Category Archives: Diocesan News

Bishop Brendan appointed Bishop of Galway

Bishop Brendan Kelly

Bishop Brendan, appointed Bishop of Achonry in November 2007 and ordained in January 2008, has today been appointed Bishop of Galway.  The Diocese, in thanking him for his wonderful leadership over the past nine years, is tinged with sadness as we prepare to bid him farewell.  Returning to his native diocese, we wish him every happiness and blessing and know that his contribution to the life of Galway diocese will be meaningful and rooted in the Gospel he so cherishes.


STATEMENT OF MONSIGNOR THOMAS JOHNSTON, VICAR GENERAL

I congratulate Bishop Brendan Kelly on his appointment as Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and as Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora, and with the priests, religious and people of Achonry I pray God’s blessing on him in this new ministry.

Bishop Brendan was ordained bishop of Achonry in January 2008 and he brought to that office many fine qualities, personal and pastoral. We thank him most especially for his kindness to priests and people alike, his commitment to priesthood and dedication to ministry.

We appreciate the initiatives he introduced, encouraged and supported within the diocese, his deep appreciation of the work of priests, his encouragement for their various ministries and his understanding of their ever increasing work-load.

As bishop, he was always deeply aware and encouraging of the ministries and activities carried out by the many volunteers at parish and diocesan level.

His appointment to the see of Galway takes him back to the place of his birth and early priesthood and while we would love to see him remain in Achonry, we know that God’s will comes first.

We remain forever grateful for the time Bishop Brendan spent in our diocese and assure him today and always of our continued prayers.

Monsignor Thomas Johnston,

Vicar-General Diocese of Achonry

11th December 2017


STATEMENT OF ARCHBISHOP EAMONN MARTIN

Following the appointment today by Pope Francis of Bishop Brendan Kelly as the new Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and as Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora, Archbishop Eamon Martin has published the following statement of congratulations:

“I wish to offer my warmest congratulations and prayerful support to Bishop Brendan Kelly for his generous acceptance of a new episcopal appointment.

“Bishop Brendan’s ten years of pastoral service as Bishop of Achonry have been characterised by a natural warmth and empathy towards the people, priests and religious of the diocese, and a gentle, prayerful and caring leadership.

Now he returns to his roots! As a native of Craughwell, and a priest of longstanding, dedicated service in the diocese of Galway, Bishop Brendan will no doubt receive a wholehearted welcome home from the clergy and faithful of his native diocese. He returns with the benefit of new wisdom and experience garnered among the faithful people of Achonry.

“I am pleased that Bishop Brendan will continue his valued service to the Irish Episcopal Conference. His contribution, to date, has been immense – as a member of Standing Committee, the Commission for Catholic Education and Formation, Council for Liturgy and as chair of the Bishops’ Council for Education.

“In recent days, we rejoiced with Bishop Brendan as he brought to completion a project that has been dear to his heart as a native Irish speaker – the launch of the new altar edition of An Leabhar Aifrinn Rómhánach, the Irish translation of the Roman Missal.  One of the most important recent cultural achievements in this country, its preparation and production was the fruit of years of intensive work and collaboration of many individuals from throughout the Church, and Bishop Brendan deserves great credit for delivering an Irish Missal that we can all be proud of.

A man of great gifts, I wish him happiness and fulfilment in his new appointment.

“May Saint Colman, Saint Fachanan and Our Lady Assumed into Heaven guide Bishop Brendan in his new role in Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora.

Guím gach rath Dé air agus ar a chuid saothair.”


STATEMENT OF ARCHBISHOP MICHAEL NEARY

“On behalf of the Bishops of the metropolitan province of Tuam, I wish to take this opportunity to warmly congratulate Bishop Brendan Kelly on his new appointment as Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora.

“Bishop Brendan was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Galway in 1971 and will now return as its bishop.  As both priest and bishop, Bishop Brendan has been a much loved local pastor and a very popular shepherd to the faithful of Achonry since his ordination as bishop on 27 January 2008.  His personal integrity, generosity of spirit and outstanding ministry to the people of the diocese will surely be missed.  No doubt he will bring the same natural enthusiasm and pastoral leadership to the people of his diocese of origin in Galway.”

Archbishop Neary concluded, “On this special day for the diocese and for the country, I ask the faithful to join with me in prayer to ask the Lord to guide and bless Bishop Brendan as he undertakes his new and important Episcopal appointment.”


APPOINTMENT WELCOMED BY CANON MICHAEL McLOUGHLIN,

Please see below the statement of welcome by the Very Reverend Michael Canon McLoughlin, Diocesan Administrator, regarding the news today that the Most Reverend Bishop Brendan Kelly has been appointed by Pope Francis as the new Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora:

“With great joy and with a feeling of some relief, I am honoured and I am proud to say to our new bishop – ceád mile fáilte romhat abhaile arís.

“We, the priests and people of these three ancient dioceses, have been through a sixteen-month Advent since the retirement of Bishop Martin Drennan in July 2016.  We have been waiting daily in expectation and in hope for white smoke.  Now that hope has been fulfilled with news from Rome and we at last can begin preparations to welcome one of our own back home to lead us and to be our shepherd.

“We have no doubt that Bishop Brendan will be a good shepherd.  The people of Lisdoonvarna and of Spiddal can testify to his compassion and his dedication, to his gentleness and his kindness when he were their priest.  Those many pupils he taught in Coláiste Éinde and in Our Lady’s College, Gort will also know of his abilities and commitment both inside and outside the classroom.  Although he left us ten years ago for Ballaghaderreen, we watched and regarded him with pride and we always kept him in our prayers.

“And now we are very pleased indeed that he has come back to us. We look forward to making him feel welcome and to helping him readjust.  We know some of his many gifts.  Like Bishop Drennan and Bishop McLoughlin before him, he has a passion for the Irish language and for Irish culture.  In his work he has always prioritised evangelisation and the wonderful potential of Catholic education. We know from his words in Oranmore last September, when he ordained our newest priest – Father Declan Lohan – that fostering and inspiring vocations to the priesthood and the religious life has always been to the fore in everything he says and does.  And we know too that he is a man of integrity and of deep faith.  These things are important to us: the priests and people of this diocese.  We look forward, with the help of God and our Blessed Mother, to sharing the journey in the years ahead with our new Bishop.  May God bless our work together mar ní neart go cur le chéile !

“On a personal note, as my time as Diocesan Administrator draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to thank, with deep gratitude, those many people who have supported me in my work these past sixteen months.  I will be forever indebted to our retired bishop, Martin Drennan, for his wisdom and unfailing kindness and to all those many people who worked closely with me in the Diocesan Office, in Moycullen, throughout Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora and beyond.  I believe that Bishop Brendan is coming back home to a diocese full of enormous potential and promise and I wish him, and pray him, bountiful blessings.

“When a priest is first ordained, each priest at the ceremony goes at once to him, offers him the kiss of peace and whispers quietly in his ear ‘ad multos annos’, which means ‘to many years’.  Bishop Brendan, on my own behalf and on behalf of your priests and your people, from our hearts, we also say on this special day: ad multos annos!” 


BISHOP BRENDAN KELLY REFLECTS ON APPOINTMENT

A Cháirde dhíl,

Go mbeannaí Dia dhaoibh … Níor shíl mé riamh go mbeinn anseo, ná go mbeadh an ócáid seo ag tarlú.  Go raibh maith agaibh as teacht agus fanacht.

I am still somewhat in shock.  Having settled happily in Achonry, I never expected I never expected to be asked to take on the shepherding of another diocese.  However, the fact that it is my own native diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora makes it much easier to say yes to this appointment with which Pope Francis has chosen to honour me.  I am very grateful to the Holy Father for his trust.  And it is good to be coming home.

Tá mé sásta freisin bheith ag freastal arís i ndeoise ina bhfuil paróistí bhreátha Gaeltachta. Ba mhór an bheannacht  dom féin blianta a chaitheamh i measc muintir Chois Fharraige  i bparóiste An Spidéil.  Is maith bheith ar ais libh arís.

It is now over 10 years since I was appointed by Pope Benedict as Bishop of Achonry.  I have been very happy in Ballaghaderreen. I am deeply grateful first of all to the priests of the Achonry diocese.  Their welcome to me from the beginning was entirely generous and warm. I believe we have worked together well. I want to thank them with all my heart for their constant support, kindness and acceptance of all I asked of them. I will miss them, but I believe the bonds of friendship and fraternity will endure and continue to sustain me.

From the start, the welcome and acceptance I experienced from the people of Achonry, including the Religious, has been warm and generous, too.  It has been a grace from God to serve them and I trust they will continue to carry me in prayer as I will them. There are those then who worked with me on a daily basis in Achonry. I owe them a special debt of gratitude. I thank them and will miss them.

Now as I stand here in this beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St. Nicholas, I am conscious of all that lies ahead.  I look forward to working again with the priests of Galway diocese, colleagues since the day I was ordained up to the time I left here 10 years ago.  Many of you have been good friends to me for years.  And I am thinking today with deep gratitude to God of so many of them atá imithe ar shlí na fírinne, great mentors and friends.

I realise there is much work to be done. Somewhere all of us in the Church in Ireland need renewal in faith and in prayer at this time.  Pope Francis is very clear. All of us who have been baptised are missionaries and all of us must be on a continuous journey of conversion. The world needs the Good News as much or more than at any other moment in history.  We have all, priests and people, been solemnly commissioned at Baptism to carry that Good News to the people of our times, most particularly to those who are  experiencing exclusion, isolation and rejection and who are in need of good shepherds.  I invite you all to assume along with me a new determination to be those good shepherds and bearers of the Good News, priests and people together.

I want to say a particular word of thanks here today to my friend Canon Michael McLoughlin, with whom I served happy years in Lisdoonvarna.  Canon Michael has carried the burden of the Administration of the diocese since Bishop Martin retired.  I thank you, Michael, for the courage and faith with which you took on the task, the work you have done and the kindness with which you have dealt with each situation and the people involved.

I want to thank also Bishop Martin, my predecessor as bishop, for honouring the occasion with your presence, and I am so glad you are here today. Thank you for the years you gave shepherding all of us here in the diocese of Galway. Your prayers and scholarly love for God’s Word along with your wise counsel are still needed and I will be availing of them. We are glad that, in retirement, you have chosen to make your home among us and I personally look forward to your ongoing prayerful presence in the years ahead.  And speaking to you as a Kilkenny man, I have to say that I am glad to be returning at a time when Liam McCarthy is making his home again very happily west of the Shannon in this great County!

At the present time we are all looking forward to the World Meeting of Families in August in Dublin and particularly, please God, to a visit from Pope Francis. Pope Francis has set a very clear path for the Church in our time: He has placed the family at the heart of his programme from the start.  The theme he has given for the World Meeting in Dublin is “The Gospel of the Family, Joy for the World”. We are all called to be and to build family domestically and at every level.  It is nothing short of tragic that in a time of unprecedented prosperity for so many, too many families are finding that there is no house for them, no room for them in the Inn. Then there is Our Holy Father’s focus on young people who must always be our first priority in the Church of Jesus Christ.  Along with family and young people, there is the critical mission in Ireland at this time that is Evangelisation: discovering anew the wonder and gift that Jesus Christ is for ourselves and learning anew how to share this gift with others.  We are becoming a smaller, weaker and poorer church.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  I look forward to working closely with the priests and people of our parishes and diocese, with colleagues and good friends in the other Christian communities represented in our city and beyond, and with all people of good will, men and women, both the young and those who have the wisdom of years, as we build together the Kingdom of God. We must work together in new ways and as never before so that we will be a church that is open and welcoming, humble and full of mercy, and cherishing human life at its most fragile and vulnerable, no matter what the price: in other words, a church that confidently takes our stand always with the one who was crucified and whose birth outside and in abject poverty we are preparing now to celebrate again at Christmas.

Finally, mo bhuíochas ó chroí daoibh ar fad as bheith anseo ar maidin.  Please pray for me that I may give my life as Jesus did in service of you, his people.


BIOGRAPHY (Catholic Communications Office)

He was ordained to the priesthood on 20 June 1971 by Bishop Brown in the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas in Galway city.

His first appointment was to the parish of Kinvara as a curate before being appointed to the teaching staff of Coláiste Éinde in Salthill in 1972, completing a Higher Diploma in Education in the then University College Galway (now the National University of Ireland, Galway) in 1973.

Bishop Brendan remained on the staff of Coláiste Éinde until 1980 when he was transferred to the teaching staff of Our Lady’s College, Gort, becoming President in 1986.

Following the 1995 amalgamation of the three Gort secondary schools, Bishop Brendan applied for and was granted sabbatical leave from his diocese for one year and went to live with the L’Arche Community at Cuise-la-Motte in France.  Founded by Jean Vanier in 1964, the worldwide L’Arche movement seeks to create inclusive, creative and caring families where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work in friendship, joy and mutual respect.

Returning to his diocese in 1996, Bishop Brendan was appointed by Bishop James McLoughlin as

Parish Priest of Lisdoonvarna in Co Clare and subsequently as Parish Priest of An Spidéal in 2003.

On 20 November 2007, Bishop Brendan was named by Pope Benedict XVI as the Bishop of Achonry, succeeding recently retired Bishop Thomas Flynn.  On 27 January 2008 he was ordained to the episcopate by Cardinal Seán Brady in the Cathedral of the Annunciation and Saint Nathy in Ballaghaderreen.

Today, 11 December 2017, Pope Francis, named Bishop Brendan as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora, succeeding Bishop Martin Drennan who retired in July 2016.

It is planned that Bishop Brendan’s ‘Installation Ceremony’ will take place in the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas on 11 February 2018, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Bishop Brendan’s episcopal motto is ‘De réir d’fhocail’ (‘According to your word’ Lk 1:38).  He:

– is a fluent Irish speaker and has a working knowledge of the French language;

– was a member of the Standing Committee of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference for six years;

– is a member of the Bishops’ Council of the Liturgy;

– is a member of the Bishops’ An Coiste Comhairleach um Liotúirge i nGaeilge;

– is a member of the Bishops’ Commission for Catholic Education and Formation;

– is Chairman of the Bishops’ Council for Education;

– is a member of The Council for the West.

WMOF ICON IN KILTIMAGH

There was Evening Prayer in The Church of The Holy Family, Kiltimagh on Monday December 4th.  This was to gather people around the Icon for World Meeting of Families 2018 which currently is in our diocese.  Kiltimagh, chosen because of its Church’s name, is the first of three locations in the diocese that will host the Icon and invite people to gather in prayer.  The other centres are The Father Peyton Centre (Parish of Attymass) and Ballymote.

 

Fr Michael Quinn, Parish Priest of Kiltimagh led the Liturgy and welcome all who had gathered to spend some time in prayer in the presence of the Icon.  Fr Gerry Davey, of the WMOF 2018 Diocesan Committee spoke of the “writing” of the Icon and shared some reflections around its meaning.

There was a representative gathering from the six parishes of St Joseph’s Cluster (Bohola, Carracastle, Charlestown, Kilmovee, Kiltimagh and Swinford) and prayers of intercession were offered by parishioners from these parishes.  Three priests read three Gospel passages, drawn from the story told in the Icon; The finding of the child Jesus in the temple, the raising of the daughter of Jairus and the wedding feast of Cana.

Fr Stephen O’Mahony shared a reflection for the evening that might be worth taking a look at.  The words are very meaningful and have certainly the potential to lead us along a path of choosing what is best for others and ourselves.

 

Spirit of the living God,

Help me to be positive in everything I do
In everything I say

In everything I think and feel and imagine.

Where there is beauty, let me sing
Where there is goodness, let me praise
Where there is wisdom, let me listen
Where there is courage, let me affirm
Where there is wonder, let me be in awe.

Where there is loneliness, may I be present
Where there is suffering, may I weep
Where there is wrong, may I speak out
Where there is possibility, may I respond.

All praise to you, 0 God of infinite beauty and goodness
All praise to you, 0 God of infinite wisdom and wonder
All praise to you, 0 God.

Your boundless compassion for us in Christ Jesus

Has made this life such a positive, hope-filled experience.
May we live each day

with your spirit of grace and generosity.

WMOF2018

On Sunday, November 12th, in excess of 450 people gathered in the Sports Complex, Charlestown, Co. Mayo for an afternoon with a difference. Organised by the World Meeting of Families 2018 Diocesan Committee, the afternoon took the format of a Boston Tea Party.  Individuals and groups from around the diocese hosted tables, bringing together families and friends from the twenty-three parishes of Achonry Diocese. Tommy Marren, of Tourlestrane Parish, and well known broadcaster with Mid West Radio was MC for the afternoon and ably directed proceedings.

The Complex was quite literally transformed and looked amazing.  Full credit to all involved. One of the most impressive aspects of the gathering was the host of young people from the local secondary school.  These were a credit to themselves, their families and school.  Well done.  They served table, were so kind and efficient to a fault.

A short video, featuring the planning of and the events around the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia was shown.  This gave all gathered a great sense of what to expect and the amount of preparation that needs to be done.  A representative of WMOF 2018 spoke to all gathered about the great need for volunteers and encouraged people to consider becoming involved in this way.  For more information, click here

Bishop Brendan shared a few thoughts around his own wishes for the gathering in August 2018 and sees it as a central pillar in supporting family life in its very many shapes and forms.  Quoting Pope Francis, he told us the family is “The nearest hospital, first school and best place to grow old”.

There were a few musical moments as well, not least in teaching all gathered the official hymn for the World Meeting of Families.  The tones were sweet!  It’s a tune that will take hold and will hopefully spread throughout our diocese, country and beyond.  Well done to the Fr Peyton Cluster Choir who led us in song.

Large screens relayed images of artwork around “family life” that had been submitted by pupils of primary and secondary schools throughout the diocese.

There was a powerful enactment of the gospel passage of the Child Jesus being lost, as a twelve year old, and the restlessness of his parents until he was found again. This served to remind us of the experience of “family” encountered by Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Surely Pope Francis would rejoice in this girl’s “starring role” at Diocesan Launch of WMOF18

One of the undoubted highlights of the afternoon was the performance of a play, written by Una Leavy (Charlestown) and performed by a group of children from the local Primary School.  It was breathtaking in its simplicity and accuracy as it portrayed something of the lived reality of family life.  A man stood up to take a photograph and I hoped it might lead to a standing ovation – though that did not happen, the children were amazing.  Literally “take a bow”.

The evening finished with another visit from the Fr Peyton Cluster Choir, this time transformed into the cast of Sister Act.  They entertained us with some of the well known songs from Sister Act and elsewhere.  Real talent and, talent is at its very best when put at the service of others.  That’s exactly what happened.  Well done.

There was of course food!  People went above and beyond what was expected and the sharing wasn’t confined to the hosted table or parish.  People freely shared food with one another and sampled the hospitality of other “families” from around the diocese. There’s no doubt, this was a desired happening and it was heartening so see such togetherness, friendship and sharing of table. All in the name of family life.

Once again, full credit to all involved in the formulating of the dream of a gathering like this that was so fully and fittingly realised this afternoon.  It truly augurs well for what lies ahead in August 2018 and for the “legacy” the organisers are hoping this event will leave in its wake beyond August 2018.

Diocesan Appointments 2017

Parishes of Diocese of Achonry (Map by Brendan Cleary 2017)

 

Bishop Brendan has announced the following Diocesan Retirements and Appointments.


  • Archdeacon Patrick Kilcoyne, P.P, Kiltimagh to retire
  • Fr Thomas Mulligan, P.P., Attymass to retire
  • Fr Michael Quinn, P.P., Carracastle to become Parish Priest of Kiltimagh
  • Fr John Maloney, C.C, Kilkelly to become Administrator Parish of Attymass
  • Fr Gerard Davey, C.C., Swinford to become Administrator Parish of Carracastle

Appointments come into effect on the first weekend of September 2017.  You are asked to remember in your prayers these priests and the parishes connected with diocesan changes this year.

 

Trocaire Collection in aid of East Africa

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference has announced today that special collections at all Masses will take place across Ireland on the weekend of 22 and 23 July to fund life-saving aid for people currently affected by the devastating hunger crisis in east-Africa.  The money raised will be donated to Trócaire, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, which is delivering emergency food, water and health care to the 25 million people affected.

Severe drought, driven by climate change, is currently affecting Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia and this has resulted in failed harvests and the widespread death of livestock.  Conflict has exacerbated the effects in South Sudan and Somalia, with areas in both countries now on the verge of famine.

The United Nations has described the situation in the drought-ravaged parts of Africa as the greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

Trócaire has a long-standing presence in all four affected countries and is working with local communities to deliver life-saving aid, including food, water and healthcare, to hundreds of thousands of those worst affected.

Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, says the situation is critical and has urged support for the collection from parishioners, “With the failure of successive rains and a prolonged drought having taken hold of the region, just surviving has now become the main challenge facing people in large parts of east Africa.  Millions of people in the region are facing starvation.  The crops have failed and animals are dying because of a lack of grazing and water.  The large number of people affected may shock us, but we must realise that behind these stark numbers are real people: mothers and fathers unable to provide for their hungry children.

“The Catholic Church in Ireland is already responding to this crisis through Trócaire.  However, needs are so enormous that we will hold special collections across the country on the weekend of 22 July.  All money collected will go directly to Trócaire’s humanitarian relief work in east Africa.  Bishops are asking clergy and parishioners to respond to this terrible tragedy with generosity.”

Bishop William Crean, Bishop of Cloyne and chairperson of Trócaire, says the agency is already working on the ground saving lives: “Trócaire is currently running an advertising campaign to raise awareness of this crisis.  We have been providing emergency food aid, water and healthcare to affected communities – quite literally life-support for affected people.  Trócaire’s health centres in Somalia are treating approximately 19,000 people each month for malnutrition and associated illnesses.  With the support of parishioners here at home in the coming weeks, many tens of thousands more people will receive help.  For example, over 13,000 children in Kenya will receive supplementary high-energy food, new boreholes will be provided for communities, many more people will receive monthly food rations and schools will be supplied with water.

“Globally, this crisis has received very little attention.  Appeals for aid are under-funded.  For example, the UN has received just 37% of the funding it needs to respond to the crisis in Somalia.  The world is distracted by the actions of a handful of powerful politicians, while in east Africa millions suffer in silence.  It is unacceptable for so many to go hungry.”

Donations to Trócaire’s east Africa hunger crisis appeal can be made at www.trocaire.org or by phoning 1850 408 408 (Republic of Ireland) or 0800 912 1200 (Northern Ireland).


Photo: Antal Abdi Haji has her severely dehydrated son, Rahma, examined by personnel at Akara CTC. Photo: Amunga Eshuchi

A living word

During the days of Holy Week, Fr Vincent Sherlock shares early morning reflections on RTE RADIO 1’s “A Living Word” (6.15am)

Here we include links to the reflections which are based on the notion of letters shared between Jesus and some of the characters of the Passion Narrative. “A Living Word” is produced by Aidan Mathews, R.T.E.

This page will be updated during Holy Week.


MONDAY APRIL 10th, 2017 – “A LIVING WORD” – Dear Judas

TUESDAY APRIL 11th, 2017 – “A LIVING WORD” – Judas’ Reply

WEDNESDAY APRIL 12th, 2017 – “A LIVING WORD” – Dear (Pontius) Pilate

THURSDAY APRIL 13th, 2017 – “A LIVING WORD” – Pilate’s Reply

FRIDAY APRIL 14th, 2017 – “A LIVING WORD” – Centurion’s Letter and Jesus’ Reply

Fr Dermot Burns Funeral Mass Homily

This is the text of the Homily preached by Fr Martin Convey, P.P, Straide at the Funeral Mass for Fr Dermot Burns in the Church of Ss Peter and Paul, Straide, Co. Mayo on Saturday April 1st 2017


Today, we gather to commend to the Lord the soul of Fr. Dermot - a brother priest who faithfully served the People of God here in the Diocese of Achonry for 42 years. To Father Dermot’s brothers, sister, in-laws, nieces and nephews, relatives and friends, we extend to you our deepest sympathies on the loss of your brother and uncle.

I don’t need to tell you, his family, or anyone who knew the man that Fr. Dermot was very much in love with life; so full of the zest of living, so brimming with joy, so full of banter, so full of fun and merriment. He exuded life and cherished it to the very last breath.

We all have our own particular fond memories of Fr. Dermot. They are usually very happy and very funny memories. Those memories abound today and they weave together a unique tapestry of a unique life.

One of my own fondest memories goes back a few years. I wasn’t too long in the parish at the time. I remember returning to the parochial house after saying the morning Mass. As I turned the key in the door I could swear I got the smell of freshly burnt toast. It didn’t take me long to discover a rather elderly man (a total stranger) sitting at the kitchen table having a leisurely breakfast. Before I could ask who he was and how he got in, the uninvited stranger managed to speak first. He demanded to know who I was, how I got in and what on earth was I doing in Fr. Dermot’s house. It quickly emerged that he was an elderly priest friend of Fr. Dermot. One of the many many friends he had made over the years. At some stage Fr. Dermot must has given him the loan of a key to the parochial house. He hadn’t known Fr. Dermot had retired and was merely availing of his hospitality (as he had done, on occasion, in the past) while waiting for him to return from the Church.

Fr. Dermot got a great laugh out of that when I told him! And that’s just one of the more sanitised events Fr. Dermot is remembered for.

The incident was funny but it really sums up Fr. Dermot’s life as a priest and as a human being.

The key to the front door, given freely and trustingly, was symbolic of the key to his soul (which he gave so generously to God in the priesthood) and the key to his life (which he gave to his family, friends and parishioners).

Fr. Dermot was, very much, an open book. What you saw is what you got. He wore his great big heart openly on his sleeve. This was a quality which endeared him to so many people whose lives he touched in his ministry as a priest.

He was great with people. In exchange for the keys to his inner spiritual self he received, in return, from others the keys to their lives. The bonds he forged, over the years, with people he encountered (as parishioners or as colleagues) were truly remarkable. Those bonds he held on to and never let break.

No matter where he might be, I would always notice people going out of their way to approach him and talk to him. He was a kind of a magnet for people. Even after the passage of time (often decades), he kept up ties and friendships. He was the only individual I knew whose Christmas Card list actually increased every year.

And it wasn’t just his friends from Straide parish who kept in contact with him. It was, also, his friends in all the other parishes he had served in - Bonniconlon, Achonry, Ballymote and Kilkelly. They all remembered him for the same reasons. They remembered his compassion, his kindness, his generosity, his sincerity, his wit and his humour.

He was a very people-centred person who generously gave the open door of his life to so many others: celebrating their successes, lamenting their failures, consoling their distress, and (when necessary) helping carry their crosses. In this, and in so many other regards, he was a priest to be admired and respected. He had learned his theology in Maynooth but had spent his days, ever since, living that theology.

He was also a man who, to his great credit, never hesitated to delegate responsibility within the parish. He realised something we priests all eventually learn - namely, that there are always people within every community who can do many things we do far better than we, ourselves, can.

It stands to reason, then, that we should build strong teams and allow the gifts and charisms of a community to flourish. This is exactly what Fr. Dermot did. In this respect, he left a great legacy behind. One has only to observe the pristine condition of this Church and grounds to see how much he achieved.

Family meant everything to Fr. Dermot: his twin brother Pat, his brother Frank, his sister Joan, his nephews and nieces and in-laws. Not to forget his beloved parents (Una & Paddy) and brother John who have already gone to their eternal reward. No family could have supported a brother any better than you have done.

As one might expect, Fr. Dermot was particularly close to his twin brother Pat who was especially good to him and looked after him above and beyond the call of even brotherly love and duty. 

This parish of Straide was, also, very very special to Fr. Dermot. It was here he spent the last 23 years of his life. He often confided how happy he was here - how kind and how good parishioners were to him.

Fr. Dermot worked in parish ministry for all of his 42 years of priesthood. His priesthood was founded on a deep unshakable faith and on a spiritual life that brought him ever closer to God. His priestly ministry was truly a beacon of hope for so many people. He exercised his ministry brightening so many lives, binding so many hearts, smoothing so many paths, calming so many souls, warming so many lives. And it is great to see so many of his former parishioners here today at his funeral Mass. Fr. Dermot just had that wonderful gift of connecting with the people he came in contact with.

When, unfortunately, in 2011 he had to retire due to ill health there was never a question of him living anywhere else except in Straide. He chose to spend his (all too short) final years with the people he knew and loved. That is certainly a great compliment to his former parishioners who are owed a great debt of gratitude for the manner in which they looked after and cared for Fr. Dermot.

Another thread in the tapestry of Memory I have of Fr. Dermot is chatting to him about how difficult it can be to find something new to preach on every weekend. He consoled me by saying that “It’s difficult to be profound every Sunday”. Then thought for a while and added “But it would, indeed, be nice to be profound the odd Sunday though!”

I’m sure there were days when he, too, stood at this lectern and looked to the heavens for divine inspiration. I’m sure from this spot he, also, must have focused his eyes on a particular design on the windows of the gallery – a design which catches my eye frequently.

There are, as you would expect, images of crosses on those stained glass windows. However, there is also a subtle detail that can easily be missed. If you look carefully you can see that there are little green shoots of growth emerging from the foot of each cross.

The Cross was something Fr. Dermot became all too familiar with in his later years following a life-threatening diagnosis just before Christmas 2010. But the cross he was given to carry never dampened his spirit or took from his wit and good humour. Even when given very bad news a few short weeks back, he never lost hope and he never gave up but, rather, fought bravely on.

I think he got great consolation from the green shoots of growth that are always there at the foot of even the heaviest of crosses we are sometimes given to bear. Fr. Dermot’s deep Christian faith led him to believe those green shoots would, ultimately, bring him New Life. Today, we pray that he has, already received, that reward.

After this, his funeral Mass, Fr. Dermot will be laid to rest in the Church grounds - facing East to greet the rising sun each morning. He will be under the shade of two oak trees planted last year by Bishop Brendan in honour of Ss. Peter and Paul to mark the centenary of this Church dedicated to the two giants of our faith. Those oak trees are young now. But, I’m told, they will spend the next 300 years growing and, then, another 300 years stagnant before they will spend a final 300 in decline.

Knowing Fr. Dermot as I do, I don’t think he will wait that long to visit St. Peter. No doubt, he has already entered the gates of heaven and is, by now, making his presence felt and catching up with old friends.

Hopefully, at some stage, he might get a hold of St. Peter’s Keys and have a few copies made for us, too, on the quiet so that when our time comes may let ourselves in to one of the many rooms that today’s Gospel assures us are already prepared for us.

In the meantime, until we meet our friend and brother again, may his gentle soul now Rest in Peace. Amen

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