Columban Fr Matthew Reilly RIP

Fr Matthew Reilly

5 April 1934 – 17 January 2018


Fr Matthew (‘Mattie’) Reilly was born in Bellair, Moynalty, County Meath, Ireland, on 5 April 1934. Educated at Moynalty National School and St Finian’s College, Mullingar, he entered St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, in September 1952 and was ordained priest there on 21 December 1958. He was a younger brother of the late Columban Fr Patrick Reilly who died in 1998.

Moynalty [Wikipedia]

Father Mattie’s first appointment, in 1959, was to Korea where he was to spend twelve years. After language studies he worked in the Kwangju area, spent some time as secretary to the Papal Nuncio, completed a course in catechetics atthe East Asian Pastoral Institute, Quezon City, Philippines, and served as pastor of Youngsanpo, Gwangju, before doing pastoral work in Seoul.

Gwangju at sunset [Wikipedia]

From 1972 to 1978 Father Mattie did pastoral work in the Diocese of Meath, serving as chaplain to Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, and as spiritual director to various praesidia of the Legion of Mary and to the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

St Bede’s, Widnes [Wikipedia]

From 1978 to 1984 he served at St Bede’s, Widnes, then a Columban parish, in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, England, where he is still fondly remembered.

Old chapel, St Columban’s, Solihull

After a brief period in office work at the Columban house, Solihull, near Birmingham, he was involved as pastor and counsellor to alcohol and drug addicts in Clouds House, East Knoyle, Wiltshire, now part of Action on Addiction. He returned to Solihull in 1986 and served there as office manager until 1992. During that time he was responsible for extending the offices.

Father Mattie returned to Ireland in 1992 and did pastoral work in the Diocese of Meath along with being a part-time chaplain in the Mater Hospital in Dublin. From 1995 to 2003 he was chaplain to St Francis Private Hospital, Mullingar. Because of his own many illnesses he got great fulfillment from chaplaincy work and the care of the sick. As his health deteriorated he could do less work but he loved to help in parishes in the Diocese of Meath whenever he could.

Vase with Cornflowers and Poppies

Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

During his years in St Columban’s Nursing Home, Dalgan Park, Father Mattie developed the cultivation of flowers as a hobby.He created magnificent seasonal displays of flowers in the corridors, chapels and out of doors especially for Cemetery Sunday, Jubilee Days, Easter and Christmas.

Fr Cyril Lovett

This hymn was sung after Communion during Father Mattie’s funeral Mass, at his request. The words are based on a Latin antiphon sung at Requiem Masses as the body is being taken out of the church: 

In paradisum deducant te Angeli; 

in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, 

et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem. 

Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, 

et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.

Solas na bhFlaitheas ar a anam dílis

The Light of Heaven on his faithful soul.

According to family members, the song The Old Bog Road was a favourite of Father Mattie and he would sing it on occasion.

Columban Fr Bernard O’Connor RIP

Fr Bernard O’Connor

(1934 – 2017)

Fr Bernard O’Connor was born on 18 April 1934 in Ballymote, County Sligo, Ireland, and educated in Ballymote Boys National School and St Joseph’s College, Ballinasloe, before joining in the Columbans in St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, Navan, in 1952.

O’Connell Street, Ballymote [Wikipedia]

Fr O’Connor was ordained in St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, on 21 December 1958 and appointed to the Philippines. After language studies in Tagalog he began his many years of work in the Archdiocese of Manila. His first years were spent in Silang and Binangonan but from 1969 he was engaged in Student Catholic Action. This was a dynamic ministry of leadership-training among university students in Manila founded by Columban Fr Edward J. McCarthy in 1936. Father Barney served, mainly in Far Eastern University, during the turbulent years of Martial Law when all student organizations were suspect and many banned.

Far Eastern University, Manila [Wikipedia]

Having served as Superior in the District of Luzon he returned in 1988 to parish ministry in Our Lady of Remedies, Malate, until he was appointed to Britain in 1995. Mission Awareness and House Manager were two of the roles he carried during his thirteen years in Solihull and, as he put it, up to the last he was still seeking new veins on the coalface of British mission.

‘Spaghetti Junction’, M6, near Birmingham [Wikipedia]

Father Barney made his way through this many times while going on weekend mission appeals.

During all these years Fr Bernard suffered from poor health and he returned to Ireland to begin dialysis treatment in 2009.

Eventually he needed treatment three days every week but always tried to bounce back as quickly as possible. As one of the first Columbans to develop computer skills along with his cryptic crosswords and stamp collection he always had ways of coping with the long hours of treatment and recovery.

Father Bernard will be remembered for his droll humour, for his hope and indomitable courage, a witness to all of us on how to cope with life’s difficulties.

Irish airmail stamp (1948-65) [Wikipedia]

Fr O’Connor died suddenly on 17 September 2017. May God reward this generous and faithful missionary priest.

May he rest in peace.

‘The Hearty Boys of Ballymote’

Columban Fr David Padrnos RIP

Fr David Padrnos

7 September 1944 – 18 August 2017

The son of Joseph E. and Rosalie (Bueltel) Padrnos, Father Dave grew up in Holy Name Parish in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. He had two sisters, Teresa (who preceded him in death) and Sally, as well as a brother, Wayne.

Father Dave studied at Holy Name Grade School and Cathedral High School, Omaha, before going on to St Columban’s College and Seminary, Milton, Massachusetts, and St Columbans College and Seminary, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. He did his Spiritual Year at St. Columbans, Bristol, Rhode Island. His theology studies were at St John’s Seminary Brighton, Massachusetts, (while residing at St Columbans, Milton, MA.). He was ordained at St Cecilia Cathedral, Omaha, on 28 May 1971 by Archbishop Daniel Sheehan.

St Cecilia Cathedral, Omaha [Wikipedia]

The young priest arrived in Japan in September 1971 and resided at the central house in Roppongi, Tokyo, during the twenty-two month period in which he was engaged in full-time language studies.

From July 1973 to February 1980 Father Dave was assistant pastor at St Patrick’;s Catholic church in Toshima, Tokyo, while engaging also in studies for a master’s degree in Comparative Cultures at Sophia University in Tokyo.

From 1978 to 1979 he was editor of the Region of Japan Newsletter. From 1978 he also began serving as Regional Education Officer. In September 1980 he set up an Education Office in the central house in Tokyo, where he began working on various education projects. Among these were building a library of books on theology, spirituality, counseling, as well as on Japanese life and culture. He also worked alongside Fr Jose de Vera SJ of Sophia University and Fr Augustinus Takehiro Kunii CP  on a series of videos about the Eucharist.

St Teresa of the Child Jesus Church, Sawara [Source]

In February 1981 Fr Padrnos was appointed pastor of the Catholic Church in the city of Sawara in Chiba prefecture. However, he continued his work as Education Officer. In 1983 he combined these two responsibilities with that of supervisor for Columban seminarians who had come to Japan on an overseas training program (OTP), with membership of the editorial staff of the Japan Missionary Bulletin and working as an assistant to the Scheut Fathers (CICM) who were engaged in a recording project.

Back in the US, from September 1987 until May 1989, Father Dave did a master’s program in spiritual direction at Loyola University in Chicago. (In 1988 he was one of the moderators at the Chapter in Pusan, South Korea.) Then in 1989 he became the US Regional Coordinator for Retirement, working alongside the late Fr Ernest Sullivan. In that role he visited members of the Region to discuss with them their experience of aging as well as their retirement needs. From March 1990 he continued with these responsibilities, while assisting also with the Columban vocation apostolate.

Fujisawa [Wikipedia]

In August 1991 Fr Padrnos returned to Japan and was appointed assistant pastor of the Catholic church in Fujisawa city, Kanagawa prefecture. One year later he became the acting pastor of that community.

From 1993 to 1995 he was back in Chicago, studying at Chicago Theological Seminary where he obtained a Doctor of Ministry degree in pastoral psychotherapy. After graduation he returned to Japan where he was appointed pastor of St Joseph’s Catholic church in Goi city, Chiba prefecture. He served in that position from 1995 until 2003. He combined this role with that of supervisor for both Columban lay missionaries, as well as seminarians engaged in OTP.

St Joseph the Worker Church, Goi [Source]

Father Dave was appointed District Superior of Chiba prefecture in November 1998 and became the Vice Director of the Region of Japan in March 2000. He was a representative for the Region of Japan at the Columban General Assembly in Australia in 2000. In 2006, having completed six years as Vice Director of the Region of Japan, he was appointed Regional Director, and continued in this role until March 2012. From 2003 to 2011 he also served as pastor of the Catholic church in Kisarazu city, Chiba prefecture.

Facing various health challenges, Father Dave retired in 2012 and stayed at the central house in Tokyo. However, as his health declined further, in spring 2014 he was assigned to the US Region, and soon after became a resident at St Elizabeth Manor in Bristol, Rhode Island. There, both his physical and mental health continued to deteriorate, and in the early morning of Friday 18 August he entered into eternal life.

Bristol Harbor, Bristol, RI [Wikipedia]

A man of considerable intellectual ability, Father Dave was known for his dedication to learning in a wide variety of disciplines. In his ministry, he was committed not only to his Japanese parishioners, but also provided a warm welcome and pastoral support to migrants. Furthermore, he actively encouraged other priests, seminarians and lay missionaries to be more responsive to the various needs of migrants. During his final years, he bore his on-going debilitation with patient acceptance and was grateful for the concern and kindness of those who accompanied him ‘through the valley of the shadow of darkness’.

Father Dave’s final resting place is in his hometown of Omaha. May he find eternal light, peace and joy in the risen Lord.

浜辺の歌 Hamabe no Uta – Song of the Seashore

The text of the obituary was supplied by the US Region of the Missionary Society of St Columban. It has been slightly edited here.

Columban Fr Charles Duster RIP

Fr Charles Duster

(15 September 1934 – 7 March 2017)

Father Charlie was born on 15 September  1934 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA, where his parents Charles Henry Duster [‘DOOster’] and Cleo Catherine Handley Duster owned and operated a supermarket. He has an older brother William C. Duster (Audrey) of Littleton, Colorado, a sister Mrs Robert Enns (Katie) of Fort Pierce, Florida, and eleven nieces and nephews and their families. His older sister, Margaret Jeanne Duster, died in 1972.

Cedar Rapids, on the Cedar River [Wikipedia]

Fr. Charlie attended Immaculate Conception Grade and High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, (1952). After high school he attended Regis University, Denver, Colorado (1952-53) and Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1953-1954).

After briefly considering medical school he instead decided to enter the seminary to become a Columban missionary priest in 1955. He studied at St Columban’s Seminary, Milton, Massachusetts. As an exchange student, he studied theology at St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, Navan, Ireland (1958 – ’61). He did his fourth year of theology at St Columban’s, Milton, where he was ordained a priest of the Missionary Society of St Columban on 21 December 1961. He celebrated his first Solemn High Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Cedar Rapids on 31 December.

Immaculate Conception Church, Cedar Rapids [Parish website]

In 1962 Father Charlie was assigned to Japan where he spent the next six years. The first two of these were spent studying Japanese language in Tokyo, the third one as Acting Regional Bursar, and the last three years as Associate Pastor at Shingu Catholic Church, Wakayama Prefecture, in the Diocese of Osaka.

In Japan

In July 1967 Father Charlie visited the Philippines, accompanied by a Columban confrere. After spending some days with Columban colleagues on the island of Negros, they narrowly missed their flight from Bacolod City to Cebu on 6 July because the plane departed a few minutes ahead of schedule, due to severe weather conditions. The next morning they learned that the plane, a Fokker F27 Friendship, had crashed into a mountain and all 17 passengers and four crew members perished. Father Charlie wrote about this iA Close Shave in the May-June 2016 issue of

From 1969 – 1972, Father Charlie was the Columban Vocation Director for the Midwest Region of the USA based in Omaha. Afterwards, he continued a similar ministry while residing at the Columban house in Chicago. He then served a year in the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis as chaplain at Hennepin County General Hospital in Minneapolis accompanied by studies in Clinical Pastoral Education.

With the late Archbishop Petero Mataca of Suva

In November 1974, Father Charlie was assigned to Fiji, Archdiocese of Suva. After initial language studies, he was appointed as Associate Pastor in Holy Family Parish, Nabala, Macuata, and a year later as Pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Solevu, Bua, where he served for six years. 

Following home leave in 1980 he did renewal studies at Notre Dame University. On his return to Fiji he became the Regional Vice-Director. He returned to the USA to undergo by-pass surgery in Houston, Texas, in 1982. Upon returning to Fiji later that year, Father Charlie was appointed Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Suva, and served in this position for four years.

Offices of the Archdiocese of Suva [Wikipedia]

In September 1986, he was appointed Rector of Collegio San Colombano in Rome where he was Superior of the sixteen-member community. During his eight years in Rome, he also earned a licentiate and doctorate in Canon Law at the Angelicum University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. Before being reassigned to the Fijian Region, he worked for six months in the Marriage Tribunal in the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, in order to gain experience in matrimonial law. 

Father Charlie returned to Fiji in November 1994 and served for six years as the Coordinator of the Columban Lay Mission Program, while teaching Canon Law at the Pacific Regional Seminary. In December 1998 he returned to the USA to undergo by-pass surgery for the second time, but returned to Fiji seven months later to continue his ministry to Columban Lay Missionaries. In December, 2003 he was appointed Associate Pastor at Holy Family Parish, Labasa, where he served until returning to the USA in September 2005. This was prompted by the recommendation of his doctors that he should reside in a place where he could receive monitored medical attention, which was unavailable in Fiji. 

With old friends in Fiji

He was assigned to the Columban Magnolia house in Chicago where he worked on Mission Promotion and Vocations (2005 – 2011) and served as house Superior (2008 -2011). In 2011 he began work at the Omaha office in Planned Giving and Development, and later combined this ministry with Superior of the Omaha community (2012 – 2016).

Father Charlie’s warm and outgoing personality, many talents, and deep commitment to his vocation as a Columban missionary priest, drew many people to God in the various places where he ministered. Wherever he was sent, his ability to recognize and celebrate all that was good in the world around him made him a truly joyful messenger of the Good News.

There is one thing I ask of the Lord, 
for this I long,
    to live in the house of the Lord,
    all the days of my life,
to savour the sweetness of the Lord,
    to behold his temple (Psalm 27:4).
Some Personal Memories
With Fijian Columban Lay Missionary Serafina Vuda in Peru
Serafina died unexpectedly on 31 May 2014
I met Father Charlie at long intervals over the years. My abiding memory of him is that he was a joyful person, as the photos of him above indicate. I visited Rome for the first time in April 1988. My first full day there happened to be my birthday and he insisted on taking those of us in the house at the time to a restaurant to celebrate the occasion.
In 2007, if my memory serves me right, he gave a retreat to Columban priests in the Philippines at St Scholastica’s Center of Spirituality in Tagaytay City, south of Manila and much cooler than the latter because of its elevation. The retreat was truly a fraternal one, exemplifying what the psalmist wrote:
How good and how pleasant it is, 
when brothers live in unity (Psalm 133[132]:1).
My first time to meet him was in St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, Ireland, during Easter Week 1961 when I went there to be interviewed and to have a medical examination before entering the seminary the following September. I went back to Dublin, where I lived, with a group of the seminarians going to the city for the afternoon. I remember him singing a parody on a popular song from 1911, I Want A Girl (Just Like The Girl That Married Dear Old Dad). I never heard Father Charlie’s version again until today when I found it on YouTube.
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:2-3). 
May Fr Charles Duster enter the place prepared for him by Jesus and may he add to the joy of the saints in heaven.


Columban Fr Thomas Parker RIP

Fr Thomas Parker

(28 March 1924 – 31 January 2017)

Thomas Parker was born in Glasson, County Westmeath, Ireland, on 28 March 1924. He was educated at Glasson National School and St Finian’s College, Mullingar. 

Glasson, County Westmeath [Wikipedia]

He entered St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, Navan, in September 1941 and was a member of the first class of Probationers in the new building. He was ordained priest on 21 December 1947. Due to the accidental death of one of his brothers in March 1948, he was not sent immediately to the missions but was assigned for a year to pastoral work in the Cathedral Parish in Galway. He was then assigned to Korea.

Kimiidera, Wakayama City, Japan [Wikipedia]

He arrived in Korea on June 1950, but with the onset of the Korean War he and other colleagues were assigned to Japan later that year. Those were very difficult years in Japan: parish congregations were tiny and huge efforts were made to reach out to people who had little interest in Christianity. For the next 17 years Tom served in Fukuoka, in Gobo, in Hashimoto, in Montana, in Kamogawa, in Shingu and in Wakayama City where he was Area Superior.

Supper at Emmaus, Hendrick Terbrugghen [Web Gallery of Art]

But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them (Luke 24: 29). 

‘Father Tom was an excellent host . . .’

In January 1977, he was assigned to the USA and to the General Mission Office in Omaha, Nebraska. Over the following twenty years he served in many of our houses including Quincy, MA, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Father Tom was an excellent host wherever he was assigned, and his friendly, open personality made him very effective on promotion work. When his health deteriorated he returned to Ireland, and entered the Dalgan Retirement Home in 2008.

Man Praying, Vincent van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

Father Tom was a dedicated missionary priest. Asked in an interview what kept him going over the years he replied, ‘Well, I suppose saying one’s prayers, and all the prayers offered for us by people at home and in many other places . . . you can’t explain what kept you going . . . a miracle, really, when you look back at it now’.

Father Tom died peacefully on 31 January 2017. He is survived by one brother, Brother Colman Parker, a Marist Brother. His funeral will take place on Friday 3 February in Dalgan Park.

May he rest in peace.

Hamabe no uta 浜辺の歌  Song of the Seashore

Composed by Tamezō Narita

Text by Fr Cyril Lovett, slightly edited here.

Columban Fr Charles Flaherty RIP

Fr Charles Flaherty

(15 January 1926 – 20 January 2016) [Source]

Fr Charles B. Flaherty, son of Catherine Bowen Flaherty and James F.F. Flaherty, was born on 15 January 1926 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA.

Downtown Pawtucket across the Blackstone River [Wikipedia]

His grade school years were spent at St Joseph’s, Pawtucket, RI. Between 1940 and 1944 he went to high school at St Columban’s Minor Seminary, Silver Creek, NY, and in 1944-45 he did his Spiritual Year at St Columbans, Bristol, Rhode Island. From Bristol he transferred to St Columban’s Major Seminary, St Columbans, near Omaha, Nebraska, where between 1945 and 1951 he studied Philosophy and Theology. He was ordained on 23 December 1950 at St Joseph Cathedral, Buffalo, New York, by Bishop John F.  O’Hara.

St Joseph Cathedral, Buffalo [Wikipedia]

After his ordination, Father Charlie returned to St Columban’s Minor Seminary, Silver Creek, NY, this time as teacher, from 1951 to 1953, and then attended Catholic University of America, Washington DC, from 1953 to 1955 where he received an MA in Classics.

From 1955 to 1956 he served as Dean at St Columban’s College and Seminary, Milton, Massachusetts. There he also taught. In 1956 he became Rector of his old high school, St Columban’s Minor Seminary, Silver Creek, NY, and there, until 1962, he oversaw the greatest growth of the student body as well as the expansion and renovation of the seminary buildings. Through participation in the campus sports activities during those years he developed an excellent relationship with the student body.

During his time at Silver Creek Father Charlie was struck with a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis. It was thought that he would never walk again. However, thanks to his own determination and the help of medical personnel he regained his mobility during a six-month stay in hospital. Some of those medical personnel became life-long friends.

Whitby Harbour, Yorkshire, England [Wikipedia]

Because of his expertise in running a successful high school, Father Charlie was called upon in 1962 to head up a new project, this time in England: a high school for boys in the town of Whitby, Yorkshire. While awaiting the opening of the new school he spent a year teaching Greek and Latin at St Laurence College – the Benedictine college at Ampleforth, Yorkshire – where he got to know the Abbot, Basil Hume. They became fast friends during that year and on Hume’s invitation Father Charlie continued to teach the classics there, one day a week, commuting from Whitby from 1963 to 1967. Their friendship continued long afterward and in 1976, when Hume was made Archbishop of Westminster, London, Father Charlie received from him an invitation to attend his inauguration.

Statue of Basil Cardinal Hume OSB

Newcastle upon Tyne, England [Wikipedia]

Two unforeseen circumstances brought the Whitby project to an end in 1967: first, the mansion purchased for the school was a ‘listed’ building, that is, its external structure could not be legally altered – a revelation that was not made prior to purchase. Secondly, the school’s restricted grounds were completely surrounded by public school property. Therefore there was no possibility of expansion, and without expansion little hope of a future for the school.

So Father Charlie was next appointed to the Columban seminary in Turramurra, New South Wales, Australia, where he taught from 1967 to 1971.

From 1971 to 1974 he was the Education Director for the whole Columban Society. This was a particularly important role in the Society during in the post-Vatican II era. After those years of educational guidance he served from 1974 to 1976 as Rector of St Columban’s Major Seminary, Milton, MA, and following that he served as a member of the U.S. Regional Council from 1976 to 1983. Almost concurrently, he was Vice Rector of St Columban’s Theologate and Director of Spiritual Year at 40 Mt Vernon St Cambridge, MA (1977-83). In June of 1980 he received an MAS degree in Spirituality from the University of San Francisco, California.

After all those years in academe he got an appointment to Vocation work in June of 1983, and worked out of the Columban house in Quincy, MA, where he lived until 1989.

Centre Street, West Roxbury [Wikipedia]

Prior to his retirement in 2001, he served as parochial vicar at St John Chrysostom Parish, West Roxbury, MA. After retirement he did weekend ministry in the same parish, where the content and style of his preaching continued to be appreciated. He developed close friendships with many people in that parish.

While there he helped to provide space for celebrations during reunions of Columbans and former Columbans with their wives and families. At the July 2000 reunion the organizers made him the honoree since he was then celebrating his Golden Jubilee.

With his passing, his welcoming smile and cheerful disposition will be missed by many. May he rest in peace.

St Columban, Bristol, Rhode Island, USA

The obituary was written by Fr Timothy Mulroy, Columban Regional Director, USA, and is slightly edited.

Columban Fr Michael Harrison RIP

Fr Michael Harrison

(21 March 1924 – 17 January 2017)

Michael Harrison was born on 21 March 1924 at Bunduff, Castlegal, County  Sligo, Ireland. He was educated at Castlegal National School and Summerhill College, Sligo. He came to St Columban’s, Navan, in 1942 and was ordained priest on 21 December 1948. 

Mullaghmore, County Sligo [Wikipedia]

This is near where Fr Harrison grew up

The following year he was appointed to graduate studies in the USA. He completed an MA in history at Fordham University, New York City, and followed this with training in journalism at the Denver Catholic Register.

In 1952 he was appointed to the Philippines as Far East correspondent of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, , the forerunner of today’s United States Conference of Catholic Bishops a post he held until 1956. He was then called back to work in the Central Offices of the Columbans in Bellevue, just south of  Omaha, Nebraska, USA, and travelled through Korea and Japan on his way home. He spent the next fifteen years in charge of the Mission Office where he was credited with organising the mail operation to new levels of efficiency.

St Columbans, Belleview, Nebraska [Source]

He is like a tree that is planted beside the flowing waters, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves shall never fade; and all that he does shall prosper (Psalm 1:3, Grail translation).

From 1972 to 1975 he was editor of the magazine of the Columbans in the USA, now known as Columban Mission. In the years that followed he served in the Columban houses in West Chester, near Philadelphia, in Quincy, near Boston, in Philadelphia and in Westminster, California.  In 1984 he was appointed secretary to the Columban Central Administration in Ireland for three years. 

St Columbans, Belleview, Nebraska [Source]

Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my  God (Psalm 42:1, Grail translation).

There followed appointments to Los Angeles and Omaha before being asked to serve as Superior of Collegio San Columbano in Rome in 1992. Health problems cut short this appointment and he was assigned instead to Bristol, Rhode Island, where he served as vice-superior and bursar. He left Bristol for Ireland in 2011, where, from his room  in St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, he relied on modern technology to stay in touch with a wide circle of relatives and friends.

The variety of the tasks entrusted to Father Michael over the years are an indication of his many gifts, his discretion and his quiet competence. Congenial, wise and never judgemental, he was deeply appreciated by his colleagues and by the staff of the many houses in which he served. He transferred to the Dalgan Nursing Home at the end of 2015 and died suddenly there on 17 January 2017.

May he rest in peace.

Perhaps the best know person associated with Fr Harrison’s native county is poet WB Yeats (1865-1939). And perhaps his best known poem is Lake Isle of Innisfree.

Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;

Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,

And live alone in the bee loud glade.


And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.


I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Isle of Innisfree, Lough Gill, County Sligo [Wikipedia]

Columban Fr Keith Gorman RIP. ‘Having breakfast with Jesus on the shores of eternity.’

Fr Keith Gorman
(21 January 1920 – 19 December 2016)
          Keith Francis Gorman was born in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, on January 21, 1920, an only son between two sisters. In 1937 he came to St Columban’s, Essendon, where he did his Spiritual Year and Philosophy. Then in 1940 he went to St Columban’s Seminary in Omaha, Nebraska, USA, to do Theology as WWII prevented him from travelling to Ireland. He was the first Australian Columban seminarian to do this but he was joined by others the following year. He was ordained in St Joseph’s Cathedral, Buffalo, New York, USA, on 18 December 1943 by Bishop John Aloysius Duffy. 
Church of the Assumption, Yakatamachi, Wakayama City [Source]
          In 1944 Father Keith returned to Australia and worked in a number of parishes until 1948 when he was appointed to China but this was changed to Japan after a few months in Shanghai. He studied the Japanese language in Yokohama and was then appointed as pastor at the parish of Chigasaki, Diocese of Yokohama. After vacation in 1955 he was appointed pastor at Yakatamachi in Wakayama City.
          Fr Barry Cairns, a New Zealander, writes about his experience as a young priest in Yakatamachi with Father Keith here.
          In 1964 Father Keith was appointed to the Australia – New Zealand Region, stationed at first at the Columban House in Toowong, Brisbane. Then he did parish supplies for three years and Columban promotion in the Archdiocese of Perth.  This was followed by a few years as Bursar at the seminary in Turramurra, New South Wales, and then as Vocations Coordinator in the state of New South Wales.
Father Keith the gardener
          In 1975 Father Keith began a ministry to the aged as chaplain at Nazareth House Aged Care, Turramurra. After a sabbatical and some studies in the subject of ageing he continued in this ministry as chaplain to the retired Presentation Sisters at Windsor in Melbourne.  Around the same time he helped to found ROTA – Religious of the Third Age – a social and spiritual organisation for retired Religious. During this period he wrote a number of articles on the theme of ageing, some of which were printed in The Far East.
Embracing the 21st Century
          Read Father Keith’s Old Age, a Gifted Time.
          Father Keith himself retired to St Columban’s, Essendon, a suburb of Melbourne, in 1997 and was a lively and cheerful presence there until a fall in September 2012 resulted in hospitalization and a subsequent move to Mercy Place Aged Care, Parkville.
‘A humble man with time and respect for everyone’

          He is remembered as a humble man who always had time and respect for everyone. He excluded no one. He was fun-loving and always ready to laugh, share a joke – even one on himself – and join in whatever was going on. In one of his articles he wrote that his idea of heaven was having breakfast with Jesus on the shores of eternity, following the scene in John 21.  May he be enjoying that breakfast now. 

Having breakfast with Jesus on the shores of eternity’ [1:57 – 2:50]
From The Gospel of John directed by Philip Saville.

          You may read some of Fr Gorman’s Reflections here.

St Columban’s, Essendon

          I met Father Keith on my first visit to Australia in May 1990 in St Columban’s Seminary, Turramurra, near Sydney, which is now closed. I was struck by his delightful personality and sense of humor. I remember him laughing when I quipped that he had been ordained so long ago – the year I was born – that the ceremony had been in Aramaic! I met him again in Essendon in 2009 when I was doing mission appeals in Melbourne. While I was there he won a very large TV in a raffle in a nearby Anglican parish and his delight was utterly childlike when it was delivered.

          And what a beautiful image of heaven he had: Having breakfast with Jesus on the shores of eternity

          The light of heaven upon Father Keith  – and may we all join him with Jesus for breakfast on the shores of eternity when our time comes!

Columban Fr Fintan Murtagh RIP

Fr Fintan Murtagh
(12 February 1940 – 23 December 2016)
Fr Fintan J. Murtagh was born at Moyvore, County Westmeath, Ireland, on 12 February 1940.  He was educated at Moyvore National School and at St Finian’s College, Mullingar, County Westmeath. 
Entrance to St Finian’s College, Mullingar [Wikipedia]
Father Fintan was one of many Columbans who had their secondary education in this school, which is owned by the Diocese of Meath.
He came to St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, Navan, County Meath, in September 1957 and was ordained priest there, on 22 December 1963 and died on 23 December 2016.
St Columban’s, Dalgan Park
Appointed to the Philippines, and to the Diocese of Iba, which covers the province of Zambales, he served initially in San Marcelino, and Botolan. He spent longer periods in San Antonio, before returning again to Botolan and later to Candelaria and to Olongapo City.
San Antonio Town Plaza [Wikipedia]
In 1972 Father Fintan became aware that he was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. With his sunny temperament, he did not allow his condition to determine what he could or could not do, and he actually continued to play golf long after others would have given up. From 1985, he began to develop a systematic approach to parishioners of Candelaria with disabilities.

Father Fintan with friend

The result was Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) for People with Disabilities and Families. By 2010 this organization was serving in thirteen parishes of the Diocese of Iba. In all, it was serving 1,037 members in a broad variety of programmes for persons with disabilities. It is serving those with cerebral palsy, stroke victims, those with Parkinson’s Disease, spinal cord injuries, and epilepsy.

With friends in Zambales

It also helps persons with learning disabilities such as those with Down Syndrome. There are programs too for the profoundly deaf, the blind and the partially blind, and a variety of other disabling conditions.

Friends of Father Fintan

You can read articles by Father Fintan about his his work here, here and here.

As he coped with his own disability, Father Fintan gave courage and hope to so many other families in the Philippines and elsewhere. When he could no longer cope he came home to Ireland, but a mechanized wheelchair, and a special vehicle enabled him to be part of everything that was going on until he suffered a major stroke earlier this year.

Father Fintan will be remembered as a man of humor, hope and indomitable courage, a witness to all of us on how to cope  with life’s difficulties.

He was buried in St Columban’s Cemetery on 27 December.

Solas na bhFlaitheas air! The light of Heaven upon him!

St Columban’s Cemetery, Dalgan Park

The students in Dalgan Park produced My Fair Lady for St Columban’s Day, 23 November 1962. If your editor’s memory serves him right, Father Fintan was one of ‘Eliza Doolittle’s’ Cockney companions in this number.