Category Archives: Frontpage

Accord @ 40

“O blessed trinity of love, for whom the human heart was made, to you be praise and timeless song and everlasting homage paid” – that’s what you do when you work for Accord” (Bishop Brendan Kelly)

On Sunday, June 11th, Bishop Brendan was Principal Celebrant at a Mass of Thanksgiving in St James’ Church, Charlestown.  Joined by priests of the diocese who, over the years, have been associated with the work of Accord within the diocese and with many of the counsellors and associates of Accord, thanks was given for the great work done over the past four decades.

Bishop Brendan spoke of the significance of the word – ACCORD – and its central role in the harmony of the home and family, whose core is marriage. He acknowledged the work done by ACCORD in preparing couples for marriage, accompanying them through it and, in some cases, offering support in the event of separation or bereavement.

Remembering members of Achonry’s Accord Team who have died over the years, there were prayers for the repose of their Souls and for God’s reward of the part they played in sustaining the Sacrament of Marriage.

“To serve marriage …. can never be anywhere but at the heart of the church”

“What is God like?” is a question we are often asked and Bishop Brendan felt that God was readily identifiable in the living of married life and, so in answer to the question, we might well be told: “Take a look and Mary and Pat, John and Margaret …” and you will see God present in the shared love and journey of married life with all its ups and downs, good days and bad, joys and sorrows.

“Love is our origin”, the bishop quoted from one of the Prefaces of Marriage, “it is our constant calling and our fulfillment in Heaven”.  Accord, in its work, supports such love and draws strength from this same love for its own journey.

The final word of course centred on “thanks” and the bishop was convinced this was not just a trite or throw away phrase.  He wanted all involved with the work of Accord, at present, in the past and into the future to know the gratitude of our diocese for the work so well done, the time so freely given and the ministry fulfilled. “We are grateful to you, we thank you and ask God to continue to bless you in your great work. Amen.”





Epiphany – as the twelfth day approaches

“The Crib” – Church of The Immaculate Conception, Kilmovee, Co. Mayo

As the “Epiphany” Kings arrive, it’s time for us to take our leave of the Crib but not to leave its message behind. Maybe a minute or two with some highlights from that message might be no harm:

  • Strangers in search of safe lodgings
  • A shed – a room – made available
  • A couple uncertain of what the future had in store
  • Shepherds/workers setting aside their work to go and “do homage”
  • Animals – “All God’s creatures have a place in the choir”
  • Angels – heard from on high but only truly heard in the heart and soul of faith
  • Kings – people in authority – realising theirs was a passing authority
  • Words, actions, kindness witnessed and “pondered in the heart”
  • In and through it all the Hand and Will of God – a plan unfolding.
  • MISSION – it does not end in the crib – in truth it begins here
  • The baby became a man ….
  • The man made a difference
  • We’re called to do the same.

“Companions on the journey”

The Light is On

“The Light is ON for YOU” this Sunday evening, December 18th in the following parishes for Advent celebration of Sacrament of Reconciliation.

There will be confessions in all our parishes during this week and you are asked to check local parish bulletins and websites for details.

In “THE LIGHT IS ON FOR YOU”, there will be priests available in the parish churches of the parishes listed below between 5pm and 6pm.

You will be made most welcome.

God bless.

  • Ballaghaderreen
  • Ballymote
  • Bohola
  • Bunninadden
  • Carracastle
  • Charlestown
  • Gurteen
  • Keash
  • Kilmovee
  • Swinford

A neighbour recalls

Pat Hunt, a native of Ballaghaderreen, shared the following.  

His piece also features in the 2016 Publication of “Ballaghaderreen Echoes” (going on sale December 8th).  

Both men are remembered with fondness and respect within our diocese and further afield.  May they rest in peace.

We are grateful to him for sharing his thoughts and memories with us on our Diocesan Website.

Two remarkable priest brothers from Ballaghaderreen

Monsignor Gerard Spelman (1930-1990)

Monsignor Gerry Spelman, R.I.P.

“Goodbye Monsignor, we’ll meet in heaven,” were among the words spoken by about 30 parishioners after their tenth and final annual visit to the grave in Kilcolman of Monsignor Gerard Spelman, their late parish priest in the diocese of Leeds.

Monsignor Gerard died suddenly in his Leeds parish in March 1990 after 35 years’ devoted service. One hundred priests and almost 1,000 people attended his funeral mass before his remains were taken home to Ballaghaderreen for burial.

Ordained in All Hallows College in 1955, he worked for 13 years as a curate, and then served nine years as chaplain to two teacher-training colleges, and is remembered by former students with gratitude and affection.

He was then appointed Director of Wood Hall, the diocesan pastoral centre, where he ministered with patience and understanding to the needs of Vietnamese refugees. In 1981 he was assigned as parish priest to the first of his two parishes (St Augustine’s and St Paul’s) in Leeds. At that time the Irish community in the city numbered almost 31,000 persons. Older Irish people there remember him as a particularly dedicated chaplain to the Irish community.

He touched the lives of many, many people in Leeds. At the time of his passing, all spoke of his great patience, kindness, and above all, his gentleness. Many Irish emigrants who arrived in the city with little money and even less in the way of job prospects found Fr Gerry a willing listener who always found the time and energy to put them in touch with potential employers.

Monsignor Joseph Spelman (1932-2016)

Monsignor Joe Spelman, R.I.P.

His brother, Joseph, was ordained in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth in 1959. After a year on a Ford Fellowship at Stanford University, California, he ministered in Palo Alto parish, Archdiocese of San Francisco until 1965.

On his return to Ireland in 1965 he taught in St Nathy’s College and Ballaghaderreen Vocational School. Patsy McGarry (Irish Times), a past pupil, has warm memories of Fr Joe. “He had a wry sense of humour and paid me the first compliment I ever recall for something I wrote. It was for a line in an essay. It tickled Fr Spelman’s sense of humour and he commented, “…Very good, Very good’. I stood very tall indeed!”

In 1969 he was appointed Professor of Mathematical Physics in Maynooth, a position he held until he was appointed a monsignor and parish priest of Collooney in 1992. He became Vicar General of Achonry diocese.

Fr Joe loved local history. He researched and wrote, for example, the definitive account of how Ballaghaderreen came to be located in Co Roscommon, not Mayo. He circulated a pamphlet on this topic, which I hope is still available to help young local people explore their identity. In Collooney he loved to hear older people recall the people and lore of days long ago. Many parishioners said he was a great listener.

In his homily at Monsignor Joe’s funeral mass last June, Bishop Brendan Kelly related how people described him as a ‘gentleman’ — in every sense a gentleman and gentle man. “He was quiet spoken and reserved, laconic and witty, discreet but welcoming, very attentive to people, and kind, always kind.”

Fr Vincent Sherlock, who served with Fr Joe in Collooney wrote, “He moved with people at their pace, prayed with people … and stayed for as long he was needed. He was a good priest, a role model and thankfully a friend.”

His former Maynooth teaching colleagues gathered in September to offer a memorial mass for Monsignor Joe. Chief celebrant, Fr Pat Hannon, professor emeritus of Moral Theology, recalled a gifted teacher “who bore his learning and piety lightly”. He added that when Fr Joe was recalled to his home diocese after 25 years’ service in Maynooth, he first took a sabbatical “to brush up on theology, liturgy and pastoral work”. Such was his dedication to his priestly calling.

As a boy and student I had the privilege of serving mass regularly for the Spelman priests when they spent their respective summer holidays in their native town. I have vivid memories of their mother sitting radiantly in the front row of a side altar in the cathedral attentive to their every word and ritual. Even then I was aware that for them each celebration of mass was an intensely spiritual experience.

Gentleness and kindness were their shared hallmarks then and for the rest of their lives. May their noble souls enjoy eternal peace.

Spelman family

The priest brothers were the sons of Joe and Mary Spelman. Joe (Snr) was a hardware manager in Flannery’s, although he started his career in Monica Duff’s. His brother, Canon James Spelman PP, served in many parishes in Achonry diocese and is buried in the chapel grounds in Tubbercurry. Another brother, Willie, ran a successful garage business in Barrack Street, later passed on to his son, Billy (RIP).

Born in Monaghan, his wife, Mary Spelman, came to Ballaghaderreen first to teach in the Convent NS but later found her true and much celebrated niche as junior infant teacher in Coolavin NS (Monasteraden). Marie, the third Spelman sibling, took up nursing in Dublin, later married Frank Gallagher (RIP) and set up her present home in the capital.

Golden era for vocations

Ten young men from the Ballaghaderreen area were ordained to the priesthood in the 1950s: Paddy Kilgarriff (1953), Robert Flynn (1954), Edward Towey (1955), Thomas Flynn (1956), Dominic Doherty (1956), James Creaton (1958), Edward Dorrington (1958), Sean Flanagan (1959), Gerry (1955) and Joe (1959) Spelman. The early 1960s saw six more ordinations: Barry Freyne (1960), Des McMahon (1961), Seamus McMahon (1964), Joe Macken (1965), Jack Madden (1963), James Shryane (1965). Fine men and priests, one and all.

Patrick Hunt

Soul List

The journey continues! We’re into Week two and it’s another opportunity to put the Spiritual House in order. Just as we might have the “shopping list” for Christmas, so too we might need a “Soul List”. What needs to be penciled in there? Confessions? Penance? Prayer? Mass? Make your mark – make the difference! We’re on a journey after all and it begins, like all journeys, with a single step.

Check out times of Confessions in your local and neighbouring parishes as Advent continues.  The LIGHT IS ON FOR YOU will take place in a number of parishes on Sunday December 18th.  Further details later.

Christ the King

Some thoughts around the Feast of Christ The King

In the past few days people have received calls from Donald Trump, inviting them to Trump Towers and they went in the expectation of receiving an appointment to his administration.  He’s now in “power” and will gather around him people who seek power.  He’s no different to many others in similar situations.  For more than two years he has sought power, as did those who campaigned against him, for there is something in power that attracts people.  That’s the way it’s always been and is certain to continue.

On the last Sunday of the Church’s Year we are given the image of Christ The King.  There is little that speaks more to power than “KING” – from our childhood days we heard stories of Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses and their lifestyle.  We imagined their castles, thrones, kingdoms and rejoiced with the good ones who did well by their people and hissed disapproval at the evil and warped ones who sought to make life difficult for others “Look out, he’s behind you”, was the pantomime roar.  “Oh no he’s not” – “Oh yes, he is”!

Christ the King is found neither in castle or on throne.  He’s crucified between two thieves.  He’s mocked, jeered, spat at and offered vinegar to drink.  A sign says he is “king of the Jews” but those gathered around have no regard for him or his “kingship”.  It’s total humiliation.  It’s awful.  He is at his lowest moment and begins to doubt even the Father’s love “why have you abandoned me?”.

In the midst of all this awfulness there is a moment of light.  “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”.  How those words must have lifted his fallen spirit.  In the absence of pomp and ceremony, robes and crown, someone was still able to grasp the truth.  “There’s more going on here deeper than meets the eye”. What was it that sparked that moment of recognition in the “good thief”?  Where did he find those words? Where did he unwrap that gift of faith that allowed him see beneath the lashes and bruising, the nails and the blood to the one beneath and above it all?  Somehow he managed it!  Hands tied and in undoubted pain, he realised the man beside him was more than man.  He was KING!  Some kings had the name of being merciful and surely he’d be numbered among them – “Jesus”, he said, “remember me when you come into your kingdom”.

His words, far from falling on deaf ears, gave hope to a dying man and helped him realise his words had not fallen unheeded to the ground.  In the midst of all this hostility and hatred, there was sill hope – still faith and a desire for something better.

“Indeed”, replied the King “this day you will be with me in Paradise”.

Trump Towers or Calvary?  Power is at its best in fragility and weakness for it is from these it can draw and transform people.  Power, when recognised where you’d least expect it, is a special and life-altering gift.


Permanent Diaconate Ministry of Lector

Bishop Brendan Kelly conferred the Ministry of Lector on two candidates for the Permanent Diaconate on Saturday last.  In a ceremony, held in Summerhill College Chapel, Sligo, Kevin Flynn and Martin Lynch were called to be Lectors (Ministers of The Word).  This is one of the orders conferred on those exploring the vocation to Permanent Diaconate.  We wish both men every blessing on their journey.

For additional information on the Permanent Diaconate click here

Kevin and Geraldine Flynn, Martin and Anne Lynch with Bishop Brendan Kelly

Kevin and Geraldine Flynn, Martin and Anne Lynch with Bishop Brendan Kelly