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Man whose wife was murdered on their honeymoon sets up Catholic foundation

By on Friday, 9 November 2012

John McAreavey, left, and Mickey Harte, his late wife's father, at her funeral last year (Photo: PA)

John McAreavey, left, and Mickey Harte, his late wife's father, at her funeral last year (Photo: PA)

A Catholic man whose wife was murdered on their honeymoon last year said his faith has helped him come to terms with his loss.

John McAreavey, 28, has set up a charitable foundation in memory of his late wife, Michaela, to help young people celebrate their Catholic faith.

Michaela McAreavey, 27, was murdered as the couple honeymooned in Mauritius just 12 days after the wedding. Two hotel workers charged with her murder were acquitted after a lengthy trial earlier this year.

Asked if the murder of his wife had led him to question his faith, John McAreavey said: “Quite the opposite. My faith gave me great resolve. Thank God I have my faith.”

His wife, a religion teacher in a Catholic school, had “an unwavering faith”, he said.

Mr McAreavey established the Michaela Foundation so that “the values which Michaela lived in her life should live on, and [so] that young people can succeed in life fulfilment and happiness with faith, confidence and fun as their foundation”.

The campaign received a huge boost with a charity Gaelic football match in Belfast, Northern Ireland, last Sunday. The “Match for Michaela” drew an estimated 20,000 fans to raise funds for the foundation.

Mr McAreavey said the messages on social media sites from young people inspired by his wife’s story – which they read in the match programme – made him emotional and hopeful that “the foundation will continue to be a positive inspiration in peoples’ lives in years to come”.

“It’s going to be a busy 2013,” he said of plans to introduce the foundation to at least five counties next year as well as finalising plans for a centre in his wife’s home parish of Glencull in County Tyrone. The initiative will be coordinated from the new center.

“Without my faith, God knows where I would be,” he said. “It has given me the heart to put all my strength into the foundation. I really have relied on my faith.

“Our relationship has changed, but I still have her. Nobody will ever be able to take that away. To be married was a wonderful experience and thank God I had that chance,” he said.

He said his faith was also crucial in helping him with the grieving process.

“I was able to go to quiet places and visit Michaela’s grave and go into church and just sit there and try to make sense of everything.

“Sometimes, [God] would give me signs, and I just have to take them for their value, and I know that’s God and Michaela saying: ‘We’re here, carry on, we’re going to get you through this.’”

  • teigitur

    God Bless him that he can think of others in this terrible period of  his life.

  • Woodside333

    Great story.

  • Corbus

    John McAreavey has found succour in his Catholic faith, and he was joined by the nation in his sense of shock and grievance. This matter needs some closure, however. The detection and prosecution processes have completely failed. Faith has been thoroughly lost in the Mauritian judicial system which, in this matter, has been an utter travesty.

  • Janet

    Peole are failing to remember that contraceptives were found amongst her possessions. Hardly a good example for young Catholics. Perhaps we should try to make people more aware of the lives of young Saints, real examples of faithful living.

  • RM

     Are you serious? You’re going to discount everything this young man has done because he and his bride had fallen into that very commonly accepted sin? I have always practiced NFP myself, but realize that I am very fortunate in having been raised to understand and embrace that Church teaching. To most people, even some Catholics, it sounds crazy. You don’t know what was in their hearts, just what was “found” in her luggage. What kind of example are YOU setting by your judgement?

  • hows_the_boy

    How Pharisaical of you. If John McAreavy is not living like a young saint, then who is.

  • glenfi123

    No-one is perfect. Probably not even you Janet. If we were there would be no need for Christ and his Church.

  • Fixfantom

     janet, soften your heart,child.let our ALMIGHTY deal with the sins that society has thrust
    upon the people of GOD.only HE can judge what is truly in one’s heart.let us all pray for
    janet and people like her.may GOD forgive and convert all of humanity in JESUS’ name,

  • Janet

    It is easy to say ‘my faith means so much to me’, but a lot harder to act that out.  My point is that the Saints are better examples of actually acting out that faith, of letting it influence ALL of their actions.  Of course, I’m sure Mr McAreavey will do a lot of good work, but I feel it is inappropriate to hold anyone (including his late wife) up as an example of faithfulness aside from the Saints.
    There is a real tendency in Ireland towards viewing anyone who was nice, as a saint.  If you haven’t been a terrible person, it is assumed that you MUST be in Heaven (often erroneously portrayed as an ‘angel’).  We forget to pray for the salvation of those who have died; instead so many of us assume salvation for those we love.

  • Tcmaguire

    I think you are a troll posting to make Catholics look sick and judgemental people. Your comment and rudeness to this man who I suspect has more Christian credentials in his baby toe than you possess in your entire being is hurtful in the extreme. May God forgive you

  • Carole

    ” Ask and you shall receive, Seek and you shall find ”  I found Jesus who died on the Cross for my sins…That same Jesus is carrying John Mc Areavey and Michaela’s Family. Michaela is in my prayers. God bless her family.

  • Kelso

    I see Janet’s point, but Mr. McAreavey is not advocating that anyone “venerate” his wife. He said she had “unwavering faith.” I don’t see how Janet could criticize that. Does she think it is wrong to hold anyone up for admiration who is not canonized or on the road to it? Michaela appears to have been a devout Catholic, based on what we’ve read above. Praise God! That does not mean she went straight to heaven. Devout Catholics want prayers and Masses offered after they die, not white vestments and eulogies. Eulogies do them no good. Purgatory is real. Joy and suffering together. I think it is admirable that the husband should be doing this work of charity in memory of his wife. 

  • mary

    John is so inspirational. Its so heartening to see how he is channeling his unbearable loss into this great movement so that his beautiful wonderful wife”s memory will live as a lovely monument to her faith.God bless and comfort him.



  • mary

    I see your point Jaet but it s fair to assume that there is something sainly about someone whome we know well to extraordinary nice and good. Eventhough we may describe them as saints its never a foregoe conclusion that they have reached sainthood and thereore continue to prayr them

  • mary

    Sorry i do not know what nfp stands for, could you please inform me. thank you

  • Janet

    There was a post that contested the point that she was a devout Catholic in all aspects of life, but it got removed. Read the BBC news reports and you might pick it out.
    Now, as far as the work itself, it is certainly good work and I wish him all the best.

  • Deodatus

    Such a difficult but such a strong and loving witness.  

  • Maggie

    God bless you John and keep Michaela safe for you.  You are an inspiration, and so is she.  I will say my rosary for her tonight. 

  • Joschristy

    very inspiring story to express one’s faith at the challenging situation of life

  • Pedro Erik


  • Pedro Erik


  • George Alukka

    It is so wonderful. Our faith is our strength. Faith in Jesus Christ gives hope in hopeless situations, because Jesus is there as our hope.I wish him all the success to live his catholic faith. I pray for him.