Sunday, 17 January 2016


The Down and Connor clerical changes were announced last Friday. I had been supplied with a copy before publication.

These are the changes:

Fr Hugh Kennedy to be Chaplain to the Congregation of Our Lady, More House, Archdiocese of Westminster, London.


I wish Hugh Kennedy every happiness and success in London. I hope his new appointment helps him to find himself anew and find a satisfying ministry.

Fr Martin Graham to be Administrator of St Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast.

Martin Graham
I understand that Martin is a devotee of the Latin Mass. Hopefully he will restrain himself in St Peter's and offer nice modern Masses and get involved in parish visitation, youth clubs, schools etc. I think St Peters has had enough liturgical experimentation for now.

Fr John McManus to be PP Strangford and Kilclief.

Strangford is a good opportunity for John to gently re-enter pastoral life. I hope he will be warm and friendly with those country folk and keep an open door for them.

Fr Eugene O’Hagan to be Diocesan Chancellor.

Its good that Eugene will now be a full chancellor. I think he works very hard. I hope he will not be too stretched. 

Fr Gregory Cormican resignation on grounds of ill health as PP of Coleraine has been 

I am sorry to hear of Gregory's health at a relatively young age. We wish him a recovery. 

Fr Brendan Mulhall CSsR to be Administrator of Coleraine.

Father Mulhall has received a very mixed reception in Coleraine. Time will tell.

Fr Peter O’Kane to be PP Christ the Redeemer, Lagmore.

Fr Brendan Hickland on sabbatical leave from St Teresa’s

Fr Don Kettle on loan from the Archdiocese of Perth, Australia, to be Administrator of St Teresa’s, Belfast.

Fr Peter Carlin to be priest in residence in St Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast.

Fr Gary Toman to be priest in residence in Glenarm (appointment of Chaplain to Queen’s University Belfast to follow).

I thought being moved from the chaplain of Queen's University to being a "priest in residence" in a small place like Glenarm was a strange move. Why not a PP?

Fr Michael Dempsey CSsR to be Assistant Chaplain in the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH).

Fr Joseph Rooney in addition to Judicial Vicar of the Diocese appointed Judicial Vicar for the Armagh Regional Marriage Tribunal.

Fr Gerard Fox in addition to his ongoing position as Director of Formation in St Malachy’s Seminary to assist and supply within the West Belfast Pastoral Community.

Fr Paul Morely in addition to CC Holy Family, at the request of Cardinal George Alencherry, Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, appointed assistant priest to the Syro-Malabar community in Down and Connor.

Fr Vincent Cushnahan appointed to the Down and Connor Office of the Armagh Regional Marriage Tribunal at the Good Shepherd Centre, Belfast and to be priest in residence in the Parish of the Nativity, Belfast.

I thought it a little strange that Vincent with his eyesight issues and the fact that he does not drive should be appointed to help in Twinbrook and have to commute daily to the Ormeau Road. Was there no where nearer to house him?

Fr Andrew Black recently ordained to be Catholic Chaplain in Belfast City Hospital (BCH) residing in St Paul’s, Belfast.

I hope Andrew will be a good pastor to the patients and staff in the City Hospital in spite of his abiding interest in liturgy.

Fr Conor McCarthy recently ordained to be CC Larne.

I hope Conor will do well here beside me in Larne. I have not seen him since he came some months ago and people often comment about the fact that they never see a priest on the Main Street apart from myself. Hopefully we will see more of Conor.

Down and Conor is very short of priests. When I was in St Peters Cathedral from 1978 to 1983 there were 5 of us full time there. Now there is one and a priest in residence.

Noel Treanor needs to make much greater use of his manpower. Hopefully the introduction of married deacons will help.


  1. Did Gary Toman ever finish his Ph.D in Queen;s? When I was a seminarian in The Wing he was told by Noel Treanor he could start it but whether he might be there till he finished it no one knew.

    Apparently the auxiliary bishops had interceded with Noel for him?

    Its strange that as soon as Tony Farquhar retires Gary is gone from QUB?

    We used to wonder if Gary had aspirations to the episcopate after we sawing him wearing socks from Gamarelli's in Rome?

    Ex Seminarian D&C

    1. Maybe Gary is living in Glenarm to get a rest before being appointed Auxiliary Bishop?

    2. What was the subject of Gary's Ph.D ?

      PP D&C

    3. The following is taken from the IRISH CATHOLIC in April 2015:

      "Father Gary holds Bachelor and Master’s degrees in science and scholastic philosophy from Queen’s and a Bachelor of Divinity and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from Maynooth. Next year he’s set to complete a PhD from Queen’s that examines the concept of dying with dignity"

      Priest of D and C

    4. Maybe he can be part of helping the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland die with dignity ?

  2. I heard today that Father Gary is not so well.

    1. I heard he wanted to join the Dominicans and Treanor would not allow him?


    2. I believe Gary has been temporarily assigned to Glenarm to give him some space to complete his Viva. I suspect this is in lieu of the time he would have had off to complete it in Rome, where he would dearly love to have been, both as a Seminarian and as a Priest.

  3. Sad to see we are stuck with brendan mulhall in coleraine . He is not well liked at all by a lot of people for various reasons. He has had many arguments with parishioners and church staff . He is never around the house is in total darkness most of the time and when he is in he never answers the door. Fr charlie from St John's has had to attend emergency calls as b.m can't or won't answer . Also there is fr mulhalls weekly visitor a young man in a sports car who stays at wk.ends b.m gets very defensive and agressive over who this man is . Ofcourse there are those who do like him and to his credit he is a good preacher and mass is well attended although they only last about 20 mins so that could be the reason . He also seems keen on building works which can only be a good thing . All in all while he has both good and bad points he has been here over a year now st malachy's parish needs a full time dedicated pp . Many complaints have been made to the bishop but to no avail . We deserve better ! Fr cormican you are sorely missed ! If bobio reads these blogs send us fr peter donnelly back !

  4. Fr Mulhall is a "troubled soul", who cannot really be himself and unfortunately he is taking his unhappiness out on his parishioners in Coleraine. They deserve better. This story will not end well.

    Priest of Down & Connor.

    1. Fr I agree with you 100%

    2. Very true, indeed. Mulhall is very problematic.
      He is fighting with the Reds and I cannot understand why our Bishop keeps wheeling him into stop gap situations in the diocese.
      He is an unhappy man who does lash out, viciously and vindictively, at anyone who looks crooked at him, doesn't stroke his ego, or tickle his fancy.
      We have enough problem clerics of our own without BM!! The guy needs intensive therapy, not foisted on innocent parishioners.
      He is the responsibility of the Redemptorist Order.

    3. Who are the reds ?

    4. The "reds" are the Redemptorists - the order to which Mulhall belongs.

    5. If only the redemptorists would pack him off somewhere. Over the rainbow springs to mind I'm guessing he wouldn't object to that or failing that some remote jungle where he could happily minister to the natives and if it dusnt work out they can eat him

    6. He would only give the poor cannibals severe indigestion!

  5. Ref the Dean Emeritus' transfer to London, I do hope he can take in the delights of the V & A museum, only a few mins walk from his bijou residence. If he can pop in before the end of the month he could catch one exhibition entitled :

    Shoes : Pleasure and Pain.

    (There is also a splendid cafe in the museum - The Dean must watch his waistline)

    The Dean Emeritus can truly now be a "man about town", wafting his sanctifying presence among the worthy (wealthy) of West London.
    Who says the Dean has no capacity for sacrifice ? Isn't he giving up West Belfast for West London ?!


    1. LUX, old bean, your Dean appreciates so much your good wishes and concern.

      Be assured, your dear old Dean will be taking every possible advantage of the pleasure and pain of London. His shoes were made for walking.

      He will grab it with both hands and, as ever, milk it dry. It is further a boon twice over that your Dean will also be within a taxi and a shout of 56 Dean St, Soho, London, W1D 6AQ (just in casey).

      Your Dean is glad that you, at least you, recognise the enormity of the sacrifice he is making in leaving his beloved St PeePee's, the Skola Cum-fiddle-di-yorum, the dear dames of Prince Albert St and his many friends at Divisminster.

      It is a huge wrench. However, noblesse oblige - and your Dean is mollified at the pleasure and pain that awaits him in West London.

      Rest assured, dear heart, should you ever be having business in the Nation's Capital, the Dean's Bijou will glisten, as Kylie sang to Jason, 'especially for you', in fulsome welcome.

      Yours truly,

      The Rt Rev Hugo Hans Kennedy von Klimptook,
      Dean Emeritus of St PeePee's Kathedral,
      Prince Albert St,
      Royal Belfast,
      Loyal Ulster,
      The United Kingdom.
      Great Britain,
      The British Empire,
      Rule Britannia.

  6. Pat, maybe you could give yourself a move to somewhere else? Although you wouldn't quite get the accommodation status you awarded yourself in larne. Guess, you're ministry starts and ends in Larne.

    1. In fact I was saying to D&C priest yesterday that its great not to have to worry about being changed. Im 32 years in Larne this year.

      Larne is my base but my ministry is everywhere - Larne one day, Cork another and Vilnius another.

      I used to resent C B Daly. But in fact he unwittingly did me a great favour in so many ways. Felix Culpa.

    2. Pat married us 20 years ago after several presbytery doors were slammed in our face. We have 3 beautiful children and have had 20 years of happiness - thanks to the Larne priest who said "yes".

      We are not from Larne. We are from Derry. Pat ministers to people from all countries, dioceses and parishes.

      Thank God there is someone like him.

    3. Thank you for your comment. I am so happy that things have worked out so well for you. It was my privilege.

      You might like to know that since 1986 I have ministered to 3,000 couples like you from Ireland, UK, France, Lithuania, the US, Australia etc etc.

      Having been "freed" of parochial responsibilities in 1986 the world has been my parish.

      I wish you many more years of happiness. May you see your grandchildren's children :-)

  7. Pat, your description of your travels in ministry is not unique. It put me in mind of another priest. Fr A Brankin is similar. He ministers in West Belfast, North Antrim, Turkey and probably a lot more places beside but he is too humble to share that with us.
    Dunloy Desmond

  8. I will miss thon big Dean of ours so I will - the best Dean we ever did have.

    I only had to say to thon big grandsons of mine, when they wouldn't go a message, 'I'm sending for the big Dean' and off they went til the wee shap to get me my fegs.

    It was always a comfort to see him marchin' up and down Prince Albert St with his blackthorn stick. You knew you could sleep safe in yer bed when the Dean was out. The local hoods scarpered at the very sight of him.

    Who are the poor oul pensioners gonna turn til nigh when their big grandsons need whipped into line?

    Big Lily,
    69 Prince Albert St.

  9. Truly my heart goes out to that staunch woman of faith, Big Lily. I can well understand her sadness at the departure of Monsignor Kennedy to pastures new. As for his successor...what in the name of all thats holy does he look like wearing that biretta? Is he not aware that this particular headwear is part of the academic robes of Italian universities and has nothing whatsoever to do with the Church in these parts? In fact the tradition of wearing "the Italian Mortar Board" was brought back from Italy by Anglican (Protestant) clergyman in the Victorian period, and those are the only edits you see wearing them nowadays. It looks absurd, especially on a youngish priest. Mind you it is often worn by clerics loosing their hair, to cover up that particular insecurity and low self esteem. The prospects for the good and faithful people of St Peter's isn't looking too hopeful. Irish-born Roman Prelate

  10. Very sadly most of our younger Priests are more concerned with conserving traditions of the past, including wearing birettas, soutanes, lace trimmed albs,etc, than finding innovative ways to present the gospel to new generations.
    Play acting 'clerical parts' from a byegone era, risks further alienating the People of God.
    I am depressed at a lot of what I witness, and no wonder so many young men will reject a possible vocation when they see these young priests getting 'high' on incense and their own self righteousness. We desperately need a new vision for ministry; this present model is dying out, and I for one believe something much better will emerge, and I pray it will come quickly.

    PP D&C.

  11. One of the other big problems with many of our young priests today is that they seem to think that priesthood is a 9-5 job and because they have to "work" on a Sunday they can have 3 days off during the week in lieu. Whatsmore their social life is very questionable. As my old PP said 30 years ago they try to act John Vianney by day and John Travolta at night ! Not good.
    PP Armagh

    1. Dear PP Armagh,

      I will never forget that two Johns quip. It hits the nail on the head. Your old PP was a wise man.

  12. I've read the clerical changes in D&C with interest. And, what a high proportion of them appear 'problematic', 'interesting', even 'amusing' ! Of course HK's appointment to Westminster is the really interesting one. But, it could be the making of him. I have no doubt that he will incardinate in to Westminster in due course, and become some sort of minor clerical character around London (perhaps something like Fr Kit Cunningham, but without the latterly revealed sinister side). We need characters around the place to add a bit of colour. HK could become one of those and bring a smile to our faces. Back in D&C, from what I have been reading in the comments, there is quite a bit of 'colour' and 'character' among the clergy. What I particularly note is the number of youngish clergy who seem to be characterised by their 'interest in things liturgical' and all the dressing up and acting out bits of clergy life, as has been alluded to in a previous post - lace, birettas, Latin Mass, rubrics etc. etc. No doubt their sitting rooms are decked out in Puginesque late Victorian high gothic colours, drapes and furnishings. I think + Pat has it right in some of his comments hoping that these young clergy will see beyond all that and be good pastoral priests to their people as a priority, and keep their personal predilections for all things liturgical and flouncy to their activities in the sanctuary. I detect also that there are quite a few 'issues' with some of these clergy - be it their way of dealing with people in their parishes, or some of their interests, particularly in regard to the company they keep. What a rum bunch ! But it does not surprise me in the slightest. I return to a theme I have touched on a number of times, namely the unrealistic culture around ministry and priesthood in the RC Church, which tends to produce clergy who are dependent, immature and lacking in many human skills and maturities. The deferential culture of the past protected them, but in this day and age many of us see through them and recognise their inadequacies. I feel sorry for many of them, trapped as they are in a system that controls them and makes them dependent. I sense that many of them do their acting out because they are so frustrated and angry with their situation. It isn't healthy. One day we will look back and wonder how such a culture was allowed to flourish. It's days are numbered. One thing I will say for + Pat is that he is honest and lives his life and his beliefs out in the open, as far as I can tell. I may not agree with everything he does or says, but I sense that he does not hide who he is, or how he lives, or whom he loves, and what he does. He has had to put up with all kinds of difficulties and troubles, but appears to face them honestly and with courage and integrity. I wonder how many of our priests could face the same scrutiny and come out the other side with faith intact and with an ability to pick themselves up as +Pat has had to do.

    1. I agree with you about Pat. I do not share, however, your overly benign view of Hugh Kennedy. The "making of him"? He's 60 - not 30. Any "making" of Kennedy should have been long done by now. He's doing what he has always done - what he does best - serving himself. The "making" of Hugh K will have to wait until Purgatory.... if he gets there.

  13. Bring back Gordan McKinstry!!

  14. Indeed,I have always admired you Pat for living out your truth. The truth of who you are. It is what it is and you just got on with it. To stand up to and face down the Loughguile Weasel and then Wishy Washy Walsh required a great deal of personal courage and while others within the diocese criticised you and scoffed you showed you had more balls than that subservient bunch who were so conditioned and controlled they were even afraid to raise your name in case they were seen to be breaking ranks. I well remember you had featured in the media one week. I was at a priest's funeral a few days later and your name came up in conversation among a group of clergy chatting outside. As soon as the bishop came within earshot the conversation became muted and the participants all looked at the ground and the chat stopped. Why? Fear! Fear of even the slightest hint of support or approval of your actions being detected bu the bishop. Fear of being seen not to toe the party line. Fear that retribution would come with the next round of changes and ending up in a shitheap of a parish because the bishop or some of his henchmen though by our conversation we were in any way supportive of you or even though the whole thing funny.
    Pat, like you I had enough and got out. I made a new and very satisfying life for
    myself. I got out despite the hold and control the diocese had and passively tried to exercise over me. I loved priesthood but hated the culture of diocesean structure and the deferential behaviour and worst of all the climate of fear.
    I didn't run off with someone. There was no loving arms awaiting me. I just had had enough of being a grown man and being controlled in a very unhealthy climate and I got out. I feel a pity for many of the men still living out lives of quiet desperation. As an earlier correspondent remarked that their sadness at being trapped and deeply unhappy and unfulfilled is relieved by "Too much golf, too much whisky and too much mastrubation"
    That said Pat these man had choice. You exercised it, I exercised it and so did many others and after many years of being out ive not heard of too many wanting back !!

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful and incisive comment. I admire your integrity.

      The sad fact is that very often the best priests leave and the mediocre ones remain - often living double lives and destroying marriages and the woman and men they get involved with.

      These mediocre ones are without faith, never pray, and are like big babies looking instant gratification for all their needs - sex, power, praise and money.They have neither passion or compassion.

      When they die nettles and dandelions and not roses will grow on their graves.

      The Church has become a mediocre Church because it is staffed by mediocre men.

  15. MourneManMichael20 January 2016 at 10:57

    Anon @09:12: you've nicely 'put your finger on it', as well as 'giving it the finger'.
    By that I refer to your accurate and well informed personal experience analysis of the climate of control within the diocesan clerical system. Well done for that, and also for having the guts, like +Pat, to leave it behind and move on to a more fulfilling life.
    A recent analysis of controlling behaviour motivation found a key factor to be the rigidly held belief that what is necessarily done is okay (irrespective of its objective morality), so long as it achieves the organisational aims as perceived by the person exercising control. While this was found in the business and commercial setting, I can certainly see the parallels in the setting of the delusional imperative of religious beliefs.
    Maybe instead of a crosier the Vatican should start issuing big whips to the bishops!

  16. FYI, Pat - released this evening:

    Statement by the Diocese of Down and Connor regarding Fr Paul Symonds

    22 January 2016

    In October 2009 the Diocese of Down and Connor was notified by the civil authorities of concerns of a safeguarding nature raised against Fr Paul Symonds. In accordance with the Policy and Procedures of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) and the Diocesan Safeguarding Office, Father Symonds stepped aside to facilitate a full investigation by the civil authorities.

    In 2011, after statutory investigation, with which the Diocese and Fr Symonds co-operated fully, and during which Fr Symonds was never charged with a criminal offence, the determination of the Prosecution Service was not to prosecute. Thereafter the Church’s own internal canonical inquiry resumed.

    The canonical investigation has reached the decision that Fr Paul Symonds will live as a retired priest without any public ministry.

    As you are aware, the Diocesan Policy and Procedures advise anyone who may have a concern of a safeguarding nature to contact the PSNI, Social Services, or the Diocesan Designated Safeguarding Officer (Telephone: 028 90492783).


  17. As a Young Catholic I am over joyed that Down and Connor have Priest like Fr Martin Graham and Andrew Black. I came back to the faith when a friend invited me to a Latin Mass, I only went because he was a friend and felt pressured. The Reverence for the Most Holy Eucharist and the form of the mass just hit me like a ton of bricks. From my experience I have found Traditional Priests are more devoted to prayer (Office, Rosary etc.) and just as busy with Pastoral work as any other diocesan.

  18. Pat is Fr Kelly being retired after the 'problems' he has caused in Carryduff. surely this is a chance for noel to get him out of the road before the so called investigation has revealed its findings