ITEM RECOMMENDED BY ONE OF OUR COMMENT MAKERS - "CLOGHER CURATE".
Over 100 motorbikes roared into Garrison on Sunday afternoon in a show of support for bike enthusiast Fr. John Kearns, who is currently battling cancer.
The Monaghan native worked as a Garda, for Aer Lingus, and as a trucker before joining the priesthood. He has been based in a number of local parishes including Clogher, Clones, Brookeborough and, most recently, Garrison.
The bike-loving clergyman is Chairman of the committee responsible for the Gone But Not Forgotten Bikers Memorial; an annual Mass held in Sacred Heart Church, Clones which is attended by the biking fraternity and remembers those who have lost their lives in motorbike accidents.
Concerned about Fr. Kearns’ ailing health, the Gone But Not Forgotten Memorial committee members decided to organize a bike run to cheer him up.
“We wanted to show the man what he means to us,” explained Anne Marie Marshall, Secretary of the committee.
She and Kieran Brennan organized the run, which traveled from Monaghan, through Enniskillen and on to Garrison on Sunday.
“It was originally meant to be a surprise but we got wind that Fr. John was attending a country music festival so we had to tell him!” Anne Marie said.
“I have never seen anyone’s face light up so much,” said Anne Marie, describing Fr. Kearns’ reaction when he saw the bikes approach his parochial house. “He thought there would be around 10-12 bikes but there were 107!” she added.
“He was all excited. Around 60 bikes took him into Bundoran for a pint and dropped him home later,” she said.
The successful bike run raised €1,700 for Fr. Kearns’ chosen charity – Friends of the Cancer Centre.
Paying tribute to her friend, Anne Marie said: “John greets everyone at the Memorial. He has time for all of the attendees, from recently bereaved families to bikers he has known for years.
“The people who carry the candle-bearing their loved one's name on it hand it to Fr. John and they have told me on more than one occasion that this act in itself brings them so much comfort.
“He is more than can be put into words.”
Commenting on Facebook, Fr. Kearns thanked the bikers “for giving me a day and a memory that I will always cherish.”
He wrote: “I just love bikes...More importantly, I feel so so honored to have been invited and accepted to be part of the biking family. I am chuffed to be able to celebrate mass for our departed loved ones who have ridden with us.
“Today, and even now and for a long time to come I will cherish what the biking family gave to me – support, and the will to fight this curse of cancer.”
Thanking his friends, he concluded: “I cherish each and every one of you.”
The 2018 Gone But Not Forgotten Memorial will take place on Friday, May 4 at 8pm in Sacred Heart Church, Clones.
Thank you Clogher Curate for letting us know about Father Kearns.
He seems a very decent and down to earth man.
I'm sure his time as a Garda and trucker took any notions of grandeur he hay have had about himself.
He has found an important niche as a chaplain to the biking community.
His annual Mass for this community is a very positive ministry.
I am very sorry to hear that he is battling cancer.
I will offer Mass for him.
I am sure that many Blog readers will think of him too.