By Naomi Clarke and Dave Higgens, PA
The Catholic priest brother of ITV star Declan Donnelly has died aged 55 following a short illness.
The diocese of Hexham and Newcastle confirmed the news that Father Dermott Donnelly died peacefully in hospital on Friday afternoon.
A statement from the diocese said: “It is with great sadness that we have to inform you of the death of Fr Dermott Donnelly, who died peacefully this afternoon in hospital.
“This has come as a great shock to all of us.
“Please pray for the repose of his soul and keep his family, especially his mother, in your prayers at this difficult time.”
Hexham and Newcastle Bishop Robert Byrne said he will be “greatly missed in the diocese for his sterling work with youth, on both a diocesan and national level”.
He added: “He was a good and faithful priest.”
Stanley, Dipton & Byermoor Catholic Parishes also shared the news and asked for parishioners to “pray for the repose of his soul”.
It had said earlier on Friday that Father Dermott was “extremely unwell” in hospital and had requested prayers for him.
A similar message was posted on the Facebook page of Pontop Partnership – a group of 10 Catholic parishes in the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.
The social media appeals prompted an outpouring of messages wishing him well.
Father Dermott is understood to have been a priest for 30 years.
In 2015 he officiated at the wedding of his famous brother to Ali Astall in Newcastle in a star-studded ceremony.