Esker Pitch & Putt course will remain closed for the remainder of 2020 due to Covid 19. Looking forward to welcoming you all back in 2021.
Fr. Brian Holmes, a Cork man and a Redemptorist, celebrates 50 years of priesthood this Sunday, May 3rd, 2020. Brian works in our Redemptorist Mission in Mozambique, begun in 2011. Asked by the parish priest in Curaheen in Cork to give a brief summary of his life as a Redemptorist priest, Fr. Brian wrote the following.
“Count seven times seven years and on the fiftieth year you must sound loud
the horn to proclaim that the land be freed, debts be pardoned and slaves set free.” Leviticus 25
On May 3, 1970, I was ordained in the Redemptorist Church in Limerick, by the missionary Bishop of Gambia, Africa, Michael Joseph Maloney, C.S.Sp. The following day I celebrated my First Eucharist in the Mercy Hospital Chapel, where my father was laid up in his final illness. Soon after the death of my father, I returned to Brazil, where I had finished my studies, and spent the next forty years in the north and northeast of that country. The last ten in Furancungo, Mozambique.
My first few years of ministry were in the newly created State of Tocantins, in the Amazon Basin, where I spent three months of the year on the back of a mule, visiting the remote communities in the back-lands, and enjoyed every bit of it, once I got used to the mule’s jolting trot and his hard saddle.
Next ten years in Tauá, in the heart of the drought ridden semi-desert of Ceará, where with a wonderful team of laity we journeyed with over a hundred rural communities, suffering from terrible injustice and the constant threat of drought. During five of those years we had no rain, so life was tough, and death from hunger, thirst, sickness and injustice, a constant threat.
Then ten more years living in the shanty towns of the state capital, Fortaleza living close to the poorest of the poor, and standing with them in their struggles for work, dignity, education for their kids and health-care for all.
Then back to the to the State of Tocantins, for another ten years, where the insatiable greed of the powerful for land to grow soya beans, caused havoc in the lives of the poor, evicted from their family held plots for generations, by the advance of huge industrial farming methods.
Then for my sins, six years as Vice-Provincial, coordinating the group of 50 Brazilian and Irish Redemptorists in three different states in the Vice-Province of Fortaleza.
Finally the last few years here in Mozambique, in the Diocese of Tete, in the mountain parish of Furancungo. Here we were and are welcomed by the Chewa people, who were evangelized by the Jesuits 50 years ago, and despite the wars and the expulsion of the Jesuits, they clung to their faith, and in little communities gathered every Sunday to pray, and read the Word, and each generation handed on the faith to the next, hoping and praying for the arrival of a missionary community, to quench their thirst for the sacraments and full ecclesial life.
Next Sunday, May 3rd, I hope to go to the local Furancungo Radio, with a small team, to celebrate Mass live, transmitted to the villages scattered over the mountains and valleys here, as we have been doing since our churches are closed to protect all from the coronavirus. I will remember all the people who have supported me over the last fifty years, especially all of you in the parish of the Church of the Real Presence, the parish where my mother and father, on retirement, went to live in and helped to build our beautiful church many years ago. I thank you for your constant support to me personally and to our missionary work in Brazil and Mozambique, over the last fifty years. God bless and protect you all in this difficult time.
This too shall pass.
You can contact Fr. Brian, through us here in Esker, by emailing email@example.com or through ‘Comments’ on this website. We will forward messages to him. Thanks.
Click here to watch a 6-minute video on St. Clement Hofbauer, on YouTube.
Redemptorists in Esker, Redemptorists worldwide, together with Redemptoristines and all our Redemptorist Co-Workers, celebrate this weekend of March 15th, 2020, the Feast of St. Clement Maria Hofbauer, who died in Vienna as the noon-bell rang for the Angelus, on March 15th, 1820. Clement is known as the ‘Second Founder’ of the Redemptorists, for it was he who brought the Redemptorists out of Italy and into Northern Europe.
John Hofbauer was born on St. Stephen’s Day in 1751, in what is now the Czech Republic. His father was Czech, his mother was German.
John’s father died when young John was only seven. His mother pointed to the crucifix and said to John, ‘From now on, HE is your Father’, pointing to Jesus.
John was about twenty when he became a hermit. Around that time, he took the name ‘Clement’, and that is how he is known to us today.
At about 33, he and a friend joined the Redemptorists in Rome. Less than a year later, they set out over the alps, hoping to found communities of Redemptorist Missionaries in Northern Europe. He worked for over twenty years in Warsaw, with an ever-increasing community of Redemptorist colleagues. Napoleon ordered that community to be suppressed and the monks scattered. At age 57, Clement went back to Vienna. Over the next twelve years, he ministered to rich and poor alike, from his tiny room on Johannes Gasse. Artists, musicians, writers, politicians, University students all flocked to this humble priest’s house. He put new heart into all of them.
Clement Hofbauer died on March 15th, 1820, two hundred years ago. His dream of setting up Redemptorist communities and forming young Redemptorists was only realised after his death, when the Emperor gave his approval. A great flourishing of Redemptorist Missionaries, called ‘to follow Christ by preaching the Gospel to the poor’, took place right after his death. We thank God for this courageous, visionary, contemplative missionary.
St. Clement, pray for us, in our world of today. Teach us ‘to preach the Gospel anew’, in every generation, in every way, with ever-increasing freshness, joy, and love.
We invite you to go to YouTube, and key in “St. Clement Hofbauer and Séamus Devitt”, for a six minute video about this saint and friend.
(For good quality copies of these pictures of St. Clement Hofbauer, contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mauls on a Rainy Day
How 3 Mauls on a Rainy Day helped Clement Hofbauer, Redemptorist Saint!
This rainy day changed the course of one young man’s life. John Clement Hofbauer, now aged 30, had given up on his dream of becoming a priest. He simply could not afford it. Because of the poverty of his family - his father had died when John was only 7 - he had to go to work in his middle teens. Over the next fifteen years, young Hofbauer was in turn baker, hermit, student, hermit and back to baker.
Now aged thirty, he was back in a bakery in Vienna. His childhood dream of becoming a priest was now out of the question. Then, one morning he was coming out of St. Stefan’s Cathedral (‘Stefandom’) after serving Mass. It was raining heavily. As he stood at the door, he noticed three women, the Maul sisters, standing close-by. He offered to find them a carriage. When the carriage arrived, they invited him to come with them, as his home was in the same direction. They thought he was a seminarian. He explained that he couldn’t afford to go to University. They said they would look after all his costs. Clement accepted their offer, and began his University studies at age 31. And two years later, he and a friend were knocking at the door of the Redemptorist community at St. Giuliano in Rome. And that’s how Clement Hofbauer began his Redemptorist journey and journeys. He was about 34 when he began, and was 34 years a Redemptorist, until his death as the noon angelus bell rang out on March 20th, 1820. We give thanks for this courageous visionary man who is known as the ‘Second Founder’ of the Redemptorists. He joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (‘Redemptorists’ for short), because their goal was and is ‘to follow Christ in preaching the Gospel to the poor’.
The very first Redemptorist to come to preach a Mission in Ireland in 1851 was a Fr. Frederick deHeld. Frederick had been a university student in Clement’s Circle in Vienna and had carried the coffin of his friend, this simple but wonderful priest, Fr. Hofbauer.
See what can happen from Mauls on a Rainy Day! The works of God are wonderful. ‘It’s never too late to start livin’ !’
St. Clement Hofbauer’s feast is on March 15th. He died two hundred years ago, this year, in Vienna.
LETTER FROM THE VATICAN REGARDING THIS CELEBRATION OF ST. CLEMENT HOFBAUER: Sent to Fr. Michael Brehl, C.Ss.R., Superior General.
Vatican, March 7, 2020
Reverend Father Michael Brehl, C.Ss.R., Superior General, Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, Via Merulana, 31, 00185 Roma
In your courteous letter of February 2, you informed the Holy Father about the Bicentenary of the death of St. Clement Hofbauer, C.Ss.R. You also asked that he present once again this unique and multifaceted man to the Christians of our time.
His Holiness, welcoming this devout gesture, shares the joy of your Congregation and hopes that the celebrations in question will constitute a precious opportunity to make increasingly known and welcome the witness of this Saintly Confrere. Faithful to the apostolic spirit of the Founder, St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, St. Clement made every effort to proclaim the Gospel in the peripheries of his time and to bring the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer beyond the Alps, laying the foundations for its subsequent growth throughout the world.
His life’s journey was always guided by a deep faith, a faith that he learned on his mother’s knee, in his native Tasswitz, in Moravia. Despite numerous and painful events, and in different social and political contexts, this faith led him to abandon himself with full confidence into the arms of the Heavenly Father and not to lose hope in realizing his dream of being a priest despite numerous obstacles. Welcomed into the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, he took this unexpected opportunity as a particular grace and a further call to serve the cause of the Gospel and to witness to the precious treasure of faith, initially in Poland, because of the laws in force at that time in his homeland, and then, later, in Vienna.
This faith, deeply rooted in his very being, and enriched by the teachings of the Founder, led him to consider the unbelief and distance from God of many of his contemporaries as dangerous, almost unnatural. As a result, he continuously sought to find new ways of bringing the joy of the Gospel to all, promoting ever richer experiences of humanity and Christian life.
Clement’s passion for the work of God was reflected in his passion for his brothers and sisters and led him to put himself at the service of the poor in the city of Warsaw. Through material aid, he offered to abandoned orphans, to foundlings, to girls and young people of every nation and religion present in the city, the possibility of a more dignified life, freed from illiteracy and moral dangers. He trusted always in divine Providence and in the help of generous people, whom he did not neglect to ask for alms and collaboration for love of these brothers and sisters.
Transferred to Vienna in his later years, his missionary concern extended to other ‘peripheries’: to the university world and to that of culture. He attracted many illustrious scientists and artists, inviting them not only to approach the Church, but also to an intense and conscious spiritual life. He sought to satisfy their inner poverty, in different but not dissimilar ways from those that led the Founder to become passionate about the condition of the poor and uneducated peasants of Southern Italy. He gave particular attention to the world of youth and especially to the students, who saw him as a welcoming friend and a priest whose faith and goodness were contagious to those who approached him. Thanks to this commitment, men and women, young and old, noble and bourgeois, scholars and artists, state officials and prelates, students and professors trusted his leadership and spread his spirituality, exercising their influence in all areas of society.
His faith led him to hope against all hope in the firm conviction that “what seems impossible to human beings is always possible to God”. St. Clement Hofbauer urges contemporary Christian communities to leave behind worldly security and outdated pastoral schemes and free themselves from fears and laziness so that they can welcome the cry of the wounded men and women which rises from our cities today, and thus bring the joy of the Gospel everywhere.
While offering fervent wishes for the success of the Bicentennial Celebrations, the Holy Father invokes the heavenly protection of this Holy Confrere and of Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, and heartily imparts to you, to the entire Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and to all who will participate in these celebrations his Apostolic Blessing, a pledge of every grace and renewed missionary commitment.
I unite my personal best wishes, and confirm my own feeling of religious esteem for Your Reverend Paternity,
Sincerely, Pietro Card. Parolin, Secretary of State
For more information about our way of life, or to talk directly about whether you might be called to be a Redemptorist Missionary:
Please contact Fr. Derek Ryan C.Ss.R. email@example.com
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of one of Redemptorist Confreres in Fortaleza in Brazil. Fr. James (Jacó) has spent almost all of his priestly ministry working in North Eastern Brazil. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam! May his soul rest at the right hand of God.
Received today from Fortaleza:
Please pray for the happy repose
of the soul of
Fr. James (Jacó) Duggan, C.Ss.R.
who died today, Friday 6th December 2019, in Fortaleza.
His funeral will take place tomorrow, Saturday 7th December, in Fortaleza.
At a later date Mass in memory of Jacó will be celebrated in Ireland.
Fr. Jacó was born in Blarney, Cork on 13 February 1935. He was professed in Esker on 1st November 1954 and ordained in Cluain Mhuire on 25th September 1960.
In 1963 he was appointed to our mission in Brazil and it has ever since been his field of ministry.
R. I. P.
Nossa Senhora de Aparecida, rogai por ele
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our Redemptorist Confrere, Fr. Matt (Matias) Ryan, who passed away today, November 25th 2019, in Fortaleza in Brazil. Matt had been ill for several months. Fr. Matt was only c.63 years of age at the time of his death.
A native of TempleDerry in the parish of Borris-Ileagh in Co. Tipperary, Matt went to secondary school in the Redemptorist College in Limerick, in the late sixties. He has worked for all of his priestly life in Brazil, usually out in the most remote places, among the poorest people. Dearly loved, and highly regarded by all who knew him, he will be greatly missed by us all.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Fr. Matt visited his native parish of Borris – Ileagh just two years ago, in December 2017: he wrote this for this on their parish website: ‘Recently I visited our Redemptorist in Mission in Mozambique. Our Redemptorist priests from Brazil are being encouraged to go to Mozambique as we Irish Redemptorists were encouraged to take off to Brasil since the early 1960s. I wanted to visit Africa to see how our Missionaries are getting on out there and to explore the possibility of I myself going there with them at some time in the future. For the moment I’ll be returning to Brasil.’ That was Fr. Matt’s dream. The Lord had other plans for him.
Matt will be buried tomorrow, 26th November, in Fortaleza and according to local custom his Requiem Mass, the Seventh Day Mass, will be celebrated next Monday the 2nd December
At a date to be arranged with the family, a Mass in memory of
Matt will be celebrated in Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary
R. I. P.
Nossa Senhora de Aparecida, rogai por ele.
The death occurred suddenly on Tuesday last, July 23rd 2019, of Fr. Phil Dunlea, in our Clonard Community. May he rest in peace. His funeral took place in Clonard Church on Friday 26th, with burial afterwards in the Redemptorist plot in Milltown Cemetery.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis!
The following is a brief look at his life.
. Philip (Phil) Dunlea, C.Ss.R.was born in Cork city on 5th July 1935 and a few days later was baptised in the recently opened Church of Christ the King, Turners Cross, Cork. He used say that his mother told him he was one of the first to be baptised there, but on one occasion he looked up the baptismal register and found his name was on either page 3 or 4. Actually the church had been opened about three years before his birth.
He was one of a family of four boys, Philip, Brian†2015, Michael and John (Jack) former C.Ss.R. student and one girl, Louise.
As a young boy the family moved to Rathkeale, Co. Limerick and Phil lived there until he went to the Juvenate (now St. Clement’s College) in Limerick in 1948.
In August 1953 he headed to Esker in Co. Galway and joined our novitiate and, a little more than a year later, on 24th September 1954 he pronounced his vows as a Redemptorist. He then travelled the short journey from Esker to our House of Studies, Cluain Mhuire, in Galway city to continue his training. On Sunday 21 January 1962 Phil, together with 16 companions, was ordained a priest in Cluain Mhuire.
In the autumn of 1962 Phil and four of his recently ordained companions, Frs. Noel Gartlan, Louis Eustace, Hugh O’Donoghue and Brendan O’Connor were appointed to our mission in the Philippines. Their departure was delayed, possibly due to difficulties in obtaining visas, and because of this delay they were among the first Irish Redemptorists to travel by air to the Philippines.
Shortly after arrival they had their ‘Pastoral Year’, a period to complete their training, during which they received initiation into the practical application of what they had learned in class.
At the end of the pastoral year they were assigned to different houses in the Vice-Province, but Phil remained in Cebu where he was appointed to teach in the new House of Studies (1961) in Cebu for the Filipino students, along with a number of their Irish counterparts: Tom Devitt, Jim Stanley, Gerry Pierse, Pat Reynolds and John Goode. He often jokingly spoke of his teaching canon law to the students and he who, just a short time beforehand, had been a student himself.
Previously, from the mid 1950s, the Filipino students had gone to Bangalore, India for their studies, but immigration problems had eventually made this impracticable. However, a few years after the opening the House of Studies in Cebu, there was a change of mind due to the smallness of numbers. So, from 1965, for the next five or six years the Filipino students were sent to Ireland for their studies. As a result of this move Phil, in 1965, was assigned to teach in the Juvenate (minor seminary) in Iloilo.
He returned to Ireland in 1969, in the company of Frs. Pat O’Sullivan and Noel Gartlan, to ‘recharge his batteries’. On his return to the Philippines in 1970 he spent varying periods in the parish in Dumaguete and also in Scala Retreat House on the outskirts of Cebu City.
About 1978 he was back again in Ireland on furlough, returning to the Philippines via the U.S.A. where he did a month’s supply for a priest in New York and arrived in Dumaguete in February 1979. Before this Fr. Luis Hechanova, the Vice-Provincial had written him a few letters asking about his feelings of returning to the Philippines and asking what work he would prefer. Towards the end of 1978 Fr. Luis wrote telling him that he had appointed him to Dumaguete, “your first choice.”
In July 1980 there is mention of “compassionate leave” for Phil. At the end of January 1981 he returned to Ireland, as both his father and mother were ill. In the summer of 1981 Phil actually renewed his re-entry permit, but apparently following the death of his father he decided on remaining in Ireland.
His ministry in Ireland really began in 1981 with his assignment as bursar of the Limerick Retreat House. This was followed in 1984 with his appointment as school chaplain in St. Clement’s Redemptorist College in Limerick.
His next move came in 1986 with his appointment as curate in Brookfield Parish, West Tallaght, Dublin. Seven years later, at the nominations in 1993, he became curate in our Parish of St. Gerard, Belfast. After nine years in St. Gerard’s his next and final appointment was to Clonard Monastery in the autumn of 2002.
Here, until his death, he was very much part of the Clonard church ministry team and also of the chaplaincy team at the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH). As the chaplaincy team wrote in tribute following his death: “Phil was a much loved and respected part of our chaplaincy team in RVH for almost 17 years. He was a lovely, gentle, caring and supportive man of God.” Over the past couple of years he has been an assistant priest in the nearby Parish of St. Paul.
In Clonard Phil became interested in Christian Meditation, especially the method promoted by the Benedictine, Fr. John Main. Not only was he a promoter of the Meditation but was personally very committed to it. Every Thursday evening a group of Christians gather in our community oratory for an hour’s meditation where Phil was a leader and encourager.
Other interests of his were listening to classical music, reading the latest in theological developments and bird watching.
Over a period of twenty weeks earlier this year a “School of Prayer” was held in Clonard when a series of speakers presented different systems of prayer. One Tuesday in April Phil, together with Mary McKinney, presented the John Main system of Christian Meditation. The various presentations were video recorded and put on the web, including that led by Phil and Mary McKinney and if you are interested you could cut and paste this link:
The recording begins with a ‘shaky’ camera and during the hour Phil has an input of about twenty minutes early on and towards the end of the recording. A big part of the programme seems to be given over to the participants.
From The Irish News:
TRIBUTES have been paid to a west Belfast Redemptorist who died suddenly just minutes before he was due to say Mass at Clonard.
Fr Phil Dunlea was making coffee for the Redemptorist community at about 6.45am on Tuesday when he collapsed in a small dining room in the monastery.
The 84-year-old, who was originally from Rathkeale in Co Limerick and grew up in Cork, had been based at Clonard for the past 17 years.
He was ordained in 1962 and, before joining the Clonard community in 2002, he had been based for nine years at St Gerard’s on Antrim Road where he was a curate.
Clonard Rector Fr Peter Burns said the Redemptorist community had been left “shaken by the suddenness” of Fr Dunlea’s death.
“Our community woke up yesterday morning to the death of one of our confreres unexpectedly,” he said.
“He was getting ready to say the 7am Mass. He was making coffee in the small dining room and just collapsed and died on the floor.”
“He was a very quiet but a very easy presence in our community and we are very shaken by the suddenness of his death,” he added…
Tributes were also paid to Fr Dunlea online, with one woman describing him as “very soothing and sincere” while another said he had been a “gentle and spiritual support”. Another person described him as “such a kind, clever, loving man – an example to the world”.
It is with sadness that we announce the death at 3.30am this Sunday morning, June 30th, 2019, of our Redemptorist confrere, Brother John Long. He passed away peacefully here in his Esker community. May his soul rest in peace.
Funeral arrangements: Reposing in Esker Monastery from 4pm to 7.30 pm Monday July 1st: removal to Esker Church at 7.30pm. Funeral Mass Tuesday July 2nd at 12 noon, with burial afterwards in the Esker Community Cemetery.
Brother John recently turned 96 years of age. Born May 22nd, 1923, in Maree, near Oranmore, he was always proud of his Galway roots. John came as a postulant Brother to Cluain Mhuire, in April 1949. He received the Redemptorist habit in November 1949, and was professed November 26, 1950. Brother John spent most of his years tending the farms, between Esker and Cluain Mhuire in Wellpark in Galway. He spent some time also in Limerick, in Dundalk, and for a short while in Dublin. He was always a most willing confrere, ready to turn to anything that needed to be done. A man of deep faith and prayer, he was a jovial man and a great confrere to live with, engaging easily with those around him. John was particularly well known all around the area of Esker Monastery. We hand him back to the Lord who called him from his earliest days, and we give thanks for his life and presence among us, ‘living a life of love’ as a Redemptorist Brother in the tradition of St. Gerard Majella. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis!.
It is with great sadnness that we announce that Fr Brian McGrath CSsR has returned home to the God that he loved and served so faithfully. Fr Brian died peacefully on Saturday morning, March 30th, in the Abbey Nursing Home, Blackrock, Co.Louth.
Fr Brian was member of the Redemptorist community in Dundalk.
May Fr Brian’s gentle soul rest in peace.
Born 23-03-1930, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick
Professed: 08-09-1948, Dundalk
Ordained: 26-05-1956, Bangalore
Died: 30-03-2019, Abbey Nursing Home, Blackrock, Dundalk.
St Joseph’s Redemptorist Church, Dundalk
Sunday 31st March 6.30pm: Removal to Church
Monday, 1st April at 12.00 noon: Funeral Mass
Burial afterwards in Redemptorist plot, St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Dowdallshill, Newry Road, Dundalk.
Today at noon tthe Requiem Mass for Fr Brian McGrath CSsR took place in St Joseph’s Redemptorist Church in Dundalk. We said our final Goodbyes and gave thanks for the life and ministry of Fr Brian. May his dear soul rest in the peace of Christ.
Below is a short sketch of the life and ministry of Fr Brian, a much loved Redemptorist.
Born 23-03-1930, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick
Professed: 08-09-1948, Dundalk
Ordained: 26-05-1956, Bangalore
Died: 30-03-2019, Abbey Nursing Home, Blackrock, Dundalk.
Brian saw the light of day in Kilmallock, Co. Limerick on the 23rd March 1930. As Brian’s father, who was a bank official, had just been transferred to Youghal in Co. Cork, the whole family moved to Youghal to take up residence there. The first seventeen years of Brian’s life were spent there.
He received his early education in the Loreto Convent School and later in the Christian Brothers. The two final years of his secondary schooling took place in St. Clement’s Redemptorist College in Limerick
Having completed his secondary education, Brian entered the Redemptorist Novitiate in Dundalk in August 1947. After his introduction to the Redemptorist way of life in the Novitiate, Brian was professed on 8th September 1948.
His studies for the priesthood then began in the Redemptorist House of Studies, Cluain Mhuire, Galway. During his first years in Cluain Mhuire he studied at U.C.G. (University College, Galway), two further years were spent in coming to grips with the intricacies of Philosophy, Dogmatic Theology, Church History and other kindred subjects.
In 1939 the Irish Redemptorists opened a mission Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) and a year later open their first foundation in Bangalore, India. By the end of World War II the Redemptorists were in a position to train young Indians who had applied to join their ranks. It was necessary then to set up structures for their training and education. So in 1946 five Irish students were sent to Bangalore to join with local men and be the nucleus of this new venture, which was to become the Redemptorist Studentate (seminary) in Bangalore. By 1953 these five had been ordained and this explains the decision to send a further three Irish students to India to augment the fledging enterprise, they were Brian McGrath, Patrick Walsh and Liam O’Connell. Here they continued their studies in theology and Sacred Scripture as well as becoming imbued with Indian life and culture. On May 26th 1956 he, another Irish student, Brian Timoney, and two Indian students were ordained in the Holy Ghost Redemptorist Church in Bangalore. A class-mate of Brian’s during his pre-ordination years was the Redemptorist Varkey Vithayathil (†2011) who was to be ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1997 and subsequently created a cardinal in 2001.
A new phase in Redemptorist Mission and Apostolate now opened up before him. Preaching missions and retreats and learning to cope with the challenges and difficulties involved consumed all his energies, especially trying to master one of the many Indian languages and the never-ending train journeys, which sometimes took two to three days! Brian’s initial stint of missionary activity was quite short-lived however, as he was asked to go to our house in Chembur, Mumbai (Bombay) to take charge of a large parish school known as “Our Lady of Perpetual Succour High School”, shortened to O.L.PS.
To do this, however, he would need a teaching qualification. So back to Ireland and to U.C.G. where obtained his ‘Higher Diploma in Education’. He returned to India in 1961 and was duly installed as Headmaster of the Parish School. Having, as his rector, Fr. Frank Toner was a great boon as he gave expert wisdom and guidance to Brian on many occasions.
Fr. Brian recalled the eight or nine years he spent in the school as among the happiest of his life. However, all good things come to an end and in 1969 he returned to Ireland. His first of many assignments was to St. Clement’s Retreat House 1969-1972 where he spent three very challenging years.
His time in St. Clement’s Retreat House (1969-1972) he recalled was a stressful one, as there was a lot of civil strife and unrest and many people had been forced to leave their homes. The retreat house proved to be a haven of security and rest for quite a lot of these refugees. Brian always admired the resilience of the people and their ability to see the funny side of life, no matter how serious their own predicament.
Several other appointments quickly followed, briefly as a member of the ‘Mission Staff’ in Marianella in Dublin for two years 1972-1974. Then it was back to Belfast for the next four years 1974-1978 when he was based Clonard. For these four years he was Director of Our Lady’s Confraternity, this coincided with his appointment as Rector of Clonard Monastery for the triennium 1975-1978.
Of his days in Clonard (1974-1978), he recalled many happy memories of the Ladies Confraternity. He considered the confraternity as a great force for good for the growth of the Kingdom. He was very moved by their sense of loyalty and self-sacrifice and how they would strive at all costs to be present at their monthly meetings, no matter what obstacles they had to overcome in order to be there.
His next move was to Limerick where he held the post of Rector of Mt. St. Alphonsus, 1978-1984. It was during his time as rector in Limerick that the renovation of the sanctuary of the church took place. Such developments are not without controversy and this proved to be no different.
The next eighteen years, 1984-2002, were spent in Dundalk, first as curate and later as administrator of St. Joseph’s Redemptorist Parish for sixteen of those years, followed by two as chaplain to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. In 2002 he was assigned as C.C. in St. Gerard’s Parish, Belfast. In 2008 he once again took up residence in Dundalk, for a couple of years he was again chaplain to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. From then on he took his part in the church and parlour apostolate of the community.
For the past two years (2017-2019) Fr. Brian has had health challenges. Difficulty in walking had been the greatest obstacle, and the loss of mobility required a higher level of support than was possible to offer in the monastery. For a social character like Brian leaving the monastery and entering a nursing home was really a hardship but he made the best of the situation.
Our Superior General, Fr. Joe Tobin, said in a letter to Brian on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee of Ordination in 2006: “Very important also is the fact that you have always been a good community man and a much loved confrere – so you have every reason to be full of confidence and to rejoice”.
Fr. Brendan O’Rourke, the Rector in Esker for the past eight years, says farewell to us, this weekend of March 31st. He will be Celebrant and preacher at the Masses on this Sunday. We in the Esker Redemptorist Community want to say a huge Thank You to him for his service over these eight years, his dedication to Esker and all it means to so many people near and far, and his kindness and courteous ways. He has exercised great leadership among us, always encouraging each one to give of his best in whatever way we can. So many people who have been blessed by his counselling skills are grateful for his presence to them. God bless you, Brendan, as you head for a time of well-deserved break. The Lord direct you in all that lies ahead. Míle Buíochais! Our prayers go with you.
P.S. We do not know as yet who they new person will be who will come as Rector to Esker. We hope to have white smoke before too long.
Fr. Brendan’s Words of Farewell:
Sunday March 31st brings to a close my time as Rector of Esker. Eight years have passed quickly! From time to time the years have brought challenges, as is the way of all life. I have no reservation in saying that the eight years have been, for me, very happy years.
I would like to thank all of you who come to Esker, and are part of Esker, for your welcome, friendship and encouragement. Many volunteers have shown great support for Esker. Long may such generosity continue! I thank all who are part and parcel of Esker for making it a place where we find welcome, and food for our souls!
The humanity and family spirit of the priests and brothers in Esker have enriched my life over these years. We have all pulled together and functioned well as a team and a community!
I am deeply indebted to and appreciate also, all who work or volunteer in Esker Monastery,the Retreat House, the Youth Village, and the grounds of Esker. I thank also the nursing and care staff who bring professionalism but also joy and laughter into the lives of our elderly and sick community members.
Back in 2011 Gearoid Mulrooney began as manager in Esker. I have relied heavily on Gearoid and thank him for his hard work, his dedication and loyalty to Esker and to all our ministries.
There is so much to be grateful for. There is so much I will miss as I leave Esker. But also, so many happy memories and blessings to carry away. Please hold me in your prayer as I will each and every one of you!
I wish the new Rector of Esker every blessing and happiness! And, please God, I look forward to visiting Esker from time to time in the years to come!
Your brother in Christ,
Brendan O’Rourke, C.Ss.R.
———- Brendan is from Wexford town and fell in love with the sea and beautiful Wexford beaches in his boyhood years. Joined the Redemptorists in 1967, and completed his philosophy studies in Galway, his theology in Dublin. He spent 6 years in the Philippine Islands in the early days of his ministry. Worked and studied in New York for ten years where he qualified as a Psychotherapist. Brendan returned to Ireland in 1992 and has been involved in retreats to priests and religious, counselling, spiritual direction, teaching and parish missions and novenas. He spent three years as Rector of Clonard Monastery in Belfast and then 5 years as Director of the Marianella Pastoral Centre in Dublin. After that he moved to the Redemptorists in Cork City in 2008 where the community focus was primarily youth ministry. In January 2011 Brendan was elected as Vicar to the Irish Provincial of the Redemptorists, and in the following April he was appointed as Rector of the Redemptorist Community, Esker. In January 2015 Brendan was re-appointed as Rector of Esker for a further four years.