Fr Paddy Hyland who died on the 11th of February, 2010 at the age of 86 was a renaissance man with a consuming interest in all aspects of human endeavour. He himself would say modestly that he was 'a jack of all trades and a master of none'. Far from it, Paddy, a native of Navan, Co Meath, had an enquiring mind and the ability to explore, persevere and practice until he had grasped whatever it was had interested him. We heard at his funeral that, in his eighties, he was discovered learning to fly a jumbo jet with the aid of a computer programme and a joystick and that, recently, when his sight was all but gone and he had time on his hands, he had purchased a CD of James Joyce’s Ulysses in order to do something he had always planned to do. Add nature, music, poetry, art, sport of all kinds (especially golf), chess, reflexology and you get the picture of a man whose interests were only limited by his imagination.
On the other hand, Paddy Hyland suffered from depression throughout the sixty years of his priesthood. It prevented him from spending more than a few years on the mission-field and it brought him much suffering. But it was gently borne, never broadcast and scarcely allowed to impinge on the life of those with whom he lived in community. It bore fruit too in terms of empathy and faith which, aligned to his humour and natural charm, contributed to Paddy’s immense popularity and to the genuine love and respect he engendered in so many.
It was suggested at Paddy’s funeral Mass that it is providential for the Society that some members are unable to work on the missions as their work at home contributes enormously to the good of the Society. This was so for Paddy. His contribution to promotion and mission awareness and his ministry to our benefactors was an essential service carried out with great generosity and proficiency.
Paddy came to Kiltegan in 1942 and was ordained seven years later. He was appointed to Calabar, Nigeria and spent four years there. He was sent to Camden, New Jersey in 1954 to do promotion work for the Society. He did this for three years and was then recalled to Kiltegan where he worked in the promotion office and on Africa magazine. He also did some teaching in the college. From 1963 to 1965 he acted as chaplain to the Patrician Brothers in Tullow, Co Carlow. Then, he returned to Camden for eight more years of promotion work.
Paddy was always drawn to parish work and was given the opportunity in 1973 when he took up an appointment in Hollywood in Florida. It was the beginning of fifteen very enjoyable years of parish ministry. The first three years were spent in Hollywood, the next two in Ballyfin Parish in Co Laois and the remaining ten in Baltinglass, Co Wicklow.
Paddy returned to Kiltegan, to resume his promotion ministry. His main work was to handle correspondence from members of the mission circle and other benefactors. He also worked in the general archives of the Society ensuring that records were properly catalogued and stored. The Africa has a special reason to be grateful to Paddy. He produced years of Crosswords in cooperation with Mr Gerry Donnelly. His visits to the office were joyful interludes that usually produced a new suggestion, a new challenge or at very least a new angle on something or other.
Place of Rest: Kiltegan