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Fr Patrick F. O'Brien, 1936-2018

Patrick Francis (Pat) O’Brien was born on the 11th of July 1936 to Timothy O’Brien and his wife Julia (née O’Brien) of Ardcanaught, Castlemaine, Co Kerry. He was the youngest of a family of two girls and four boys. His older brother Morgan (1929-1975) also joined the Society and was ordained in 1956. Pat began his primary education at Castlemaine National School and completed it at Tralee CBS National School. He continued at Tralee CBS for the first year of his secondary education before transferring to St Brendan’s College, Killarney, where he was a boarder from 1949 to 1954. He joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1954. He went to St Patrick’s College, Douglas, Cork and graduated from UCC with a BA degree in June, 1958. He returned to Kiltegan for a four year course in theology. During his final year in Kiltegan he suffered ill health and had to be hospitalised. His ordination was postponed. He was ordained at St Columban’s College, Dalgan Park, Navan, on the 21st of December 1962. The ordaining prelate was Bishop John James Howe SSC, Bishop of Myitkyina, Myanmar.

 

After ordination Pat was appointed to the Diocese of Eldoret, Kenya, where his brother Morgan was ministering since 1956. Kenya was to be Pat’s home until 2015. His first appointment was to Mother of the Apostles Seminary which was then located at Matunda. This was followed by over fifty years of dedicated service in many parishes in a territory which today consists of three Dioceses: Eldoret, Nakuru and Kericho. Pat worked in the following missions: Kituro (where he served on three occasions), Eldama Ravine, Londiani, Molo, Roret, Kipkelion, Marinyin, Matobo and Kapsoya. Pastoral work was his forte. He specialised in going to remote areas where he built churches, schools, clinics and presbyteries. He enjoyed the day to day interaction with the local people and was fluent in Kalenjin, the local language. He was noted for his own distinct brand of humour. The death of his brother Morgan in a tragic road accident on New Year’s Day 1975 was a great blow to Pat but his deep faith and natural resilience helped him to gradually come to terms with the devastating loss.

 

Pat made up his mind to retire in Ireland in 2014. Then a need arose in the Society Parish at Kapsoya, Eldoret, and Pat very generously responded to that need. He put his plans on hold and went to work with Oliver Barry in Kapsoya. He returned to Ireland in the summer of 2015 and went to live at Leeson Park. For a man who had spent over fifty-two years on the missions he adapted very quickly to life back in Ireland. He was a very welcoming presence in the house and was always willing to help with visiting the sick and consoling the bereaved. He also had the opportunity to spend more time with his family who had supported him so well during his time in Kenya. His last public act was to represent the Society at the funeral of Mrs Carmel O’Mahony, the sister of his great friend, the late Fr Paddy Hyland (1969 Class).

 

After a brief illness, Pat died on the 7th of December, 2018. 

Fr Morgan O'Brien, 1929 - 1975

Morgan was born at Ardconnaught, Castlemaine, Co. Kerry on the 6th of November, 1929 to Timothy and Julia O’Brien. He received his early education at Castlemaine National School from 1933 to 1942 and at C.B.S. Tralee during 1942-43 after which he proceeded to St. Brendan’s Seminary, Killarney for the years 1943 to 1948.

 

He entered Kiltegan in 1948 and was ordained in 1956. Appointed to Kenya, he ministered in the Diocese of Eldoret in his early years. Later some years of his ministry were spent as a pioneer missionary in the newly established Prefecture of Lodwar. His last years were spent in Turbo, in the Diocese of Eldoret.

 

Morgan died tragically in a freak car accident in Turkana on the 1st of January, 1975. He is buried in Turbo, alongside a fellow Kerryman, Bishop Houlihan, who died later that year.

 

Ordained: 1956

Place of Rest: Turbo, Kenya

Fr Liam O'Byrne, 1915 - 2001

Liam was born on the 27th of December, 1915 at Tagoat, Co. Wexford. After his primary education at three local National Schools, Liam pursued his Secondary Studies at the C.B.S. Wexford from 1929 to 1935. In that year he went to St. Peter’s College, Wexford, where he studied Philosophy and two years Theology. Then in 1939, he began his Spiritual year in Kiltegan, after which he completed his Theology course and was ordained in December, 1941. Again due to war-time restrictions it was not until 1943 when he reached Nigeria and was assigned to the then Prefecture of Ogoja. Records show that he worked in St. Benedict’s, Ogoja; St. Paul’s, Wanakom; Mile 50, Abakaliki; St. Brigid’s, Umuezeoka. Liam was in Ogoja at a time of great expansion in the sphere of education and he saw what a force it was in development and evangelisation; and thus he was instrumental in providing education, at both primary and secondary level. In this respect, Liam was a pioneer in providing girls’ education on a large scale.

 

He was assigned to Promotion work in the U.S.A. in 1966, and was based in Saratoga, California, then the newly constituted base of operation for the Western part of the U.S. This assignment continued until 1980, when he ministered first in the Diocese of San Jose and later in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Ill-health forced his retirement in 1994 to Serve Clergy House, San Francisco. Two years later, he moved to St. Anne’s Home, where he died on the 15th of September, 2001. He is buried at Tagoat in Co Wexford.

 

Ordained: 1941

Place of Rest: Tagoat, Co Wexford

Fr Dermot O'Connell, 1935-2018

Jeremiah (Dermot) O’Connell was born on the 1st of September 1935 to John O’Connell and his wife Margaret (née O’Sullivan) of Cloon, Castletownroche, Co Cork. He received his primary education at Castletownroche National School from 1940 to 1948.  For his secondary education he attended St Colman’s College, Fermoy as a boarder. He sat the Leaving Certificate in June 1953 and came to Kiltegan in September. He completed the Spiritual Year in June 1954 and went to St Patrick’s, Douglas, Cork. He attended University College Cork and graduated with a B.A. degree in June 1957. He returned to Kiltegan for his studies in theology and along with eleven classmates he was ordained priest on the 2nd of April 1961 (Easter Sunday) in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat. The ordaining prelate was Bishop Patrick Cleary SSC, the retired Bishop of Nancheng, China.

 

After ordination Dermot was appointed to the Diocese of Calabar. He worked first with Jas Murphy (1954 Class) at Ikot Edibon and later with Pádraig Ó Máille (1957 Class) at St Columbanus Secondary School, Ikwen. In 1963 Dermot was appointed to the then Prefecture of Minna which had been entrusted to the Society the previous year. Minna would be his home for the next fifty four years. He taught at St Malachy’s Teacher Training College for a short time before transferring to Fatima Co-ed Secondary School (later to become Government Secondary School and now called Fr O’Connell Science College Minna) where he remained until he left Nigeria in April 2017. 

 

While education was very important in Dermot’s life he also insisted on being involved pastorally and for that reason he chose to live in presbyteries during all his time in Minna. He lived for many years in the presbytery of St Michael’s Cathedral Parish and for the last fifteen years at the presbytery of Our Lady of Fatima Parish.

 

Dermot made an extraordinary contribution to education during his fifty six years in Nigeria. The many awards which he received during the last years of his time in Minna are a testament to the esteem in which he was held by the people and by the Government of Niger State. He was revered by all his past students and past members of staff. But education was not the only focus of Dermot’s life and ministry. At heart he was a deeply caring pastor who ministered with great love and compassion to all whom he met on the road of life. This was borne out especially during the many years he spent as Father-in-Charge at Our Lady of Fatima Parish. He was also a gracious and generous host who offered hospitality and welcome to all who visited his home. Dermot died suddenly on the morning of the March 14th. His funeral took place in St Patrick's, Kiltegan.

May he rest in peace.

Ordained: 1961

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Timothy (Timmie) O'Connor, 1947 - 2013

Fr Timmie O’Connor, one of the most colourful characters in the Society, passed away peacefully on the 11th of May,2013 after a long battle with cancer. Born in Beaufort, Co. Kerry on 24th July 1947, Timmie attended St Brendan’s College in nearby Killarney but dropped out early and took a job as a barman in the Castle Hotel, Macroom, Co. Cork. While there he honed his skills as an entertainer and stand-up comedian. However, he also felt the call to become a priest and was drawn to the Society through reading the Africa. As he said later, he ‘wanted to go from serving pints to serving God.’ As he did not have the required standard of education he had to begin in Buchlyvie, Scotland where the Society had a house for people who missed out on all or part of their secondary education. He went there in 1967 and two years later entered the spiritual year in Kiltegan. His seminary course took seven years after which he was ordained a priest in St Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney on the 20th of June,1976.

 

Fr Timmie’s first appointment was to Brazil. He arrived there in the autumn of 1976 and after the language course in Rio de Janeiro he worked in Cotia and later in St John the Baptist Parish in Pirajussara. He was instrumental in opening up a new parish called St Sebastian’s in nearby Jardim Mitsutani. In 1981 he was appointed Vocations Director in Ireland. Timmie took up this post with great energy and enthusiasm. With the late Fr Richard Griffin he visited all the secondary and vocational schools of Ireland over the next six years. It was a difficult assignment that often tested Timmie’s patience and his legendary humour. He used to joke that if the intake was small his colleagues would criticise him; if there was a good intake they would attribute it to God. He finished this ministry in June 1987 and took a sabbatical at a renewal programme for priests held at Gort Mhuire, Dublin.

 

Timmie’s next appointment was in the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore where he worked first in Kilsheelan and later in Waterford City. He then moved to Cloyne Diocese serving first at Kilavullen and finally in Coachford. He was an excellent preacher and the parishioners looked forward to his Sunday homilies which were short and to the point, with a strong message. He always delivered them with his trademark wit and sense of timing. He was a born fund-raiser and enjoyed the challenge of meeting financial targets for good causes. His ministry was most appreciated by the parishioners especially his presence at times of sickness and death but also on happy occasions such as baptisms, marriages and other family celebrations. His visits to Kitegan were happy occasions especially if there was some function on at which he could employ his comic talents.

 

Timmie retired from parish ministry in July 2008 and went to live in Cahir in Co Tipperary. He continued to do weekend supplies and became a very popular celebrant of weddings at Gougane Barra, Co Cork, often doing a comedy turn during the reception. In 2011 he became seriously ill and he had to face the most difficult battle of his life. He got further bad news in May 2012 and knew then that his time on earth would be cut short. His health deteriorated further in the autumn of 2012 and in December 2012 he was admitted to the palliative care unit of St Brigid’s Hospital, Carrick on Suir Co Tipperary. He got tremendous support from his family and many friends especially during the last months of his life. He retained his zest for life and his sense of humour right to the end.

 

Timmie put a smile on many people’s faces during his lifetime and lifted their spirits. He was a gifted communicator and a very funny man. and by his aunts. He is buried in Churchtown cemetery with his parents.

Ordained: 1976

Place of Rest: Churchtown, Co Kerry

Fr Tomás Ó Curraoin (Tom Curran), 1928 - 2000

Tom was born on the 1st of January, 1928 in Ring, Co. Waterford. After his primary education locally he did his secondary studies in C.B.S. Mount Sion from 1939 to 1945. He studied for a year in U.C.D. and worked in the civil service for three years. Then in 1949 he began his Spiritual Year in Kiltegan, and was ordained at Easter, 1957.

 

After ordination, he went to Nigeria, where he was assigned to Ogoja Diocese, and there he ministered at St. Joseph’s, Igbeagu. As Tom was brilliant academically, he was recalled for studies in Rome. He acquired an S.T.L. and later a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Biblical Institute in Rome. In 1962, Tom returned to Kiltegan to the professorship of Sacred Scripture. That rather cryptic sentence in no way does justice to the erudition, verve, commitment, scholarship that he brought to this task. Among his written works were commentaries on the Gospel of St John and on the First Letter to the Corinthians. A colleague wrote: “There was that scriptural boldness in him. He explained time and again at assembly and meeting and Eucharist the meaning of the Word of Life as he believed and lived it.”

 

In 1980, Tom relinquished his post of Scripture Professor and fulfilled an ambition of returning to the missions; this time it was to São Paulo in Brazil. He worked for a few years in the Diocese of Osasco and in 1985 became Parish Priest of St Joseph the Worker Parish in the Santana area of São Paulo. He was a very popular pastor and served his people with great devotion. He died suddenly on the 19th of October, 2000 and is buried in Araçá Cemetery, São Paulo, in a tomb which was donated to the Society by the Daughters of the Cross of Liege.

Ordained: 1957

Place of Rest: São Paulo, Brazil

Fr Michael O'Dea, 1930 - 1960

Michael was born in Kerry on the 20th of February, 1930 to John and Mary O’Dea. Upon finishing his National School education, he studied in St. Mary’s College, Galway. He entered Kiltegan in 1948 and on completion of his Spiritual Year he proceeded to University College Cork where he read a distinguished course in Classics. He was regarded as the “walking encyclopaedia” of his class.

 

He was ordained in 1956 and later that year, he went to Kenya, labouring in Singore Mission in the Diocese of Eldoret. Sadly however, Michael’s missionary career was comparatively short, as he died on the 5th of February, 1960, following an appendicitis operation. He is buried in Singore, near Eldoret, Kenya.

Ordained: 1956

Place of Rest: Singore, Kenya

Fr Kevin O'Doherty, 1922 - 2017

Michael Kevin O’Doherty was born to John O’Doherty and his wife Rose (née O’Hagan) of ‘Rosemara’, Ballycolman Avenue, Strabane, Co Tyrone on the 27th of July 1922. He attended primary school in the Convent of Mercy National School and received his secondary education in St Columb’s College, Derry. He came to Kiltegan in 1942 and did his Spiritual Year in Humewood Castle, Kiltegan. In September 1943 Kevin began his academic studies for the priesthood in St Patrick’s College, Kiltegan and was ordained in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat on Easter Sunday, the 17th of April 1949. 

 

After ordination Fr Kevin was appointed to study philosophy at the Catholic University in Louvain, Belgium. Among his contemporaries were Jeremiah Newman (later Bishop of Limerick), and Tomás Ó Fiaich (later Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh). He graduated with a B. Phil in 1951 and returned to Kiltegan where he was appointed editor of Africa. In July 1952 Kevin was appointed to Nigeria where he was to spend the next fifteen years teaching in various schools. He was also Chancellor of the recently established Diocese of Ikot Ekpene and a close confidant of the bishop, Dominic Ekandem. He went on leave to Ireland in July 1967 and was unable to return to Nigeria due to the Civil War. 

 

He was appointed to the Diocese of Kitui, Kenya, in January 1968. He taught for a short while at St Charles Lwanga Secondary School on the outskirts of Kitui town. In July 1968 he moved to St Joseph’s Junior Seminary, Mwingi, where he remained until 1984. After taking a short course in Kikamba with a blind catechist named Peter Kalonzo he moved from St Joseph’s to the nearby parish of Mwingi and he ministered there until 1991. Kevin took medical leave in 1991 and on his return to Kitui he was assigned to Mutomo. In 2000 he was transferred to Muthale, the highest parish in Kitui. He worked in Muthale until 2004 when he decided to retire to Kiltegan at the age of 82.

 

Kiltegan was to be Kevin’s home for over twelve years. He participated fully in the life of the community and on the retirement of his classmate, Donal O’Sullivan, he took on the duties of house sacristan. He remained in this role until failing health forced him to retire. He took a keen interest in everything that was going on in the community and enjoyed the frequent visits of his nephews and nieces and their families. A daily walk around the three gates of the compound was a feature of his early years back in Kiltegan. He could be seen picking up any rubbish he found along the way and placing it in a plastic bag which he always carried with him on these walks. In late 2016 he was diagnosed with pneumonia and spent a week in hospital. He was able to return to the community and even led the rosary on a number of occasions after Christmas. In mid-January he was confined to bed and got gradually weaker. He died peacefully on Wednesday, the 15th of February, 2017.

 

Kevin was the last surviving member of those ordained in the 1940s. He was a great science teacher who devoted thirty-one years of his priestly ministry to education in Africa. He was gifted with his hands and was always ready and willing to put his mechanical skills to good use by servicing the generators and cars of many mission personnel. He was blessed with a beautifully rich, baritone voice. The sound of his voice leading the rosary and intoning the litany in St Patrick’s Chapel was a feature of life in Kiltegan and brought comfort to many. He was thorough, correct and meticulous in all that he did. He loved classical music and the thrice weekly entertainment put on by Fr Ned Grace gave him great pleasure.

 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

Ordained: 1949

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Joe O'Driscoll, 1915 - 1997

Joe – baptized Joseph Michael Francis – was born on the 18th of May, 1915 in Garrihies, Camp, Co. Kerry. After his primary education in the local National School, he did his Secondary studies in Tralee C.B.S. from 1928 to 1933. In the latter year, he went to St. Patrick’s College, Carlow for Philosophy studies. On completion of these in 1935, he entered Kiltegan for his Spiritual Year. On completing the year he worked in the Civil Service but in 1937 decided to resume his studies in Kiltegan. He was ordained at Christmas 1940.

 

From 1941 to 1945, he was involved in Vocations Promotion – we would call him Vocations Director nowadays, and visited many of our Diocesan seminaries. In the meantime, he also pursued Canon Law studies and was awarded a Licentiate in 1945.

In that year, he went to Nigeria and was assigned to the then Prefecture of Ogoja, where he worked in St. Theresa’s Abakaliki. He did a H.Dip. in Ed. at U.C.C. in the 1949 – 1950 academic year and returned to Ogoja where he was posted to St. Thomas’ Teacher Training College, where he remained until 1954. In that year, he returned to Ireland and in the following year, 1955, he was assigned to Kenya. Arriving there, Joe spent a year in St. Joseph’s Teacher’s College, in Kitale and then two years in Nakuru Mission.

 

Afterwards, Joe ministered in the Diocese of Eldoret in the parishes of Kiminini and Ortum. In 1974, ill-health, in the form of arthritis forced Joe to leave Kenya and later that year, he was assigned to Guardian Angels Parish, Mile End, London, where he was to have a fruitful ministry until 1983. By then, his arthritis had progressed and he took up an appointment as Chaplain to the Franciscan Missionary Sisters in Loughglynn, Co. Roscommon.

 

In 1988, he retired to Kiltegan and because of failing health, he entered St. Joseph’s Nursing Home at Kilcroney, Co. Wicklow in 1992. He died there on the 7th of May, 1997.

Ordained: 1940

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Pádraig Ó Fartharta, 1942 - 2016

Fr Pat Faherty (An tAthair Pádraig Ó Fátharta) was born on the 5th of September 1942, the son of Diarmuid (Darby) and Brigid (née Folan) Faherty, at Na hAille, Indreabhán (Inverin), Co Galway. He was born into an Irish speaking family. He went to Sailearna Primary School from 1947 to 1956 and attended Coláiste Éinde in Galway for his secondary education. After sitting the Leaving Certificate in June 1960 Pat came to Kiltegan in September of that year and completed the Spiritual Year in June 1961. He then proceeded to St Patrick’s, Douglas, Cork and obtained a BA degree in philosophy at UCC. He returned to Kiltegan in September 1964 for his theology studies and was ordained at St Mary’s, Killamoat, on Easter Sunday, the 14th of April, 1968 by Bishop Patrick Lennon of Kildare and Leighlin.

 

After his ordination Pat was appointed to teach at the Society Secondary School in Buchlyvie, Scotland. He taught there for three years and in 1971 was appointed to St Patrick’s, Douglas, where he taught philosophy and was a member of the formation team. During this time he did an MA in philosophy at UCC specialising in the thought of the Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber. After eight years in Douglas Pat was finally able to fulfil his dream of working on the missions. He was appointed to the Archdiocese of Lusaka, Zambia, in September 1979. He ministered in Mpanshya and Kaunda Square parishes until 1985 when he was appointed, once again, to teach philosophy in Douglas. This time he stayed only one year as our house in Douglas closed in September 1986 and our students moved to Maynooth. Pat stayed in Kiltegan for nearly two years during which time he took courses in Psychosynthesis. He returned to Zambia in 1988 and ministered in Kabanana and Roma parishes until 1993 when chronic back pain forced him to leave the missions. He went to work in Galway Diocese ministering first in Kinvara and then in the Gaeltacht parish of An Spidéal. He was based at Ros a Mhíl, near to his native Indreabhán. In 2008 Pat retired from active ministry and went to live beside his family home at Na hAille. He helped out in the nearby Gaeltacht parishes at weekends.

 

The chronic back-pain Pat suffered since the early 1990s led him to the Alexander Technique for some relief. Pat found it so helpful that he decided to train as an instructor in the Alexander Technique so that he could help others. He also produced a number of self-help CDs in both Irish and English under the title At Home in my Body. Pat had a profound love and knowledge of his native language and was part of a team which translated the Roman Missal and the Lectionary into the Irish of Connemara.In early December 2015 Pat was diagnosed with cancer. He was treated in the Galway Clinic. He lived a normal life until the middle of August when he was admitted to Galway University Hospital. He remained there until he was transferred to the Galway Hospice. He died peacefully on Saturday, the 1st of October, the feast of the Little Flower. Pat chose to be buried with his parents in Reilig an Chnoic in Inverin. His wish was to be near to his family with whom he enjoyed the closest of bonds. The love and kindness they showed to Pat, especially during his illness, was remarkable and gave him great consolation.

 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

 

Ordained: 1968

Place of Rest: Reilig an Chnoic in Inverin

Fr Denis O'Hara, 1930 - 1997

Denis was born at 9 Lambert Street, Sheffield, England on the 18th of February, 1930. He began his primary education, - and completed some of it, from 1934 to 1939 – locally in Sheffield. Because it was war-time in England, Denis and his brother were re-located to Foxford, Co. Mayo, to stay with relatives of their mother. There, Denis completed his primary education from 1939 to 1943. His secondary studies followed at St. Nathy’s College, Ballaghadereen from 1943 to 1948, the year he began his Spiritual Year in Kiltegan. After his ordination at Easter 1956, he went to Nigeria and was first assigned to St. Patrick’s College, Ikot Ansa, with pastoral care of a mission in Essien Town. He was to spend many years teaching in different schools in that area.

 

In the late 70’s he moved to the Lagos area and worked in Ebute Metta, Ikorodu and Ketu. Unfortunately a debilitating illness forced Denis to return home to Ireland. At first he was with the St. John of God Brothers and then in 1986, he was assigned to the Chaplaincy of the Patrician Brothers, Tullow. Gradually however, his condition deteriorated and he died at Arus Mhuire, Drogheda on the 21st of April, 1997.

Ordained: 1956

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

An tAthair Pádraig Ó Máille, 1931 - 2017

Pádraig Ó Máille was born to Anthony and Jane (née Burke) O’Malley of Louisburgh, Co Mayo on the 4th of June, 1931, the second of six children. He attended Accony National School and St Jarlath’s College, Tuam, Co Galway. On finishing his secondary studies, in 1949, Pádraig began his training for the missionary priesthood in St Patrick’s, Kiltegan. Eight years later, on Easter Sunday, the 21st of April, 1957 he was ordained a priest. 

 

Fr Pádraig was appointed to Calabar, Nigeria where he taught in a number of secondary schools and did weekend parish work. In 1968, he was forced to leave the country due to the Civil War. While in Ireland he did the Higher Diploma in Education in University College Galway and taught at nearby St Mary’s College. In 1970 he was appointed to Mzuzu Diocese, Malawi. After language studies Pádraig was appointed Parish Priest of St Teresa’s Parish. He also did some teaching in Chaminade Secondary School. In 1972 he registered for an M.A. programme at the University of Malawi in Chancellor College, Zomba. Because of his many other commitments it took him four years to complete the degree. 

 

In March 1976 he was appointed lecturer in the English Department of the same college. Three years later he was withdrawn by the Society to serve as Director of Renewal, a post which took him to all the missions of the Society. He returned to his university post in Malawi in 1984. Meanwhile, some of his colleagues on the academic staff had attracted the unfavourable attention of President, Dr Kamuzu Banda. They found in Pádraig a trusted friend who supported them and their families and was in a position to bring their stories to an international audience. This story is told in Pádraig’s book Living Dangerously. The book ends when the Catholic Bishops of Malawi issued their Lenten Pastoral Letter “Living Our Faith” on the 8th of March 1992 and as a consequence Pádraig and some of his fellow missionaries were expelled from Malawi and declared prohibited aliens. However, that was not the end of Pádraig’s relationship with Malawi. Two years later he was back on a visit and, on arrival, was invited by the democratically elected President, Bakili Muluzi to dinner in his official residence, Sanjika Palace.

 

Pádraig was very ill when he was deported from Malawi in 1992 and was on his way home for medical treatment when the deportation order was served on him at Blantyre Airport. He was therefore unable, for health reasons, to return permanently to Malawi. He taught for a time in St Patrick’s College, Carlow. In 1995 he was invited to become Honorary Consul for Malawi in Ireland and served in that post for the next twenty years. He also developed strong links with Pobal an Aifrinn, the group that organises Masses in Irish for communities in Dublin. He wrote several books and wrote regularly for this publication. He visited Malawi a number of times and on one such visit, in 2001, he was conferred with an honorary doctorate by the University of Malawi.

 

Pádraig’s health necessitated frequent stays in hospital and after one such stay, in the Spring of 2015, he decided to transfer to the Care Unit in Kiltegan. He was very happy there. His retirement as Honorary Consul was marked by a celebratory dinner hosted by the Malawian Ambassador to Ireland H.E. Kena Mphonda. On the 4th of March 2017, Mr Mphonda, made a special trip from London, where he is also High Commissioner to the UK, to visit Pádraig in Kiltegan. Shortly afterwards Pádraig was admitted to Naas Hospital where he died on the 19th of March. 

 

Pádraig was a man of many callings. He was a missionary, a priest, a teacher, a poet, a writer, a raconteur, a champion of justice and peace, an Irish republican, a Mayo man and a loyal member of St Patrick’s Missionary Society. He brought huge energy and passion to all his undertakings. He had a special place in his big heart for the underdog, for those on the margins and for those without a voice. He had a way with words and was a truly gifted writer, translator and literary critic. He had a life-long love of the Irish language and spoke it with the fluency of a native Irish speaker.

 

I líonta Dé go gcastar sinn.

Ordained: 1957

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Denis O'Neill, 1929 - 2013

Father Denis O’Neill was born in Clareen in the parish of Seir Kieran in Co Offaly on the 11th of August, 1929. He was the seventh of eight children born to teachers, Sean and Margaret (née Dunne) O’Neill. He attended Seir Kieran National School, St Joseph’s College Roscrea and St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny. He came to Kiltegan in 1948 for the Spiritual Year. He then went on to Cork and spent three years there, studying Classics in UCC and graduating with a B.A. degree in 1952. Shortly afterwards he was taken ill and did not resume his studies until 1954.

 

He then spent four years studying theology in Kiltegan and was ordained by Bishop James Moynagh in Killamoat Church on the 6th of April, 1958. Denis was appointed to the Diocese of Kitui in Kenya and worked there until 1971 when he went to Rome to study theology in the Gregorian University. He was awarded the STL (equivalent to a master’s degree) in 1973.

 

He then returned to Kitui and worked there until 1992 apart from a sabbatical year spent in Loyola University, Chicago in 1985-86. He had agreed to join the staff of St Patrick’s in Douglas, Cork after the sabbatical, but this never happened as the students were transferred to Maynooth and the house in Cork was sold. Denis worked in many Kitui parishes including Mutomo-Ikanga, Kimangao, Mwingi, Mutune, Migwani, Nguni and Kabati. He had a great command of the local language and played a major role in the production of catechetical materials and a prayer book.

Denis ministered as chaplain to the Ursulines of Jesus in Swansea in 1992-93. He went into parish work in Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Sleaford in the Diocese of Nottingham in 1993 and spent eight years there. He returned to Ireland in 2001 and for the next four years devoted himself to the care of his sister Maura and was available for weekend ministry in Mount Merrion and other Dublin parishes. In December 2005, he began work as a chaplain in St Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown and spent over two years there. He retired to the Society house in Leeson Park, Dublin, in April 2008.

 

Denis was gifted with a fi ne intellect and a great ability with words, both spoken and written. He had a keen interest in Church matters and expressed his views in his own uniquely humorous way. His sayings,memorable for the unusual twist he put on them, are often quoted when St Patrick’s men gather.

 

In his later years, Denis suffered from a progressive lung disease but in spite of it lived a very full life. He remained on in Leeson Park until 2012 when he was admitted to the Care Unit in Kiltegan where he died on Tuesday, the 12th of November, 2013. He is buried in the Society Cemetery at Kiltegan.

Ordained: 1958

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Eugene O'Reilly, 1938 - 2011

Fr Eugene O’Reilly was a bright, outgoing and enthusiastic missionary whose exuberance and zeal never deserted him. He was born in Co Monaghan in 1938 and came to Kiltegan in 1957 having completed his secondary studies in St Macartan’s College. He was ordained on April 18th, 1965 and was appointed to Eldoret Diocese in Kenya. Because he had a University degree, he soon found himself teaching in secondary schools and later in St Joseph’s Teacher Training College in Kitale. In 1971, he was sent to study Catechetics in the AMECEA Pastoral Institute in Kampala, Uganda. While there he was chosen by the General Chapter, meeting in Kiltegan, to serve on the General Council of the Society. He was "the young man" on the Council directing the Vocations programme and speaking for the younger members at a critical time in the life of the Church and the Society.

 

When he finished his term of office in 1978, Eugene was appointed to Lusaka, Zambia. He was put in charge of the largely undeveloped Kaunda Square Parish where he did great work and built a fine parish church. He was made Assistant Regional Superior for Central Africa in 1984 and moved to Lilongwe in Malawi where the regional house was situated. He took over as Regional Superior in 1987 when the incumbent, Fr John Roche, was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Mzuzu.

 

After finishing his term as Regional Superior, Eugene took a sabbatical and attended the Institute of Spiritual Leadership in Chicago from 1991 to 1992 and then returned to Lusaka. There, he was appointed Archdiocesan Pastoral Coordinator and worked very successfully with the Pastoral Council in renewing the faith and commitment of the Church in the Archdiocese. With Sr Mary Hillery RSC, he developed a programme to educate people on the HIV/AIDS pandemic and trained teams from every parish to spread awareness of the disease and to reach out to sufferers in a compassionate and practical way.

 

He also played a part in developing Our Lady’s Hospice for AIDS patients in Lusaka which is a state of the art facility. Eugene was a man of vision and a gifted leader who made a great contribution to the Society. He died suddenly on the afternoon of May 12th while praying alone in St Kizito’s Church, Chigoneka, Malawi. He is buried in the Society cemetery in Lusaka, Zambia.

Ordained: 1965

Place of Rest: Lusaka, Zambia

Fr Eugene (Hughie) O'Reilly, 1920 - 2010

‘Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord.’ Fr Eugene O’Reilly was made welcome at the front door of heaven on August 4th 2010. It was the end of a long journey of faith through a colourful life of ninety years.

 

The journey began in Ferbane in May 1920. He was baptised there as a baby, and the priest handed over “The Light of Christ” to guide him through all the ups and downs of life. That light was his guide from his early years of life in Ireland and on through the long years of his missionary work in Nigeria. He often prayed on lonely nights in Africa, ‘Lead kindly light amid the encircling gloom, lead thou me on; the night is dark and I am far from home; lead thou me on.’

 

It was during his time at St Finian’s College in Mullingar that he began to discover a vocation to missionary life. He came to Kiltegan in 1939 and after seven hard years he was ordained in Carlow Cathedral in December 1945. He travelled to Nigeria with seven other priests in 1946. He was appointed to the diocese of Ogoja. At that time Ogoja was known as the forgotten province. It was in the extreme east of Nigeria on the border of Cameroon. There were no schools or churches in the area. Everything was just beginning there.

 

Hughie walked many long miles through forest country in the area around the little town of Ikom. He visited the chiefs in their villages and persuaded them to build schools and promised to provide teachers. It was a very successful approach. The people had a great interest in education. The little schools served as churches on Sundays and through the children the Christian message flourished. Hughie had over sixty schools in his charge at one time. There was a lot of walking involved. When he finished his first tour in Ikom he spent the next ten years in Obudu which is also on the Cameroon border. There is open country there as well as the wooded hills. It is a scenic area and life there was more pleasant for Hughie. The work, however, was the same as in Ikom.

 

After surgery in Ireland at the end of the 1950s, Hughie returned to the Abakaliki area of the diocese. He spent many years in Ishiagu which is in the southern part of the diocese. He was there when the Civil War started in 1967. This was a difficult time for everyone. No one knew what might happen. With his usual sense of humour Hughie suggested that he would let the tall elephant grass grow up around his little house and if the Federal soldiers came they wouldn’t know that he was there at all. Eventually, he had to leave the country on a relief flight. He returned again when the war ended and spent ten more years in Ishiagu. He was very close to the people there at that time.

 

The last parish he worked in was Ikwo. It was while he was there that a serious illness led to his leaving Nigeria finally, after nearly forty years. When he recovered after that sickness he was appointed to the parish of Delvin in Meath Diocese. He was delighted to discover that he was able to settle in very well in this new situation. He spent fifteen happy years in Delvin. In 1998, ill-health finally led to his retirement from pastoral work and his twelve-year sojourn in Kiltegan. He walked the roads and visited the neighbours as long as he was able. He had many friends inside and outside the gates and found endless pleasure in reading. As time went on his steps became slower and the walks were shorter. He let himself be drawn closer to God in long periods of prayer. He slowly slipped out of this world and into the silence of God.

 

He often prayed the words of John Henry Newman. ‘So long thy power hath blessed me, sure it still will lead me on, o’er moor and fen o’er crag and torrent until the night is gone, and with the morn those angel faces smile, which I have loved long since and lost a while.’ On August 4th they were all waiting for him at the door of heaven.

Ordained: 1945

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Michael O'Reilly, 1915 - 1980

Michael was born on the 16th of November, 1915 at Templemichael, Longford. He received his primary education from 1922 to 1923 at St. Joseph’s Convent, Longford and from 1923 to 1928 at St. Michael’s N.S. Longford.

 

From 1928 to 1933 he studied in St. Mel’s College, Longford. In September of that year, he entered Kiltegan and was ordained in December, 1939. Michael was in the first group of two who did their theological studies at the Irish College, Rome. Chronic ill health prevented Michael from going to the missions and when he returned from Rome, he was appointed to the staff in Kiltegan and taught there until 1947. In that year, he went to the U.S.A. and ministered in the Dioceses of San Diego, Sacramento and Jefferson City, Missouri. In late 1962 he left the latter Diocese and went to St. Petersburg, Florida, where he died on the 12th of April, 1980. He is buried in Florida.

Ordained: 1939

Place of Rest: Florida, USA

Fr Paddy O'Reilly, 1917 - 1996

Paddy was born on the 18th of March, 1917, at Laragh, Stradone, Co. Cavan. He received his primary education at Laragh N.S. from 1922 to 1931 and proceeded to St. Patrick’s, Cavan for secondary studies from 1931 to 1935. In 1936, he entered Kiltegan and was ordained in December, 1942. At Easter 1943, he went to Nigeria and was assigned to the then Prefecture of Ogoja. His first posting was to the parish of Ikom where his Father-in-charge, Fr. Con Murphy, would die of malaria two years later. In 1945, Paddy was transferred to St. Thomas’ Teacher Training College, Ogoja, an assignment that would last for two years.

 

Home from Nigeria in 1947, he was appointed Spiritual Director to the new House of Studies in Cork and in 1950, he became Spiritual Director at Kiltegan, a position he held until 1956. In that year, he returned to Nigeria to work in what is now Abakaliki Diocese, ministering in the missions of Ezza, Ikwo, Nkalagu and Ngbo. Ill-health forced him to leave Nigeria in 1980 and he transferred to a new environment, to a new apostolate. This was promotion work in our house in Chicago. He continued in this work until 1987 when he took up a pastoral appointment at St. Lambert’s, Stokie, Illinois, U.S.A. There he was associate pastor until he retired in 1993.

 

At this stage, he returned to Ireland and ministered as a confessor at Our Lady’s Shrine, Knock, a ministry which lasted until his sudden death on the 29th of August, 1996.

Ordained: 1942

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Peter O'Reilly, 1922 - 1988

Born in Aughnacliffe, Co. Longford on the 3rd of October, 1922, Peter received his early education at the local N.S. and then proceeded to St. Mel’s College, Longford to do his secondary studies from 1936 to 1941, the year he entered Kiltegan, where he was ordained at Easter, 1948. Later that year, he went to Nigeria and was appointed to the Diocese of Calabar. However, ill-health forced his return to Ireland in the following year and shortly afterwards he was appointed Bursar and Spiritual Director to our house of studies in Cork. He served in that capacity until 1956, and at the General Chapter that year he was appointed Bursar General. In the following Chapter of 1962, he was elected Superior General, a post he held for an unprecedented 16 years, until 1978.

 

His term of office was marked by a great growth in membership of the Society and an expansion of our missionary commitment. It saw the completion of the new college, the opening up of the new mission in Minna, the beginning of our presence in Buchlyvie and the commitment to two parishes near London, Slough and Datchet, which would also serve as a basis for our promotion work in England. Furthermore, he participated closely in the foundation of the Irish Missionary Union, an important instrument in the missionary movement in Ireland; the setting up of Trocáire; he was also an important force in the founding of St. Paul’s Missionary Society.

 

After his term of office was completed in 1978, we find evidence of his missionary vision of the Church when he became National Director of the Propagation of the Faith in Ireland from 1980 to 1982. He worked for three years in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, ministering in the parishes of Clonegal and Raheen. Afterwards he was Parish Priest of the Society parish in Datchet, where he died suddenly on the 26th of September, 1988.

Ordained: 1948

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Tom O'Reilly, 1921 - 1973

Tom was born on the 10th of December, 1921 at Kilmore, Killeshandra, Co. Cavan. He received his primary education from 1926-1936 at Corliss National School. His secondary education from 1936 to 1941 was in St. Patrick’s College, Cavan.

 

On completing this he entered Kiltegan and was ordained in 1948. Later that year, he was appointed to Calabar Diocese, where he was mostly associated with the Mission of Edam Ekpat. He was a great advocate of the Legion of Mary. He left in 1954 and went to Kenya in 1956 to work in the then Prefecture of Eldoret. He left Kenya in 1958 and eventually found his way to the then Southern Rhodesia where he taught for a number of years. He died at Gwero (in present day Zimbabwe) on the 2nd of January, 1973 and is buried there.

Ordained: 1948

Place of Rest: Gwero, Zimbabwe

Fr Donal O'Sullivan, 1923 - 2009

Father Donal O’Sullivan was born in Caherciveen, Co Kerry on 14 November, 1923. He attended the local convent and Christian Brothers’ schools and went on to St Brendan’s, Killarney for his secondary education. He came to St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1942 and having completed his philosophy and theology studies was ordained in 1949. He took up his first appointment in the Prefecture of Ogoja, Nigeria, later that year and so began a career of missionary service in Africa that was to last forty-six years. He saw Ogoja become a diocese and saw it divided to create the new diocese of Abakaliki. He witnessed and supported the growth of an African priesthood and saw African bishops take on the leadership of the Nigerian Church. He lived through the Nigerian Civil War and saw the devastation that it brought.

 

During all this time, Donal served in many different parishes, preaching the Gospel, celebrating the sacraments, building churches, building and managing schools and initiating development projects of various kinds. He was local Society Coordinator from 1978 to 1984 and Development Coordinator for Abakaliki Diocese from 1980 to 1995. He was known as a man of total dedication who was always available to his people. He was prepared to do anything within his power to respond to a request for assistance and he always did it gracefully. He was blessed with an old-fashioned courtesy that was charming and deeply respectful of the other. He never stood in judgement and responded to human frailty with bemusement rather than condemnation.

 

In 1995, when he was 72, Donal was recalled to Kiltegan and appointed to the Promotion Office. One of his duties was to respond to letters received from members of the Mission Circle and other benefactors. He did this with his usual courtesy and often brought particular problems and requests for prayers to the community mass. He also acted as sacristan, making sure that everything was in place for the liturgy, that celebrants were duly briefed and that funerals and other special occasions were properly organised. He was a much loved member of the community who had a word for everyone and whose colourful and precise comments often bore telling and retelling.

 

On Easter Sunday 2009 and again in mid-July Fr Donal celebrated sixty years of priesthood with four surviving classmates. He was already in failing health but was determined to carry on. He continued with his office duties up to a few weeks before his death and with his liturgical role up to the very end giving Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament within hours of his sudden death. He died on September 27, 2009.

 

His funeral was a beautiful celebration of Fr Donal’s life with mourners from Nigeria, from Caherciveen and from elsewhere in Ireland. They included Medical Missionaries of Mary who worked with him on the missions and held him in the highest regard. The homily was given by Fr Kevin O’Hara who worked for many years in Abakaliki Diocese. Although thirty years his junior, Kevin paid tribute to Donal as a friend and missionary colleague whose achievements have entered the folklore of Abakaliki.

Ordained: 1949

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Leo O'Sullivan, 1924 - 2015

James Leo O’Sullivan was born in Dingle, Co Kerry on the 8th of February, 1924. His parents Michael J and Anne O’Sullivan were publicans on John Street. Leo was one of their seven children, one of whom died as an infant. He attended the Presentation Convent National School from 1927 to 1931 and the Christian Brothers’ National School from 1931 to 1937. He went to the CBS Secondary School in Dingle from 1937 to 1939 and then transferred to St Brendan’s Seminary, Killarney where he finished his secondary education in 1941. He came to Kiltegan in September of that year and did all his seminary studies here. He was ordained in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat, by Bishop James Moynagh of Calabar on Easter Sunday, the 28th of March, 1948.

 

Leo was appointed to Ogoja Diocese in Nigeria where he worked in Ikom, Umuezeoka and Abakaliki town. He returned to Ireland in 1962, due to ill health, and after surgery and medical treatment, did parish and chaplaincy work in various places. He was in Gurteen, Co Sligo, 1968-69, in Clogheen, Co Tipperary in 1972, in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda (as Chaplain) from 1977-80, in Loughglynn with the  Franciscan Missionaries of Mary from 1980-83. In 1984, he returned to Nigeria and ministered in Effium and Ngbo in Abakaliki Diocese until he finally returned to Ireland in 1995. Since then Leo has lived quietly in Kiltegan. When the Care Unit opened in 2006 he was among the first to move there and was the last survivor of the pioneer group.

 

Leo had a keen intellect which he masked by his sharp wit. His practical jokes are the stuff of legend and are told and retold at Society gatherings. He was a good writer and his column ‘Cyclops’ in the Society newsletter was the first thing most people read.

 

Leo took ill on Friday, the 18th of December and died the following morning, December 19th, 2015.

Ordained: 1948

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Michael O'Sullivan, 1925 - 1957

Michael was born at Pinecroft, Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry on the 29th of April, 1925. He had his primary education at Knockeen National School from 1930-37. Afterwards he studied at C.B.S. Cahirciveen from 1937-1943, when he entered Kiltegan. After ordination in 1950, he studied at the Biblical Institute, Rome where he obtained a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture in 1953.

 

He was the first Society priest to obtain such a degree. Returning to Kiltegan, he taught Scripture from September 1953 to October 1956, when he became seriously ill. He died in a Dublin Nursing home on the 25th of March, 1957.

Ordained: 1950

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Oliver O'Sullivan, 1921 - 1986

Oliver was born in Allihies, Castletownbere, Co. Cork on the 31st of December, 1921. Following his primary education at the local N.S. from 1925 to 1936, he entered St. Brendan’s Seminary, Killarney where he studied until 1941. In that year, he commenced his Spiritual Year in Kiltegan and was ordained priest at Easter, 1948. Later that year, he went to Nigeria and was appointed to the Diocese of Calabar where he ministered from 1948 to 1966.

 

Oliver was a most versatile missionary and filled such diverse posts as Secretary to Bishop Moynagh, Bursar for the Diocese, Father-in-Charge of Sacred Heart Cathedral Calabar and was for some time, Principal of St. Patrick’s, Ikot Ansa. He was also instrumental in establishing a Catholic Printing Press, which was to produce the important publication,Catholic Life.

 

The Biafran war interrupted his missionary career and 1966 found him Society Co-Ordinator in England. He was the founder and superior of our Society house in Wexham Road, Slough. In 1973, Oliver was posted to our house in Douglas, Cork as bursar. He continued in this capacity until 1985. In that year, he became Chaplain to the Patrician Brothers in Tullow where he served until his death on the 20th of October, 1986.

Ordained: 1948

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

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