It was with sadness that I heard about the death of Anglican minister Jack Heaslip this past weekend. Jack was the Chaplain to rock band U2 and, though ever humble in the background (proven when trying to find his photo on Google), was a huge influence on the band down through four decades.
Heaslip was a teacher in Mount Temple School when two things were forming in some of his teenage pupils; the desire to be the biggest rock band on the planet and a Christian faith. Heaslip it seems was the man who became a mentor to that faith development.
Heaslip left teaching and was ordained in the Anglican Church. He married Bono and Ali in 1983 and as well as being the vicar of a group of Churches in County Mayo he would have spent a lot of time not he road with the band.
There was a recording of one of his prayers in the company of the entire road crew and the band at the beginning of the Vertigo Tour doing the rounds some years ago. It was beautifully pastoral prayer that also had a prophetic belief in what U2 could achieve spiritually in their concerts. From what writer Cathleen Fulsani, who knew Jack personally, would say Jack was indeed a pastor to that entire road crew.
In the sleeve notes of the new U2 record Song Of Innocence the first person thanked is Jack Heaslip with the words, “our North Star.” The band have recorded a song of that title and perhaps that will be their musical tribute to a man who they are all going to feel the loss of, Bono and Ali particularly keenly I think.
Jack Heaslip was in his 70s, had suffered in recent years from motor neurone disease and died at his home in Howth, Co. Dublin. Our prayers go out to his family and to the members of U2.