Sunday, 8 May 2016

DOWN AND CONNOR - THE GOOD NEWS

DOWN AND CONNOR - THE GOOD NEWS


A comment maker asked me today to say what was good about Down and Connor. That is a perfectly rational and reasonable request.

So what do I think is good about Down and Connor from my 38 years experience here?

Well this Blog criticises the priests of Down and Connor a lot. So have I met good and holy priests here? Yes I have.

The following are the priests of the diocese who have inspired me and with whom I felt an affinity:

A. PRIESTS:

1. Father Des Wilson. Ballymurphy - integrity, courage, humanity, spirit of sacrifice, smell of the sheep about him.


Father Des


2. Canon Walter Larkin PP., Kilkeel - prayerful, dedicated confessor, tortured soul, put up with me as his curate. 

3. Dean Brendan McGee - prayerful, pastorally available, compassionate.

Dean Brendan


4. Monsignor Sean Connolly - kind, human, private acts of kindness.

5. Father Sam Kerr - human, kind, loves the people.

6. Father Martin Magill - sincere, caring, non-judgemental, knows people's pain.


Father Martin


7. Father Gerard McConville - exceptionally kind to me when C B Daly sacked me in 1986.

8. Canon Hugh Starkey - prayerful, loves his people, tolerant.

You will notice that with the exception of Martin Magill all the others are of the older generation.

I believe the newer generations of D&C priests are not a jot on the older generations. The spiritual and pastoral DNA is weakening.

B. BUILDINGS:

I believe there are some lovely church buildings in D&C - buildings that make it easier to feel the presence of God. I like the old ones best. My favourite new one is CARNLOUGH. The people and priests who provided these churches were part of the diocesan GOOD NEWS.


Carnlough


C. PEOPLE:

I believe that as in the Church in general the PEOPLE OF GOD are the real gems. Sadly, I only got to know the people of 3 parishes:

St Peter's Cathedral: Wonderful people - the salt of the earth - who have been failed by the diocesan authorities and priests like McKinley, McGurnaghan, Mc Guigan, Kennedy, Dallat & Co.




Kilkeel: Wonderful country people who I loved. 


My Beloved Attical


Larne: Larne has some very good people and a number of "keep your head low" types as described by Bernadette Devlin.




UNKNOWN GOOD:

I am sure there is also a lot of unseen and unknown good going on that we do not know about. 

Maybe readers will tell us about this?



38 comments:

  1. Thank you for the above, Bishop!
    The constant, persistent negativity of this blog was getting me down and severely depressed!
    You should do this more often. Balance would help - there is mor good than bad in Irish Christianity!
    Appreciated.
    Carter

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    1. Carter, we all need challenged now and again :-) Thank you.

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  2. Indeed there are some decent priests in d&c but sadly they are an endangered species. May I add gregory cormican to that list he may or may not be everyone's cup of tea and on a few occasions I could have strangled him but I've always found him to be a good and kind man I wish him a long and happy retirement

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    1. As you say - not my cup of tea - and there are "issues". But I am generally sorry about his illness.

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    2. There are definitely "issues" around Gregory. I know he is sick but I hae ma doots about the "retirement" all the same.

      An observer of the clerical species.

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  3. Many of these men you mentioned are in their late 80's and early 90's and WL is dead!

    As regards some of them:

    Sam Kerr - ask the people of Ligoniel how much he "loved" them, how "kind" he was to them??? The people of St Vincent de Paul called Sammy - "Fr Doesn't Kerr". He is also barking mad.

    Sean Connolly - goes to court with a paedophile teacher to give a character reference and studiously ignores his victims. The teacher was convicted but he was "one of the boys" you see.

    Martin Magill - never can be found by his parishioners. Unavailable - except for the likes of Jamie Bryson and loyalist paramilitaries and co. Totally not at the races. Lives on a different planet from ordinary mortals - especially parishioners of "The Bone".

    Bishop Buckley, you are completely off beam. There are indeed plenty of good priests but you are no good at picking them out.

    Cliftonville Cassandra.

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    1. My view of Sam Kerr is formed by positive feedback I have had from Ligoneil parishioners.

      I am shocked to think that Sean Connolly would care more for abusers than abused.

      My thoughts on Martin M were informed by parishioners?

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    2. It does appear that it is impossible for any priest to please everyone. I did hear one priest state that if you are doing your job you will,make enemies!
      I am sure, Bishop, that you are not the only priest of whom it has been said- "who will rid me of this troublesome priest."
      Perhaps this is the reason why the church has so many martyrs. You are not the only Thomas Beckett. Most martyrs follow Jesus on a very different path from yours!
      Carter.
      Did not expect to stir up such a storm - does seem to prove that no one - even Jesus - can please everyone!!!!!
      Carter

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    3. Maybe one person's good priest is another's bad? Of we all judge by our own experience. How else can we judge?

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    4. The people of Ligoniel couldn't stand Sammy Kerr so I don't know who you were talking to!!! He's erratic, very unpredictable. In a word - barking!

      As for wee Martin - nice guy but pretty useless and not tuned in to reality. He was the same in St Oliver Plunkett where I have family. The elderly and the sick always complaining that they never saw a priest on the 1st Friday. He is too busy with the Protestants which is fair enough. Maybe the bishop should release him for full time inter-church stuff.

      Cliftonville Cassandra.

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    5. Bishop, by the way, Sean Connolly DID show more care for the abuser than his abused victims. This was back in 2004 and the victims spoke on the tv news about their hurt at how Fr Connolly snubbed them - walked straight past them and studiously ignored them - to go in to the court and give character reference for a paedophile teacher, who had just been convicted, so that he would get a lighter sentence. The paedo was well in with the higher clergy of Down and Connor. Connolly refused to comment on the victims' hurt at the time when asked by the media. Cliftonville Cassandra.

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    6. https://theukdatabase.com/2012/09/13/patrick-mcaleese-loughguile/

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    7. Maybe wee Martin should join the Proddies as a vicar? I think Rev Lesley Carroll's job is vacant since she ventured into politics? Oh no, that's right, she was eliminated.

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    8. Patrick Joseph McAleese
      FURY AT CLERIC WHO SPOKE FOR PERVERT
      VICTIMS of a paedophile condemned a priest who supported the convicted child sex offender in court yesterday.
      Patrick McAleese from Loughgiel, Co Antrim, was jailed for a year for abusing six girls, the youngest aged just six, over a period of almost 25 years.
      But Ballymena priest Monsignor Sean Connolly asked the court for leniency in sentencing the pervert, a move which angered the women McAleese abused.
      One said: “I would like to say how disappointed and let down we all feel about the attitude of the Catholic Church in this case.
      “Monsignor Connolly was in court to give his support to convicted paedophile while barely acknowledging the victims.”
      McAleese, 64, was released on bail pending an appeal. He denied the offences but was convicted in October at Coleraine Magistrates Court.
      McAleese was placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.
      McAleese’s victims said the case gave other people who suffered sexual abuse hope that the perpetrator could be brought to justice
      October 2003

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    9. The Ligonial people didn't like Sammy and he didn't like them. Maybe though it is a case, given the present incumbrent, of "come back, sammy, all is forgiven".

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    10. Yes the current man is a proper a hole.

      Teacher.

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  4. It's amazing when the blog appears positive that the gossip mongers are very quiet! Tells me why alot of them are on here. They only want to pry and feed on other people's pain. Next bit of negative news and they will be back out in force.

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    1. Anonymous at 22:49 on May 8th - I betcha your saying now, 'I spoke too soon!'.

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    2. Sorry that it was I who started all this!
      Struck me that if Jesus had Judas and all sorts of historic and modern Judases - then - even though many have been grievously affected by such betrayals it is surely time to move on to better times and advance as God wishes.
      There is too much malice about - som of it I believe 'over the top and coarse!
      My total sympathy goes to those who have been offended - but the time is surely here for God's people to listen to Jesus voice- Follow ME!

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  5. I COMPILED THIS BLOG BECAUSE I WAS ACCUSED BY A COMMENT LEAVER THAT I WAS ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT THE BAD NEWS IN DOWN AND CONNOR AND NEVER TALKING ABOUT THE GOOD NEWS.

    I WAS HOPING THAT PEOPLE WOULD USE THE COMMENTS SECTION TO HIGHLIGHT ALL THE GOOD THINGS ABOUT THE DIOCESE AND AND GOOD THINGS HAPPENING IN IT.

    BUT THE RESPONSE HAS BEEN SO SPARSE.

    I KNOW THAT IS NOT BECAUSE ALL THE READERS OF THE BLOG ARE CRITICAL OF THE DIOCESE.

    I ALSO KNOW THIS FROM THE AMOUNT OF ABUSE I GET FROM THE DEFENDERS OF THE DIOCESE.

    WHERE ARE ALL THE PEOPLE TELLING US ABOUT ALL THE GOOD THINGS AND GOOD PRIESTS ????????????

    COULD IT BE THAT THERE IS LITTLE TO TELL ?????????

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  6. Possibly the only good thing about down and conner is the way out of it . But there must be some good left in it ? Though to be honest I'm finding difficulty finding it myself

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  7. Sadly, it appears that even the very best priests will have their critics - Jesus, were he to come back would not have lasted thirty-three years.
    I can empathise with one of your contributor who said the there were time he could strangle his priest - admitting, if I recall properly, that he was a good priest!
    It is, it would appear, endemic in human nature to concentrate on faults, failings and vicissitudes of humanity than the good which is mostly if not entirely forgotten!
    I am a faithful Catholic! I respect my priest even though we have varying points of view - but we are friends and can tolerate each other!
    My point is -,can we not move forward?
    The church has many saints and there are many extraordinary excellent and saintly people!
    My concern is - how do we get back there?
    Once again I apologise for stirring up such a hornet's nest!
    Carter - and I am very new to all this - never commented before!
    And with all possible respect, Bishop, is it necessary to import into your blog - horrifying going-on from Miami - and homeopathic rankings of a ver strange Italian Bishop!
    Carter

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    1. Dear Carter, no it is not scientifically "necessary". But it is part of our Catholic world.

      I am also genuinely afraid that if brakes are not firmly applied in D&C we will be another Miami!

      The first stage in sorting a problem out is admitting that we have one.

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    2. Apologies - senior moments - above should have read - homophobic ranting - nice to hear "Good News" abiut good priests!
      Carter

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  8. Here are some very good and genuine priests in my experience who are decent kind hardworking holy men. Fr Tony McHugh Fr Paddy McCafferty Fr Pat Sheehan Fr Eamon Magorran in Lisburn Fr Paul Burns and Fr Conway retired Canon Macrory in Ballynahinch. You mentioned Fr Hugh Starkey. He is a lovely priest. Very old now. There are plenty of good priests who care about the people.Parisher Co Down.

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  9. I agree with the comment at 19.13 - I have known many good priests who have got me through some very hard times. From personal experience I am indebted to Fr Tony Devlin, Fr Fearghal McGrady, Fr Thomas McGlynn (indeed, I think no one works harder than that man anywhere), Fr Aidan Kerr and Fr Gary Toman. They all work hard and they are real men of prayer too.

    Also, interesting that you mention the younger clergy. I recently encountered Fr Andrew Black whilst I was receiving treatment in the City Hospital. With his sincere, light hearted and spiritual presence he was exactly what I needed. He brought God to me when I couldn't focus properly, and what else could we ask of our priests?

    Jean, Andersonstown

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  10. I want to stick up for Father Martin. I occasionally have reason to work with him, and I know others who do too. He is certainly busy - busy serving his parishioners, serving his community, and serving the general North of Ireland community in general, and he deserves more than the inveterate mud-slinging of some commentators here.

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    1. Nice pleasant man, Martin. He is just a tad unreal though.

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    2. Maybe a good priest only has one foot in "reality" and the other foot in the "otherly"?

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  11. can I put in a good word for our father aidan mccaughan as well in ballymena? that man is a saint. god bless him and his ministry.

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  12. I work in the RVH in belfast and Father Sloan seems to be there 24/7. a good man, and young too. The idea that the younger generations don't have the pastoral and spiritual DNA of the older priests is nonsense. I don't think there was ever a golden age, but in each generation there are bound to be lots of good examples and a share of bad too. nice idea to highlight the good for a change though.

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    1. Very true. There are plenty of good priests quietly going about their ministry always available to help - day and night. Thank God for them. The problem cases take up all the time and attention. Great to see Fr Aidan McCaughan mentioned - a stellar priest.

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    2. Many people have praised Aidan McCaughan to me over the years. Reports from Ballymena also have great praise for Darren Brennan. Its vital that we acknowledge these good priests.

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    3. Yes glad that the Ballymena Priests have been mentioned and praised they are all a great team and Ballymena is a very good parish.

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  13. I agree. There are lots of good,caring and dedicated priests. As with most things in life the assessment of a man's worth is like beauty- it is in the eye of the beholder. It can also be subjective. Different qualities appeal to different people. The reverse is also true. That shouldn't mean that a priest who's opinion or attitude to different things is at variance to yours is necessarily a bad person. Just means you see things differently.
    I know many priests who hold different views from me on important matters and they would argue ( and often do passionately) their opinion. They are not bad people but I have the life experience and maturity to accept that they differ from me in how they see things.
    Sadly in Irish society many are possessed with flawed and often very parochial and narrow minded skill sets when it comes to forming balanced judgements on people.
    Often the picture is tainted from the start with the underlying " one of us or one of the other sort" influence on the thinking. The sexual orientation or voting pattern can also induce a jaundice into the assessment. Often the sins of the father count against the children and it goes on from there.
    So it's very easy to see why lots of contributors on here offer opinions and criticism of priests when others may see these men in a different light.
    Such is life!
    The Spin Doctor

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    1. Very wise comment. There is also a difference between being weak and being bad / nasty.

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  14. It is heartening to read comments on the great and real good that is being done in the diocese here. More of this please! Even if the intention on this blog is to be critical, the balance in reporting good and bad is crucial if we are going to analyse things rationally.

    Thanks for this article.

    PS our curate, Fr McGrath, is another great priest worth mentioning. Runs marathons, has the kids doing missions, works hard and is one of the best confessors I know.

    Antrim parishioner

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  15. I was deeply sorry for starting this subject and initially dejected and depressed at the negative reactions!
    Very pleased now that people appreciate the goodness of their priests!
    It was always my belief that the majority of our priests are men of exceptional gifts and abilities - and try hard to attain the sanctity to which they have been called,
    My belief in humanity has been considerably restored!
    Carter

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