Celebrating Priesthood in the Diocese of Kilmore in this Year of Prayer for Vocations – A Personal Reflection (1):

Morale was at an all-time low when this young priest arrived in our border parish in the 1970s. The troubles had a huge impact on the border town.  Neighbours were cut off from each other due to the roads into Fermanagh being impassable by car. Tourism was affected and unemployment was high.  Our Vocational School was blown up and students had to move to Manorhamilton.

Our new priest came up with the ambitious plan to convert the school into a Community Centre.  Together with the community he achieved this and it is still going strong today and now has a hostel attached.  He started an annual festival and he gave the community back their pride and hope.  

He wanted young people to have every opportunity to reach their full potential and had a way of making us feel that we could make a difference.  Most of us were from big families with no transport to go to sporting events, quizzes etc.  He arranged this for us so that we wouldn’t miss out.  Luxuries were few and far between so when he invited us and our families to a hotel for lunch after Confirmation we were so excited. This was unheard of at the time. Now it’s commonplace.  Hard to believe this was 50 years ago, but I will always remember his resilience and his determination to turn a bad situation around even when the odds are stacked against us.