Father Seán Connaughton SSC

‘You Need New Shoes. . . Will I buy you a Black Pair?’

By Father Seán Connaughton SSC

A student for the priesthood in Ireland used to be recognizeable by his black suit, hat, tie – with white shirt – and shoes. While walking in a field with my father in the summer of 1955, he said to me, ‘You need new shoes. . . will I buy you a black pair?’ I knew that whatever opposition I thought he and my mother had to my desire to be a Columban priest was over. Maybe they’d never opposed the idea but there was no one on either side of the family who had ever become a priest and I didn’t see myself as particularly religious.

For a long time I had dreamed of being either a teacher or an accountant. A secondary dream was to be a horticulturalist, perhaps because of all the planting we did when I was a child during ‘The Emergency,’ the name given in Ireland to World War II in which we were neutral.