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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 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 Liam Kelly

November 22nd, 2022

With sadness we  announce the death of Fr Liam Kelly (1968 Class). Liam died peacefully on Tuesday evening, November 22nd in the Care Unit in St Patrick's, Kiltegan.

May he rest in peace.

Our sincere sympathy to Liam's family.

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Funeral Mass in St Patrick’s Chapel, Kiltegan, on Friday, November 25th, at 12 noon followed by burial in the Society Cemetery.

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

Funeral Mass, November 25th

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

Fr Liam Kelly SPS (1941-2022)

William John Kelly, popularly known as Liam was born on the 24th June 1941 to John and Kathleen Kelly (nee Long) of Ileigh, Borrisoleigh, Co Tipperary. He was the eldest of a family of one brother and three sisters. He attended the local national school in Ileigh from 1947 to 1954 and had his secondary education with the Patrician Brothers in Ballyfin Co. Laois from 1954 to 1959.

In September 1959 he joined the spiritual year in Kiltegan. From 1960-64 he studied for his BSc degree in Cork and then proceeded to Kiltegan for theology and was ordained on 14th April 1968 along with twenty-two classmates in St Mary’s Church, Killamoate.

After ordination Liam was appointed to the diocese of Kitui, to a young church to work alongside his fellow missionaries who were determined to implement the vision of Vatican II. For fifty years Kitui diocese was his home and the place where he exercised his missionary vocation with great zeal by teaching in schools and in parish work.

Liam’s early missionary life was spent teaching science in secondary schools. He spent sixteen years in Kitui Secondary School. He taught in St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary Mwingi for eleven years from 1986-97. After a four-month sabbatical in Jerusalem in 1997, he moved to parish ministry in St Patrick’s, Migwani. In 2004 he transferred to Holy Spirit Parish, Mulutu, to join his lifelong friend Frank Minogue and they worked together for the next fourteen years, ministering to the people of the parish. After celebrating his Golden Jubilee of priesthood and serving the people of Kitui for fifty years, ill health forced him to retire and return to Ireland in May 2018. He immediately moved into the Care Unit and bore his failing health with great serenity.

Pope Francis wrote a pastoral letter, entitled ‘The joy of the Gospel’ in 2013. If there was ever a man who lived out this message, it was Liam Kelly, who radiated joy to everyone he encountered. Liam was a most positive person and always full of hope and related to his students and parishioners without judgement or criticism. He was a fantastic and committed teacher who was loved by all his students who blossomed under his encouragement. Before he retired a big group of his former students gathered to thank him and show their appreciation for all he did for them while at school. Liam was a very kind pastor who promoted small Christian communities in the spirit of Vatican II. He was also a great model and support to the young African priests who followed in his footsteps. Part of his spirituality was praying and sharing his faith with his fellow priests in the Charles de Foucauld fraternity. When one of the Kitui priests was badly traumatised by armed robbers, Liam accompanied him for a long period of time and helped to restore him to full health. Liam’s beautiful smile and gentle spirit will live long in the memory of all the people who knew him.

On Sunday the 20th November Liam began to get a bit confused and two days later his condition deteriorated and he was anointed that morning. He died, as he had lived, peacefully at lunch time on the 22nd November, 2022 on the feast of St. Cecelia patron of musicians, and being a man who loved listening to classical music it was surely appropriate.

Liam is predeceased by his parents John and Kathleen and his sister Loretta. He is survived by his brother Austin, his sisters Irene Houlihan and Geraldine Healy, his brothers-in-law Jim and Tommy and his sister-in-law Helen and their families.

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam uasal.

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Fr Martin O'Connell

October 30th, 2022

With sadness we  announce the death of Fr Martin O'Connell (1978 Class). Martin died peacefully on Sunday evening, October 30th in the Care Unit in St Patrick's, Kiltegan.

May he rest in peace.

 

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Funeral Mass in St Patrick’s Chapel, Kiltegan, on Thursday, November 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, November 3rd

 

Our sincere sympathy to Martin's family.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

Fr Martin O’Connell (1945 -2022)

Martin Joseph O’Connell was born on the 1st of March 1945 to John O’Connell and his wife Mary (nee Hession) of Kiniska, Claregalway, Co. Galway. He was the eldest of a family of six boys and four girls. He received his primary education in Claregalway National School from 1951 to 1959. After primary school he went to work in Rooney & Reidy Furniture business. He joined the Legion of Mary and became the President of the Praesidium. Embarking on many “pereginatios” as a Legionary to England sowed the seeds of a missionary vocation. In 1968 he applied to join St. Patrick’s, Kiltegan. Because he had no secondary education, he spent three years in St. Patrick’s Buchlyvie, Scotland, where he obtained his O Levels. He was admitted to the Spiritual Year in September 1971. He did his philosophy studies in Douglas, Cork for two years. He then proceeded to study theology for four years in Kiltegan and was ordained on June 10th, 1978.

After ordination Martin was appointed to the diocese of Ogoja in Nigeria. His first tour was spent living with different priests to get a feel for the varied apostolates of the diocese as part of his orientation. One of his first parishes was Wula; from there he moved to Ugep and by 1982 he was parish priest of Mbube. Afterwards he worked in the parishes of Bansara and Obudu. In 1995 he took a sabbatical and did the three month Spirituality Programme in St Beunos, Wales, which included the 30 Day Retreat.

In 1995 Martin was appointed to South Africa. He worked in Maryvale Parish in Johannesburg and also spent some time in the diocese of Tzaneen. In 2003 he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Formation House in KwaPatrick, Kwa Zulu-Natal, a post he held until 2010. He was then assigned a special ministry in Johannesburg and lived in the Society house in Benoni on the outskirts of the city. In 2017 he was once again called on to be the Spiritual Director in KwaPatrick for three years. He moved back to the Society House in Johannesburg in December 2020.

At the beginning of 2022 Martin began to feel unwell and had some treatment and diagnosis in South Africa. He was advised to come home and arrived in Ireland on April 6th. He was admitted to the Care Unit in Kiltegan and his health gradually deteriorated. The time spent in Kiltegan gave him an opportunity to spend time with his family after many years on the missions. On Sunday the 30th of October, some of his siblings and other family members spent much of the day with him. Later that evening Martin died peacefully with Fr Jimmy McDonnell by his bedside.

Martin was a very sincere, committed and dedicated missionary priest. He spent all his priestly life in Africa, serving the people with great generosity and compassion. He was a gracious host and made hospitality his special charism. In his mid-twenties he felt the call to be a missionary priest and he never deviated from that call over the following forty-four years. His zeal and commitment never waned. Martin remained very close to his family even when he was in Africa. This closeness was very evident during Martin’s final months when he had a visit almost every day from a member of his family. This closeness was a source of great consolation and comfort to him as he faced the end of his life.

Martin is survived by his sisters Mary, Brid, Kathleen and Anne, his brothers Pat, Jimmy, John, Michael and Tom, his sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews and their families

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

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Fr Gregory McManus

October 30th, 2022

We are sad to announce the death of Fr Gregory McManus (1967 Class). Greg died peacefully on Sunday, October 30th in Naas General Hospital.

May he rest in peace.

 

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Funeral Mass in St Patrick’s Chapel, Kiltegan, on Wednesday, November 2nd, at 12 noon followed by burial in the Society Cemetery.

 

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

Funeral Mass, November 2nd, 2022

Please note: Unfortunately due to stormy weather in Kiltegan, there was a short disruption to the live-stream during the homily.

 

Our sincere sympathy to Gregory's family.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

Fr Gregory McManus (1942-2022)

Gregory McManus was born on the 6th July 1942 to John McManus and his wife Delia (nee Gilmartin) of Keadue, Co Roscommon. He is from a family of four boys and one girl. He attended Keadue National School from 1947 to 1955 and, Summerhill College, Sligo from 1955 to 1960 for his secondary education. He joined the spiritual year in Kiltegan in September 1960. He proceeded to St Patrick’s, Douglas Cork for his philosophy studies and returned to Kiltegan in 1963 to begin his theological training. He was ordained on the 26th March, 1967 in Hacketstown along with his ten classmates by Bishop Patrick Lennon DD, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin.

After ordination Gregory was appointed to Kenya and to the diocese of Eldoret. His first appointment was to the parish of Nerkwo. He also served in the parishes of Iten, Sigor, Ortum, Chepariria, Kapcherop and Turbo where he taught in schools as well as parish work. In 1994 he was posted to work in the diocese of Menevia in Wales, ministering in Llanelli.

In January 1998 he was appointed to Grenada where he worked for the next 14 years. He worked in the parishes of Carriacou, Gouyave, Victoria, Beauliau, Victoria and Petit Martinique. He taught catechetics in many of the schools and instructed the youth in the Catholic faith.

In 2012 Gregory began a new phase of his priestly ministry by taking up his role as a chaplain. He spent a number of years in chaplaincy work in England and also as a chaplain in Maryfield Nursing home in Chapelizod. In 2016 he retired to Kiltegan where he enjoyed walking and entertained the community with his quick wit. He moved to the Care Unit earlier this year. He began to feel unwell in the last week of October. He was admitted to Naas Hospital where he died in the early hours of Sunday morning the 30th October.

Gregory loved teaching and preaching. He had a very powerful voice and didn’t need a microphone and he preached with great conviction. He used posters and gathered a lot of stories and jokes to illustrate his message and keep his students attentive. Gregory was a very good pastor and put great emphasis on home visitation and caring for the sick. The people of Kenya and Grenada really appreciated this aspect of his ministry. He was a very generous and caring priest. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan which devastated the island of Grenada in September 2004, he used any money that came his way from his family and the Society to help those in need. He never asked questions but helped everyone who came to him for assistance. Gregory’s chief form of relaxation was reading novels which he enjoyed.

Gregory was predeceased by his brother Manus and his brother-in-law Gabriel Layden. He is survived by his brothers Ultan and Raymond and his sister Mena and his sisters-in-law Anne, Patricia and Pauline, his nephews and nieces and their families.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

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Fr Francis Patrick (Frank) Morgan

October 14th, 2022

We are sad to announce the death of Fr Francis (Frank) Morgan (1962 Class). Frank died peacefully on Friday, October 14th in Naas General Hospital.

May he rest in peace.

 

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Funeral Mass in St Patrick’s Chapel, Kiltegan, on Tuesday, October 18th, at 12 noon followed by burial in the Society Cemetery.

 

To view the recorded Mass please click on the following link:

Funeral Mass, October 18th 2022

 

Our sincere sympathy to Frank's family.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

Fr Francis Patrick Morgan (1937-2022)

Francis Patrick (Frank) Morgan was born on the 5th of February 1937 to Henry Morgan and his wife Julia (née McCarthy) of 3515 Flournoy Street, Chicago. He was the last born of the family and the only son. When Frank was two years of age the family left Chicago and went to live at his father’s home place at Glenview, Crumlin, Co Antrim. Frank attended St James Primary School, Aldergrove (1943-1947) and St Joseph’s Primary School, Crumlin (1947-1950). For the first part of his secondary education Frank attended St Malachy’s College, Belfast (1950-1951). The family moved to Ballinhassig, Cork, in the early 1950s and Frank transferred to St Finbarr’s College, Farranferris. In 1953 he returned to St Malachy’s College for the final two years of his secondary education. He joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1955. After the usual course of studies he was ordained in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat, on Easter Sunday (22nd of April) 1962. The ordaining prelate was Most Rev Patrick Cleary SSC, Exiled Bishop of Nancheng, China.

After ordination Frank was appointed to the Diocese of Eldoret, Kenya where he would minister for the following twenty-nine years. He spent most of his priestly ministry teaching in Mother of Apostles Junior Seminary, Eldoret. He also taught for a short period in a Harambee School in Eldoret. He took a sabbatical in 1986/87 and participated in a Renewal Course at Gort Muire, Dublin. For the second part of the sabbatical he attended some courses at Loyola University in his native city of Chicago. At the end of the sabbatical Frank returned to the Diocese of Eldoret and ministered in Turbo and in Majengo.

In 1991 Frank left Kenya and took up an appointment in Grenada, the West Indies. He spent twenty-four years in Grenada and was involved in parish ministry during all that time. He served in Sauteurs, Gouyave, Victoria, River Sallee and Beaulieu. Frank was in River Sallee when Hurricane Ivan devastated Grenada in September 2004. He counted himself very fortunate that Hurricane Ivan spared the part of island in which he lived; the destruction around River Sallee was considerably less than in other parts. Frank’s final years in Grenada were spent in Our Lady Help of Christians Parish, Beaulieu, where he worked with Fr Sean Doggett.

Ill-health forced Frank to retire to Ireland at the end of 2014. He went to live at St Patrick’s, Kiltegan. He adapted to community life at Kiltegan very easily and was a very popular member of the community. He accepted his new situation with serenity and calm. He enjoyed his retirement and was able to stay in touch with his family in Cork and in Antrim. He also did some pastoral work and often celebrated Sunday Mass for the residents of Ardeen Cheshire Home, Shillelagh, Co Wicklow. His health deteriorated significantly over the last two years and he went to live in the Care Unit at Kiltegan. He was admitted to Naas General Hospital on the evening of the 11th of October. He died peacefully on Friday afternoon, the 14th of October. At his bedside were Frs Joe Rabbitt and Jimmie McDonnell. He had been anointed earlier in the day by Fr Enda Kelly.

Frank was a very quiet, gentle and unassuming man who made no demands on anyone. He was blessed with a beautiful tenor voice and he enjoyed singing. He was a much respected member of the Senior Choir during his student days and was often one of the principal chanters at Sunday Mass. ABBA’s great hit Fernando became one of his party pieces. Frank is remembered as a very patient, fair and dedicated teacher who treated his students with the utmost respect and kindness. He was a very compassionate and caring pastor who was always there for the people. He was very proud of his family and loved to stay in touch with them.

Frank was predeceased by his sisters Maureen (Murphy) and Sr Sheila (Religious Sisters of the Heart of Mary) and by his brother-in-law Timmy Murphy. He is survived by his cousins in Crumlin, Co Antrim and his cousins in Castletownbere, Co Cork.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

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Fr Raymond Murtagh

August 28th, 2022

We are sad to announce the death of Fr Raymond Murtagh (1958 Class). Raymond died on August 28th in Our Mother of Mercy Nursing Home, Newry, after a long illness. 

May he rest in peace.

 

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Reposing at Heaney Keenan Funeral Home, 53 Patrick Street, Newry on Tuesday, 30th August from 4pm – 8pm. Funeral  Mass on Wednesday, August 31st at 12 noon in St Mary’s Church, Chapel Street, Newry  BT34 2DN. Burial afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

Our sincere sympathy to Raymond's family.

 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

Fr Raymond Murtagh (1932-2022)

Raymond James Murtagh was born on the 5th of March 1932 to Patrick Murtagh and his wife Catherine (née Coonagh) of 18 Kilmorey Street, Newry, Co Down. He received his primary education first at St Clare’s Primary School, High Street (1936-1939) and then at the local Christian Brothers’ Primary School, Castle Street (1939-1944). He stayed at the Christian Brothers’ School for his secondary education and he sat the Senior Leaving in June 1950. He joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1950 and completed the Spiritual Year in June 1951. He then proceeded to St Patrick’s, Douglas, Cork, and attended UCC. He graduated with a BA degree in June 1954. He returned to Kiltegan for his theological studies and was ordained on Easter Sunday, the 6th of April, 1958 in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat. The ordaining prelate was Most Rev James Moynagh SPS DD, Bishop of Calabar, Nigeria.

After ordination Ray, along with two classmates, was appointed to the Prefecture of Eldoret, Kenya, where he would spend the following fifty-three years. The Society was working in the Prefecture for less than a decade before Ray’s arrival. There was no formal language course or any introduction to the culture and customs of the people at that time. This proved to be a challenge for Ray. At that time the Prefecture of Eldoret was a vast territory which later became five independent dioceses. Ray’s first appointment was to Kituro in Baringo. After a year he was appointed to Nerkwo where a different dialect was spoken. He taught in a school as well as helping in the local parish. In 1961 he was a member of the first Society team to be sent to the Turkana desert. His time there was brief but it made a lasting impression on him. After his short stay in Turkana he returned to Nerkwo.

Later Ray worked in Kaptagat and Mokwo where he lived with Maurice Crowley, the present Bishop of Kitale. He was assigned to Nerkwo once again and then worked in Iten and in Majengo. He spent a short period on promotion work in Chicago and enjoyed the experience very much as he was able to stay with his aunt. In 1983 Ray took a sabbatical and did a scripture course in Jerusalem as well as the Faith and Mission Course in Dalgan. In 1984 he spent a short time as part of the formation team in St Patrick’s, Douglas, Cork. He returned to Kenya in early 1985. He was appointed Assistant Regional Superior for East Africa and was based at the Regional House in Nairobi. When he finished as Assistant Regional Superior he returned to Eldoret and was stationed at the Cathedral. He was then appointed to promotion work in the USA and was based at the Society House in Cliffside Park, New Jersey. He spent one year in the USA before returning to his beloved Eldoret. He went to work at John XXIII parish where he remained until 2003. He was then appointed to the Society parish at Kapsoya on the outskirts of Eldoret. In 2007 he went to work in the Diocese of Kitale and served in the Cathedral parish and in Sirenda. His final years in Kenya were spent in semi-retirement at the Bishop’s House in Kitale.

Ray left Kenya in 2011 and retired in the family home in Newry. He enjoyed very good health and was available to offer support to his sister and brothers who shared the home with him. A visit to St Colman’s Cathedral for Mass and prayers was part of his daily routine. In 2019 his health began to decline and after a spell in hospital he was no longer able to live independently at home. He decided to move to Our Mother of Mercy Nursing Home about five hundred metres from where he was born and reared. He died peacefully at 10pm on Sunday, the 28th of August 2022.

Ray was a very warm, joyful, prayerful, thoughtful and devoted missionary priest. He was noted for his generous hospitality to all who called on his home. In his youth he was an excellent Gaelic footballer and he was a contemporary of many of the stars of the great Down team that won the All Ireland football finals of 1960 and 1961 and brought the Sam Maguire Cup across the border for the first time. It was widely believed in some quarters that if Ray had not become a missionary priest he may have been part of that history making team. He remained very close to his family throughout his life and it was his wish to live out his final years back among his own people. That wish was granted to him.

 

Ray was predeceased by his brothers Brendan, Pat and Fr Jack. He is survived by his sisters Margaretta, Mary and Rhoda, his sister-in-law Irene, his nieces, nephews and their families.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

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Fr Leo Staples

August 22nd, 2022

 With great sadness we announce the death of Fr Leo Staples (1952 Class) early this morning in the Care Unit, St Patrick's, Kiltegan, Co Wicklow. May he rest in peace. 

Our sincere sympathy to Leo's family, friends and the people of West Pokot, Kenya.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

 

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Requiem Mass in St Patrick's Chapel, St Patrick's, Kiltegan, on Sunday, August 28th, at 12 noon followed by burial in the Society Cemetery.

To view the recording please click on the following link:

Funeral Mass - Fr Leo Staples SPS

 

Memorial Mass in Pokot, Kenya - September 1st

May Fr Leo rest in peace.

Fr Leo Staples (1925-2022)

Laurence (Leo) Staples was born on the 19th of April 1925 to Francis Staples and his wife Margaret Mary (née O’Dwyer) of Wygram Place, Wexford. (Although christened Laurence he was called Leo from an early age). Leo received his primary education in the local national school before moving to St Peter’s College, Wexford, for his secondary education. After sitting the Leaving Certificate in June 1945 he applied for admission to St Patrick’s Missionary Society but was refused by the medical doctor who examined him. He was told he did not have the health for life in Africa as his mother had died at a relatively young age. He entered the philosophy wing of St Peter’s College and completed a two year course in philosophy in June 1947. Leo decided to seek admission once again to St Patrick’s Missionary Society and this time he was successful. He joined the Spiritual Year Class of 1947 and was part of the first group of students to live in the Nissen Huts at Kiltegan. After completing the Spiritual Year he went directly to the theology programme in September 1948. After a four year course he was ordained priest in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat, on Easter Sunday (13th of April) 1952 along with seven classmates. The ordaining prelate was Most Rev John W Heffernan DD CSSp, the retired Vicar Apostolic of Zanzibar.

After ordination Leo was appointed to the new mission in Kenya which had been entrusted to the Society the previous year. Originally it formed part of the Diocese of Kisumu and in 1953 it became the Prefecture of Eldoret under Msgr Joseph Houlihan SPS. He ministered at Nerkwo and Tartar for short periods before being transferred to Ortum in West Pokot. This vast area would be his home for the following fifty years. His first task was to learn the Pokot language. He admitted that this was a great struggle initially and there were times when he wanted to give up. But after two years of immersion in the language he became very fluent in Pokot. He was then ready to embark on a ministry which would be extraordinarily fruitful. Through his dedication, creativity and enthusiasm he evangelized thousands of people and helped set up thriving Christian communities all over West Pokot. One of his means of evangelization was the use of local dance. The Pokot people love to dance. He enticed the local people into the Christian community through dance and when he had their attention he preached the Word of God to them. It worked very well as a pastoral strategy.

Leo’s ministry involved long treks high up into the mountains around Ortum and Sigor. Some communities were almost 9,000 feet above sea level. No doubt all this physical exercise was a factor in keeping Leo fit and enabling him to have such a long and healthy life. During his years in West Pokot he also set up Health Clinics in collaboration with the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary with whom he worked very closely. He also helped set up schools and educational projects. When Leo began his ministry in Sigor there were 13 Catholics in the area. Today there are 15 parishes with dozens of Religious Sisters and local clergy. One of his greatest joys was to see West Pokot native, Robert Psinon, being ordained for St Patrick’s Missionary Society in 2018.

In 2002 Leo left his beloved people of Sigor and went to work in Kipsaina Parish about 15km from Kitale. After a number of years in that parish he had to go to Ireland for medical treatment. On his return to Kenya he was appointed to Holy Family Parish, Chepchoina, where he worked closely with the Servants of the Mother of God Sisters and with the Andersen family. In 2005 he opened a Centre near Tartar for people with special needs. It became known as The Bobleo Centre and still flourishes today. This project was very dear to Leo’s heart and was funded by family and friends. It was dedicated to his brother Fr Bob (Ferns Diocese) who was a very generous supporter of his missionary work.

Leo was the oldest member ever in the Society and he was the longest ordained. He will be remembered above all as the Apostle to the West Pokot people. He learned their language and their customs and immersed himself totally in their rich culture. In turn they took him to their hearts and even gave him a special name which was a real sign of their respect for him and their appreciation of his contribution to their lives. The name they gave him was “Lokomol” which means “the bull with the brown spot”, “the leader of the herd”. Leo had a great sense of humour and was an extremely joyful person. He was always ready for a joke and a laugh. He endeared himself to people by his great warmth, humanity and sincerity. His whole life was dedicated to the service of others. This attitude remained with him right up to the end of his life.

Leo’s health began to decline shortly after his ninetieth birthday but his fighting spirit never waned. He went to live at the Society House in Kibomet on the outskirts of Kitale. His movement became more restricted and his eyesight began to fail. In August 2020 he went to live at a retirement home run by the Daughters of Charity in Thigio outside Nairobi. He was very happy there. He came to Kiltegan in late May 2022 for a holiday. It was to be a short visit as his heart was set on returning to Kenya in September. He participated fully in the Society Jubilee Celebrations on the 13th of July when he celebrated his Platinum Anniversary of priestly ordination. He died suddenly in the Care Unit at Kiltegan in the early hours of Monday, the 22nd of August.

Leo was predeceased by his sisters Sr Pauline (St Joseph of Cluny) and Eva (Hendrick), by his brothers Michael, Fr Frank and Fr Bob, by his sisters-in-law Nuala and by his brother-in-law Ted Hendrick. He is survived by his nieces, nephews and their families, and by the people of West Pokot.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

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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.