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Fr Eoin Lacy, 1926 - 1998

Eoin was born on the 17th of March, 1926 at 3, Esmond Terrace, Bray, Co. Wicklow. The nature of his father’s employment as an inspector in C.I.E. meant that the family moved quite often and so Eoin attended three schools for his primary education in Wexford, Galway and Sligo. He finished this in 1939 and then did his secondary studies in Summerhill College, Sligo, completing these in 1944, when he entered Kiltegan. After ordination in 1951, he went to Nigeria and ministered in the Diocese of Calabar until 1958. In that year, he returned to Ireland and from then until 1962, he worked in Kiltegan and St. Patrick’s, Douglas, Cork.

 

In 1962, he re-located to Kenya and was assigned to the Diocese of Kitui. There he spent a short time in parish work, before joining the Junior Seminary in Mwingi. In 1971, he transferred to Nairobi and the post of Bursar in the National Major Seminary. He continued in this position until 1974, when he returned to Ireland. He worked for a year in the Vocational School in Roscrea and in 1975, he joined the teaching staff of St. Patrick’s, Buchlyvie, Scotland where he was also Deputy Headmaster to Fr. Vin Brady. Another facet of his career there was the provision of day retreats. Early in 1998, he became ill and died in Aras Mhuire, Drogheda on the 15th of September, 1998.

 

Ordained: 1951

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Pat Laffey, 1922 - 1989

Pat was born in Derrycappagh, Mountmellick, Co. Laois on the 27th of January, 1922. He received his early education at the Convent School, Mountmellick from 1926 to 1928 and the local National School from 1928 to 1935. His secondary education was in St. Mary’s, Knockbeg from 1935 to 1940 the year he entered Kiltegan. He was ordained in December, 1946 and went to Nigeria late in 1947.

 

Appointed to the Diocese of Calabar he ministered in Anua, Uyo, Essene, Asong and Edem Ekpat in the early years. He was a great linguist and became very proficient in Efik. Later records show that he worked in Anua and Uyo. In the early 1960’s he was assigned to parish work in Lagos but after one tour he returned to Efut Abua in Calabar. He became displaced as a result of the civil war and spent some time at home. He had temporary assignments in formation in Kiltegan, in parish work in England and as chaplain at the Curragh.

 

In the early 1970’s he returned to Nigeria, once more to Lagos, where he spent the rest of his life: first at St Mary’s, Ajegunle, and then at St John the Evangelist, Oshodi. Always innovative in his missionary approach, Pat keyed in to the concept of Small Christian Communities as a Church structure and made great use of psycho-social methods of leadership training. He was a great promoter of the reforms of Vatican II. While on leave in the summer of 1989, Pat was taken ill and died on the 7th of July.

 

Ordained: 1946

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr James (Jimmy) Lane, 1916 - 1989

Jimmy – baptized James Paul – was born in Modeligo, Cappagh, Co. Waterford, on the 28th of May, 1916. From 1921 to 1929 he received his primary education at the local N.S. From there, he proceeded to Mount Melleray for secondary studies during the years 1929 to 1933, when he came to Kiltegan for his spiritual year. On completion of this, he studied philosophy in Carlow from 1934 to 1936. In that year, he went to Rome for Theology and was ordained there in December, 1939. Incidentally, he was the first of our members to require a dispensation on grounds of age. Through a combination of postgraduate studies and wartime restrictions on travel, it was not until 1942 that he returned to Ireland.

 

From then until 1947 he was in Humewood as assistant director of the spiritual year students. He also taught scripture to the senior students in High Park, as we called it at that time. In 1947, Humewood was vacated and Jimmy returned to High Park and succeeded John F. Sheehan as Rector, a position he held until the Chapter of 1950.

 

Following this Chapter, Jimmy was appointed to Calabar Diocese, where he ministered in the mission of Asong. After one tour on the missions, Jimmy was recalled to Kiltegan to replace Fr. Corny Plunkett as Director of Probationers. He held this position for the years 1955 to 1965. In that year, he was appointed Spiritual Director to the students in Kiltegan. He relinquished this position in 1969 and went as Spiritual Director to our House of Studies in Cork. There he remained until 1976. In that year, he undertook chaplaincy work – for short periods with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Loughglynn and the St. John of God Brothers but mainly with the Medical Missionaries of Mary in Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. From there he retired to Kiltegan in September, 1988. His health began to decline and he died in Baltinglass Hospital on the 29th of September, 1989.

 

Ordained: 1939

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Jack Lavin, 1911 - 1971

Jack was born at Alderford, Kilronan, Co. Roscommon to Joseph and Mary Teresa Lavin on the 21st of May, 1911. He received his primary education at Ballyfarnon National School during the years 1914-1926. His secondary education was from 1926 to 1929 at St. Mel’s College, Longford; September 1929 to March 1931 at the Patrician College, Mountrath, (later Ballyfin) and from March, 1931 to June, 1931 in Summerhill College, Sligo. In September, 1931 Jack proceeded to St. Patrick’s College, Carlow where he studied philosophy until June, 1933. In September, 1933 he entered Kiltegan for his Spiritual Year. On completion of his Spiritual Year, Jack returned to Carlow where he studied theology from 1934 to 1936. As theological studies had begun in Kiltegan in the latter year, Jack returned there, completing his studies in 1938, when he was ordained in a class of two. Later that year, he went to the then Prefecture of Calabar, where he laboured for all his missionary career.

 

He worked in the parish of Edom Ekpat, taught in the Sacred Heart School near Calabar town, later to become St. Patrick’s, Ikot Ansa, and also in Holy Family College, Abak. In between he acted as secretary to the Prefect, Monsignor Moynagh. Furthermore, he edited the magazine which was later to become Catholic Life.

 

Failing health forced Jack’s return to Ireland and he was appointed to the staff of St Patrick’s in Douglas, Cork, where he taught English and held the post of spiritual director. He died on the 24th of June, 1971.

 

Ordained: 1938

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Thomas Leahy, 1939-2018

Thomas (Tommy) Leahy was born on the 27th of July 1939 to John Leahy and his wife Nora (née Walsh) of Soloheadbeg, Donohill, Co Tipperary. He received his primary education at Greenane National School from 1944 to 1949 and at Newtown National School from 1949 to 1952. For his secondary education he studied at The Abbey CBS Secondary School, Tipperary Town, from 1952 to 1958. He joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1958 and completed the Spiritual Year in June 1959. He went to St Patrick’s College, Douglas, Cork, in September 1959 and attended University College Cork. He graduated with a BA degree in June 1962. He returned to Kiltegan for his theological studies and was ordained along with twelve classmates on the 10th of April, 1966 (Easter Sunday) in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat. The ordaining prelate was Bishop Patrick Cleary SSC, exiled Bishop of Nancheng, China.

 

After ordination Tommy was appointed to the Diocese of Eldoret, Kenya, where he ministered until 1969. He served at Nerkwo and Iten. After his first tour he was appointed to parish work in the Diocese of Brentwood near London and ministered in Gidea Park and in Chelmsford. In September 1972 he was appointed to Malawi and worked in Mzuzu Diocese. His first task was to learn the local language, Chitumbuka. He taught for many years in St Patrick’s Junior Seminary, Rumphi. He also worked in St Teresa’s Parish, Katete, St Paul’s Parish, Mzimba, St Peter’s Parish, Mzuzu, St Anne’s Parish, Chilumba and St Mary’s Parish, Karonga. In 1987 he was appointed to work in the nearby Diocese of Chipata in Zambia. There was an acute shortage of priests in Chipata at the time and Tommy answered the call. It meant learning a new language, Chinyanja. He worked in Chassa. He returned to Mzuzu Diocese in 1989. He was expelled from Malawi in 1992 for speaking out against the regime of the then President, Hastings Kamuzu Banda. Once again Tommy crossed over the Zambian border and continued his missionary work in Chipata Diocese, this time in Katete. After a sabbatical in 1994, which included the 30 Day Retreat at St Beuno’s in Wales, Tommy was appointed to Grenada in the West Indies. He worked in Tivoli, Carriacou and Grand Roy. 

 

In 2004 he made the courageous decision to return to Mzuzu Diocese and remained there until 2009. He was based once again at St Patrick’s Junior Seminary, Rumphi. Ill-health forced his return to Ireland. He was based for a while in Kiltegan and helped in the Promotion Office. When his health improved he took up a pastoral appointment in Ballinaheglish, Co Roscommon (Elphin Diocese). 

 

Tommy was known for his enthusiasm, zeal and sincerity. He helped many people along the road of life. He was a great friend of the local clergy in Malawi and was always looking out for ways in which he could help them. He was in regular contact with former parishioners and colleagues in Malawi. Tommy was an unapologetic supporter of his native county. He was very proud to have the Tipperary flag flying from his car. He was passionate about the GAA. He was a fine hurler in his youth and his love of hurling remained undiminished throughout his life. He was an extremely dedicated and committed missionary who was willing to serve wherever the need was greatest.

 

On the 6th of January 2018 Tommy fell seriously ill as he was about to begin Mass. He was immediately rushed to hospital. However, his condition never improved. He died on Wednesday, the 23rd of May.

 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

Ordained: 1966

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Jack Lee, 1919 - 1982

Jack was born in Headford, Co. Galway on the 12th of June, 1919. He received his primary education at the local N.S. from 1925 to 1932. This was followed by his secondary education in St. Mary’s Galway from 1932 to 1936.

 

In 1936, he entered Kiltegan and was ordained in December, 1942, having received a dispensation because of age. In July, 1943 he went to Nigeria and had the distinction of being the only one of our priests to have a mishap on the way; his ship was torpedoed and in the words of one priest “Jack lost everything but the faith and his breviary!”

 

Jack ministered in Nigeria until 1964. In that year he was assigned to promotion work in our house in New Jersey. This continued until 1968. From 1968 until his death on the 27th of January, 1982 he ministered in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

 

Ordained: 1942

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Kevin Longworth, 1921 - 2010

The Society lost one of its best known and most colourful characters with the death of Fr Kevin Longworth on Sunday, September 5th, 2010. A Westmeath man born in 1921, Kevin came to Kiltegan in 1939, seven years after the Society was founded. The seminary in Kiltegan had been in existence for only three years and was staffed by diocesan volunteer priests. Kevin was bright, strong willed and opinionated and after ordination in 1945 he was sent to Maynooth to do a postgraduate degree (STL) in Theology.

 

In 1948, he was appointed to Calabar, the seaport town in Nigeria that he was to describe in his memoirs as My first love. In 1955, he was transferred to the USA to do promotion work and was chosen as a delegate to the 1956 General Chapter which elected him to the Superior General's Council. He was also appointed Rector of the seminary. He was a tough Rector and his regime evokes criticism from some Society members even today. When he was replaced as Rector, he had two years left as a councillor. He enrolled for a B.Soc.Sc. degree in University College Dublin and graduated two years later.

 

He returned to Nigeria in 1962 and worked in Calabar town, Uyo and Edem Ekpat for the next eleven years. When the Society sent men to Port Harcourt Diocese in 1973, Kevin was one of the first to go. He remained there for six years in the parishes of  Rumomasi and Rumokroshe, building a new church in each. He left on three months home leave in 1979 and did not see Nigeria again for eighteen years. While on leave, he was appointed once again to the Promotion Team in the USA. For the next eleven years he worked on promotion, based in Saratoga, in Cliffside Park and again in Saratoga.

 

In 1991, when he had reached the age of 70, Kevin was unable to continue in promotion work due to deteriorating sight caused by chronic glaucoma. He undertook parish work in the USA and until 1997 he ministered in Florida and San Francisco. When he reached 76, Archbishop (now Cardinal) Levada asked for and accepted his resignation. He came home to Kiltegan with some reservations but found happiness there. He wrote in 2003, “Here I am happy in Kiltegan beyond my expectation”. He was always ready to help out in any way he could. He visited Nigeria nearly every year. He took a great interest in the grounds and up to a short time before his death he could be found working on a flowerbed, undaunted by failing sight and impaired mobility. He ordered flower seeds regularly from Holland and took great pride in his sunflowers. He was fully involved in the life of the community at every level. He took it upon himself to police the liturgy and drew attention to even the slightest deviation from the norms of the Roman Missal. He was equally zealous for the traditions and charism of the Society and did his best to ensure that the Constitutions were observed in letter and in spirit.

 

Kevin was a courageous man who spoke his mind at all times even in the teeth of opposition. He had a great sense of humour which crept into his most serious conversations and into his arguments. His concern was always the principle involved and he never took disagreements personally. He could be conservative and stubborn and yet he was fascinated by what was new. One of the high points of his life was being made a Chief of the Efik people by the Obong of Calabar last year. Sadly, the honour was conferred in absentia. He would have loved to be there to see the work of his happiest years as a missionary accepted and celebrated by the people he had served and their descendants.

 

Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís (His like will never be found again).

 

Ordained: 1945

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Tommy Loughlin, 1911 - 1984

Tommy was born in Cullaboy, Co. Cavan on the 20th of May, 1911. Having received his early education at Kilcogy N.S. he proceeded to St. Mel’s College, Longford, where he completed his secondary education in 1931. In September of that year, he entered St. Patrick’s College, Carlow for his philosophy course. Having completed this, he entered Kiltegan in 1933.

 

After his spiritual year, he returned to Carlow where he did theology for the years 1934 to 1936. In 1936, he returned to Kiltegan to complete his theology studies, as that was the first year that the Society offered theology ‘on the premises’. Tommy was ordained in June, 1938 being, in his own words, half the ordination class. In August that year, he went to Nigeria and ministered in Calabar from 1938 to 1944.

 

After home leave he returned to Nigeria and this time worked in Ogoja from 1945 to 1976. For much of that time, he was Father-in-Charge of Ikom and in that capacity was responsible for the building and development of Ikom church, hospital and secondary school. He specialised in building and his projects included the leprosy centre in Obudu and the first block of the Junior Seminary at Ezzamgbo, Abakaliki. Tommy combined all these activities with the post of Assistant Supervisor of schools in the Prefecture.

 

In 1976, he returned to Kiltegan and worked in the office. He is also remembered for his expertise in formulating the crossword puzzle in our magazine, Africa. We are told in a tribute to him that his last years were ones of serenity with his books and in summer, fishing on his beloved Lough Sheelin. Tommy died on the 26th of September, 1984.

 

Ordained: 1938

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Tom Lucey, 1925 - 1991

Tom was born on the 16th of September, 1925 at Muckross, Killarney. After his primary education locally, he proceeded to St. Brendan’s, Killarney where he pursued his secondary studies from 1939 to 1944. In that year he entered Kiltegan and was ordained in 1953, his course of studies lasting nine years. The unusual length of his seminary days is explained by the fact that it coincided with the opening of our house of studies in Douglas, Cork and the first occupants included six who had completed philosophy in Kiltegan.

 

After ordination, Tom was appointed to the Diocese of Calabar and taught in Ikot Ansa secondary school for the years 1953 to 1957. In the latter year, he returned for home leave and pursued a H.Dip in Education in U.C.C. during the academic year 1957 – 1958.

 

Returning to Nigeria late in 1958, Tom was appointed Inspector of Schools, a post he held until 1962. In that year, the Society held a General Chapter which Tom attended as a delegate, and at which he was elected to the Superior General’s Council. In September, 1962 he went to the newly acquired territory of Minna, as Inspector of Schools.

 

After a few months there he returned to Kiltegan to fulfil his duties as a member of the Council. He played a major role in shaping Society policy in areas such as the establishment of the Irish Missionary Union, enhancing the ministry of lay volunteers in missionary work, the enlarging of the Society’s Catechist scheme, a project called the Village Church Fund, recognised by our missionaries as an integral part of our missionary endeavour.

 

Leaving office at the end of the statutory period in 1978, Tom went to Grenada in early 1979. There he ministered in Grand Roy, Sauteurs and St. David’s. Ill health forced his return to Ireland in 1989. Back home, he ministered to the Franciscan Missionary Sisters in Loughglynn until his death on the 12th of July, 1991.

 

Ordained: 1953

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

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