silence of their hearts,” he said.
“The local community are devastated and everyone is praying and thinking about it, and people are constantly talking about it because we have so many young parents here, this is their worst nightmare.”
The 15-year-old disappeared ten days ago from a rainforest resort about 70km south of Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Police say her body was discovered by volunteers near a stream around 2km from where Nóra went missing.
The body was taken to a local hospital for a post-mortem examination. Police have asked for privacy for the family at this time.