On the 22nd of October, 2011 the Society lost one of its oldest members, Fr Tom Cafferty, just three months short of his 90th birthday. Tom was an easy-going, kind and friendly man. He was born in Kiltimagh, Co Mayo, was educated in St Nathy’s College, Ballaghaderreen and came to the Society in September, 1940. He was one of a class of eight first year students. The seminary at Kiltegan was very new having started in October 1936 as a theological college and having added a philosophy section in 1939. So, Tom did all his seminary courses in Kiltegan and was ordained there with three classmates in St Brigid’s chapel on the 18th of December, 1946. Two more of the original eight were ordained on other dates and two chose different careers. Among those ordained was fellow Kiltimagh man, the late Fr Tom Grealy. The ordaining bishop was Most Rev Charles Heerey CSSp, Vicar Apostolic of Onitsha-Owerri, Nigeria.
Tom Cafferty was appointed to the Prefecture Apostolic of Ogoja where he was to work for the next thirty years mostly in the central mission in Ogoja town. There he ministered to the Ishibori and Bekawa peoples. He had a special empathy with those suffering from leprosy and was known to visit the leprosy centre on an almost daily basis. In the mission house he provided a warm welcome to missionaries from other parts of the diocese and to other visitors. He also helped with diocesan administration and was secretary to his friend Bishop Thomas McGettrick for many years.
On the 1st of March 1973, the Diocese of Ogoja was divided. Bishop McGettrick moved to the newly created Diocese of Abakaliki while one of the diocesan priests, Joseph Edra Ukpo became Bishop of Ogoja. The latter chose Tom Cafferty as his Vicar General and transferred him to Okuku parish. Although he missed the companionship of Ogoja town, he served in Okuku for four years and enjoyed working with the bishop as Vicar General. He then moved to the Diocese of Port Harcourt where he served on the staff of the diocesan House of Prayer. In 1979, he came to Ireland for health reasons and spent the rest of his life ministering in his home country.
In 1980, he was appointed to minister in Knock Shrine not far from his birthplace. It was a short-lived appointment as a vacancy arose in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and Tom was asked to go there as chaplain. He served in that post for many years and when it became too much for him he became chaplain to the retired sisters in Arus Mhuire. Eventually his health was not up to that and he retired to St Patrick’s Kiltegan in 2002. He was much loved by fellow-priests and lay staff who enjoyed his humanity, his humour and his mischief making. As his health declined he became quieter but continued to attend mass and meals and other social functions whenever possible. His last three weeks were spent in Naas Hospital during which time he was visited by his niece Mary from the USA. Sadly, Tom has no close family in Ireland. He passed away peacefully on the 22nd of October, 2011. He is buried in the Society cemetery in St Patrick's, Kiltegan.
Fr Matt Campbell
Matt was born on the 23rd of January, 1926 in Holy Family Parish, Belfast. He received his primary education from 1931 to 1939 at Holy Family N.S. from where he proceeded to St. Malachy’s College, Belfast for his secondary education which he completed in 1944. In that year, he entered Kiltegan and was ordained in 1951. After ordination, he was appointed to Nigeria where he worked in Asong Parish, Calabar Diocese. He returned from his first tour very ill in 1955 and spent the following two years in a TB hospital in Belfast called Foster’s Green. By the end of 1957, he had recovered sufficiently to return to the missions, this time to Kenya, where he took up an appointment in the then Prefecture of Kitui, ministering in the parish of Muthale.
Early in 1961, the Kenya Episcopal Conference set up the Kenya Catholic Secretariat to which Matt was seconded as Secretary for Medical Welfare Services. At the same time he was involved in getting our Kiltegan house in Nairobi up and running. He continued as Medical Secretary for the years 1961 to 1964.
In 1964, he became Secretary General, a position he held until 1969, when he reverted to Medical and Welfare Secretary with responsibility for the Sudan refugee problem, which was coming to the forefront at that time. Matt resigned from the Catholic Secretariat at the end of June, 1973 and returned to Ireland shortly afterwards. In March, 1974 Matt was appointed National Secretary for the Propagation of the Faith in Ireland, a post he held until March 1976.
Shortly afterwards, Matt was assigned to his home Diocese of Down and Connor and ministered in the parish of Newcastle, Co. Down for two years, after which he returned to Kiltegan as Mission Representative. Later, he worked in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, serving in the parishes of Hacketstown and Bagenalstown. Finally, he ministered in Drumcar, Co. Louth, with the St. John of God brothers and residents. Ill-health forced him to retire and he died in the care of the Medical Missionaries of Mary on the 10th of June, 1997. He is buried in the Society cemetery in St Patrick's, Kiltegan.
Fr Neil Campion
Fr Neil Campion was born in Tralee, Co Kerry on March 6, 1934. He attended the CBS primary school and did a year in the CBS secondary school before moving to St Peter’s College, Wexford. He came to Kiltegan in 1952 and was ordained priest on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1960.
Neil was appointed to the Diocese of Ogoja, Nigeria, where he embarked on a long and illustrious career as a teacher and headmaster. Such was the esteem in which he was held that a statue of him stands in the last school in which he served. Neil then returned to parish work and remained in Nigeria until 1992 when he returned to Ireland for medical treatment.
When his health improved, Neil adapted quickly to the homeland he had left thirty-two years earlier. He worked for a year in St Anne’s parish in Sligo. He was then appointed to promotion work in the USA and served there for two years. At the end of 1994, he was seconded to Killaloe diocese where he spent the remaining fifteen years of his life. There, he entered fully into the life of the community which in turn took him to its heart. He developed a great interest in traditional music and dance. He opted to be buried in Knockerra parish in Co Clare where he served up to his death on July 25, 2009.
Neil was a free spirit who did things his own way. But he was an exceptional missionary who gave himself totally to the work to which he had been called. Nor did he spare himself when he moved to Ireland and the USA. The outpouring of respect and affection witnessed at his funeral in Clare bore witness to this. Among the mourners were his first cousins Frs Michael and Kyran Murphy, both members of St Patrick’s Missionary Society.
Place of Rest: Kilrush, Co Clare
Fr Catch (Carthage) Cantwell
Catch – baptized Carthage Peter – was born on the 24th of June, 1913, at Rahan, Co. Offaly, to Patrick and Hanna Cantwell. He received his early education from 1919 to 1927 at Rahan N.S. His secondary education followed from 1927 to 1932 at St. Finian’s College, Mullingar. In 1932, he entered Kiltegan, among the first group to do the Spiritual Year after the foundation of the Society. After this, he pursued his Philosophy studies in St. Patrick’s College, Carlow. This was followed by Theology in Kiltegan, where he was ordained priest in June, 1939. Later that year, he was appointed to Calabar but soon afterwards, he was appointed Chaplain to the Nigerian forces and saw service in Burma and India.
At the end of the war, he returned to Ireland and was based in Kiltegan as Mission Representative from 1945 to 1950. In the latter year, he returned to Calabar and from 1950-1956, he served in the missions of Ifuho and Ikot Ekpene. In 1956, he was recalled to serve on the Superior General’s Council from 1956-1962. On completing this term of office he returned to Urua Inyang, Ikot Ekpene Diocese, where he remained until the outbreak of the Biafran War in 1967.
Returning from the mission in that year, he then did parish work in the south of England from 1967-70. After that, he spent some time in the U.S.A. before returning to England. In 1976, he was appointed Superior of the Society house in Slough, where he died on the 19th of January, 1981.
Place of Rest: Kiltegan
Fr Tim Carr
Tim was born in Maynooth to Thomas and Mary Carr on the 13th of September, 1912. He received his primary education locally from 1916 to 1926. After this, records show that he studied in Mount Melleray from 1933 to 1937. There he did his secondary studies and also completed his philosophy course. In 1937 he entered Kiltegan and was ordained in December, 1941. Due to wartime restrictions, he did not reach Nigeria until 1943. There, he was assigned to the then Prefecture of Ogoja.
Since Tim had worked as an artisan for a number of years prior to entering Kiltegan, he was what we described as a late vocation. Thus, on the missions he became actively involved in the building programmes in the Prefecture, especially in the Abakaliki area and Maryknoll College became a testimony to his endeavours in that field. Late in 1954, he transferred to the Diocese of Miami in Florida, where he died on the 2nd of April, 1973.
Place of Rest: Florida, USA
Fr Pat Clifford
Pat was born in Tralee on the 17th of September, 1922 to John and Mary Clifford. He received his primary education at Moyderwell Convent N.S. from 1926 to 1930 and at C.B.S. Tralee from 1930 to 1935. He had his secondary education in the latter school from 1935 to 1942. In 1943 he entered Kiltegan and was ordained at Easter, 1950. He went to Nigeria later that year and worked in Calabar until 1966.
Ill health caused him to leave Nigeria in that year and he returned to do parish work in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. This continued until 1972, when he became seriously ill and retired from the active ministry. He was received into the care of the Sisters of Mercy, Wanstead and he died on the 2nd of July, 1978. He is buried in Tralee, Co Kerry.
Fr Sean Casey
Sean was born on the 7th of February, 1923 to parents Hugh Casey and Mary Deery at Baile na Trágha, Dundalk, Co. Louth. He was an only child and grew up without his mother, who died in childbirth along with her newborn infant.
He received his primary education at the local Convent National School from 1927-30 and C.B.S. Dundalk from 1930-36. His secondary education was at C.B.S. Dundalk from 1936-42 and St. Patrick’s College, Armagh 1942-1943. He entered Kiltegan in 1943 and was ordained six and a half years later on Easter Sunday 1950. He proceeded to Nigeria later that year and was appointed to Calabar Diocese.
Tragically however, Sean was drowned in Afikpo on Low Sunday, the 20th of April, 1952. He is buried in Anua, Nigeria.
Place of Rest: Anua, Nigeria
Mr Sean Clyne (Student)
Seán Clyne was born on the 5th of May, 1937 in Jamestown, Co. Leitrim. He attended the local National School and then went to St. Mel’s College, Longford. He came to Kiltegan in 1955 and then went on to St. Patrick’s Douglas and began studies for a BSc in U.C.C. During the summer holidays he went for a swim in the Shannon after a day spent saving hay on his parents’ farm and was drowned. It was the 14th of August, 1958. His body was brought ashore in Kilbride. Requiem Mass was held in Jamestown Church and he is buried in Jamestown cemetery in the ruins of the old Franciscan Abbey.
Place of Rest: Jamestown, Co Leitrim
Fr Julian Connolly
Julian was born in Summerhill, Co. Meath on the 12th of November, 1933. He attended Summerhill National School from 1939 to 1947, after which he proceeded for secondary studies to Trim C.B.S. from 1947 to 1950. After this, he worked for three years on the home farm and then attended Kevin Street Technical College from 1953 to 1955, when he graduated with a Radio Operators Certificate. After this, he served as a radio officer with Irish Shipping for a few months. Then in September 1956, Julian entered Mount Melleray Seminary for a Latin course, followed by one in philosophy.
In 1959, Julian followed the path of his older brother, Stan, and entered Kiltegan. He was ordained in 1964. Appointed to Nigeria he ministered initially in Calabar Diocese until the civil war intervened. After this, he was appointed to Lagos where he helped very much in co-ordinating war Relief Aid. Julian remained in this appointment until his transfer to Zambia, where he arrived in early April, 1979. In Zambia, he served first in Chongwe Parish and afterwards in Lusaka, where he died suddenly on the 31st of December, 1986. He is buried at Kasisi near Lusaka.
Fr Patrick Connolly
Fr Patrick (Pat) Connolly was born on the 18th of April 1947 to Patrick Connolly and his wife Mary Ellen(née Tierney) of Cordoola, Roslea, Co Fermanagh. He received his primary education at St Tierney’s Primary School, Roslea (1951-1958). For his secondary education he boarded at St Michael’s College, Enniskillen (1958-1964). He came to Kiltegan in September 1964 for the Spiritual Year. He then studied philosophy in St Patrick’s College, Douglas, Cork from 1965 to 1967. Pat returned to Kiltegan in September 1967 for a four year course in theology and was ordained priest at St Mary’s Church, Killamoat, on the 11th of April 1971 (Easter Sunday). The ordaining prelate was Most Rev Patrick Lennon DD, the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin.
Pat was appointed to Brazil in July 1971. After language studies in Anápolis (State of Goiás) he went to work in the parish of Cotia on the western side of São Paulo, where he had responsibility for the Vargem Grande section of the parish. He remained in that area until 1979 when he was appointed to the Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife (State of Pernambuco) in the North East of Brazil. He worked in the parish of São Lucas in Ouro Preto. He then transferred to the Diocese of Campina Grande in the State of Paraiba where he worked in the parish of Nossa Senhora do Bom Conselho (Esperança) from 1988 to 1993, and in the parish of Nossa Senhora das Graças (Campina Grande) from 1993 to 1999. The Society opened a new mission in the Diocese of Juina (State of Mato Grosso) in 1999 and Pat served in the Cathedral Parish there for almost three years.
In 2002 Pat was appointed Director of Retirement at Kiltegan, a post he held until September 2005. He returned to Brazil in January 2006 and was based at the Central House in São Paulo. He served as Bursar for the Region, was Vocations Director and helped out in local parishes. He was called home again in February 2009 and returned to the post he had previously held, the Director of Retirement. In 2012 Pat went to work in the Diocese of Clogher and served in his home parish of Roslea. In June 2015 he was appointed Assistant House Leader at St Patrick’s, Kiltegan, and also Irish District Bursar. He finished his term as Assistant House Leader in 2018 but continued as Irish District Bursar until his death.
Pat was a big man with a big heart. He was affectionately known by all as Big Pat or Patricião (in Portuguese).He was very kind, helpful and obliging. He made himself available to serve the Society in whatever capacity he could. He had a great command of the Portuguese language and was very much at home with the people whom he served. He enjoyed the interaction with the people in the parishes where he worked and was noted for his sense of humour and for his efficiency. Wherever he worked he encouraged the people to become self-reliant. He put great emphasis on catechetics and produced a very practical manual which was the basis of a formation course for catechists. He was a very neat worker and paid great attention to detail; meticulous in everything he did. One of his favourite Portuguese words was “caprichar”: to do things with taste and style.
As Director of Retirement in Kiltegan Pat made a great contribution to the quality of life of those who were sick and of those who were near the end of life. His kindly and gentle presence was very much appreciated by all. He often filled in as a carer in the days before the establishment of the Care Unit. Pat went to great lengths to make sure the sick members of the community received the care and attention they needed. He was also a very dedicated and efficient District Bursar and helped many members to manage their financial affairs. He derived a lot of personal satisfaction from this work as District Bursar; he enjoyed getting the books to balance! The role gave him an opportunity to give expression to his innate desire for tidiness and order.
Pat died suddenly on the morning of June the 22nd, 2020 Shortly after breakfast he went to visit his classmate and great friend, Fr Tom McDonnell, who was in quarantine in Slí an Chroí on the Kiltegan Compound and near his office. Pat was checking out if Tom needed anything. He was obliging and thoughtful to the very end.
Fr Stan Connolly
John Stanislaus (Stan) Connolly was born on the 23rd of January 1930 to Thomas Connolly and his wife Brigid (née Nangle) of Ginnetts Great, Summerhill, Co Meath. He was the second youngest of a family of six boys. His youngest brother Julian (1933-1986) also joined the Society and was ordained in 1964. Stan received his primary education at Dangan National School from 1935 to 1943. For his secondary education he attended St Finian’s College, Mullingar, as a boarder from 1943 to 1948. He joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1948 and completed the Spiritual Year in June 1949. He went to St Patrick’s College, Douglas, Cork, in September 1949 and attended University College Cork. He graduated with a BA degree in June, 1952. He returned to Kiltegan for a four year course in theology and was ordained along with nine classmates on the 1st of April, 1956 (Easter Sunday) in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat. The ordaining prelate was Bishop Patrick Cleary SSC, Exiled Bishop of Nancheng, China.
After ordination Stan was appointed to the Diocese of Calabar where he was to remain for the following six years. He taught at Holy Family College, Abak. He was instrumental in developing the College and even got a Pipe Band started. In 1962 he was appointed Rector of the Society’s House of Philosophy at St Patrick’s, Douglas, Cork. In 1967 he was appointed to Promotion Work in the USA. He opened the Society’s House in Chicago and also served as Regional Superior for North and South America. At that time the Society’s missions in Grenada and Brazil were under the jurisdiction of the Regional Superior for North and South America. At the 1972 General Chapter Stan was elected Vicar General of the Society – one of the youngest members ever to hold that position. On completing six years as Vicar General he was re-appointed to West Africa. This time he was sent to Lagos where he was given the big challenge of setting up St Matthew’s Parish, Amukoko, which is still in the care of Society priests today. Ill-health forced him to leave Nigeria in 1986 and after making a good recovery he worked for a short while with the St John of God Brothers at Drumcar, Co Louth. He was then appointed to Kenya where he spent many years working with Martin Barry in Londiani. Shortly after his 70th birthday he decided to return to Ireland. He spent over a decade in his native Diocese of Meath, serving first at St Mary’s Parish, Drogheda, and then as chaplain at St Francis’ Hospital, Mullingar. Stan retired in Kiltegan shortly after celebrating his 80th birthday.
Stan held many positions of responsibility in the Society from an early age. He was noted for his sense of humour and for his cheerfulness. He was a deeply cultured man who loved nature, appreciated good music and poetry and was a gifted writer. For many years he wrote a regular column for Africa using the pseudonym, Fr Finian. In those pieces he chronicled his eight years as Parish Priest of Amukoko. They were interesting, invariably humorous and always well written. Stan suffered from bouts of ill-health from the mid 1980s onwards but he never allowed these health challenges to prevent him from enjoying life. He bounced back many times from bouts of sickness and continued to live life to the full up to the end. He insisted on attending the 8 am Community Mass every morning right up until last Wednesday. After that his condition began to deteriorate and he was confined to his room. He died peacefully in the early hours of Monday morning, the 22nd of October, 2018.
Fr John Joe Conway
John Joe was born in Garvagh, Co. Derry on the 22nd of February, 1912 to James and Ellen Conway. He had his primary education at Maheramore National School from 1917–1927 and Claudy National School 1927–1929. In that year, he entered St. Columb’s College, Derry finishing in June 1934. He entered Kiltegan in 1934 and was ordained in December 1940. For health reasons, his priestly ministry was in England, first in the Diocese of Leeds and then in Hexham and Newcastle in the parish of St. Gregory, Heston, South Shields, Co. Durham. He died on the 25th of September, 1966.
Place of Rest: Kiltegan
Fr George Corr
George Vincent Corr was born to George and Mary (née Jones) Corr of Corglass, Moyne, Co. Longford on the 7th of May 1940. One of eleven children, George attended Gortamone National School from 1945 to 1953. He attended St Mary’s, Moyne, for his first year of secondary school and then transferred to St Mel’s, Longford where he sat his Leaving Certificate in 1959. In September of that year he came to Kiltegan and spent his spiritual year in the Nissen huts. He did his philosophy studies in St Patrick’s, Douglas, Cork, returning to Kiltegan in 1962 for his theology studies. He was ordained in Killamoat Church on the 10th of April 1966 with twelve classmates.
George was appointed to Brazil and was sent to the parish of Cotia where he learned the language and worked until 1970 when he was transferred to the USA as part of the promotion team. Two years later he was appointed Regional Superior of the American Region (USA, Grenada and Brazil). He was the youngest Society member ever to hold the job of Regional Superior. Two years later the USA was excised from the region and George became Regional Superior of South America and the Caribbean comprising Brazil and Grenada. He combined parish work in Jardim Maracanã and in Jardim Fernandes with his leadership duties.
After he came out of office George volunteered to be part of a new mission in the diocese of Olinda/Recife in the North-East of the country where the Archbishop was the well known and much admired Dom Hélder Câmara . He went to Recife in March, 1979 to be joined by Pat Connolly two weeks later. So began the Society’s mission in Olinda/Recife which was staffed by Society and volunteer priests until 1992. Meanwhile, in 1984, George was called home by the Chapter to become a Councillor to the Superior General in Kiltegan. On finishing his term in 1990 he did a short renewal course in Gort Mhuire, Dublin, and returned to Brazil in early 1991.
George spent the next eight years as Parish Priest of Jardim Helena and he regarded those years as the most fulfilling part of his priestly life. In 1999 he was asked to go to a new mission in the diocese of Juina and was appointed to the town of Juruena. After the 2002 Chapter George was appointed Regional Superior of Brazil and Grenada for the second time. He was responsible for purchasing and fitting out the new regional house in Vila Amelia and helped out in the nearby parish of Jardim Antartica. When his term of office ended he remained on in charge of the parish.
Sadly, he was diagnosed with cancer in April, 2008. He came to Ireland for surgery and returned to Jardim Antartica until 2011 when ill health forced him to withdraw from the parish. From November, 2011 to June, 2012 George lived in the regional house and helped out a little in parishes. He came home to Ireland in June 2012 and returned briefly in February 2013 to say goodbye to those he had known and worked with over the years. He came home for good in April, 2013.
His last six years were peppered with hospital visits and periodic bouts of treatment. He bore it all with great patience and great independence. He kept in close touch with his family and participated fully in the life of the Kiltegan community. He maintained a keen interest in the Church, current affairs, politics and sport and was always ready for discussion and debate with a little humour mixed-in. He loved it when there were three others from Brazil in the house so that they could play his beloved card game buraco as they did so often in São Paulo. He continued to drive for as long as possible and swapped his car for an automatic when he could no longer operate the clutch. In his final days, George remained peaceful and courteous, always grateful to the staff and to the colleagues who sat with him. A measure of the great esteem in which he was held everywhere was the visit of three women from Brazil who made the long journey to Ireland to be with him in his final few days.
George passed away very peacefully on the morning of the 28th of October, 2014. He is buried in the Society cemetery in Kiltegan.
Fr Paddy Costelloe
Paddy was born at Dysart, Co. Roscommon on the 15th of September, 1905. Following his primary education at the local N.S. he studied at Summerhill College, Sligo from 1918 to 1923, after which he entered Maynooth, where he was ordained in 1930 for the Diocese of Elphin. Immediately after ordination, he volunteered for the Vicariate of Southern Nigerian, in spite of having indifferent health which would plague him throughout his life.
He ministered in various capacities in Nigeria: Principal of St. Patrick’s, Calabar, Father-in-Charge of the central mission in that town and founder of St Thomas’ Teacher Training College, Ogoja. In 1938, he succeeded Pat Whitney as Superior General of the fledgeling Society. It was still in its formative years, and Paddy would become one of the “Big Four” who would shape the destiny and policy of the Society; Bishops Moynagh and McGettrick on the missions with Paddy and Corney Plunkett on the home front. He was elected in 1944 for a second term as Superior General.
His tenure of office was marked by a steady consolidation of the Society, and with his strong Maynooth connection, a cementing of relations with the home Church, a necessary factor in its mission. Leaving the office of Superior General in 1950, Paddy served as Rector of the College for the period 1950 to 1956 and in the latter year, he returned to Nigeria, serving in the Dioceses of Calabar and Ikot Ekpene. Some of his appointments were: Principal of St. Augustine’s T.T.C, Urua Imyong, Central Anang Secondary School, Holy Family College, Abak.
His last appointment before leaving Nigeria in 1966 was Father-in-Charge of the parish of the Assumption, Ukana Iba, in the Diocese of Ikot Ekpene.
In 1966, Paddy went on promotion duties to the U.S.A. where he remained until 1972. In that year he returned to Ireland and took up parish work. He spent a few years in Curraghboy, Co. Roscommon in the Diocese of Elphin. Then for a short time he was in St. Tegan’s, Kiltegan while for the last twelve years of his life, he ministered in Borris, Co. Carlow. He died on the 3rd of August, 1988.
Place of Rest: Kiltegan
Fr Terry Coughlan
Terry – baptised Terence Finbar – was born on the 17th of January, 1936 at Lemenagh, Kilnaboy, Co. Clare. Having received his primary education at Kilfenora N.S. from 1940 to 1950, he proceeded to St. Flannan’s, Ennis for secondary studies, completing these in 1955, the year he entered Kiltegan. Ordained in 1962, he went to Nigeria and was appointed to the Diocese of Ogoja.
Records show that he ministered in seven parishes in that Diocese, and that of Abakaliki. Records also reveal that Terry was a model of zeal in his ministry. On the lighter side he was a skilled magician, a talent he used to attract people in his work, especially the children. In his final illness, he was ministered to by the MMM Sisters in Mile Four hospital where he died on the 9th of February, 1991. His funeral was said to be the biggest ever seen in the Diocese. He is buried in the grounds of the Cathedral in Abakaliki, Nigeria.
Fr Kerrie Creedon
Kerrie – his full baptismal name was Daniel Mary Gerard – was born in Killarney to Cornelius and Mary Creedon on the 27th of January, 1911. His early education, from 1918 to 1921 was at St. Mary’s of the Isle, Cork. He completed his primary schooling in Presentation College, Cork and remained there for his secondary studies until 1930.
The years 1930 to 1932 saw Kerrie in All Hallows College. In that year he entered Kiltegan and was ordained in 1937, a member of our first ordination class. He went to Nigeria in 1938 and was appointed to the then Prefecture of Calabar, where as records show, he ministered for many years in Essene. In the latter years of his ministry, he was in Ajegunle. Ill health forced his return to Ireland early in 1977 and he died on the 30th of November of that year.
Place of Rest: Kiltegan
Fr Patrick Cullen
Patrick Cullen was born on the 13th of September, 1926, to Walter and Brigid (née Fitzpatrick) Cullen of Mullahoran, Co Cavan. One of seven children, Paddy attended Kilcogy National School from 1932 to 1938 and Cloneen National School from 1938 to 1940. He spent the next five years in St Mel’s College, Longford where he captained the football team that won the Leinster championship.
He came to Kiltegan in 1945 and did the spiritual year in Humewood. He studied philosophy and theology in St Patrick’s College, Kiltegan and was ordained on Easter Sunday, the 13th of April, 1952, in Killamoat by Bishop J.W. Heffernan CSSp.
Paddy was appointed to join the Society’s new mission in the Kenya Highlands. He was sent to Eldoret as assistant to Fr Joe Murray. The following May he was given faculties to hear confessions in Swahili and to hear 'the nun’s confessions at the convent'. In June he was transferred to Tartar as Fr-in-charge with Leo Staples as his assistant. In 1956, he took over from Bill Dunne as Education Secretary, a government post with responsibility for all Catholic Education in the diocese.
Over the next ten years Paddy travelled an area the size of Ireland in his Volkswagen Beetle equipped with several spare wheels, and is said to have been the first Society priest to set foot in Turkana. Paddy was a man of great influence in the diocese. Around that time, the priests stationed outside the towns were in dire straits for money for their upkeep and could not always rely on the diocese to provide it. Paddy is given great credit for negotiating with the Society for a monthly allowance that enabled these men to continue their work without constant worry. In 1966 the Kenya Government abolished the post of Education Secretary. Paddy was appointed to Holy Rosary Parish, Nakuru where he continued to deal with diocesan education matters as well as pastoral issues.
In 1969, while on home leave, Paddy was appointed to the USA to do promotion work and was based in Cliffside Park, New Jersey. In 1972, he was seconded to the development organisation, CODEL (Coordination in Development) and worked out of its New York office for the next seven years. This involved leaving Cliffside Park for his office at six-thirty each morning. He was also required to make regular trips to ten African countries. Meanwhile he continued to appeal in churches for the Society whenever possible.
He was the one who brought the Society magazine, Africa, to the USA and the one who took care of its distribution to subscribers throughout the States. In 1980, he was appointed Superior of the Society house in Saratoga, California with responsibility for the promotion programme in the western States. He held that post for two terms. In 1988 he drove across the country with all his worldly possessions to take up residence again in Cliffside Park. In 1989, Paddy took on parish ministry in Paterson Diocese, New Jersey and lived and worked in St Clare’s Parish and later in St Andrew the Apostle, both in Clifton.
Paddy retired in October, 1997, and lived close to the Society house in Cliffside Park. He helped out in various parishes and did church appeals for the Society when called upon. He joined the Cliffside community for the midday meal. He made an annual trip to Ireland and visited Kenya for his golden jubilee.
Paddy Cullen was a strong and confident man who made a success of everything he undertook. His educational work in Kenya was a case in point. Paddy worked with colonial officials to get Catholic education off the ground. He mixed with them socially. He invited them for a meal and a game of bridge in the mission and developed good relations to the benefit of his education work. The outcome was a network of primary schools and a cadre of Catholic teachers who laid a firm foundation for the faith. He is still remembered by older teachers in the Rift Valley Province and can be counted, with them, among the pioneers of the church in that area.
In the USA, his primary concern was the Society and its missionary task. He was nothing if not resourceful and to get Africa to its readers he bought a car-trailer and travelled every month to the port to collect his cargo. One can only imagine the haggling and buttering-up needed to get through customs and to get his precious magazines on to his trailer and home without a haulage licence. But Paddy was up for it and for whatever it took to promote the Society and its mission.
In 2008 Paddy came back to Kiltegan in very poor health. Shortly afterwards he was admitted to the Nursing Unit where he remained until his death which occurred on the 19th of November, 2014.
Place of Rest: Kiltegan
Fr Vincent Cullen
Vincent was born at Ardkeen, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone on the 23rd of July, 1929. He received his early education from 1933 to 1942 at the Presentation Brothers School, Dungannon, after which he proceeded to secondary education in St. Patrick’s, Armagh from 1942 to 1947 when he entered Kiltegan. After his spiritual year, he went to our house of studies in Cork and was our only graduate from U.C.C. in 1951. He had earlier, in 1947, received recognition as a member of the Tyrone Minor football team.
After his ordination in 1955, he went to Nigeria and worked in the Dioceses of Ogoja and Abakaliki. He is remembered as Principal of Ishieke County School and of St Thomas TTC, Ogoja, and also for his contribution to social and development work, notably rehabilitating the rice industry which was in disarray after the civil war. He also did a lot in coordinating refugee work in Abakaliki as a result of the same war. Furthermore he served as co-ordinator of that Diocese and was Vicar General for a period. Vin was recalled to Kiltegan in 1982 to fill the office of Bursar General in which he exhibited great competence, evidenced by his excellent report to the 1984 Chapter and his vision in planning for the future needs of the Society.
Unfortunately, he was stricken by ill-health in early 1986 and retired from the office of Bursar General late in 1988. He died on the 12th of January, 1989.
Place of Rest: Kiltegan
Fr Bernard (Brian) Cunningham
Bernard (Brian) Cunningham was born in Killerry, Ballintogher, Co. Sligo on the 15th of October, 1924. He was the youngest of 8 children, born to Bartholomew Cunningham and his wife, Mary Gilmartin. After finishing in Crossboy National School, he “served his time” with FJ Fox a merchant in Manorhamilton before going to Summerhill College, Sligo in 1941.
In 1945 Brian came to Kiltegan. He did the Spiritual Year in Humewood and Philosophy and Theology studies in Kiltegan. He was ordained in Killamoat on the 13th of April, 1952.
He was appointed to Kenya where the Society had opened a new mission earlier that year. On arrival in Kenya in December, 1952 he was appointed to Nakuru town. He became Rector of the Junior seminary in Matunda in 1955 and in 1959 became Father-in-Charge of Holy Family Parish, Nakuru. He remained there for 10 years becoming Vicar General of the Diocese in 1969 and continued in that position until 1982. He also acted as Bishop’s Secretary. In 1985, he returned to Holy Rosary, now the Cathedral Parish, as Administrator and played a major role in the renovation of the Cathedral.
Brian was asked to return to Ireland as Project’s Co-ordinator in 1995. In 1997, he was appointed Society Superior in England and Wales and secured a new house for the Society in East Molesey. He returned to Nakuru Diocese in 1999 and served as Chaplain to the Little Sisters of St. Francis in Bahati until July 2007 when he came to Ireland on leave. He was taken ill and died on the 12th of October, 2007.
Place of Rest: Kiltegan
Fr Dermot Curran
The late Fr Dermot Curran was an intellectual and a scholar but also a very simple man with simple tastes. A native of Waterford city, Dermot was born on April 5th, 1931. He was educated by the Christian Brothers in Waterford and came to Kiltegan in 1949. He did the spiritual year and was among those who stayed behind in Kiltegan for philosophy study while others went to Cork to do a degree at University. His outstanding ability was soon recognised and it was decided to send him to Cork to do a degree course. Very soon he earned the reputation of being a natural at philosophy and when he completed his BA in 1954 he was invited to study for an MA. He was conferred in 1955 and returned to Kiltegan for his theology studies. He was ordained with 23 classmates on May 23rd, 1959.
Dermot was appointed to Calabar, Nigeria where he served as secretary to Bishop James Moynagh. Among other things he was asked to do was to study the documents emerging from the Second Vatican Council and to brief the bishop on them. He returned to Ireland in 1967 during the Nigerian Civil War and was posted to Kiltegan to teach Liturgy. He was also much sought after as a retreat-giver. He was appointed to St Patrick’s, Douglas in 1968 where he taught philosophy and later became Rector. He studied for a PhD degree during that time but never finished the thesis. He returned to Nigeria in 1975 and after a short spell in charge of a retreat house in Port Harcourt, he taught in St Paul's Missionary Seminary in Iperu. Two years later he took up a post as lecturer at the Bigard Memorial Seminary, one of the main colleges for the training of Nigerian diocesan clergy. He remained there until he left Nigeria in 1998.
In 1998 Dermot retired to St Patrick’s, Leeson Park, Dublin because of health problems. He had a kidney transplant in 2000 which was very successful. In 2007 his condition worsened and he moved to the Care Unit at Kiltegan. Here he was able to pursue his love of philosophy when his health permitted and to follow his lifelong practice of prayer and contemplation. His deep faith stood him in good stead and he bore his illness and the severe limitations it placed on him with courage and serenity. He died peacefully on May 20th, 2011 and is buried in Kiltegan.