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Fr Desmond McKeever, 1928–2018

Desmond Patrick (Des) McKeever was born on the 28th of June, 1928 to Patrick McKeever and his wife Anne (née Lawless) of Blackrock, Co Dublin. He received his primary education at Westland Row CBS between 1934 and 1945. He travelled to school each day by train. After completing his secondary education in 1945 Des joined the Civil Service as an Executive Officer and worked there until 1956. His first post was in Drogheda as a clerk in the Great Northern Railway Company. Thereafter all his postings were in Dublin and he lived with his parents at Blackrock. During his time in the Civil Service he studied at Trinity College where he was awarded a Diploma in Public Administration and he studied at UCD by night where he was awarded a BA degree, his subjects were Modern History, English Literature and Irish. After a period of discernment he joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1956 at the age of 28. 

 

He completed the Spiritual Year in June 1957 and went to St Patrick’s, Douglas, Cork for a two year course in philosophy. He returned to Kiltegan in September 1959 for a four year course in theology and was ordained on the 14th of April 1963 (Easter Sunday) in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat, by Bishop Patrick Cleary SSC, the retired Bishop of Nancheng, China.

 

After ordination Des was appointed to the then Prefecture of Minna. He was part of the second class to be sent there. He taught at St Malachy’s Secondary School, Minna and at Zuru Government Secondary School. After his first tour he was sent to UCC to study for the Higher Diploma in Education and he was also dean at St Patrick’s, Douglas. Ill health forced his return to Ireland in the early 1970s. After medical treatment he was appointed to the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh where he worked in St Mary’s Cathedral and in St Patrick’s, Kilsyth. In 1975 he went to work in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. He ministered in the parishes of Rathangan and Allenwood. From 1985 to 1986 he was curate in Glin, Co Limerick. Des was then appointed to the Mass Office in Kiltegan and he remained in that post until he retired from active ministry towards the end of 2008 having turned 80. Des was a very able administrator and was meticulous in keeping records and accounts. 

 

He was very open about his struggles with alcohol addiction earlier in his life. He used his experience of coping with that addiction to help others who also struggled with alcohol related problems. He became an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and was very faithful in attending AA meetings throughout counties Wicklow and Carlow. No journey was too far for him if he thought he could help a person overcome their addiction. For many years he attended nightly meetings of AA. This ministry gave Des great consolation and he found it very rewarding and satisfying. 

 

When he was no longer able to drive he entered a new phase of life and was content to stay at home. He lived a very regular and disciplined life and greatly valued silence, meditation and communion with God in prayer. The long walk from his room to the refectory three times a day became a mini pilgrimage with various stops along the way.

 

His health remained good until late in 2017 after which it deteriorated, necessitating his transfer to the Care Unit in Kiltegan. He adapted to this change with great tranquility, continuing to take an active part in the daily liturgies. 

 

He died peacefully on 21st February. 

 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Ordained: 1963

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Padraig MacCormac, 1926 - 2004

Padraig – baptized Patrick Mary Kevin – was born on the 23rd of May 1926 in Ballinagh, Co. Cavan. His primary schooling was at the local National School and this was followed by his secondary studies from 1940 to 1945 at St Patrick’s College, Cavan. He also did a year’s study of pharmacy in Dublin and then in 1946, he followed the footsteps of his only brother, Sean (1922-1997) and came to Kiltegan. He was a member of the last Spiritual Year class to reside in Humewood. He was ordained in 1953 and was appointed to Calabar Diocese. He ministered there until he was displaced by the Biafran war; he returned to Ireland in 1968.

 

A new mission was allocated to our Society and Padraig was in the first group of priests to go to Grenada in 1970. He ministered here until 1982 and at that juncture he expressed a wish to return to Africa. That wish was granted and this time he was appointed to the Diocese of Kitui in Kenya. He ministered in a large number of parishes in that Diocese: Muthale, Mwingi, Migwani, Mutune and Mulutu. Ill health forced his return to Ireland in 2003 and he died in Tallaght Hospital on the 21st of March 2004.

 

Ordained: 1953

Place of Rest:

Fr Sean MacCormack, 1922 - 1997

Sean was born on the 26th of April 1922 at Ballinagh, Co. Cavan. He had his primary education at the local N.S. from 1926 to 1935, followed by his secondary studies at St. Mel’s College, Longford from 1935 to 1940 and in the latter year, he entered Kiltegan. He was ordained in December 1946, and on completion of his studies there, he was appointed Dean of the Spiritual Year students, which lasted until 1950. In 1951, Sean went to Nigeria and was assigned to the then Prefecture of Ogoja, where he would minister for 33 years, serving in St. Paul’s, Wanakom, St. Teresa’s, Abakaliki, Ezzamgbo, where he was Rector of St. Augustine’s Minor Seminary, St. Brigid’s, Umuezeoka and finally Sacred Heart, Ezza. Within that period, he served as curate in Mohill, Co. Leitrim during the years 1964 to 1966.

 

Sean returned to Ireland in 1984 and after a holiday, he went as curate to Ballyfarnon, Co. Roscommon, in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.  However, ill health forced him to retire in 1992 and he returned to Mohill where he was under the care of the Sisters of Mercy, until he died on the 12th of April, 1997 in Sligo General Hospital.

 

Ordained: 1946

Place of Rest: 

Fr Vincent MacNamara, 1930 - 2017

Vincent MacNamara was born to George MacNamara and his wife Brigid (née O’Reilly) of Clara, Co Offaly on the 4th of April, 1930. He was one of a family of five boys. He attended Clara National School and St Finian’s College, Mullingar. He came to Kiltegan in September, 1948, for his spiritual year. Next, he went to St Patrick’s, Douglas, and studied in University College, Cork. Three years later, he graduated with a BA degree and went back to Kiltegan for his Theology studies. He was ordained on Easter Sunday, the 1st of April, 1956, in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat by Bishop Patrick Cleary SSC, Bishop of Nancheng, China.

 

After ordination Vincent was sent to St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, to pursue a Doctorate in Canon Law (DCL). Part of his study involved course work at the Angelicum University in Rome. He was awarded a DCL in 1959. He was appointed to the staff of St Patrick’s College, Kiltegan, in September 1959. He was Dean from 1959 to 1962. After the 1962 Chapter he was appointed Rector and remained in that post until June 1969. He was then appointed to Rome to serve as Procurator General of the Society. During his time in Rome he pursued studies in Moral Theology at the Gregorian University graduating with the Gold Medal in June 1971. He returned to Kiltegan where he resumed his teaching career. He also taught in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, during the 1970s. Despite his hectic schedule he found time to gain a D.Phil from Oxford University.

 

In 1978 Vincent was elected a member of the Central Leadership Team of the Society and lived at Kiltegan. In 1984 he was elected Vicar General of the Society. In 1990 he moved to the newly acquired Society house at Leeson Park in Dublin where he lived for the next twenty-seven years. He returned to teaching full-time. He was a founding member of the Kimmage Mission Institute and served as its president for one term. He also lectured at Milltown Park and at Trinity College, Dublin.

 

Vincent was a very gifted theologian and a frequent contributor to various periodicals on theological matters. He published a number of books including The Truth in Love, The Call to be Human and New Life for Old. He was acknowledged by his peers as an outstanding thinker and writer. He always wrote with elegance and style. Vincent was a humble and modest man who stayed far away from the limelight. He had a very significant influence on the history of the Society as he taught every priest who was ordained for the Society between 1960 and 1999. As Rector he ensured that seminary training made a smooth transition from the traditional model to one more in keeping with the Second Vatican Council. In leadership roles, he helped steer the Society away from rigour and inflexibility towards freedom and personal responsibility. 

 

Vincent had a great love of gardening and always worked hard to make his surroundings more beautiful. He played a central role in designing and landscaping the Kiltegan grounds during the 1960s. He also had a deep appreciation of music.

 

Vincent’s health was less than robust for most of his life. He was never able to take up an appointment on the “missions”. However he was totally dedicated to the work of the Society and gave great encouragement and moral support to fellow members, especially those working in difficult and testing missions. His health deteriorated considerably during the last year. He died peacefully on the morning of Friday, the 14th of July.

 

Ordained: 1956

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Ray MacNicholas, 1938 - 2011

In the mind of his Society colleagues, Fr Ray MacNicholas will always be associated with athletics. He was a fine athlete and had the good fortune to be appointed to Eldoret Diocese which produced and continues to produce many world-famous Kenyan athletes. Ray took an interest in them long before they became famous and became a mentor, friend and advisor to many of them. To his parishioners Ray was a devoted pastor who paid special attention to the old, the poor and those with special needs. He set up appointments in hospitals and clinics for many who were sick or disabled and arranged transport for them and often drove them himself. He was also an efficient Father-in charge who provided good buildings and facilities in the various missions in which he served, doing everything with style and taste. He was very good with his hands and could acquit himself well in carpentry, electricity and general DIY. To his family Ray was the beloved son and brother whose visits home were occasions of joy, celebration and reunion.

 

A native of Co Wexford with ancestral roots in Co Mayo, Ray was born on May 27th, 1938, in Bunclody. When he was twelve the family moved to Wexford town where Ray received his secondary education in the Christian Brothers school and in St Peter’s College. He came to Kiltegan in 1956 and was ordained with fourteen classmates on April 14th, 1963. He was sent to Kenya and ministered in the Diocese of Eldoret from 1963 to 1981 in the parishes of Nerkwo, Iten, Kituro, Turbo and Cherangani. He then spent five years in Ireland and worked as a curate in St Conleth’s Parish, Newbridge, Co Kildare. He loved his time in Newbridge. He made firm friendships there and renewed them on every trip home afterwards. He returned to Kenya in 1986 and was to spend the next twenty-five years in missionary service in the parishes of Iten, Kaptagat and Ziwa.Ray retired from parish ministry in September, 2010 and moved to a house on the outskirts of Eldoret town where he was chaplain to the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus Sisters. He died suddenly and unexpectedly in Nairobi on May 6th after attending a meeting of the Regional Council of the Society. He is buried in the Society cemetery in Nakuru. May he rest in peace.

Ordained:  1963

Place of Rest:  Nakuru, Kenya

Fr Sean MacSuibhne, 1956 - 1999

Sean was born at 25 Pine Copse Road, Dundrum, Dublin on the 23rd of October, 1956. After his primary education at Dundrum N.S. and St. Benildus Preparatory school, Kilmacud, he received his secondary education at St. Benildus College, Kilmacud, completing it in 1973. From there, he proceeded to U.C.D. where he obtained a B.A. in Irish and History, followed by a H. Dip. in Education. He completed these studies in 1977 and from then until 1982, he taught in the Marist College, Dundalk.

 

In 1982, he entered Kiltegan for his Spiritual Year and was ordained in 1988. After ordination he went to South Africa and was assigned to the Diocese of Witbank, where he was in charge of a minor seminary in Luckau. When this institution closed, he moved into the parish of Christ the King, Luckau as acting priest-in-charge. At this juncture, the question of Formation of students was in the forefront and Sean was regarded as one who would play a major role in this. Accordingly, he was recalled from South Africa in March, 1993. He did a Masters degree in spirituality in Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, U.S.A. in the academic year 1993 – 1994 followed by the Formation Programme at Loreto House, Dublin in 1994 – 1995. He then joined our Formation team and was formally appointed Director of Formation in June 1997. Early in 1999 Sean tragically developed cancer and died on the 9th of June 1999.

 

Ordained: 1988

Place of Rest 

Fr Cathal McBride, 1920 - 2006

Cathal was born on the 1st of December 1920 in Keadue, Rossnakill, Lifford, Co. Donegal to Charles and Mary McBride. He was the youngest of a family of eight. He attended Tamney N.S. from 1926 to 1934 and Cashel N.S. from 1934 to 1936. He did secondary studies in St. Eunan’s College, Letterkenny from 1936 to 1941. He came to Kiltegan in 1941 for his Spiritual Year. He did philosophy and theology studies in Kiltegan and was ordained in Killamoat Church at Easter, 1948.

 

Appointed to Ogoja, Cathal worked in Ishiagu Parish until 1952. He then did promotion work in Camden, New Jersey for two years after which he returned to Ogoja where he worked in Izzi Parish until 1961. He did promotion work in Ireland from 1962-1966. He returned to Ogoja once more and was stationed in Ikom and later in Ugep. Ugep was a strategic location during the Biafran War. There he offered hospitality and support to many fellow missionaries during that difficult and tragic time. He left Nigeria in 1970.

 

Cathal did promotion work in Ireland from 1971 to 1975 and in Chicago from 1975 to 1978. He was appointed House Superior in Saratoga in 1980. In 1981, he moved to St. Carthage’s Parish, Chicago and worked there until 1985 when he moved to St. Jude’s Parish in Boca Raton, Florida. In 1987 he was transferred to St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in Delray Beach, Florida. Cathal retired to Kiltegan and celebrated his 80th birthday there in 2000 A.D. He died on the 10th of December 2006.

 

Ordained: 1948

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Mick McCabe, 1925 - 2003

Mick (baptised Michael Joseph) was born on the 12th of September, 1925 in Tullyvin, Cootehill, Co. Cavan. He received his early education at the local National School from 1932 to 1939 after which he entered St. Patrick’s College, Cavan and did his Leaving Certificate in 1944. In that year, he began his Spiritual Year in Kiltegan. He was among the first group of students to enter our House of Studies in Douglas, Cork in 1947. He was ordained at Easter, 1953 and soon afterwards went to Nigeria, having been appointed to the then Prefecture of Ogoja. His first area of ministry was Ikom, where he remained until January, 1954. For the remainder of his tour, he taught in Maryknoll Secondary School, and St. Thomas’ Teacher Training College. In his second tour, he taught in St. Joseph’s Teachers’ Training College, Igbeagu from 1958 to 1960. He returned to Kiltegan for the years 1961 to 1962 and then went to our House of Studies in Cork from 1962 to 1963. Thereafter, he re-located to the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh and ministered in the parish of Musselburgh from 1963 to 1969.

 

In 1969, he went to Chicago on Society Promotion, an appointment that lasted until 1981. A spell in Nigeria followed and he ministered in St. Mary’s Parish Ajegunle and later in St. Augustine’s Parish, Ikorodu. This appointment occupied the years 1982 to 1984. In 1985, he returned to Edinburgh and worked in St. Patrick’s Parish, Gray’s Close for a year. In 1986, he was appointed Chaplain to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, where he stayed until 1989. He then spent a year as Chaplain to the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in Loughglynn. He retired to Kiltegan in 1990. He died in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, on the 14th of August 2003.

 

Ordained: 1953

Place of Rest: 

Fr Henry McCarney, 1928 - 2014

Henry (Harry) McCarney was born on April, 22nd, 1928, to Peter and Ann (née O’Kane) McCarney of Clones, Co Monaghan. He was one of eleven children. He attended the St Louis Convent School in 1933 and 1934 and St Tiernach’s Boys’ School from 1934 to 1940. He did his secondary studies in St Macartan’s, Monaghan, from 1940 to 1945. Harry went on to train as a pharmacist but felt drawn to the missionary priesthood. He came to Kiltegan and did the Spiritual year from 1949 to 1950. He moved to St Patrick’s, Douglas, for his philosophy studies and studied music in University College Cork. In 1955 Harry was awarded a Bachelor of Music degree becoming the first Kiltegan student to get a B Mus. He then came to Kiltegan for theology and was ordained in Killamoat by Bishop McGettrick of Ogoja, Nigeria on May 23rd, 1959.

 

Harry was appointed to assist Fr James Lane on the Spiritual Year programme in Kiltegan and did that work for three years. He then moved to the main college and served as Dean until 1965. He was then transferred to Ikot Ekpene diocese in Nigeria and taught in the diocesan minor seminary at Afaha Obong. The choir flourished under his direction and won several diocesan choir competitions. He was displaced by the Civil War in 1967 and was sent to Kenya the following year to serve in the diocese of Kitui. His first appointment was to the Teacher Training College in Mutune. While teaching there he trained the choir in nearby St Angela’s Secondary School and brought it to national prominence. When the Teacher Training College closed Harry was transferred to Ikutha where he taught in a secondary school. He later moved to Muthale and spent his final years in Kitui Pastoral Centre where he collected local music for use in the Liturgy, worked with choirs, and produced a hymnal.

 

In 1995, Harry returned to Ireland in order to be near his siblings who were in poor health. He was appointed to the promotion office in Kiltegan and at weekends he travelled to Clones to be with his sister, who died in 2007. By then, Harry was nearly eighty years old so he decided to retire to the family home in Clones. He died there on December 18th, 2014 after a short illness.

 

Harry is remembered by his former students as a very fair dean who treated each one with great respect. Everyone remembers him as a thorough gentleman, a great pianist, a lovely singer, a good footballer and a totally dedicated missionary.

 

Ordained: 1959

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Gerard McCluskey, 1928 - 2014

Fr Gerard McCluskey was born on May 28th, 1928 in Blackstaff, Iniskeen, Co Monaghan to National School teachers, Bernard and Evelyn McCluskey (née Connolly). He was one of eight children all but two of whom were to become priests or religious sisters. Gerard attended Blackstaff National School from 1932 to 1941 and St Macartan’s College, Monaghan from 1941 to 1946. He came to Kiltegan on September 14th, 1946 and did his Spiritual Year in Humewood Castle. He proceeded to study philosophy and theology in St Patrick’s College, Kiltegan and was ordained in Killamoat Church along with eight others on Easter Sunday, April 5th, 1953 by Bishop J. W. Heffernan CSSp.

 

Fr Gerard was appointed to the Diocese of Eldoret in Kenya and ministered there for nine years, first in Holy Rosary Parish, Nakuru and then in St Francis Xavier Parish, Naivasha. At the end of 1963 and at the request of Fr Ciaran Needham, he was appointed to join the pioneers who had gone to Brazil to set up a new mission there earlier in the year. He travelled to Brazil the following January and joined the others in Cotia, the first Society parish. He ministered in that area for the remainder of his time in Brazil, serving in parishes such as Jardim D’Abril, Novo Osasco and São João Novo. He celebrated his Golden Jubilee in 2003 and retired from full-time ministry, having given forty years of remarkably dedicated missionary service in Brazil.

 

He moved to a small apartment in the Parish of São João Novo where he had been Parish Priest and spent ten very happy years in semi-retirement, celebrating weekend Masses and helping out in other ways.

 

Fr Gerard returned to Ireland at the end of September 2013. He took up residence in the Care Unit and quickly settled in to the community life of Kiltegan. He was admitted to hospital a number of times over the next eleven months and was only discharged from his final hospital stay on August 21st. He died peacefully at noon on August 28th.

 

Ordained: 1953

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Tom McCracken, 1928 - 1996

Tom was born in Leeds on the 31st of May 1928. Shortly afterwards the family moved back to Dublin and Tom received his primary education in Howth N.S. and his secondary education from 1941 to 1946 in C.B.S. Marino.  In the latter year, he entered Kiltegan and was ordained in 1954. Following ordination, Tom went to Nigeria and was appointed to Maryknoll Secondary School in Ogoja. In 1962, he succeeded Fr. Sean Meehan as Principal of that school and ministered there until 1967 when the civil war intervened and Tom returned to Ireland.

 

In 1970, Tom re-located to Kenya and was appointed to Lodwar Diocese, where he became the founder and first Principal of Lodwar Secondary School. In 1975, Tom went to Nairobi as Assistant to the Regional Superior, and later became Vice Regional, a post he held up to 1984. In 1985, he visited Nigeria at the invitation of the past students of Maryknoll Secondary School; at the end of that year he underwent heart surgery. He returned to Kenya in November, 1987 and was appointed Chaplain to Egerton University, which was to become a fruitful apostolate through Tom’s initiative in building up a large library incorporating books and videos. At this time however, Tom was in failing health and died suddenly on the 21st of January 1996.

 

Ordained: 1954

Place of Rest: 

Fr Michael (Micky) McDonald, 1918 - 1971

Micky was born to John and Mary-Anne McDonald in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny on the 7th of May 1918. He received his primary education at the Mercy Convent, Graiguenamanagh from 1921-26 and at the local national school from 1926 to 1931. For his secondary education, he attended St. Mary’s College, Knockbeg from September 1931 to June 1935.  

 

He entered Kiltegan in September 1935 and was ordained in December, 1941. Records show that he received a dispensation for ordination on grounds of age. He laboured in Calabar Diocese in Nigeria during the forties. In the early fifties, he transferred to Wellington, New Zealand where he worked until 1958. In mid-1958, he went to California, USA where he worked in the Diocese of Monterey Fresno. Micky died in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda on the 3rd of November 1971.

 

Ordained: 1941

Place of Rest: 

Fr Ned McElligott, 1914 - 1982

Ned was born in Moyvane, Co. Kerry on the 28th of May 1914. He received his primary education at the local National School, after which he proceeded to secondary level, first at St. Michael’s, Listowel from 1927 to 1930 and then at St. Brendan’s Seminary, Killarney from 1930 to 1932. In that year, he entered St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, where he studied philosophy from 1932 to 1934. In the latter year, he entered Kiltegan and was ordained in June 1939.

 

From 1939 to early 1945, he worked in the then Prefecture of Calabar. He taught in Holy Family College, Abak, and later ministered in the missions of Anua, Ifuho and Edem Ekpat.

 

After the usual home leave, he returned to Calabar in 1946. However, an operation for an ulcer cut short his tour, and returning to Kiltegan he was Mission Representative during the years 1949 and 1950. This was followed by a stint on the college staff during the academic year of 1950-1951. In 1951 he went on parish work to the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, where he ministered in the parish of Ballon.

 

In October, 1954 Ned began a new phase in his life, this time in Kenya, in the Diocese of Eldoret. Here, he worked in Eldoret town, the seminary in Moi’s Bridge and finally in St. Joseph’s Teacher’s Training College, Kitale. He left Kenya in October, 1963. After his return to Ireland, he spent some time in the parish of Ballon, and was Chaplain to the Patrician Brothers. In 1964, he returned to Kiltegan and worked in the Mass Stipend Office until his death on the 2nd of June 1982.

 

Ordained: 1939

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Bishop Tom McGettrick, 1905 - 1988

Tom McGettrick was born in Killavil, in the parish of Bunninadden, Co. Sligo on the 22nd of December 1905. He received his primary education at the local N.S. from 1910 to 1919 after which he entered St. Nathy’s College, Ballaghaderreen for his secondary studies and completed these in 1923, when he entered Maynooth. After ordination in 1930, he answered Pat Whitney’s appeal for priests to staff the Vicariate of Southern Nigeria, he was to become one of the “Big Four” to determine Society policy in its important formative years. With James Moynagh, he would shape our mission policies.

 

On reaching Nigeria, he spent his first tour in Oron and returned to Ireland on home leave in 1933. He returned in 1934 and ministered in Anua. When Ogoja became a separate Prefecture, in 1938, Pat Whitney became its first Prefect Apostolic but soon ill health forced his retirement and early in 1939, Tom McGettrick was appointed Prefect Apostolic. In 1955, Ogoja became a Diocese and he was ordained its first bishop. Under his stewardship Ogoja once referred to as “The Lost Province” became synonymous with the prodigious development of a Diocese. We are told, in one account that Ogoja began “with one Prefect, seven priests, £60 in the bank and a deficit of £240”.

 

The booklet for his Funeral Rites recounts that “he founded two Dioceses, consecrated two bishops who were his protégées, trained over 200 priests and sisters, built 502 schools of all categories, and one might say, his speciality, 2 leprosy centres. At one time, one of these had the biggest Catholic Leprosy Control Programme in the world”. As bishop, he saw the importance of contemplation in the work of evangelisation and in Easter Week 1983, he oversaw the opening of the first Women’s Cistercian Monastery in Nigeria. All of these accomplishments are documented in an appendix to his memoirs, completed shortly before his death. In 1973, Ogoja was divided in two with Joseph Ukpo becoming Bishop of Ogoja and Tom McGettrick moving to Abakaliki to become its first bishop. Tom McGettrick retired in 1983 and handed over to Michael Okoro. He lived at Mile 50 until his death on the 18th of December 1988. He is buried within St Theresa’s Cathedral in Abakaliki.

 

Ordained: 1930

Place of Rest: St Theresa’s Cathedral, Abakaliki, Nigeria

Fr John McGuinness, 1916 - 2000

John was born on the 30th of January, 1916 at Arigna, Co. Roscommon. He attended the local N.S. and later moved to Mohill, Co. Leitrim and had his secondary education in St. Mel’s College, Longford from 1928 to 1933. In that year, he entered Maynooth for his native Diocese, but after attaining a B.A. he came to Kiltegan for the Spiritual Year in 1936. He was ordained in December, 1940 and finished his theological studies in June, 1941.

Instead of going on the missions immediately, John embarked upon what one might call a period of great versatility in Kiltegan. Staff for the College was in short supply and he taught most of the Philosophy subjects; History, Latin and Greek were also added to his repertoire. Furthermore, he was elected to the Superior General’s Council for the term 1944 to 1950. He finally went to Nigeria in 1950 and from then until 1956, he taught in St. Patrick’s College, Calabar.

In 1956, it was back to administration in Kiltegan once again, with his re-election to the Superior General’s Council from 1956 to 1962. Returning to Calabar in the latter year, he filled the post of Education Secretary until 1965 when he was appointed Principal of Holy Family College, Abak and Vicar General of Ikot Ekpene Diocese. He also combined the role of Chaplain to the College until 1983 when he joined the staff of St. Paul’s Missionary Society, Abuja. This ministry continued until 1990, when he returned to Ireland and a different ministry of chaplain to the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in Loughglynn. He remained there until he finally retired to Kiltegan in 1996. He died on the 22nd of August, 2000.

Ordained: 1940

Place of Rest: 

Fr Ben McGurk, 1913 - 1973

Ben was born to Michael and Kathleen McGurk of Kells, Co. Meath on the 9th of July 1913. He received his early education at the Convent of Mercy Kells from 1917 to 1921, completing this at the C.B.S. Kells where he studied up to the Intermediate Certificate in 1929. In that year, he entered St. Finian’s College, Mullingar and completed his leaving certificate in 1932. In 1932 he entered Kiltegan and was ordained in June 1939. In that year, he went to Nigeria, where he ministered until 1949 in the then Prefecture of Ogoja. He represented this prefecture at the Chapter of 1944.

 

Returning to Ireland, he worked in the office for a short time and in August 1951 he was appointed to the Curragh, where he worked until August 1958. From September 1958 to late 1962, Ben was in England. He returned to Ireland for a short time and then transferred to the Diocese of Miami in April 1964 and was incardinated on the 7th of March, 1969. Ben died on the 15th of June 1973 and is buried in Florida, USA.

 

Ordained: 1939

Place of Rest: Florida, USA

Fr Phonsie McKenna, 1924 - 1954

Because he died so young, details of Phonsie’s life are few. He was born on the 29th of September, 1924 to Mr and Mrs Michael McKenna at St. Eunan’s Terrace, Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

 

Having received his primary education at the local National School, he proceeded to St. Eunan’s College, Letterkenny where he studied until 1943. That year he entered Kiltegan and was ordained on Easter Sunday, 1950. In August 1950, he proceeded to Nigeria and was appointed to Calabar Diocese. There, he ministered in Anua and Essene. In mid-August 1954, he returned to Ireland on leave. Shortly afterwards he was diagnosed with cerebral malaria and died on the 8th of October, 1954. He is buried in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

 

Ordained: 1950

Place of Rest: Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Fr John McLaughlin, 1947 - 2015

John McLaughlin was born on the 26th of May 1947 to Patrick and Irene (née Farnon) McLaughlin of Newington Avenue, Antrim Road, Belfast. John attended Holy Family Primary School from 1951 to 1958 and pursued his secondary education at St Patrick’s College, Armagh, from 1958 to 1964. He came to Kiltegan in September 1964 and completed the Spiritual Year in June 1965. He did his philosophy studies at St Patrick’s College, Douglas, from 1965 to 1967. He studied theology at Kiltegan from September 1967 to Easter 1971 when he was ordained by Bishop Patrick Lennon in Killamoat on the 11th of April.

 

John was appointed to Nigeria to what is now Uyo Diocese. He worked in Edem Ekpat, Ikot Edibon, Use Abat, Asong and Eket where he built the Fathers’ house. He returned to Ireland in 1978 for medical treatment and served as Dean of the Spiritual Year for a short time and he also worked in vocations recruitment  before being appointed to Zambia in 1979. He worked in Chongwe Parish, in Mpanshya Parish and later in the Archbishop’s Office in Lusaka. He did the Lumko Institute Course in South Africa in 1986.  He was financial administrator of the Archdiocese of Lusaka from 1989 to 1996. He also held the post of National Drought Relief Co-ordinator for the Zambian Episcopal Conference from 1992 to 1995.

 

He was withdrawn from Zambia in 1996 and after he did the Faith and Mission Programme at Dalgan Park in 1997 he was appointed to promotion work in the USA where he served both in Chicago and in Cliffside Park, New Jersey. Having completed ten years in the USA he was appointed Director of Promotion for Scotland in 2008, the position he held until his death.

 

John was a larger than life character who brought great energy and enthusiasm to all his ministries. He was renowned for his dedication, hard work and attention to detail. He was a very able administrator and these gifts were very much appreciated by the Bishops of Zambia and by the Society leadership.

 

John died very suddenly on the evening of Monday, the 23rd of February during Evening Prayer in the chapel of the Society house in Stirling. Fathers John Roche, Joe McCullough, John Garry and Joe Millar were visiting John at the time.

 

Ordained: 1971

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Frank McNabb, 1933 - 2019

Francis (Frank) McNabb was born on the 29th of November 1933 to Joseph McNabb and his wife Katie (née Glynn) of Killeenfarna, Claremorris, Co Mayo. He was the youngest of a family of three girls and five boys. Frank received his primary education from 1938 to 1946 at Claremorris National School and his secondary education from 1946 to 1952 at St Colman’s College, Claremorris. He joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1952 and completed the Spiritual Year in June 1953. He studied philosophy at St Patrick’s College, Kiltegan, from September 1953 to June 1955. He continued his studies at Kiltegan in September 1955 pursuing a four-year course in theology. He was ordained along with twenty-three classmates on the 23rd of May 1959 in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat. The ordaining prelate was Most Rev Thomas McGettrick SPS, Bishop of Ogoja.

 

After ordination Frank was appointed to the then Prefecture of Eldoret. He remained in that general area for the next sixty years. His first appointment was to Tartar Parish where he ministered from 1959 to 1962. He was then appointed to Iten Parish (1962-1964) before moving to Turbo Parish (1964-1968). This was followed by a period of six years when he worked in the Diocese of Kisumu ministering in Kaiboi Parish (1969-1972) and Chepterit Parish (1972-1975). These parishes were part of Nandi District and at that time they formed part of Kisumu Diocese. In 1975 they were incorporated into Eldoret Diocese. He went to work in Kapsabet Parish in 1975 and returned to Turbo Parish in 1979 ministering there for nine years. From 1989 to 1990 he worked in Ndalat Parish. After 1990 Frank spent most of his time working in diocesan administration. He was the Procurator of Eldoret Diocese from 1990 to 2000. He then moved to Kitale Diocese where he helped Bishop Maurice Crowley SPS in the building of churches, presbyteries, convents and schools. He was the Parish Priest of St Patrick’s, Kibomet from 2006 until 2011.

 

Frank spent all his priestly life on the missions. He saw many changes during his almost sixty years in Kenya. The Prefecture of Eldoret became a Diocese shortly after his arrival. Later the Dioceses of Lodwar, Nakuru and Kitale were carved from it. Frank made a very significant contribution to the development of the Church in Eldoret and Kitale. Through his meticulous planning and his careful stewardship many parishes and social projects were established and flourished. Frank became a master builder and when the Society needed houses to be built for its members in Kapsoya (Eldoret) and in Kibomet (Kitale) it was to Frank that it looked. He did not disappoint. He was able to generate a lot of resources from his family and from a group of loyal friends. He put these resources at the disposition of the Church in Eldoret and Kitale and never looked for anything for himself.

 

Frank was a very generous and obliging man with a big heart. He loved good conversation and had a great interest in people. He retained a life-long love of Mayo football. Frank enjoyed excellent health for most of his life. He began to feel unwell in early 2018. After three months at home in Ireland he felt renewed and he returned to Kitale. Very soon his condition began to deteriorate and he accepted that it was time to return to Ireland. He arrived in Kiltegan in early February 2019. He settled into community life very easily. He died peacefully on the 10th of May.

Ordained: 1959

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Edward (Ned) McNamara, 1917 - 2005

Edward Andrew – affectionately known as Uncle Ned – was born in Creggaun, Co Clare, on the 16th of January 1917. His primary education from 1921 to 1929 was in Knockaneen National School; this was followed by his secondary studies in C.B.S. Ennis from 1929 to 1935. In that year he began his Spiritual Year in Kiltegan. On completing this, he studied Philosophy at St. Patrick’s College, Carlow from 1936 to 1938, when he returned to Kiltegan to complete his Theology studies. He was ordained in December, 1941. However, due to wartime travel restrictions, he did not travel to the missions until 1943. He was appointed to the then Prefecture of Ogoja. He taught in St. Thomas’ Teacher Training College, Ogoja and was supervisor of schools in the Abakaliki area; he was also Vicar General of Ogoja Diocese from 1971 to 1973. In the latter year, Abakaliki was separated to form a new Diocese, testimony to the growth of the Church there and Ned was an integral part of that growth.

 

He moved into the new Diocese upon its inauguration and ministered in the parishes of Afikpo, Ukawu and Ezza. He also became Vicar General of Abakaliki, an office he held until 1995. He returned to Ireland in that year and took up a Chaplaincy in St. Columba’s Nursing Home in Clough, Kilcolgan, Co. Galway. There he ministered for ten fruitful years until ill health forced his return to Kiltegan in June 2005. He died there on the 15th of September 2005.

 

Ordained: 1941

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Michael McNamara, 1937 - 2006

Michael was born on the 3rd of November 1937 in Cleveland, Ohio to Thomas and Mary McNamara. The family moved to Keel, Achill, Co Mayo when Michael was three months old. He attended Slievemore N.S. from 1941-1951 and then went to St. Jarlath’s College, Tuam for his secondary studies. In 1956 he came to Kiltegan for his Spiritual Year. He moved to Cork in 1957 and did a B.A. degree in U.C.C. He returned to Kiltegan for theology in 1960 and was ordained in Killamoat at Easter 1964. Michael was appointed to Minna Diocese where he ministered until 1991. He lectured in St. Malachy’s Teacher Training College, Minna; was headmaster of a secondary school in Zuru and later worked in the parishes of Minna, Nanati, Kagara, Zungeru and Paiko.

 

Michael was appointed Assistant Bursar General in 1992 and became Bursar General in 1999. He completed his term in 2003 and after taking a sabbatical he was appointed Regional Bursar. He died in St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin on the 26th of October 2006.

 

Ordained: 1964

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Liam McSorley, 1921 - 2000

Liam – baptized Liam Patrick Joseph – was born on the 9th of September 1921 in St. Matthew’s Parish, Belfast. After his primary education at St. Paul’s National School, Fall’s Road, from 1928 to 1935, he went for his secondary stage to St. Malachy’s College, Belfast during the years 1935 to 1940. This was followed by a year in Queen’s University. At the end of this, in 1941, he began his Spiritual Year in Kiltegan. With 14 classmates, he was ordained at Easter, 1948. It was the largest class yet to be ordained. Later in the year he went to Nigeria and was assigned to Calabar Diocese. There he ministered in Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Mark’s, Oron. Ill health forced his return to Ireland in 1953. While it is impossible to quantify results in the sacred ministry, one must describe the next phase of Liam’s ministry as quite extraordinary.

 

From 1953 to 1971, he was Vocations Director in Ireland and can be referred to as a legend in that capacity. In the words of one of our scribes, “Liam’s years as Vocations Promoter in Ireland were spectacular. Over thirty young men came each September to Kiltegan, most of them drawn by his contagious enthusiasm for the missionary priesthood and by his honest approach”. One who was himself touched by Liam wrote: “There was passion in his voice, his eyes, his body. He painted pictures with his words, and made it all sound like a man’s job. From every corner of Ireland a lot of us were inspired by Liam, to give it a chance”.

 

From 1971, he went to the local Diocese and worked in Borris, Co. Carlow.  After a renewal course in Glenart he went as Superior to Slough, England in 1975.  However, ill-health gave cause for anxiety and he returned to Ireland and was appointed to Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny in 1977. He remained there until 1986, when he received his last ministry, an appointment to St. Brigid’s, Derryvolgie Avenue, Belfast. Liam suffered a stroke in January, 1998 and after a long and painful illness died on the 11th of August, 2000. He is buried in Ardglass Cemetery, Co Down.

Ordained: 1948

Place of Rest: Ardglass Cemetery, Co Down

Fr Seán McTiernan, 1936 -2014

Seán McTiernan was born on May 5th, 1936 to John and Mary (née Maguire) McTiernan of Carrigallen, Co Leitrim. He attended Carrigallen National School from 1942 to 1949. He did the first three years of his secondary studies in Moyne Classical School from 1950 to 1953 and the final two years in St Mel’s College, Longford. After completing his Leaving Certificate in 1955, he came to Kiltegan where he did the Spiritual Year. He then did an Arts degree in University College Cork and returned to Kiltegan for his theology studies. He was ordained in Killamoat Church on Easter Sunday, April 14th, 1963 by Bishop Patrick Cleary SSC, Bishop of Nancheng, China.

 

Seán was appointed to Nigeria, to the Diocese of Ogoja. He worked in the Abakaliki side of the diocese,  and in Abakaliki Diocese after its establishment in 1973. After short stays in a number of missions he was sent to teach in the junior seminary. In 1965 he was transferred to Ishieke. On return from home leave in 1967, at the beginning of the Nigerian Civil War he was appointed to Ezza and later to Umuezoka. He had some narrow escapes as for example on one occasion when his noisy red VW Beetle was mistaken by the government forces for a Biafran lorry. Seán came home in 1969 as his mother was terminally ill. He taught for a while in Moyne, his alma mater, while living with his mother. After her death in 1970 he did a Graduate Certificate of Education in London and did a summer course in the Sorbonne University in Paris.

 

On his return to Nigeria Seán was appointed to St Augustine’s Junior Seminary, Ezzamgbo. In 1972 he became Director of Catechetics for Abakaliki and was appointed to the Board of Diocesan Consultors in January, 1974. He went home in July, 1974 to be with his father who died the following month. In 1975 he was transferred to Lagos where he worked in Ajegunle Parish. Due to ill health he had to return to Ireland in 1976. He went to St Patrick’s, Douglas and did a diploma in Catechetics in UCC. He stayed on in Cork until the end of 1979 when he moved to Kiltegan. From there he did a number of supplies in Mantua, Drum, Breedogue, Ferbane and other places. Ever the student, Seán set about learning French and spent many summers in France helping out in parishes. He also gained a Certificate in French Language and Civilisation in the Sorbonne. He was always anxious to return to the missions but his health was not robust enough for that.

 

He travelled to Iceland in 1988 and 1989 with the Legion of Mary where he met the Cashel and Emly priest, Fr Robert Bradshaw, who was then stationed in Iceland. Fr Bradshaw was a keen advocate and admirer of the Legion of Mary. He had written a biography of Frank Duff in 1985 and given many Irish Legion members the opportunity to go to Iceland on peregrinatio pro Christo. It was he who introduced Seán to the bishop of Reykjavik, Bishop Alfred J Jolson SJ, who invited him to work in his diocese. The Superiors were reluctant to let him go but finally gave permission in June, 1990. Seán was to spend ten years in parish work in Iceland. He took a sabbatical in Milltown Institute, in Dublin, in 1995 and returned to Iceland in June, 1996. While in Iceland he gained a Bachelor’s degree in Icelandic language He returned to Ireland in 2001.

 

From 2001, Seán spent his life in retirement in Kiltegan. He remained very active for most of this time. He did an extra-mural course in Theology in St Mary’s Tallaght for two years. He was quite independent and arranged his own transport by bus or taxi. He visited his family and undertook a number of trips abroad including a short visit to Iceland. He was an adventurous traveller and at one stage managed to get a visa for Mongolia but never actually went. He took part in all community activities and maintained his interest in knowledge of all kinds. He loved the Irish language and liked any opportunity he got to speak it. He was often frustrated at the limitations which life placed on him but he had a sense of humour about them that others enjoyed and that cheered himself up also. He died peacefully on November 17th, 2014.

Ordained: 1963

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Liam McWey, 1923 - 1985

Liam was born at Sleaty House, Carlow on the 10th of November 1923. His twin brother, Jack, became a priest of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. He received his early education at St. Joseph’s N.S. Carlow from 1928 to 1932 and C.B.S. Carlow from 1932 to 1936. He had his secondary education at St. Mary’s College, Knockbeg from 1936 to 1942.He entered Kiltegan in 1942 and was among the first group to do the spiritual year in Humewood. Ordained in 1949, he was appointed to Calabar where he spent all his missionary career except for two short-term appointments as House Bursar in Kiltegan and as curate in Monasterevin parish. In Calabar, he ministered in Ututu, Essene, Adiabo and Anua, where he had the distinction of being the longest-serving Father-in-Charge. Liam died of a heart attack in Anua on the 15th of May 1985. He is buried in Anua.

 

Ordained: 1949

Place of Rest: Anua, Nigeria

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