Fr. Finbarr Connolly, C.Ss.R.
1924 – 2012
Fr. Finbarr was born on 24th August 1924 in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. He professed his vows as a Redemptorist in Dundalk on 8th September 1942. After his profession he transferred to the Redemptorist House of Studies, Cluain Mhuire, Galway where he began his philosophical and theological studies.
In 1946 he was one of the five students sent from Galway to Bangalore, India the others being Fr. Willie Power who currently is a resident at Carrigoran House, Co. Clare, while the other three Frs. Sean Kelleher, Tom McDonnell and Frank Toner have all passed on to their eternal reward. At that time the Redemptorists were just eight years on this mission which had begun in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in 1938 and in 1940 had extended to Bangalore in southern India. By the end of World War II a number of young Indians had joined the ranks of the Redemptorists and so it was necessary to set up the structures for their training and education. And this explains the decision to send a group of Irish students to India; they were to be the nucleus of this new venture.
On the 1st August 1950 Fr. Finbarr was ordained a priest in Bangalore and ordained with him on that day was Fr. Sean Kelleher.
After his ordination Fr. Connolly was destined to spend another twenty six years living and working on the sub-continent. During this time his main apostolate was teaching in the Redemptorist Studendate (seminary) in Bangalore, where his subjects were dogmatic theology and spirituality and for a certain period moral theology. As one of his students expressed it, “Finbarr was always well prepared, very precise and word perfect.” Another of his former students said much the same that “he was a good teacher and very well liked as a lecturer, not only with nuns but with others besides. He was always well prepared and that it was very easy to take notes.”
When free from teaching he was very sought after as a retreat master, and a popular choice for nuns retreats.
A comment that is constantly mentioned is that “he was warm hearted and a good community man.” Somebody added, however, that he was not somebody who “would be up all night, that he was a prudent person.” It was also said that if he had been a driver, which he wasn’t, that he would never have received ‘a ticket’ for speeding.
In 1976 he returned to Ireland and for many years he lectured in the Marianella Pastoral Centre where his clear-minded lectures were much appreciated. At this time we were still in the post-Vatican Council Two period and he was much in demand for updating programmes, especially by religious sisters.
As one man who was a student in Marianella during Fr. Connolly’s sojourn there put it: “Finbarr was a lovely man – I lived with him for a good few years in Dublin and in our early days when we first joined the Congregation, he was a beautiful, warm, welcoming and gentle presence. I have no doubt but that he will earn a just reward for his good life.
In 1996 he was transferred to Dundalk and this move gave him a new lease of life and again he was in demand as a retreat preacher to religious sisters and a spiritual director.
Some years ago due to failing health Finbarr took up residence in Blackrock Abbey Nursing Home, Dundalk. Recently his condition deteriorated and he died at 10.30pm on Monday 7th May 2012.
Finbarr’s two brothers were also Redemptorists, Michael and John though John left the C.Ss.R. in 1967 and joined the Diocese of Galloway, Scotland ministering in St Brigid’s Parish, Kilbirnie. Finbarr’s sister emigrated to Canada where she married and had three children, but she died many years ago. Unfortunately at this juncture we do not have his sister’s name.
Some publications by Finbarr Connolly: In the world: God and I (1977) pp237; Religious Life. A Profile of the Future (1982) pp84; God and Man in Modern Spirituality (1984); The Ten Commandments & Today’s Christian, co-authored by Finbarr Connolly, Peter Burns (1985);