“This is what I wanted.”
I hail from the small town of Moate, Westmeath, where I was born and grew up and educated. My secondary education was in the Vocation School and the Carmelites College Moate.
Having just turned eighteen I made the brave move of leaving home for the first time and made my way to Killarney to enter the novitiate of the Franciscan Friars. Initially lonely and homesick I adjusted to this new way of life; this is what I wanted.
After the usual course of studies for priesthood with the Franciscans I was ordained to in 1982 in the Friary Church Athlone by the late Bishop Donal Cassidy. My first assignment was back here in Athlone for twelve months mainly giving school retreats.
I was transferred the following year to our community in Mountjoy St Dublin to take up a role as chaplain in the School of Trades DIT Bolton Street. This school provides courses for young people apprenticed to the construction traders. During my six years in the School I also worked as volunteer with Dublin Simon Community
For three years after returning from a sabbatical in London I was assigned the role of Director of Postulants. I filled that roll for three years before going to work in pastoral ministry in Limerick.
In 1996 I moved to our Fraternity in Merchants Quay Dublin, a house designated for justice ministry. Here I fulfilled various roles in MQI the Franciscan Drugs and Homeless Service.
In 2002 I was appointed Parish Priest in the now defunct Merchants Quay Parish for three years; from there I moved to the Abbey Galway as Guardian of the Fraternity for six years.
On completion of my term I returned to Merchants Quay to take up the role of chaplain to MQI, a role I continue to fulfil. Presently I am Guardian of the Fraternity in Athlone, coming full circle.
The opening words of our Rule written by St Francis read: “The Rule and Life of the Friar Minor is to live the Holy Gospel”. Pope Francis wrote a Letter with the title “The Joy of the Gospel’. Nearly fifty years on, I still find joy and fulfilment in trying to live a Gospel life with my brothers in community life, proclaiming the Good News.
“Praise and Bless my Lord and serve him with great humility” [St. Francis, The Canticle]