Friday, 28 August 2015

FATHER PAUL LYTTLE - AHOGHILL RIP

FATHER PAUL LYTTLE - AHOGHILL RIP

ST MARY'S CATHOLIC CHURCH - AHOGHILL
Several priests of Down and Connor diocese contacted me after my Blog on Father John Paul Lyttle of Portsmouth diocese in England and asked me to write about the sad case of the Down and Connor priest FATHER PAUL LYTTLE (RIP) who died at a young age on 31st January 2005.

PAUL LYTTLE was born in Belfast on 14th March 1968 in St Bernadette's Parish, South Belfast and soon afterwards he and his family moved to Ahoghill. Sadly his poor Dad struggled with alcohol and did not survive to a great age :-( Paul was brought up by his wonderful mother, Attracta, and had four siblings - Ann, John, Joseph and Gregory.

Not only was Father Paul a great athlete but he was also exceptionally bright. He studied at Garron Tower on the Antrim coast and then entered the seminary at The Wing, Saint Malachy's College, Belfast.

At Queen's University, Belfast, he received a BD degree in Scholastic Philosophy and later studied at The Gregorian University in Rome (1990 - 1994).

On July 3rd 1994 he was ordained in Ahoghill by Paddy Walsh - the Bishop of Down and Connor.

After ordination he spent some time as a curate at St. Anne's Parish in Belfast.

Bishop Walsh insisted on sending him to the Catholic University in Washington to study for a Ph.D.

Diocesan priests tell me that Father Paul felt very unhappy and alone in Washington. On a visit home he told staff and students at St Malachy's in Belfast of his unhappiness and of lack of money. Several people, including diocesan priests and family members spoke to Bishop Walsh about his tragic situation in Washington and the fact that he had taken refuge in alcohol. By this time Paul, who had been a slim and athletic figure had ballooned and put on weight, Clearly, he was comfort eating and comfort drinking :-(

Walsh


In 2004 he was appointed a lecturer in philosophy at Maynooth seminary and university and was given the use of two rooms at St Malachy's College in Belfast.

One Saturday morning his mother and sister visited him at St Malachy's and found him, very ill and lying on the floor! He was taken to the Mater Hospital and died tragically on 31st January 2005. He was only 37!

Many priests and people feel that Father Paul was gravely neglected by Bishop Walsh and the diocese and that his tragic death could have been avoided. Were he alive today he would be in his prime and only 47 years old!

His tragic case reminds me of the verse about the Jesuits:

They join the Order without knowing each other!
They live together without loving each other!
And they die together without mourning each other!

May God forgive those who neglected and let down Father Paul Lyttle! 

51 comments:

  1. Is this poor young priest in any way related to the John Paul Lyttle in a previous blog?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not at all related. Their names are similar but the thoughts on one resurrected some thoughts on the other.

      Delete
  2. The Most Reverend Patrick Walsh will take many secrets to his grave !!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But he will be called upon to deal with all of them beyond the grave !!!

      Delete
  3. I have heard something even darker was afoot with poor Paul's decline. He fell into some very unsavoury company - particularly one D+C cleric and his lay man friend - towards the end of his time in seminary and early in his priesthood. These two were not good for Paul at all. Of course, those with responsibility in the diocese should have known he was suffering. The dogs on the street knew about the serious drink issue. Terribly tragic, all in all. At his funeral, the late Tom Bartley, close friend of PW, screamed for 'more young men to take Paul's place!!' Obscene is the only word. Observer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like a Group Washing of Hands! And Jesus wept!

      Delete
  4. Yes Pat,
    It was a "group washing of hands" . Paul Lyttle died at age 37 because of the indifference to his suffering of several Priests and Bishop Walsh. His funeral, which I attended, was a grotesque attempt to shift blame & responsibility for his untimely death !

    Priest of Down & Connor.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Although I often read your blog I never comment. But the subject of FrPaul Lyttle and how he was treated or (more accurately ) mistreated by the senior clergy in Down and Connor is a subject I'm glad you have brought up. An earlier blogger said rthat the dogs in the street knew the young man was in difficulty. Indeed they did. Everyone connected with Paul knew the nature of his problem and some of the contributing factors. His sense of isolation,loneliness and abandonment was known to many but especially his rejection by several senior clergy within the diocese. It was an uncomfortable day for the high priests on the day of his funeral. Rightfully so. That was the day I got my eyes opened and seen for myself as did many,many others what a rotten lot they were. May God forgive them. Hypocrites all !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only brought up the case of poor Father Paul Lyttle RIP as priests of the diocese asked me too. In my own way I feel sad that I did not know about his situation at the time and try and reach out to him.

      His suffering and death was unavoidable.

      His blood is on the hands of several clerics - including hands that wear rings.

      Delete
  6. Pat I really think it reflects your personal issues with Bishop Walsh that you have consented to drag Fr Paul Lyttle's story back, rather than a sincere expression of your regret you could not help him. Anything you can promote to harm your victims reputation you will use. I believe you are a bully.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was asked by D&C priests to write about Fr Paul Lyttle RIP. There are priests in the diocese who still feel very strongly about this affair.

      My experiences of Paddy Walsh - especially in my work with Jim Donaghy's victims - tell me all I need to know about him and his modus operandi.

      The neglect of Paul Lyttle is an injustice that cries out for justice from beyond the grave.

      I think that the real bullies were ( are ??? ) residents of Lisbreen.

      Delete
  7. Thank you, you published me comments....7.23 am

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You made a fair comment and even though you accuse me you deserve publication.

      Delete
    2. Pat, I do not believe you are a bully. Rather, I think, you stand up to bullies. I do not agree with everything you say or do but I do wish that and others in Down and Connor had an ounce of your courage. If we did we would not be languishing in our current state of meaninglessness and paralysis. Credo.

      Delete
  8. What sort of "Christian leadership" allows a Priest such as Fr Paul Lyttle to perish ?
    Answer : One that is devoid of ordinary decent humanity.
    Bishop Walsh was a Church leader with little humanity, but a huge ego - a lethal combination. ( Literally lethal in the case of Paul Lyttle )

    D&C Priest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Paddy Walsh would make a fascinating psychological / psychiatric study. When I have been in his company I have been struck by his bloodless white hands and his Uriah Heap - "Your Umble Servant" - appearance. As an amateur psychologist words like inner anger, self loathing, sexless, and scheming come to mind.

      He definitely was either not breast fed at all or did not get enough time there.

      His subconscious, from which he is totally unattached, must be a very dark place.

      Delete
  9. Following on from the comment made at 11:36 , which concluded with the word 'Credo', I would add the following comment. You Pat, are one of the few clerics living in Down & Connor who really grasp the depth of the crisis amongst the clergy here.
    I have been a D&C Priest for many years, and have seen a number of Bishops come & go from Lisbreen. What is my one overriding observation from my life here ?
    Power, control, and mistrust, have usurped the rightful place of service, love, and ordinary human concern. This applies I believe in the various relations that cut across our diocesan family. i.e. Bishop-Priests, Priests-Priests, Bishop-People, Priests-People.People-People, Priests- Bishop.
    What potentially should be relationships of growth, instead become sterile, and often also 'springs of frustration'.
    New wineskins are required.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do not claim to have any special gifts of observation / discernment.

      I am sufficiently "INSIDE" to know about all the issues.

      I am sufficiently "OUTSIDE" to speak about them openly without fear of punishment and ramification.

      What would you say to those priests who claim that comments such as yours are confected by me and are not comments from D&C priests at all ???

      Delete
  10. Pat,
    I would say to those Priests, that D&C priests do contribute to this blog and I am one of them. Regrettably I feel unable to place my name under my comments, for fear of retribution, and or isolation. Does that in itself not tell you something about the lack of freedom to speak openly and honestly about pertinent issues in our own Diocese ?
    Many people including fellow priests would be very surprised by my contributing to your blog, but it just goes to show you, the Spirit moves where it wills.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True - even though THEY think they have Jesus locked in their tabernacles :-)

      Delete
  11. I can identify with Fr John Paul and can understand how and possibly why he took refuge in the bottle. Washington is a long way away. If i stayed in Ireland would I be dead by now or severely damaged because of ongoing heavy drinking-God only knows. Part of the alcohol syndrome is to hide or deny. If John Paul had asked for help would the support he would be offered in his best interest. I did not believe I would have been given proper advice at the time. (was that me or alcohol infused thought?) none the less I am still alive to reflect and hopefully grow with the help of God

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sean, He was called Paul Lyttle, not John Paul.

      Those in authority knew he was in a bad place and needed help - help they failed to offer.

      Obedience to his "bishop" was more important than his siffering and need for help.

      And all in the name of what "god" ????

      Delete
    2. I met the poor fellow at a funeral in a parish he was supposed to be looking after. He was very intoxicated and all that goes with that. Alcoholism is a disease. I doubt if even a saint could have done much to help. Priests need to stay close to their families and friends and should expect in the end to have to look out for themselves.

      Delete
    3. He did not have much choice in approaching a saint !

      Delete
    4. He did not have much choice in approaching a saint !

      Delete
    5. He did not have much choice in approaching a saint !

      Delete
    6. Apologies for the name mistake. On reflection I believe the church tended to "fix" the problem rather than the person. its sad to be intoxicated on the job as a priest-I should know I have been there. I managed to survive but something would have snapped in the end. That kind of lifestyle is unsustainable in the long run. Thing about being a priest is who are family and who are friends when things go wrong

      Delete
  12. As Fr William McNamara O.C.D once wrote in his book ' The Art of being human' , published 1962 :

    " Christian piety all too often has taken the form of withdrawal from the world and from men, a sort of dignified, spiritual egotism, a cultivation of a plot of spiritual ground in the suburbs of reality. Such piety is emasculated, starved of Christian love and mercy. It is frigid, unreal, devoid of human warmth".

    "When we become perfectly human, we are saints, but we do not become perfectly human by our own power alone. Christ came to divinise us, make us like God, enrich us with divine life, life that would never diminish or grow dull with age or boredom.
    The Church, the contemporary Christ, has the same purpose; so has grace.
    The purpose of grace is to make us richly, exuberantly alive".

    If we as Priests and Bishops were fully human, through God's action, then we certainly would be living signposts for God, and the good people of God would come to Church thirsting for God.

    D&C cleric.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An excellent comment. In his other book, MYSTICAL PASSION Father McNamara wote:

      "Christ came into the world to light a fire - a fire that should consume us. But most of us are happy to just stand around the fire warming our hands"!

      Lukewarmness is the disease that is killing many modern priests and other "Christians".

      Delete
  13. The problem is that we so often equate Christian living as a mind exercise, rather than the path to a fully vibrant, joyful human life. In the process we "confine" Jesus to the tabernacle as a means of control, and we regard the Holy Spirit with great suspicion.
    Of course it is possible to lead a vibrant Christian human life as a celibate, but I fear that the Church in imposing this law of Celibacy on Clergy risks for many of these men making it an impossible challenge for them to become fully human. As I have said before on this blog, there are very few true celibates. Insisting that celibacy/p'hood are tied is causing major problems in this and many other dioceses. God does not ask the impossible, but sometimes the Church does.

    D&C Priest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And when the Church insists on the "impossible" it creates duplicity of thought, of practice, of life and of spirit :-)

      Delete
  14. Perhaps Paul Lyttle was too human, too vibrant, too bright, and therefore a "threat" to people like Bishop Walsh, who ran away from their humanity, under the guise of serving God. Clerical collars on their own, confer neither the certainty of humanity or the likeness of Christ, on the wearer.

    LUX.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lux, how true. Our priests have never been led and taught to enter into their humanity as part of their journey to, and with, Jesus.

      Nor have they been shown how to integrate their sexuality and spirituality.

      Hence - so many priests who are square pegs in round holes - apologies for the pun :-)

      Delete
  15. Why is becoming a Priest in Ireland such an unattractive proposition for young men?
    Could one of the reasons be that the Priests they encounter are not living vibrant, Christ centred, grace filled human lives ? Why ?
    I don't know the answer, but I think some of our vocations directors ought to make it their business to find out.
    Why is such a wonderful vocation, attractive to so few ?

    LUX.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As currently presented - the call is a call back to the Council of Trent, to piety and religiosity rather than to spirituality and to immaturity, denial and duplicity !

      Delete
  16. Pat, I think you may have given way to hyperbole when you mention the Council of Trent, but I do take your point !
    Perhaps another image might be that of joining a 'religious army barracks', where 3 square meals a day are guaranteed, and all that is expected is that one turns up on parade now and again, (in lace albs preferably ), and mouths the agreed mantra. (Lateral thinking types should not apply).

    LUX.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Why is there a need for all this talk about vocations using terms like spirituality, Christ centered, celibacy etc. The whole business is a nonsense. Priesthood is a cult. It is all part of the control mechanism of the man made institution. The church.( note how I didn't use a capital letter- that just gives the supposed importance surrounding a man made organisation a fattening injection). Nobody needs priests or ministers or officiants of any kind. Inside every human being is a fundamental feeling of the existence of a greater power. That relationship can be nurtured and developed by every man woman and child on a very direct and personal basis. And the basic code of conduct which governs that relationship. Simple. That you do unto others as you would wish done to you,love kindly and live humbly. No need for mass, sacraments,con fraternities,sodalities or novenas or any other way in which a power crazy, money grabbing,man made organisation rounds up and controls its adherents.No need for an army of foot soldiers to be cloned in seminary to make sure they don't go "off message"
    I love my god. Sometimes I know I don't live by the little code he would expect me to live by but hayho! I chat one to one with him every day. Sometimes, when I go into self, I forget about him but I know he never forgets about me. Comforting.Now before I get lambasted by some of your contributors I ought to say that I was a priest for 28 years. Then I began to live freely and truly in my gods light and love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You will not be lambasted by me - whatever about my contributors.

      I rejoice for you that you have found your own spiritual path.

      The road you are on will bring you to a fine destination.

      Delete
    2. An excellant comment on the RC church. Well said and thank you.
      The RC church, like every other man made religious institution is essentially a sham created to establish a framework of superiority in which its ministers thrive on humankind's need to share in their common rites of passage.
      It's all 'smoke and mirrors' without substance.
      "Do onto others as you would be done by" is an excellant guiding principle, and although many think of its origins in christianity, it was a guiding central tenet of humanism known as the golden rule, centuries before being adopted by christian churches.
      MourneManMichael

      Delete
  18. Paddy Walsh, by nature was a callous and cruel man. His legacy at St Malachy's College adds physical and emotional abuse of teenage boys to that legacy.

    Many of those who suffered under his rule at St Mal's were marked ever after. He was hated and feared.

    He ruled the diocese with the same approach he had in the college, treating priests with utter contempt, maybe excepting a few - those who 'caught his eye'.

    Paul Lyttle, a very good-looking kid, was one of those lads who 'caught his eye' but even these were not beyond being destroyed - as Paul sadly was - in the wake of Paddy's overriding angry loathing of himself and, ultimately, everyone, as a result of his very own complicated issues.

    It is sad to see Paddy now, waiting for death and probably with the terror of Divine Judgement hanging over him. He is a sick, pathetic and frightened old man. I know God will be kind to him but he will certainly have time to serve in Purgatory. As we all will, thank God. Senior cleric.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Right from his student days Walsh was a complex character. He was academically talented but riddled with insecurities. Had he not chosen the church he would have easily fitted a role in academia or as a research boffin. Those of us who have known him for many years could easily identify the paradoxes and conflicts within him. The great sadness was that he was promoted bishop when he had no man managment skills and many of his decisions were driven by his own personal shortcomings and insecurities. Tragic for him but more so for others in his charge, Fr Lyttle included. Walsh wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes in a senior management position in the commercial world. And yes it is sad to see him now in the last days of his life a lonely, unwanted and unloved man. But as the good book says you reap what you sew!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to visit some retired Nuns at Nazereth House Sligo. Well looked after but who knew their real names. Sad, alone I dont know. Ending up sad and alone was one of my biggest fears

      Delete
    2. It was Walsh, let's remember, who "promoted" Kennedy to St Peter's leading to the absolute mess existing there now!

      Delete
  20. Dear Senior Cleric,
    I agree with your contribution, but I would add 1 further comment.
    The life of Paddy Walsh tells you about the dysfunctionality at the heart of the Irish Church over the last 60+ years. What a parody of Christian living he represented.

    LUX.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I deeply regret that this article has been posted. The Lyttle family do not need these painful - and in some cases private - facts published on a Blog for all and sundry to see and comment upon.

    Perhaps you might reconsider and delete this post?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you not think that the Lyttle family would like justice and truth for Father Paul RIP ?

      Delete
    2. The Lyttle family have NOTHING to be embarrassed about.

      Thats not the case for Bishop Walsh and Down & Connor.

      D&C PP

      Delete
    3. I am sure that the family would like justice and truth - if that is what is required. I am sure too that they would like it to be achieved without the publication of information that is private to themselves.

      Delete
    4. Where has this justice and truth been for 10 years WITHOUT publication ???

      Delete
    5. That's grand, Pat. You go ahead and 'publish and be dammed' - no matter who is hurt in the ensuing collateral damage.

      Delete
    6. And has publication achieved it?

      Delete