AN "evil act" ended the young life of Michaela Harte, the bishop who married the tragic teacher and her husband John just over a fortnight ago told mourners at her funeral.
Thousands of people thronged the country roads and churchyard of St Malachy's in Ballymacilroy, Co Tyrone, yesterday for the funeral of the 27-year-old teacher and daughter of Mickey Harte, manager of the Tyrone football team.
The Bishop of Dromore, John McAreavey, who performed the wedding ceremony of Michaela to his nephew John in the same church just 19 days ago, said that the family and wider community had been shaken to the core since news of Michaela's death began to filter through exactly a week ago, yesterday.
"An evil act ended Michaela's young life last Monday. It robbed John of a beautiful wife. It deprived the Harte family of their precious daughter and sister.
"It deprived the McAreavey family of the daughter-in-law they looked forward to having. It shattered hopes and dreams for the future," he said.
But the church leader stressed that John and all who loved Michaela wanted to hold the memory of "that very special day" they had married, rather than the circumstances of her death.
"At their wedding everyone commented on the glow of happiness that radiated from Michaela and John. Finally, they were united as husband and wife. They pledged their love to one another. Michaela took John's name and was delighted and proud to do so," he said.
He said in the days of grieving, the families and the couple's friends had talked about the special love John and Michaela had enjoyed.
"They lived for one another. They enjoyed and supported one another in everything. Their lives revolved around one another. Each talked endlessly about the other. Their hopes for the future were bound up with each other," he said.
Nothing in John's young life could have prepared him for the ordeal of the past week.
"Even those of us who are older and who had some experience of tragedy have been shaken to the core by what has happened. We are still in a state of shock," he said.
From early morning, scores of police and voluntary stewards managed traffic for the funeral, which drew mourners from across the North and the Republic.
The body of the former Ulster Rose was borne in a simple, wooden coffin with a rose painted on its side, by widower John, father Mickey and brothers Mark, Michael and Matthew, from the family home, along the Glencull road before being transferred to the hearse for the final journey.
Her distraught mother, Marian, sisters-in-law Sinead and Josephine and members of John's family followed behind.