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Fr Tom Randles, 1932 - 1997

Tom – baptized Thomas Christopher – was born on the 25th of June, 1932 in Kenmare, Co. Kerry. After his primary education, received locally, he studied in St. Brendan’s Seminary, Killarney from 1945 to 1949, the year he entered Kiltegan. As a student, Tom edited the College magazine, The Brook, and produced a number of plays.

 

After ordination, in 1958, he went to Kenya and was appointed to the Diocese of Eldoret. After a short stint as Bishop’s secretary, Tom entered the educational scene, going to Tartar Mission to take charge of the Intermediate School there. In 1960, he transferred to St. Joseph’s Intermediate School, Kitale. There he remained until 1962, when he was appointed to the prestigious St. Patrick’s High School, Iten, then in its infancy.

 

In 1966, however, ill-health forced Tom to give up teaching and in 1968, he returned to Ireland to receive treatment for a heart ailment. He remained at home for two years during which time he served on the staff in Douglas and did a H.Dip. in Education at University College Cork. In 1970, he returned to Kenya, this time to the Diocese of Nakuru. There, he ministered in Kipchimchim and Eldama Ravine. However, his health deteriorated and he returned to Ireland for further treatment in 1974.

 

On his return to Ireland, Tom taught for some years with the Mercy Sisters in Ballybunion. Then in the late seventies and early eighties, he ministered in Millstreet, Co. Cork. From 1983 to 1986, Tom was editor of our magazine Africa. However, late in 1986, this was interrupted when he underwent a heart by-pass. Following a period of convalescence, Tom resumed his pastoral ministry, this time in the parishes of Annascaul, Derrinagree, Dromtariffe and finally in Asdee in Ballylongford parish. He died suddenly on the 3rd of May, 1994. He is buried in his native Kenmare.

Ordained: 1958

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Owen Reid, 1928 - 2004

Owen – baptized John Jude Eugene Gilmore – was born on the 17th of May, 1928 in Lurgan, Co. Armagh. After his primary education in Lurgan and Ardoyne, Belfast, he did his secondary studies in St. Colman’s College, Newry from 1941 to 1946, when he began his Spiritual Year in Kiltegan. He studied in University College Cork and was one of the first of our students to read science. After ordination in 1954, he went to Nigeria and was appointed to Calabar Diocese. There he was a most successful science teacher in a number of schools; St. Patrick’s, Calabar, Regina Coeli, Essene, Central Annang Secondary School and Holy Family College, Abak.

 

However, the Biafran war intervened and Owen returned to Ireland in 1967. He used his time at home to do a H.Dip. in Education in U.C.C. and spent a short time teaching in Newry. In 1970, he returned to Nigeria, this time to Ogoja Diocese where he worked in Ugep and Okuku. This period lasted until 1975, when he returned to Kiltegan. Back home, he was appointed local bursar, a post he held until 1980. In that year, he returned to the missions, this time to the Diocese of Eldoret in Kenya, where he spent the next four years of his ministry.

 

In 1984, he returned to Kiltegan spending a year there, after which he ministered in the Diocese of Down and Connor, in the parishes of Ballymurphy and Newcastle. From there he retired to Lurgan and died in a hospital in Belfast on the 29th of April, 2004.

Ordained: 1954

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Ray Reidy, 1937 - 2015

Raymond Reidy, son of Michael and Mary Reidy (née Moloney) of Trim, Co Meath was born on the 22nd of March, 1937. The family moved to Thurles when Ray was eight months old. He began school in the local Presentation Convent in 1942 and completed his primary and secondary education in CBS, Thurles in 1955.

 

In September of that year he came to Kiltegan for the Spiritual Year. After that he went to St Patrick’s, Douglas, Cork, and enrolled in the Science faculty in UCC. He returned to Kiltegan in 1959 and studied theology there for the next four years. He was ordained in Killamoat Church by Bishop Patrick Cleary SSC, Bishop of Nancheng, China, on Easter Sunday, the 14th of April, 1963.

 

Ray was appointed to Ogoja Diocese in Eastern Nigeria and arrived there in September, 1963. He taught in St Augustine’s junior seminary, Ezzamgbo, and worked in Ezza parish until 1969 when he returned to Ireland. He was unable to go back to Nigeria in the aftermath of the civil war and was appointed to Nakuru Diocese in Kenya.

 

He joined the staff of Mother of Apostles junior seminary, Eldoret, which served both dioceses at that time. He taught there for the next three years with short periods of parish work in Kaptagat and in Kitale town. On his return to Ireland he did a diploma in Religious Studies in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and spent the next two years as a curate in Kiltegan and in Borris, Co Carlow.

 

In 1977, he studied for a Diploma in Pastoral Studies in Birmingham University and then ministered in the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore from 1978 to 1987. He was then appointed to the Society Parish in Slough and worked there until 1994. He went back to Waterford in 1994 and remained there for the rest of his days apart from a short time in Kiltegan in 2004 when he was Assistant Regional Superior for Ireland, Great Britain and the USA.

 

In Waterford and Lismore he ministered in Kilsheelin, Cahir, Passage East and Clonmel. Ray was a kind thoughtful man who made good friends wherever he went. He was a very down to earth pastor who had a great rapport with his people. He was a fine hurler and played in three hurling finals with Tipperary at minor level winning two All Ireland minor medals and one senior medal. After a short illness, Ray died on 10th June 2015. May he rest in peace.

 

Ordained: 1963

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Gerry Roche, 1941 - 2009

Fr Gerry Roche lost his life on December 11, 2009, following a break-in at his mission on the outskirts of Kericho town in Western Kenya. Gerry first arrived in Kericho in September 1968, having been ordained a priest for St Patrick’s Missionary Society the previous Easter. He was a native of Athea, Co Limerick, and the ninth of eleven children born to Edmund and Mary Roche of Benmore.

 

Gerry was one of the first Kiltegan priests to be sent to that area of Kenya. The pioneer missionaries were Mill Hill priests, brothers and sisters and it was from them that Gerry got his first introduction to mission. After a short period as assistant to an older Kiltegan man, Fr Christy Hannon, Gerry moved out on his own and began the mammoth task of setting up a thriving rural mission in Roret complete with church, priest’s house, convent, secondary school, health centre and a network of outstations.

 

In Roret, he became convinced of the central role of the catechist in the task of evangelisation. He learned the local language and tried his best to respect the customs of the tribe. For example, he invited the young boys, accompanied by their tribal mentor, to come to the church for Mass and a special blessing before they went into the wilderness to prepare for circumcision. He also instituted a traditional blessing at the end of Mass given by an imposing Catholic elder who chanted in praise and petition to Asiis, the God of the Kalenjin people, now recognised by those present as the God of Jesus Christ. He also realised the crucial role of religious sisters and invited them to participate in the work of the mission. He even gave up his own house to accommodate the Mexican Sisters of the Incarnate Word while their convent was being built. Roret became the template for Fr Gerry’s missionary work and he sought to reproduce it in the other missions he founded viz. Kipkelion, Matobo, Chebangang, Keongo and in Londiani and Sacred Heart Parish Kericho, now the cathedral parish, where he also ministered.

 

Gerry was full of life, joy, optimism and energy. He had a strong passion for justice and a deep empathy with the poor. He had a great love of the Irish language and of Irish traditions. He loved music and dance and sport and had an inexhaustible repertoire of songs. He had a deep faith which he nurtured by daily prayer and he had a mature loyalty to the Church and to the missionary society to which he belonged.

 

His personal charm made it easy for Gerry to collect money. The simplicity of his life and his boundless generosity stimulated the generosity of others. His own family were the first to respond and they contributed and collected large amounts of money for his missionary work over the years. The same can be said of friends in many countries. He usually spent part of his home-leave working in one or sometimes two American parishes and with the money he received he was able to subsidise the next part of his missionary endeavour. In his will, he wrote that he wished to thank all who befriended him throughout his life and the many people who funded his work have an honoured place among those befrienders. Indeed, I have no doubt that they too are grieving for him.

 

A farewell Mass was celebrated at Kericho Cathedral on the 17th of December. People were visibly shocked by Fr Gerry’s death and by the manner in which he died. However, they showed great appreciation for his many years of generous service to the community as they listened to the tributes of bishops, politicians and others. Then, his remains were taken to Ireland, accompanied by his nephew Mr Gerard Cunningham and his friend and colleague, Fr Paddy Hyland. He was waked in his sister’s house in Athea where a huge number of people came to offer sympathy to the family. The removal to the Church of St Bartholomew, Athea, took place the following morning, the 20th of December. The church was full to capacity for the Mass which was attended by nine of Gerry’s siblings. The tenth, a sister, was able to join in on a video link with Chicago. The ceremony reflected Gerry’s love for the Irish language and for Irish traditional music. He was interred in the nearby cemetery alongside the remains of his parents. His favourite songs were sung at the graveside as the snow began to fall.

Ordained: 1968

Place of Rest: Athea, Co Limerick

Fr Jack Rodgers, 1940-2019

Jack Rodgers was born on the 15th of September 1940 to John Rodgers and his wife, Mary (née Mulhall) of Main Street, Cappamore, Co Limerick. His father was the local Garda Sergeant. Jack was the second child in a family of two boys and two girls. He received his primary education at Cappamore National School from 1944 to 1953. He received his secondary education firstly at Doon CBS (1953-56) and then as a boarder at St Flannan’s College, Ennis (1956-1958). He came to Kiltegan in September 1958 and was ordained on Easter Sunday (10th of April) 1966 at St Mary’s Church, Killamoat. The ordaining prelate was Bishop Patrick Cleary SSC, Exiled Bishop of Nancheng, China.

 

After ordination Jack was appointed to the Diocese of Kitui in Kenya where he worked for nineteen years. He ministered at Mutito, at the Kitui Town parish and taught at St Angela’s Girls’ Secondary School, Mutune. Later he taught at St Joseph’s Minor Seminary, Mwingi. This was followed by some years in the Kitui Pastoral Centre where he became very involved with the Young Christian Students and was Vocations Director for the Diocese. In 1980 Jack returned to St Joseph’s Minor Seminary and served as Principal for the following five years. They were very rewarding years. He was very proud of the academic success the students achieved during his watch. He took a sabbatical in 1985. He studied Sacred Liturgy at Carlow and spent some time with the Benedictine community at Glenstal Abbey, Co Limerick. In 1986 he was appointed Spiritual Director at the Society’s Formation House in Maynooth, Co Kildare. 

 

In 1988 Jack was appointed to Brazil. His first ministry was in a parish in Itaim Paulista on the eastern outskirts of São Paulo. In 1991 he went to work in a parish called São Mateus, Lausane, in the northern part of São Paulo. Jack was appointed Regional Superior for South America and the Caribbean in 1996. During his term he was instrumental in encouraging the Society to open a new mission in the Diocese of Juina in the State of Mato Grosso. He also invited Fr Tommy O’Reilly (Volunteer from Kildare and Leighlin Diocese) to write the history of the Society in Brazil. Jack took a keen interest in this project and was proud of the fact that it was he who chose the title, An Acre Sown. After finishing as Reginal Superior he spent some time in a pastoral placement in Clearwater, Florida. He returned to São Paulo in 2004 to work with Sean Deegan in the Formation House of the Society. From 2006 to 2011 Jack ministered to the community of Nossa Senhora de Fatima which was near the Formation House where he continued to live.

 

In May 2011 Jack decided to return home to Ireland to be near his family. He chose to live in the Emo district of Co Laois from where his late mother came and where he had many relations. He offered his services to the local clergy at weekends. He also served as chaplain to Mount St Anne’s Retreat and Conference Centre in nearby Killenard. It was a very happy, fulfilling and fruitful time in Jack’s life. 

 

Jack was a very artistic and poetic person and a fine writer. He was a frequent contributor to Africa magazine. Mission was part of the life-blood that coursed through his veins. He loved conversation and social interaction. He was a warm, gracious, humorous, playful and caring person who never lost his enthusiasm for sharing Gospel joy. He enjoyed a very close relationship with his family and loved to join them for their celebrations. He had a wide circle of friends who were very loyal to him. He lived life to the full right up to the end. He still had many dreams and plans when the Lord called him home suddenly on the 24th of February.

Ordained: 1966

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Alfie Rushe, 1926 - 1994

Alfie – baptised Alphonsus Christopher – was born on the 30th of May, 1926, in Shankill, Elphin, Co. Roscommon. Having received his primary education locally, he studied in Summerhill College, Sligo from 1939 to 1944, when he entered Kiltegan. After ordination in 1952, he was assigned to Calabar Diocese and there ministered first in Arochukwu and then in Sacred Heart parish in Calabar.

 

At that time, there was a request to the Society for an Army Chaplain and in October 1954, Alfie joined the Army and was commissioned in December of that year. He was stationed in Kaduna with responsibility for all the army units in Nigeria. His commission expired in May 1958 and in the following July he returned to Calabar, where he was assigned to Adiabo. In May 1959, Alfie took over the diocesan magazine Catholic Life and under his management, the magazine expanded to become a national magazine throughout Nigeria. This situation prevailed until the Biafran war in 1967 when Alfie was evacuated to Ireland and, in the words of a colleague, saw Catholic Life crushed.

 

On his return from Nigeria, Alfie worked in the Archdiocese of Edinburgh from 1968 to 1971. From that year until 1973, Alfie ministered in England. In that year, he returned to Ireland and was assigned to his home Diocese of Elphin. There he was located in St. Mary’s, Sligo where he edited the diocesan magazine The Angelus and did week-end pastoral duties. This period continued until 1982, when he returned for a year to Kiltegan, until 1983.

 

After this Alfie was assigned to the Archdiocese of Dublin, ministering in the parish of Ballygall. He moved from there early in 1985 and returned to the Diocese of Elphin. He ministered in Ballinagare, in the parish of Frenchpark. Unfortunately his health deteriorated and he died in the Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe on the 25th of January, 1994.

Ordained: 1952

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Charles Ryan, 1938 - 2016

Fr Charlie Ryan was born to Peter and Agnes (née O’Regan) Ryan of Tonyville, High Street, Cork, on the 31st of March, 1938. He attended St Nessan’s School, Sullivan’s Quay, Cork, for his primary and secondary education. He came to Kiltegan in September, 1956, for the Spiritual Year. A year later he moved to St Patrick’s, Douglas, and studied Science at University College Cork, graduating with a BSc in 1960. He did his Theology studies in St Patrick’s College, Kiltegan and was ordained along with nineteen classmates in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat, on Easter Sunday, the 29th of March, 1964, by Bishop Patrick Cleary SSC, exiled Bishop of Nancheng, China.

 

After ordination Charlie, was appointed to Rome to study moral theology. He studied at the Dominican and Redemptorist Universities. He gained Licentiates in Theology and Canon Law and was conferred with a Doctorate in Theology in 1968. He was then appointed to the staff at St Patrick’s College, Kiltegan where he lectured in moral theology and canon law.In January 1971 Charlie was appointed to Nigeria and went to teach at St Patrick’s, Calabar. He then taught at St Vincent’s Secondary School, Oti Oron. His next appointment was to the College of Education in Uyo which would be his base until he left Nigeria at the end of 1998. He became Professor of Religious Studies there when the College was upgraded to a University. He combined his academic life with a strong pastoral outreach. He built up the Catholic Chaplaincy at the University and also ministered at Sacred Heart Parish, Aka Offot and at St Mary’s Parish, Obio Offot. He even found time to serve as chaplain to a number of religious congregations based in the Uyo area.In 1999 Charlie was appointed to South Africa and taught at St Joseph’s Institute, Cedara. He was based at Esigodini Parish and later at Raisethorpe Parish before moving to Merrivale and finally to Johannesburg. He was very involved in adult faith formation and was widely sought after as a retreat master and a lecturer in all aspects of moral theology, especially medical ethics.

 

Charlie lived life to the full. He loved to travel and explore and quickly made friends. One of his great loves was the Camino and he made at least ten different pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela including one in June 2016. Sadly, in 2009, Charlie’s hearing failed suddenly and dramatically. He found deafness very difficult because of his love of conversation. It forced him to give up teaching in 2012 but he still gave many inputs to lay and religious groups including the Conference of Bishops who sought his advice on many moral issues.

 

Charlie left South Africa at the end of 2015 and returned home to Cork. He was appointed Leader of the Kiltegan House on Douglas Road and took on the new challenge with his usual enthusiasm and creativity. In April he made a trip to South Africa and also fulfilled a long-held wish to visit his former missions in Nigeria.  He was deeply moved by the way the people of Uyo and the surrounding area received him.He died on Mission Sunday, 23rd October 2016, after a brief illness.

 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

 

Ordained: 1964

Place of Rest: Ringaskiddy

Fr Noel Ryan, 1944 - 2014

Noel Ryan was born on 14th January 1944, to James and Mary Ryan (née Geoghagan) of Birr, Co Offaly, in the diocese of Killaloe. He was christened Thomas Joseph. He was one of five children. He attended the Presentation Brothers Primary School from 1948-1956 and his secondary education was at St Flannan’s, Ennis, from 1956-1961. He joined the Spiritual Year in Kiltegan in in September 1961. He studied philosophy in Cork from 1962-64 and theology at Kiltegan from 1964-1968. He was ordained to the priesthood on 14th April, 1968 at Killamoat by Bishop Patrick Lennon of Kildare and Leighlin.

 

Noel was appointed to Brazil and arrived in São Paulo in September 1968, together with three classmates Ciarán Ridge, Harry McSkane and Jock Thorlby, and three diocesan volunteer priests. After studying Portuguese in a Redemptorist Seminary in São Paulo, he took up his first parish appointment with Elphin volunteer priest Michael Gethins in Vila Yara, where he stayed until 1971.

 

Apart from a short spell in Ireland in the 1980s, for medical treatment and to be near his aged parents, when he ministered in Hacketstown, Noel remained in São Paulo. From 1971 to 1977 he was in Via Albertina, from 1978 to 1984 in St Joseph the Worker Parish, Choro Menino, from 1986 to 1988 in Edu Chaves and thereafter in St Joseph the Worker, Mandaqui, near the Society’s Regional House. When the Society was looking for a suitable Regional House in São Paulo it was Noel who indicated the property on Rua Tomé Afonso de Moura.

 

In 2004 he left Brazil for a sabbatical in the USA. He returned in 2005 and resided in the Regional House while ministering in a community near Casa Verde. His health began to deteriorate and he left Brazil in 2007, returning to Kiltegan where he spent the rest of his years. He experienced a lot of health problems over the last seven years, requiring surgery and long spells in hospital. Noel bore his sufferings with faith and patience.

 

Noel was the second youngest of forty-two Kiltegan classmates. As a student, he was a quiet person, discreet, the contemplative type, and never a man to draw much attention to himself. He was gifted in many ways but was slow to show his talents. He was a very stylish tennis player but rarely appeared on the tennis court.

 

In Brazil, Noel was very dedicated to his pastoral duties. He rarely left the parish, except on his holidays to Ireland every three years. He was a great host to those who visited him in his house and would always give his bed to the visitor and sleep on the couch himself. He was detached from material things and generous to a fault and he would give away his last penny. His great strength was his pastoral ministry. spiritual direction and counselling and he would devote long hours to spiritual direction and counselling of those in need.

 

Noel had some very loyal friends in the parishes where he worked, especially in Mandaqui. They were so impressed by his preaching that they published a book called Deus Ama a Voce (God Loves You) containing many of his sermons which was very well received in the parishes where he worked.

 

Noel died peacefully in Naas Hospital on Friday evening, the 7th of November, 2014.

Ordained: 1968

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

Fr Peter Ryan, 1924 - 2006

Peter was born on the 3rd of July, 1924 in The Square, Stewartstown, Co. Tyrone to Edward J. and Catherine Ryan. He got his primary education in Stewartstown from 1930 to 1937 and in Dungannon from 1937 to 1938. He did secondary studies in St. Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon from 1938 to 1941 and in St. Patrick’s College, Armagh from 1941 to 1943.

 

Peter came to Kiltegan in 1943 and did his Spiritual Year in Humewood. He studied philosophy and theology in Kiltegan and was ordained in Killamoat at Easter, 1950. He was appointed to Calabar Diocese where he ministered in Oron, Use Abat and Etinan. He was a fluent Efik speaker. He came home in 1966 and worked in the Archdiocese of Birmingham for 5 years. In 1971 he was appointed to St. Ethelbert’s, Slough in Northampton Diocese. He returned to Birmingham in 1975 and ministered there as a Parish Priest until his retirement from English Martyr’s Parish, Biddulph in 1995. He lived in retirement in the parish until his death on the 11th of November, 2006. He is buried with his family in Stewartstown.

Ordained: 1950

Place of Rest: Stewartstown, Co Tyrone

Fr Tom Ryan, 1936 - 2007

Tom was born in Moakland, Upperchurch, Co. Tipperary on the 30th of March, 1936. He was the eldest child of Jeremiah and Norah Ryan. He attended Upperchurch N.S. from 1941 to 1950 and went to the Christian Brothers in Thurles for his secondary schooling. He joined Kiltegan in 1955. After his Spiritual Year in Kiltegan, he studied philosophy in St. Patrick’s, Douglas, Cork from 1956 to 1958. He returned to Kiltegan in 1958 for theology studies and was ordained priest in Killamoat Church at Easter, 1962.

 

Tom was appointed to Calabar and worked there from 1962 to 1968 in the parishes of Anua, Oron and Eman Uruan. When the Nigerian Civil War broke out in 1968 he was sent to Jos Diocese where he worked until 1970. He returned to Calabar and worked in Oron Parish from 1971 to 1983. He then returned to Ireland and worked in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin from 1984 to 1986.

 

He went to Calabar in 1986 and worked in Adiabo and Ikot Ansa until 1992. Returning to Ireland in 1992 he went to Ardagh and Clonmacnois Diocese working in Ballymahon parish from 1992 until 1996. He was then transferred to Arigna and worked there until 2001. He worked in Castletown, Co. Laois as Chaplain to the La Salle Pastoral Centre from 2003 to 2004. In 2005 he went to Moore parish in the Archdiocese of Tuam and remained there until his death on the 30th of January, 2007.

Ordained: 1962

Place of Rest: Kiltegan

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