Rev Prof Frederick S Leahy, MTh. (1922 – 2006)
On Wednesday evening 4th January 2006 Rev Prof Frederick S Leahy died at the age of 83. He and his wife Margaret were planning to attend the pre-communion service in Lisburn Reformed Presbyterian Church. Instead the Lord took Fred to the communion of saints in Heaven.
Fred Leahy was born in Co Donegal in 1922, and after a short time in business trained for the Christian ministry at the Free Church College in Edinburgh. He graduated with an M.Th. in 1947 after a year of study at Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, USA. Ordained in Finaghy Evangelical Church in 1949, he joined the Reformed Presbyterian Church in 1953 and served in three congregations until his retirement in 1988. He is lovingly remembered in each congregation as a faithful preacher and caring pastor.
In 1967 his denomination recognized his gifts as a theologian and appointed him to the chair of Systematic Theology, Apologetics and Christian Ethics in the Reformed Theological College, Belfast. A clear thinker and precise communicator he left his theological imprint on the lives of all his students, creating in them a love for Christ and an attachment to the doctrines of the Reformed Faith. An excellent administrator he served as College Principal from 1993-2002.
Prof Leahy became known to the wider Christian community through his writing ministry. His first book Satan Cast Out has gone through a number of editions and has been translated into several languages. His trilogy on Christ and his great work of Atonement – The Cross He Bore, The Victory of the Lamb, and Is it Nothing to You? – illustrate the centrality of the Cross in this theologian’s life and ministry. An avid reader he contributed many book reviews to Journals and Magazines.
This servant of Christ kept active in service until the end. On the afternoon of his death he and his wife walked to the Post Office to send to Banner of Truth the manuscript of another book, The Hand of God. On the way back his wife suggested that he might purchase a notebook for his next book. She relates how he paused and said, “Margaret, I think I’ve said all I want to say.” Two hours later he died to receive a welcome into his eternal reward.
At his funeral service in Kilraughts RP Church two days later, Prof Ted Donnelly paid tribute to the life and work of Prof Leahy. He took as his text the words Christ used of John the Baptist. “He was a burning and shining lamp” (Jn. 5:35). All who knew Frederick S Leahy can concur with those words as the light of the gospel of Christ shone brightly from his life and lips.
As an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ we can say of him, he fought the good fight, he finished the race, he kept the faith.
Robert McCollum is the Minister of Lisburn RP Church
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