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Society Obituaries

Announcements and Funeral Arrangements

To read the obituaries of deceased members of St Patrick's Missionary Society, from 1942 to 2021, please click on the following link: Fullness of Life

To view the webcam of St Patrick's Chapel, Kiltegan, Co Wicklow, please click on the following link: Kiltegan Webcam.

Please note: Our webcam is used only for funerals of Society priests or for special occasions. When these occur, they are announced on our website and the password is removed 15 minutes before the Mass begins. These celebrations can then be viewed by the general public. Because the chapel in St Patrick’s, Kiltegan, is part of the residential home of our retired missionary priests, daily Masses are not available to view. The webcam is password protected due to data protection regulations. 

Eternal rest grand unto them,

O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Amen.

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Fr James Bermingham

July 26th, 2022

 We are sad to announce that Fr James (Jim) Bermingham (1966 Class) died this morning in the Ballard Lodge Nursing Home, Portlaoise. May he rest in peace.

Our sincere sympathy to Jim's family and friends.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

 

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Reposing at Maher's Chapel of Rest Portarlington (eircode R32 X5XV) on Thursday evening from 6:30pm with prayers at 8pm. Removal on Friday morning at 11:20am arriving St Paul's Church, Emo (eircode R32 RYI6) for Funeral Mass at 12 noon followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery.

Family flowers only, please.

 

Fr James's Funeral Mass will be streamed live on: https://laoisfuneralslive.com/johnmaherfuneraldirector

Current HSE Guidelines in place during the funeral, please.

 

To view the Funeral Mass recording, please click on the following link:

Funeral Mass, Friday, July 29th, 2022

Fr. James Clement Bermingham (1940-2022)

James Clement (Jim) Bermingham was born on the 26th September 1940 to Patrick Bermingham and his wife Margaret Mary (née Siney) of Rialto Park, South Circular Road, Dublin. He was from a family of three girls and three boys. Jim received his primary education at Rialto Boys National School from 1945 to 1954. For his secondary education he attended Synge Street Christian Brothers School and he sat the Leaving Certificate in June 1959. He joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1959 and after a seven year programme of studies he was ordained priest on Easter Sunday, 10th of April 1966. The ordaining prelate was Most Rev Patrick Cleary SSC DD, Exiled Bishop of Nancheng, China.

After ordination Jim was appointed to the Diocese of Ogoja, Nigeria, where he ministered for nine years. His first appointment was to St Augustine’s Junior Seminary, Ezzamgbo where he taught for three years. In 1969 he was appointed to Ugep Parish. At that time there were plans to open a second parish in the area and Obubra was identified as the new centre. Bishop McGettrick SPS was very anxious to develop that vast territory on the banks of the Cross River and he was very grateful to Jim for taking up the challenge of setting up Obubra Parish. In 1973 Jim was transferred to Obudu, a rural town in the northern part of the Diocese. He served there until July 1975 when he was called to work on the promotion team in the USA for six months. He was based in Saratoga, California.

Jim returned to Nigeria in early 1976 and he was appointed to the Archdiocese of Lagos. It began a new phase in his missionary life. As a man who was born and reared in a city he took very easily to life in the buzzing metropolis of Lagos. His first appointment was to St Mary’s Parish, Ajegunle. In 1978 he was appointed to the Shogunle area of Lagos and was given the task of setting up a new parish. For the next four years he laboured tirelessly in establishing St John the Evangelist Parish. He also supervised the building of the presbytery. During Jim’s years in Lagos he became very involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and was very much sought after as a retreat giver. At that time he was also the National Chairman of Charismatic Renewal for Nigeria as well as being a resource person for the Apostolic Nuncio in Nigeria. As if he did not have enough to do, he was also the Chaplain to Lagos International Airport. It was a very busy time in his life.

Jim took a sabbatical in 1982 and obtained an MA in Christian Ministry from the University of Steubenville in the USA. After completing his studies he was appointed to Rome where he spent the next twenty years. Jim was appointed International Administrator for EVANGELIZATION 2000, Rome. The world was his oyster. His task was to help train the clergy and faithful throughout the world in Evangelization and Mission. It meant long journeys throughout Africa and Asia. It brought Jim great joy and satisfaction. In 1996 Jim was appointed Procurator General of the Society following the death of Fr Michael Glynn. He moved to the Society House in Rome and continued his ministry with EVANGELIZATION 2000. Jim stepped down as Procurator General of the Society in 2003 and went to live in his own home near Portarlington, Co Laois, from where his mother’s people hailed.

Jim’s health began to deteriorate in 2018 and he came to live in the Care Unit in Kiltegan. He had a very close relationship with his family and he also spent periods of time with them especially before the COVID-19 Lockdown. In October 2021 he went to live full time with his family and his niece Deirdre became his main carer. Sadly Jim’s health continued to decline. In May 2022 he moved to Ballard Lodge Nursing Home on the outskirts of Portlaoise, Co Laois, where he died peacefully on the morning of Tuesday, the 26th of July 2022. His niece Deirdre was at his bedside as he breathed his last.

Jim was a very dynamic missionary who brought great energy and zeal to his various ministries. He was one of the first Society priests to embrace the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement and to use the Movement as a way of evangelizing the people of God. He was a very gracious host to all who visited the Society House in Rome and he enjoyed showing people the places of interest in the Eternal City. The sometimes chaotic traffic on the streets of Rome held no fear for Jim and a car journey with him through the busy streets of the Italian capital was invariably very entertaining. Jim stayed very close to his family all through his life, and he received great support from them especially in the last years of his life.

Jim was predeceased by his brother Myles. He is survived by his sisters Lil, Bernie and Kathleen, his brother Paddy, his sister-in-law Josephine, his nieces and nephews and their families.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

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Fr Thomas Gillooly

July 19th, 2022

 We regret to announce that Fr Thomas (Tommy) Gillooly (1963 class) died peacefully in the Care Unit in St Patrick's, Kiltegan, this morning, Tuesday, July 19th. May he rest in peace.

Our sincere sympathy to Tommy's family and friends.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

 

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Removal to St Patrick’s Chapel at 5.30pm on Wednesday, July 20th.

Funeral Mass on Thursday, July 21st at 12 noon followed by burial in the Society Cemetery.

To view the Funeral Mass recording, please click on the following link:

Funeral Mass, Fr Thomas Gillooly RIP, July 21st, 2022

Fr Thomas Gillooly (1938-2022)

Thomas (Tommy) Gillooly was born on the 4th of January 1938 to Thomas Gillooly and his wife Brigid (née Allen) of Mount Cashel, Kilrooskey, Co Roscommon. He was from a family of two girls and four boys. Three of the boys became priests. Tommy received his primary education at Weekfield National School and for his secondary education he went to Roscommon Christian Brothers School. In September 1956 he followed in the footsteps of his older brother Peter (1934-2012) and joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society. After the usual programme of studies he was ordained priest in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat on Easter Sunday (14th of April) 1963. The ordaining prelate was Most Rev Patrick Cleary SSC, Exiled Bishop of Nancheng, China.

After ordination Tommy was appointed to the newly created Prefecture of Minna in Nigeria, West Africa. The territory had been entrusted to the Society the previous year and it was the size of the island of Ireland. At the time there were only three parishes in the Prefecture and Tommy was sent to Gawu to work with Jerry Kiely. In 1964 he was transferred to Kafinkoro where he supervised the building of a house for the Alexian Brothers who were to come to the Prefecture in 1965. In 1966 Tommy was transferred to Minna town and was attached to the Cathedral. He was already showing a talent for building. He claimed that he picked up a lot about building while a student in Kiltegan as he accompanied the construction of St Patrick’s College. He was sent to do a course in electrical engineering in Belfast in 1968 and returned to Minna in 1970. He opened a Technical School in Kontagora and taught there for six years while also helping out in the local parish. In 1980 he went to work in Nanati and shortly afterwards he was appointed Administrator of St Michael’s Cathedral, Minna. While in Minna he supervised the building of the new presbytery at St Michael’s.

Tommy was appointed the Regional Superior for West Africa after the 1984 Chapter and he lived at the Society House at Mende Road in Lagos. He was elected Vicar General of the Society at the 1990 Chapter and served a six year term. On the completion of his term as Vicar General he was appointed to the Region of East Africa. At 59 years of age Tommy set out on a new missionary journey. He worked in the Diocese of Lodwar and spent some years in charge of the Pastoral Centre at Katilu. In 2002 Tommy was called once again to be a Regional Superior; this time he was elected Regional Superior for East Africa. He was based in Nairobi. When he finished in this post Tommy went to work in the Diocese of Torit in South Sudan and ministered at Narus. Later he worked at the Society Formation House in Nakuru and his last appointment was to the Society Prayer House in Lanet, Nakuru. In October 2020 he returned to Ireland and was based at St Patrick’s, Knock, Co Mayo.

Tommy was an extremely dedicated and hard-working missionary priest who spent fifty-seven years of active ministry in Africa. He made an immense contribution to the development of the Church in Minna. He was a gifted builder and was generous in sharing his many talents. He was very highly respected by his colleagues and this was shown in particular by the fact that he was elected Regional Superior of the two biggest Society Regions in Africa. The mission of the Society was the focus of his life right up to the end. He was a very versatile missionary who was always prepared to move to where the need was greatest. He lived a very simple life and never worried about material comforts. He was a very charming and engaging person who made a deep impression on people by his sense of humour and genuine interest in others. His family was very important to Tommy and the recent deaths of his nephew David and his brother John had a deep effect on him.

Throughout his life Tommy was an extremely fit man and enjoyed excellent health. He loved hill walking and during his years as Vicar General, when he was based at Kiltegan, he enjoyed nothing more than a hike through the Wicklow Mountains with his friends on a Sunday afternoon. In May 2022 Tommy was diagnosed with a serious illness. He spent over five weeks in hospital. He returned to Kiltegan on the 8th of July. He died peacefully on the morning of Tuesday, the 19th of July 2022

 

Tommy was predeceased by his brothers Fr Peter SPS and John and by his brother-in-law Jimmy Rooney. He is survived by his sisters Anne Rooney and Margaret Leyden, his brother Fr Dominick, his sister-in-law Carmel, his brother-in-law Michael Leyden, his nieces and nephews and their families.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.
 

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Cemetery Sunday 2022

July 10th

Cemetery Sunday took place in St Patrick’s, Kiltegan, on July 10th. Due to the pandemic, it is 3 years since families attended Cemetery Sunday. This year the families of members who died since then were invited. A Remembrance Mass took place, followed by the blessing of the graves. The main celebrant was Fr Pat Murphy with Fr Tomás O Connor concelebrating and giving the homily. All deceased members buried in St Patrick’s, Kiltegan, and those buried overseas were prayed for and remembered. Each family in attendance lit a candle from the paschal fire for their loved one.

 

The Mass and blessing were recorded and can be viewed at the following link.

SPS Cemetery Sunday, July 10th, 2022 - Link to Photos and Video

SPS Cemetery Sunday - Link to Video only

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Fr Donald McDonagh, 1930-2022

June 1st, 2022

 We regret to announce that Fr Donald McDonagh (1955 class) died peacefully in the Care Unit in St Patrick's, Kiltegan in the early hours of this morning, Wednesday June 1st. May he rest in peace.

Our sincere sympathy to Donald’s family and friends.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

 

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Funeral Mass in St Patrick’s, Kiltegan, on Friday, June 3rd at 12 noon followed by burial in the Society Cemetery.

To view the Funeral Mass recording, please click on the following link:

Funeral Mass, Fr Donald McDonagh RIP, June 3rd 2022

Fr Donald J McDonagh (1930-2022)

Donald James McDonagh was born on the 16th of June 1930 to Thomas McDonagh and his wife Mary (née Lang) of Red House, Kilmactranny, Co Sligo. He was the second youngest of a family of one girl and three boys. He received his primary education at Kilmactranny National School where his mother and his mother’s first cousin were the teachers. During his final years in primary school he often served Mass for Monsignor Patrick J Whitney, the founder of St Patrick’s Missionary Society, who at that time was being cared for by his sister, Mrs Annie Gardiner. The Gardiner home was beside the school. After primary school Donald proceeded to Summerhill College, Sligo, where he was a boarder from 1943 to 1948. He sat the Leaving Certificate in June 1948 and joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society the following September. He pursued the usual programme of studies which included the Spiritual Year, a two year course in philosophy and a four year course in theology. He was ordained priest with nine colleagues in Carlow Cathedral on Easter Sunday (the 10th of April) 1955. The ordaining prelate was Most Rev Thomas Keogh DD, the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin.

After ordination Donald was appointed to the then Prefecture of Eldoret, Kenya. His first assignment was to Nerkwo where he taught in a super primary school and helped out in the local parish at weekends. His time in Nerkwo was very short as he was appointed to the newly created Prefecture of Kitui and arrived there on the 1st of October 1956. Kitui had been entrusted to the Society earlier that year. Donald was placed in charge of the Prefecture until the arrival of William Dunne some months later. It was a great vote of confidence in a man who was scarcely a year in the country. Donald was based at first in Mutune and when William Dunne took over as Prefect Apostolic he moved with him to Kitui. He served as education secretary and also became the Vicar General.

Donald was withdrawn from Kitui in 1973 and was appointed to the post of Director of Promotion for Ireland. He was based in Kiltegan. He succeeded Fr Charlie Smith who had headed the Society’s promotion programme since the late 1930s. It was a big challenge for Donald as he was following in the footsteps of a legend. But in that spirit of service to the Gospel and to the Society which imbued his missionary life, Donald embraced the challenge with courage and faith. He also served as Vocations Director for Ireland and recruited many future priests for the Society. After twelve years as Director of Promotion in Ireland he was appointed to the USA to carry out the same mission there. While it was not his wish to leave Kiltegan he took on this new challenge in the USA with the same fervour and commitment.

After twenty-five years of intense involvement in the Promotion Programme of the Society, Donald returned to Ireland in 1998. He was offered a sabbatical but the sabbatical he chose was pastoral work in his native Diocese of Elphin. After forty-three years of priesthood he went to work in a parish for the first time and he relished the opportunity to exercise his priestly ministry serving the people of God in Kilmurry, Co Roscommon. In 2000 the Society discerned the need to open a house in Knock and Donald was asked to supervise the acquisition of a house there. At the end of 2000 he moved to the newly acquired house in Knock and spent the next twenty years ministering at Knock Shrine.

Donald enjoyed good health until just before his 90th birthday. Shortly after reaching that landmark birthday his health began to deteriorate. He was hospitalised in Galway in January 2021 and after being discharged he came to live in the Care Unit in Kiltegan. His condition continued to decline. He died peacefully in the early hours of Wednesday morning, the 1st of June 2022.

Donald made an outstanding contribution to the life and mission of the Society during his sixty-seven years of missionary priesthood. His organisational gifts shone through from an early age and he was catapulted into the limelight after only one year on the missions. He made a very impressive contribution to the development of the Church in Kitui. When he and William Dunne arrived there in 1956 it was a place that showed very little promise. Through his hard work and vision the foundations were laid for what would become a very vibrant, dynamic and forward looking Church. The qualities that served him during his seventeen years in Kitui were put to good use during his twenty-five years of service to the Promotion Programme of the Society in Ireland and in the USA. Like his predecessors Charlie Smith and Pat Whitney he was gifted at promotion work. He was meticulous in his planning and thorough in everything he did. He put his heart and soul into the Promotion Programme of the Society and spearheaded its modernization; his enthusiasm never flagged. The circulation of the Africa magazine reached its peak during Donald’s years as Director of Promotion in Ireland.

Donald was the last surviving member of the Society to have known its founder, Pat Whitney. Donald considered it a privilege to have been chosen to serve Pat’s Mass and to have seen him up close and personal. The ailing Monsignor made a deep impression on the young school boy and without doubt those encounters sowed the seed in Donald that years later would inspire him to join the Society and dedicate his life to the missions.

Donald was predeceased by his sister Dolores, his brothers Maurice and Tommy and by his sister-in-law Eileen. He is survived by his sister-in-law Carmel, his nieces and nephews and their families.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal. 

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Memorial Mass - Fr Seán McGrath SPS

June 18th, 2022

A Memorial Mass for Fr Seán McGrath (1946–2022) took place in St. Patrick's, Kiltegan, Co Wicklow on Saturday, June 18th. 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

To view the Memorial Mass recording, please click on the following link:

Memorial Mass - Fr Seán McGrath - June 18th

 

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Fr James Regan, 1929-2022

May 4th, 2022

With sadness we announce the death of Fr James Regan, peacefully, early this morning, May 4th, in the Care Unit in St Patrick’s, Kiltegan. May he rest in peace.

Our sincere sympathy to the Regan family.

 

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Funeral Mass in St Patrick’s, Kiltegan, on Friday, May 6th at 12 noon followed by burial in the Society Cemetery.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

The recording of the Funeral Mass can be viewed at the following link:

Fr James Regan SPS, Funeral Mass, May 6th 2022

Fr. James Francis Regan, 1929-2022

James Francis Regan was born on the 25th of February 1929 to John and Elizabeth Regan in Ardagh, Jamestown, Carrick-on-Shannon. He was one of a family of six, four girls and two boys. He attended Jamestown N. S. and from there went to St. Mel’s College, Longford from 1942-47.

 

On completion of his secondary school, he joined St. Patrick’s Missionary Society, Kiltegan. For the next seven years he followed a course of studies there which included Spirituality, Philosophy and Theology. Jim was ordained on Easter Sunday (18th of April) 1954 together with ten classmates and received his first missionary appointment to Nigeria. The ordaining prelate was Bishop J W Heffernan CSSp, Vicar Apostolic Emeritus of Zanzibar, Kenya.

 

Jim was appointed to the then Prefecture of Ogoja, Nigeria and for the next 24 years ministered in a number of parishes in the Eastern part of the country. He returned to Ireland in 1980 due to health problems. In the following years he ministered in Knock, Drogheda and the parish of Clonegal, Co. Carlow. In 1983 he was appointed to Grenada where he worked in the parishes of Carriacou, Victoria, Tivoli and Battle Hill. In 2007 he returned to Ireland where he worked in Ballintober, Strokestown and St. Joseph’s Hospital, Longford. He retired in 2013 to our house in Kiltegan. Jim was a valued member of the community and always had a smile for fellow priests and visitors.

 

Jim was a very committed missionary and loved his time in Nigeria and Grenada. He also however enjoyed his time working in parishes in Ireland. He loved working with young people and nothing brought him more joy than when he saw them succeeding and achieving their ambitions. He was a very soft-spoken man and this reflected his heart; a heart sensitive to the sick and suffering especially. In our community Masses in Kiltegan Jim would often remember the sick and suffering in his prayer. People who were struggling with issues of life and relationship had his special concern. We can say truly that Jim was a man of prayer; his prayer was inclusive and grounded in the issues of life of the day. He had a special devotion to Mary and the rosary prayer.

 

Fr Jim died peacefully in St Patrick’s, Kiltegan, during the early hours of Wednesday, May 4th, 2022. May Jim’s gentle soul rest in the fullness of the One who called him to life and missionary priesthood. May Mary and the angels guide him to the eternal presence of God and those of his family and society brothers who have gone before him.

 

We extend our sincere sympathy to Jim’s family and many friends. May he rest in peace.

 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

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Fr Seamus Reihill, 1930-2022

April 17th, 2022

We are sad to announce that Fr Seamus Reihill (1956 Class) died on Easter Sunday morning, April 17th, in the Care Unit in St Patrick’s, Kiltegan. May he rest in peace.

Our sincere sympathy to all the Reihill family.

 

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Funeral Mass in St Patrick’s, Kiltegan, on Wednesday, April 20th at 12 noon followed by burial in the Society Cemetery.

To view the recording of the Funeral Mass, please click on the following link:

April 20th, Funeral Mass, Fr Seamus Reihill RIP

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

 

Fr Seamus Reihill (1930-2022)

James Francis (Seamus) Reihill was born on the 25th of September 1930 to Patrick Reihill and his wife Agnes (née Breen) of Main Street, Irvinestown, Co Fermanagh. He was one of a family of two girls and four boys. He received his primary education at Irvinestown Primary School (1935-1943). He came south to the Republic of Ireland for his secondary education and boarded at St McCartan’s College, Monaghan, from 1943 to 1948. He sat the Leaving Certificate in June 1948 and joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society the following September. After completing the Spiritual Year he went to St Patrick’s, Douglas, Cork and studied at University College Cork where he was awarded a BA degree in 1952. He then returned to St Patrick’s College, Kiltegan, for a four year course in theology. Seamus was ordained priest in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat, on Easter Sunday (1st of April) 1956. The ordaining prelate was Most Rev Patrick Cleary SSC, Exiled Bishop of Nancheng, China.

After ordination Seamus was appointed to the Diocese of Calabar where he would spend the next seven years. After a few months in a parish he was assigned to St Mary’s Teacher Training College at Ediene near Abak, in the present Diocese of Ikot Ekpene. The Principal of the College was the late Fr Bill Mullally SPS. Seamus and Bill worked very well together. He then taught in a Commercial School at Opobo. In 1963 Seamus had a very serious health issue which forced him home to Ireland for treatment. At the end of the treatment he had no sight in his left eye and very little sight in his right eye. He was granted a dispensation from reading the Breviary by Bishop Thomas Keogh, the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. Despite this very serious handicap Seamus got on with life and continued to live out his missionary vocation.

In early 1965 the Society opened a secondary school in Buchlyvie near Stirling in Scotland. The school was opened in order to offer education to young men who wanted to become priests but who, for one reason or another, had not completed their secondary education. During the nearly forty years of its existence it helped educate 77 young men who went on to be ordained priests. Seamus was appointed bursar at St Patrick’s College, Buchlyvie, in March 1965.  It would become his home for over thirty years. As well as being bursar he also helped to establish the Society’s promotion programme in Scotland and founded the Used Stamps Project which continues in operation to this day and generates funds for the support of catechists on the missions. Seamus was also very involved in the annual Open Day which drew thousands of Society supporters to Buchlvie and was a big day in the social calendar of the area as well as an important fund-raising event for the Society.

Seamus celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his ordination in April 1981 and shortly afterwards he was appointed to the Society’s Promotion House at Wexham Road, Slough; he was also appointed Superior for England and Wales for a three year period. During his time in Slough Seamus was involved in moving the Society’s house from Wexham Road to a new premises at Eton Road near Datchet. In 1986 Seamus was re-appointed to St Patrick’s College, Buchlyvie, and remained there as bursar until 2001. In 2001 he was appointed to St Patrick’s, Kiltegan, where he would spend the rest of his life. In Kiltegan he worked in the Promotion Office for as long as his health permitted and continued his work in the Used Stamps Project with great devotion. When his health began to fail and his mobility became limited he moved to the Care Unit. He died peacefully on Easter Sunday morning, the 17th of April 2022, after taking a full part in the celebration of the Easter Triduum. It was the 66th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

Seamus made an immense contribution to the promotion programme of the Society in Scotland, England and Ireland. He came from a family with a business background and he used all his business instincts for the benefit of the Society. He was noted for his meticulous attention to detail. He gave himself totally to the promotion work of the Society for well over fifty years. He was a wonderful host and many people have very fond memories of the hospitality they enjoyed when on a visit to Seamus. He had a wonderful smile of welcome. He never allowed his poor health to prevent him from living as full a life as possible. He loved classical music and had a fine selection of CDs and DVDs. He also enjoyed watching films. He was a keen card player and was playing “Patience” up to two days before his death. He had a life-long love of philately and accumulated an impressive collection of stamps over the years. He was very proud of his family and the feeling was mutual; he stayed close to them throughout his life and looked forward to the visits of his sister Mary and other members of his family.

Seamus was predeceased by his sister Una, his brothers Patrick, Brian and John, his sisters-in-law Sally, Mary and Teresa and his brother-in-law Philip Mulligan. He is survived by his sister Mary (Mulligan), his nieces, nephews and their families.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

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Fr Sean McGrath, 1946-2022

March 28th, 2022

With sadness, we regret to announce the death of Fr Sean McGrath on Monday, March 28th, in the Care Unit in St Patrick's, Kiltegan, Co Wicklow. 

 

Our sincere sympathy to the McGrath family.

May Sean's gentle soul rest in peace.

Funeral arrangements

Funeral Mass in St Joseph’s Church, Ederney, Co Fermanagh, on Saturday,  April 2 at 12 noon followed by burial in Lettercran Cemetery, Pettigo, Co Donegal.

Fr Sean McGrath (1946-2022)

John Patrick (Sean) McGrath was born on the 27th of March 1946 to Hugh McGrath and his wife Eleanor (née Leonard) of Edenaveigh, Ederney, Co Fermanagh. He was the fifth born in a family of three girls and eight boys. He received his primary education at Moneyvriece Primary School and then proceeded to St Michael’s College, Enniskillen, where he completed his A Levels in June 1963. He joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1963. After completing the Spiritual Year in Kiltegan he went to St Patrick’s College, Douglas, Cork, and obtained a BA degree at UCC. He returned to St Patrick’s College, Kiltegan, in September 1967 for a four year course in theology. He was ordained priest in St Joseph’s Church, Ederney, on the 18th of April 1971. The ordaining prelate was Most Rev Patrick Mulligan DD, the Bishop of Clogher. His cousin Fr Joe McVeigh was ordained in the same ceremony.

After ordination Sean was appointed to St Patrick’s College, Buchlyvie, Scotland, where he taught for two years. In 1973 he was appointed to Grenada, a new mission opened by the Society in 1970. It would be Sean’s home for the next six years. He continued his teaching ministry and taught in St David’s School and also served in a number of parishes including Grand Roy. In 1979 he was appointed Assistant Director of the Spiritual Year Programme and was based at Kiltegan.

In 1980 Sean was appointed to Brazil where he would remain for the following thirty eight years. After completing a language course in Petropolis, a city on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, he went to work with Dermot Daly in Jardim Mitsutani which had recently been carved from the parish of São João Batista, Pirajussara. He began a pattern of working in a parish for six years and then moving on to another parish where the needs were greater. In 1986 he moved to the east of São Paulo and worked in the Cohab Itaquera. In 1992 he moved to Jardim São Bernardo in the Diocese of Santo Amaro. Sean took a sabbatical in 1999 and spent some time in Rome where he studied at the Missionaries of Africa. He returned to São Paulo in September 2000 and went to work in Paróquia Cristo Rei off the Rodovia Anhanguera. In 2006 he moved to Paróquia Sagrada Família, Jardim Antartica. He retired to the Society’s Regional House in São Paulo in 2012.

Sean was a great pastoral priest who dedicated himself totally to the people whom he served. He had a special interest in the poor and in those left behind by society. In every parish where he worked he helped to establish crèches for the poorer children. Through the generous support he received from his family and from his local community in Ederney he was able to erect parish centres in all the communities he served. These buildings served as churches and also centres for social projects. One of his favourite ministries was the Pastoral da Criança – ministry to children. He was able to identify very capable and dedicated leaders in the communities who worked closely with him in delivering these social projects. Sean was a very charismatic person who was able to inspire others to give of the best of themselves.

Sean was a very gifted sportsman in his youth. He excelled at Gaelic football and was noted for his athleticism, skill, strength and determination. He was blessed with very big hands which enabled him to catch a Gaelic football with one hand. It was said that once he got the ball into his hand it was impossible to dispossess him because of his low centre of gravity and innate strength. He won a Sigerson Cup medal with UCC and also represented Ulster in the Railway Cup competition as well as being a regular on the Fermanagh Senior Football team. He was also a very faithful member of the Ederney GAA team and nothing gave him greater pleasure than playing alongside his seven brothers in the local colours. Together they won a Fermanagh County Championship in 1968. It was probably the highlight of his sporting life.

The last years of Sean’s life were not easy. His health began to deteriorate during his final tour in São Paulo. He returned to Ireland in the summer of 2018 and settled in Kiltegan. In the first months he was able to continue his pastime of going for long walks but very soon his movement became curtailed and he had to move to the Care Unit. There he got great care and support from the wonderful staff assigned to accompany him. He continued to show an interest in music and song and was happy to join in the singing of some of his favourite ballads whenever the occasion arose. He celebrated his 76th birthday on the 27th of March and spent some time on Zoom calls with his family. He died peacefully in the early hours of Monday morning, the 28th of March.

Sean was predeceased by his sister Sr Bernadette (Our Lady of the Missions), his brother Colm and his sister-in-law Mena.He is survived by his sisters Geraldine and Anne (Hynes), his brothers Anthony, Brendan, Leonard, Ciaran, Tom and Maurice, his sisters-in-law Angela, Anne, Mary, Patricia, Vicki and Mary, his nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, his relatives and friends and his Society family.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

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Fr Robert (Bobby) Kavanagh, 1931-2022

March 6th, 2022

With sadness, we regret to announce the death of Fr Bobby Kavanagh on Sunday, March 6th, in the Care Unit in St Patrick's, Kiltegan, Co Wicklow. 

 

Our sincere sympathy to the Kavanagh family.

May Bobby's gentle soul rest in peace.

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Removal to St Patrick’s Chapel, Kiltegan, Wicklow on Monday, March 7th at 5.30 pm.

Funeral Mass on Tuesday, March 8th at 12 noon followed by burial in the Society Cemetery, St Patrick's, Kiltegan. Funeral limited to family only. 

 

To view the recording of the Funeral Mass which took place on Tuesday, March 8th, please click on the following link:

Funeral Mass Fr Robert(Bobby) Kavanagh

 

Fr Robert (Bobby) Kavanagh (1931-2022)

Robert Patrick (Bobby) Kavanagh was born on the 17th of August 1931 to Robert Kavanagh and his wife Nora of Moneygarrow, Castletown, Inch, Co Wexford. He was the last born of a family of six girls and three boys. He received his primary education at Castletown National School. He then proceeded to the Technical School in Arklow, Co Wicklow, for two years, before transferring to a private school called St Patrick’s Academy in Arklow where he sat the Intermediate Certificate in 1950. He completed his secondary education in St Peter’s College, Wexford, and sat the Leaving Certificate in June 1952. Bobby joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1952 and after the Spiritual Year and the usual courses in philosophy and theology he was ordained priest along with twenty three classmates on the 23rd of May 1959. The ordaining prelate was Most Rev Thomas McGettrick SPS, Bishop of Ogoja. Bobby was a member of the biggest class ever ordained for the Society.

After ordination Bobby was appointed to the then Prefecture of Eldoret which was raised to the status of a Diocese a few weeks after his arrival. He set sail for Kenya on the 20th of August 1959 and arrived in Mombasa twenty eight days later. The ship sailed by Gibraltar and across the Mediterranean Sea before heading for Mombasa via the Suez Canal. The passage through the Red Sea left a deep impression on Bobby as the heat was extremely intense; he felt like he was in a furnace!

Immediately after arriving in Mombasa he went by night train to Nairobi and then on to Nakuru where his first appointment was to Molo which is 8200 feet above sea level; his parish priest was the late Brian Cunningham. A couple of days after arriving in Molo, Bobby began teaching in an Intermediate School which was beside the Mission. He taught forty two classes per week. After a year in Molo he was transferred to Turbo where he continued his teaching ministry. He also helped to open new Christian communities in the area - in one community he said Mass from the back of a lorry!

After five months in Turbo he was transferred to Elburgon which was quite near Molo. He lived on his own in a little house and began getting the parish established. He was no longer full time in teaching but was prepared to help out when the need arose. It was a time when the Land Freedom Movement was at its height and there was some violence in the area. He spent six years in Elburgon and made good progress with the building of the Church.

Bobby’s next appointment was to the Holy Rosary Parish in Nakuru where he worked with the late Paddy Cullen. After a few years in Nakuru he was asked to open a parish at Njoro which was part of Holy Rosary Parish. In 1972 he was transferred to Subukia where he helped build a beautiful Church. He was very proud of the Church in Subukia. He started a secondary school in 1974 and returned to the class hall. After six years in Subukia he took a sabbatical which included a 30 Day Retreat in Manresa, Dublin, and a course on spiritual direction. There were eleven other Society priests on the programme with him.

On his return to Kenya in 1979 Bobby was appointed once again to the Holy Rosary Parish in Nakuru which by then was the Cathedral Parish. While his preference was for a rural appointment he accepted the challenge and spent nearly four years as Administrator of the Cathedral. One of his assistants was Fr Peter Kairo who later became the Bishop of Nakuru. In 1982 he was asked to return to Molo. He moved to a big outstation at Kamwaura and opened schools in Kamwaura and Mwaragania.

1992 was a traumatic year for Bobby as he was expelled from Kenya because he spoke out against some of the actions of the government during the tribal clashes. He was deported on the 25th of May 1992. He wrote afterwards that it was the darkest day of his life. Bobby returned to Kenya in July 1993 and was stationed at Londiani for a few months. In 1994 he was appointed to Bahati and it was in that general area he spent the rest of his time in Kenya serving at Kabazi and later at Arutani Secondary School. During the final years of his life in Kenya Bobby was Chaplain at Arutani Secondary School.

Bobby regarded Kenya as his home and his hope had been to end his days there. Sadly it was not to be. In 2016 he was badly injured in a car accident and he had to come to Ireland for treatment. Much to his great sadness he was never able to return to his beloved Kenya. He died peacefully in the Care Unit at Kiltegan on the morning of Sunday, the 6th of March 2022.

Bobby was a very dedicated and hardworking missionary priest who was always prepared to serve wherever the need was greatest. He was above all a great pastoral priest who had a special ability to relate to people on a one-to- one basis. In his ministry he put a lot of emphasis on catechetics and on education. In all he opened eleven primary schools, four secondary schools and five nursery schools during his fifty seven years of active service. He was a man of deep faith who coped with the trials and tribulations of life with serenity and without undue fuss. He bore the sufferings of his final years with patience, fortitude and good humour. He was very courageous and was not afraid to speak out in the face of injustice; it was this quality that had led to his being deported from Kenya in 1992.

Bobby was a joyful person who enjoyed the company of others. He was blessed with a very rich, resonant and distinctive voice. He loved to sing especially in Church and at social gatherings. Less than two weeks before he died he joined Fr Enda Kelly in a beautiful rendition of “Boolavogue” during a sing-song in the Care Unit. He was very proud of his family and remained very close to them throughout his life. He appreciated their support especially in his last years.

Bobby was predeceased by his sisters Sadie, Nora, Bridget, Mamie, Hannah and Anne and by his brothers Michael and Denis. He is survived by his nieces and nephews and their families.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

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Fr Patrick Byrne, 1948-2022

January 23rd, 2022

With great sadness, we regret to announce that Fr Patrick (Pat) Byrne (1976 class) died suddenly on Sunday night January 23rd at his family home in Blessington, Co Wicklow, Ireland. He was due to return to Malawi today, Monday. 

 

Our sincere sympathy to the Byrne family.

May Pat’s gentle soul rest in peace.

Funeral arrangements for Fr Patrick Byrne are as follows:

Reposing at Clarke’s Funeral Home, Blessington (Eircode W91 YN79) on Thursday, January 27th from 3pm to 7pm. Removal to the Church of Our Lady, Blessington, for Requiem Mass on Friday, January 28th, at 12 noon followed by burial in the Society Cemetery, St Patrick’s, Kiltegan.

The Mass will be live-streamed on https://blessingtonparish.ie/about/parish-webcam/.

 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

 

Fr Patrick Byrne (1948-2022)

Patrick (Pat/Paddy) Camillus Byrne was born on the 27th of February 1948 to John Byrne and his wife Mary (née Quinn) of Burgage, Blessington, Co Wicklow. He was the youngest of a family of 9 girls and 5 boys. He attended St Mary’s National School, Blessington, for his primary education and proceeded to Baltinglass Vocational School for the first part of his secondary education. He left Baltinglass Vocational School in 1964 after completing the Group Certificate. He went to work as an apprentice fitter and attended night classes in Bolton Street School of Technology. He then took up a post as a Junior Draughtsman at Irish Food Machines Ltd, Pearse St, Dublin. Pat drew up designs for kitchens and travelled to places like Lydons in Shop Street, Galway. Thoughts of the priesthood were never far from his mind and he was an avid reader of the Africa magazine. In September 1967 he went to St Patrick’s College, Buchlyvie, Scotland, to continue his secondary education. After two years of intense study he had sufficient O Levels to begin his training for the priesthood. He joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1969. On completing the Spiritual Year in June 1970 he proceeded to St Patrick’s College, Douglas, Cork, for studies in philosophy. He returned to St Patrick’s, Kiltegan, in September 1972 for a four year course in theology and was ordained priest on the 12th of June 1976 in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat. The ordaining prelate was Most Rev Dominic Conway DD, Bishop of Elphin.

After ordination Pat was appointed to the Diocese of Chikwawa, Malawi, where he ministered for the following fourteen years. He was stationed at Misomali, Chikwawa Town and Ngabu. He served as Vocations Director for the Diocese for some years and was also Vicar General to Bishop Felix Mkhori from 1988 to 1990. In 1990 Pat was appointed Assistant Regional Superior for Central Africa. This meant a move to the Society house in Lilongwe where he also took on the role of parish priest of St Kizito’s Parish, Chigoneka. When he completed his term as Assistant Regional Superior for Central Africa, Pat took a sabbatical year. He returned to Malawi in 1998 and after a few months in St Kizito’s Parish, Chigoneka, he moved to St Augustine’s Parish, Mtengowanthenga, a one hour drive from Lilongwe. In 2002 Pat found himself once again in Society leadership as he was appointed Assistant Regional Superior for Central and Southern Africa and had to move to Johannesburg, South Africa. After completing his term as Assistant Regional Superior for Central and Southern Africa in January 2009, Pat returned to Malawi and once again was appointed parish priest of Mtengowanthenga. He also served as the Vocations Director for the Society in Malawi for a number of years.

Pat came to Ireland on leave in November 2021 and stayed at the family home at Burgage, Blessington, where he grew up. He visited St Patrick’s, Kiltegan, on Sunday, the 23rd of January, to return a car he had leased for the holiday period. He went back to Burgage and spent a very enjoyable evening in the company of his family who had gathered to say goodbye to him. Later he went to his room to finish packing his cases for his return journey to Malawi the following day. It was at that moment he died suddenly. He was a missionary right up to the end of his life.

Pat was an extremely dedicated and hard-working missionary who spent his entire priestly life in Africa. He was a very joyful, fun-loving and obliging person who invariably had a twinkle in his eye and enjoyed a practical joke at times. He was a very versatile missionary who generously shared his many gifts and talents with his fellow Society members and with the people whom he was called to serve. Pat remained very close to his family throughout his life and he liked nothing better than spending time at the family home in Burgage where he loved to help out on the farm. He was very highly regarded by his fellow Society priests who elected him Assistant Regional Superior for two terms. He was a very gracious and generous host who loved to make people welcome and who took great delight in serving up a delicious meal. Hospitality was one of his special gifts. Pat was a man of deep feelings and he was not afraid to show those feelings. He readily empathised with those who suffered or who had been bereaved. He was a pastor in the mould of Pope Francis who had “the smell of his sheep”.

Pat was predeceased by his sister Kathy (Tyrrell), by his brothers Jimmy, John, Tom and Dick, by his sisters-in-law Joan and Monica, by his brothers-in-law Odie Tyrrell, Sean Fitzsimons, Bill Murphy and John Geoghegan. He is sadly missed by his sisters Nan Fitzsimons, Sr Greta (Bethlehem), Maura Brennan, Betty Byrne, Phyllis Murphy, Bridie O’Hanrahan, Bernie Kearns, Teresa Geoghegan, his sisters-in-law Annie and Joan, his brothers-in-law Billy Brennan, Brendan Byrne, Jimmy O’Hanrahan and Michael Kearns, nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, relatives and friends, Archbishop George Desmond Tambala of Lilongwe and his Society family.

 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

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Fr Leo Flynn, 1937-2022

January 7th, 2022

With sadness, we announce the death of Fr Leo Flynn (1962 class). Fr Leo passed away peacefully in the Care Unit in St Patrick’s, Kiltegan on Friday, January 7th.

May he rest in Peace.

Our sincere sympathy to Leo’s family and friends.

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Removal to Our Lady Assumed into Heaven Church, Enniscrone, Co Sligo, on Tuesday, January 11 at 7pm. Fr Leo’s Funeral Mass will be celebrated with family and close friends on Wednesday at 12 noon followed by burial in Killanley Cemetery.

Family flowers only please donations if desired to St Patrick’s Missionary Society C/o McGowan's funeral home, Ballina.

Please adhere to government guidelines on Covid-19.

The Mass will be live-streamed (from 12 noon Irish time) on:

https://www.churchtv.ie/enniscrone/

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

 

Fr Leo Flynn (1937-2022)

Leo Anthony Gabriel Flynn was born on the 29th of March 1937 to Patrick Flynn and his wife Margaret (née McHale) of Ballymoneen, Castleconnor, Co Sligo. He was from a family of one girl and nine boys. He received his primary education at Carragarry National School and for his secondary education he attended St Muredach’s College, Ballina; this involved a round trip of 14 miles every day on his bicycle for four years. He was a boarder for his final year and sat the Leaving Certificate in June 1955. Leo joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1955 and completed the Spiritual Year in June 1956. He then studied philosophy at St Patrick’s, Douglas, Cork, before returning to Kiltegan in September 1958 for a four year course in theology. He was ordained priest on the 22nd of April 1962 (Easter Sunday). The ordaining prelate was Most Reverend Patrick Cleary SSC, Exiled Bishop of Nancheng, China.

After ordination Leo was appointed to the Diocese of Calabar. Within one year of his arrival a new Diocese was carved out of Calabar, the Diocese of Ikot Ekpene. It was in that area Leo was to spend the first six years of his priestly ministry. During that period there was growing civil unrest in South Eastern Nigeria; this unrest would later lead to the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War which was a very stressful time for all missionaries. Leo served first at Urua Akpan and later at Nko. He left Nigeria in 1968 and was appointed to promotion work in the USA. He was based first in Camden, New Jersey, and later in Chicago. For a decade he was very involved in fund-raising for the Society. He travelled all over the USA making mission appeals in parish churches. He also helped to organise other income generating events such as dinner dances and bingo. During his time in the USA Leo built up a large network of friends who remained loyal to him for the rest of his life.

After ten years in the USA Leo returned to Nigeria and this time he was appointed to the Archdiocese of Lagos. For the next forty years he ministered in some of the poorest parishes in Africa’s most populous city. He began in 1978 in St Mary’s, Ajegunle, and from there helped establish St Charles’ Parish, Olodi. From St Charles he founded many outstations including St Margaret’s, Our Lady of the Rosary, St Vincent’s, Our Lady Help of Christians (all in the greater Olodi area) and finally he established St Philomena’s in Ajegunle. Most of these outstations are now flourishing parishes.

Leo was noted for his hard work and dedication all through his life. He put his heart and soul into everything he did whether it be pastoral work in Lagos or mission promotion work in the USA. He was a very far-seeing pastor and very shrewd. He identified sites for future churches years before anyone set foot in them and with his innate business acumen he was able to purchase the sites for a modest price. He encouraged the people to be self-sufficient and to take ownership of their parish communities. The churches, parish houses and community halls that Leo left behind were funded mostly by contributions from the local people. He fostered strong lay involvement in the pastoral life of the parishes where he ministered. He also introduced lay Eucharistic Ministers and promoted Group Weddings. Care of the poor and the sick was an integral part of Leo’s ministry. He was always willing to make a sick call no matter what hour of the day or night it came.The promotion of vocations to Religious Life was also a hallmark of his ministry. Through his guidance, encouragement and support many young people from the parishes where he ministered went on to join Religious Congregations and Missionary Societies.

Forty years of intense pastoral work in many parishes in Lagos eventually took its toll on Leo’s health. He was forced to leave his beloved people in St Philomena’s in 2017 and return to Ireland. He retired to Kiltegan. In the autumn of 2021 he was diagnosed with a serious illness. After a short spell in hospital he returned to Kiltegan in late November 2021. A few days after Christmas his condition deteriorated. He died peacefully in the Care Unit at Kiltegan shortly after noon on Friday, the 7th of January 2022. At his bedside were his niece-in-law Barbara Flynn along with some members of the Care Unit Staff and some members of the Kiltegan community.

Leo was predeceased by his sister Maura and by his brothers Paddy, Eamon, Vincent, Michael and Fr Mattie. He is survived by his brothers Kevin, Eugene and Brendan, by his sisters-in-law, his nieces and nephews and their families.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.