Spiritan News

Irish Spiritans celebrate 60 years of priesthood.

Fr. Des Byrne, Fr. Pat Leddy, Fr. Jim Delaney and Fr Tom Timmins. Front row: Fr. Marc Whelan (Provincial), Fr. Joe Prendergast, Fr. Paddy Foley and Fr Séamus Galvin.Pictured: left to right
Back row: Fr. Des Byrne, Fr. Pat Leddy, Fr. Jim Delaney and Fr Tom Timmins.
Front row: Fr. Marc Whelan (Provincial), Fr. Joe Prendergast, Fr. Paddy Foley and Fr Séamus Galvin.

Seven Spiritan missionaries, ordained in 1954, marked their 60 years as priests on Thursday 10th July 2014 with an Anniversary Mass in Dublin. One further confrère was unable to attend on the day. The occasion, attended by the Provincial, Marc Whelan C.S.Sp., was held in the community chapel of Templeogue College, one of a number of Spiritan schools in Ireland, allowed for the sharing of memories as well as an opportunity to find out more about what each had been doing since ordination.

Des Byrne C.S.Sp. was ordained in Rome but celebrated his first Mass in his native Baltinglass a few days later. He served in Nigeria from 1955 to 1973, initially in a teaching role and later working directly with Archbishop Pignedoli, the Apostolic Delegate whose region stretched as far as the Central African Republic and Chad. Fr. Des was given responsibility for overseas Missions when on the Provincial Council in Ireland for the next six years. He has since served in parishes in the Archdiocese of Dublin for over thirty years, firstly in Greenhills, then Kimmage Manor – both Spiritan parishes - and, from 1998, in Clondalkin with responsibility for the Knockmitten area.

Jim Delaney C.S.Sp., who is from Dublin, began his overseas missionary life at a trade school which provided opportunities for over one hundred boys learning carpentry, masonry and tailoring in Kenya's Taita District. Fr. Jim then moved to Makupa Mission in Mombasa and later to Ndavaya Mission in Kwale District. In September 1963 he was appointed diocesan education secretary and, later, director of the new diocesan development office. In the early 1970s he led the building of a hospital in Kinango at the request of the Kenyan Ministry of Health. He was later assigned to build new missions on Mombasa Island and at Chaani close to Mombasa's international airport. First involved in fundraising in the US in the 1970s for Kinango hospital, the diocese of Mombasa and later for Marian House, he was full-time in the US from 1995 until moving to Templeogue College community in 2013.

Apart from a short time in pastoral work in New York during the Nigerian Civil (Biafran) War and a subsequent period of studies in Nova Scotia in the 1970s, Paddy Foley C.S.Sp. has spent almost all his 60 years of priesthood in Nigeria. Initially assigned to the Archdiocese of Onitsha in teaching roles culminating in the role of principal of the new St. Patrick's Secondary School in Obollo Eke, Dunlavin-born Fr. Paddy later did pastoral work in the Diocese of Enugu. When he moved to the Diocese of Makurdi, he took on the role of Co-ordinator for Justice and Peace, and has been based in Abwa Rural Training Centre for more than 40 years. His brother Fr. Gerry, a fellow Spiritan, has served in East Africa since 1957.

Séamus Galvin C.S.Sp., who was born in Kilkee, finished his secondary studies in Spiritan-run Rockwell College in Co. Tipperary and has given much of his missionary life to education work in Ireland. A member of the Dublin Diocesan Council for Secondary Schools, Fr. Séamus accepted a request by Archbishop McQuaid to use his accounts qualification to devise a co-ordinated accounts system for Catholic Secondary Schools in Dublin. He led a building programme in St. Michael's College as president / superior there in the 1960s and was National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) for two decades from 1977. He was then heavily involved in the trust body for Spiritan schools in Ireland for over a decade.

Pat Leddy C.S.Sp., from Co. Cavan, began over 15 years of service in teacher-training roles in Kenya in 1955. He also served as Education Secretary for the Coast Province in the east African country. A sabbatical in the early 1970s culminated in an MA Education / Counselling from the Catholic University, Washington D.C. while for a number of years he was attached to St. Matthew's Cathedral in the Diocese of Washington and, later, led the Diocesan Consultation Centre in its work with priests and religious. From 1988 Fr. Pat spent over a decade in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton in England mostly as a parish priest. On moving to Kimmage Manor in 2001 he took on the substantial task of digitization of the Spiritans' photography archives.

Augustine Lindsay C.S.Sp., who was unable to attend the anniversary celebrations, has been USA-based since 1968. A graduate of Synge Street CBS in his native Dublin, he studied Theology in Fribourg, Switzerland where he was ordained. Later Fr. Augustine would complete further studies in London University and a Ph.D. at Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. Arriving in Nigeria in October 1955, he taught at the Teacher-Training College in Orlu and, later, at Holy Spirit College in Owerri before becoming principal of the high school in Ohaji, near Unuokanne. In the U.S.A. he was Chaplain to the Mercy Sisters Regional Center & College at Dobbs Ferry, New York and has held a number of third-level teaching roles including as Associate Professor of Humanities at St. John's University.

Joe Prendergast C.S.Sp. was born in Limerick and lived for a short while in Cork before his family moved to Dublin where he attended O'Connell Schools. His first appointment in the mid-1950s was to Ihiala in Nigeria, a mission then in just its second year. During the Nigerian Civil (Biafran) War his role included distributing resources sent by the Superior General to the many refugee camps and he was later appointed to Uli airstrip to unload Caritas relief planes. Fr. Joe moved to the US in response to a request from a Catholic Relief Services bishop seeking a priest to help raise funds in America for Biafra. He remained in the US for over 40 years, as pastor in a Spiritan Parish and, later, associate pastor in a diocesan parish. Pope Benedict XVI awarded him the "Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award" in 2011.

Tom Timmins C.S.Sp. served in Kenya from 1955 until 1970, initially as a teacher with the Wakamba people. Assigned to Kabaa High School, he established a mission at Mwala and built its first church. He later served in the Central Mission of Machakos and was Education Secretary for the Wakamba District. Fr. Tom also started a vocational school for girls that allowed them to earn clerical qualifications. In the early 1960s, he was involved in feeding programmes in famine-affected Machakos. A year after Machakos became a diocese, he was sent to the US to establish contacts and raise money. In the next thirty years he divided his time between fundraising, assisting in the parish and working with the youth group. He was also the priest liaison for Worldwide Marriage Encounter in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, as well as being involved with groups such as Cursillo and the Charismatic Movement. He has been chaplain to the Carmelite Nuns in Georgetown since 2003.