“It was like falling in love.”

From an early age my dream was to be a religious priest; the only question was: under which banner? For some time, there was a tug-of-war between a contemplative call and a missionary one, but then God intervened when as a family we began to attend daily Mass at the Franciscan church in Limerick. 

The friars were down-to-earth and friendly, joyful men who seemed to enjoy one another’s company and being with people and I found myself wanting to be one of them. It was like falling in love – this is what I wanted to be more than anything else. 

Over the past fifty years I’ve engaged in a diversity of ministries: parish work (Chile); teaching seminarians and religious (Bolivia and in southern Africa); and in Ireland – pastoral work, formation, spiritual accompaniment, retreats and bits and pieces of other work. 

What keeps me going? Among them: the joy I detected among the friars years ago I still find in my confreres and in myself; meeting many wonderful people along the way; the inspiring example of St Francis; and most of all the personal relationship with Jesus Christ, without which nothing would make sense to me.