Five members of the Irish Spiritan Province, with a combined total of some 240 years as missionary priests, died during the course of 2018.
Fr. Tony Heerey C.S.Sp. (1935-2018)
Born in 1935, Fr. Tony was ordained in 1961 in his home parish of Castlerahan, Co. Cavan – by Archbishop Charles Heerey (his uncle and fellow Spiritan). Having initially served in Nigeria, from which he was deported at the end of the ‘Biafran War’, he ministered for more than a decade in Zambia, where he was the Spiritans’ Superior, and in the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton in England. Returning to Ireland, he served as Superior of the Community attached to Blackrock College in Dublin, the secondary school where he had studied over four decades earlier. Between 2002 and his retirement to Kimmage Manor in 2009, he served in a number of parishes in Ireland. He died on 20th December.
Fr. Colum Duggan C.S.Sp. (1925 – 2018)
From Co. Clare, Fr. Colum was ordained in 1953. Appointed to Kenya, he ministered there for more than a half-century. He served in a number of pastoral roles, was heavily involved in the education area, taking a particular interest in the provision of secondary schooling for girls, and he guided local young men in the construction of schools and churches. Fluent in the Kikamba language of the Kamba people, he was keenly attentive to religious instruction and to the proper training of his catechists. Aged 93, he died in October.
Fr. Norman Fitzgerald C.S.Sp. (1925 – 2018)
Fr. Norman was born in Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo, and educated at the local CBS and in Rockwell College. Ordained in 1953, he served in Sierra Leone for over 25 years. Involved in development work and youth chaplaincy, he was founder / principal of St. Paul’s Secondary School in Pujehun and, based in Freetown, was Education Secretary. In Ireland his various roles included as Executive Director (later Chairperson / Honorary President) of Vita as well as in chaplaincy, and as a member of the Spiritan community attached to Blackrock College. Aged 93, he died in October.
Fr. Eamonn McMahon C.S.Sp. (1933 – 2018)
Sligo-born and reared in Co. Leitrim, Fr. Eamonn attended St. Patrick’s College in Cavan. Ordained in 1960, he began his overseas missionary life in Nigeria, serving in pastoral, evangelization and educational roles in the Diocese of Owerri. During the country’s civil war he was part of the humanitarian relief effort. Appointed to Brazil during the 1970s, he served there until his death in October, at the age of 85. He ministered in a number of parishes and with the Legion of Mary, and was very involved in the work of child-development and early-learning centres.
Fr. Seán Kealy C.S.Sp. (1937 – 2018)
Fr. Seán was a native of Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Ordained in 1965, he lectured extensively, on the Gospels and on the history of biblical scholarship, in Africa, including for several years in Kenya, in Europe and in Duquesne University in the USA. His many and varied roles in Ireland included as Director of Theologians, Rector of the Missionary College in Kimmage Manor and Provincial Councillor for Education. A prolific author, he wrote commentaries on the Gospels and did a number of studies in spirituality. Aged 81, he died in July in Kimmage.