Father Mac's Diamond Jubilee

With great joy the people of Killesher on the 19th April 2015 celebrated the diamond jubilee of Canon Mac Namara.
Today we come together with great joy to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Father Mac – 60 years of faithful priestly service. We have had a number of jubilee celebrations over the years. 10 years ago, Father Comiskey celebrated his silver jubilee in Kinawley, in 2007 in Kinawley, we celebrated Canon Gaffney’s diamond jubilee, in 2013 in Swanlinbar, we celebrated Father Hannon’s Golden Jubilee. Last year Father Paddy Mc Govern celebrated his diamond jubilee in Swanlinbar and Father Jim Mc Manus celebrated his Golden Jubilee in Kinawley. Today we celebrate Father Mac’s diamond jubilee and later this year in July, I will celebrate please God, my silver jubilee. Thank God that with the shortage of priests, God has blessed the priests for the most part with good health and longevity. As priests we are in the words of the Psalm ‘priests for ever’ – a day like today is a day of great rejoicing for both clergy and laity.
  We are delighted Father Mac that you have reached this milestone and today we rejoice with you. Given the fact that almost 50 % of your priestly ministry was exercised in Saint Patrick’s Killesher and in Saint Lasir’s Wheathill, it is fitting that we give thanks here in the parish for your priestly vocation and ministry. Our celebration today gives thanks first and foremost to the Lord for calling you to serve him as a priest, for the generosity of your parents for not standing in your way, but it is also a small token of our deep appreciation and it enables us to say a heartfelt thanks to you not only for what you have done among us but also for the person that you are.
Father Mac was ordained in Saint John Lateran in Rome on 5th March 1955. He was one of eight ordained on that day. Your classmates were Father Pat Kehoe, Kildare & Leighlin, Father Dermot Connolly Dublin, Father Ted Moynihan Kerry, Father Jimmy Carroll Dublin, Father Brendan Mc Ginn Derry, Father Brendan Devlin Derry and Father Art O Reilly Derry. Father Mac spent 6 years in all studying philosophy and theology. During that time, Father Mac immersed himself in this studies, conducted in Latin and Italian. He loved Rome and used the opportunity to travel around Italy and Sicily.  It was only afterwards when he returned home and heard of a more restrictive regime in Maynooth that he realised how fortunate he had been to study in Rome. While always a true Roman, enjoying the culinary delights of Italy with a glass of two of vino, Fr. Mac was certainly not into clericalism, ‘la bella figura’ or the ‘swish of the soutane’.
After ordination Father Mac was sent as a curate to Birmingham for a year. He loved England. Just as in Rome, he enjoyed England, using his day off as an opportunity to visit Oxford, Cambridge, Gloucester etc. He then spent 5 years in Coronea, two years in Maghera, 10 years in Manorhamilton, 10 years in Arva and 29 years in Killesher/Wheathill and the last 3 years in Derrylin. What strikes me very much is how contented Father Mac has been as a priest, wherever he went. When I asked him what he enjoyed most as a priest, he said it was his relationship with the people, especially young people. He said how it wasn’t a forced relationship and that of course was true. I know it was a mutual relationship of love and affection by young and old. The stories still abound of pocketful’s of sweets and of money, relationships forged, golden memories that will last forever. In the words of Eugene Dolan, you were a good friend to the local school and always a welcome visitor. Your love of sheep is of course legendary, the four legged as well as the two. This interest started in Belturbet as a young boy growing up, helping your late father, and continued throughout your life – this special interest giving you a point of connection with people as you attended the marts in Dowra, Manorhamilton or wherever – the same with the football. You made good friends wherever you went, friends both Catholic and Protestants. You held Protestants in great esteem, just like your father before you and this love and affection was reciprocated. You are blessed Father Mac with great wit and humour which uplifted the spirits of many people down through the years, not taking yourself too seriously. You made time for people throughout your priestly life – meeting them where they were – whether it was in their own homes or chatting outside the church after Mass, spending time with the young, with the sick, at the annual bazaar, or adjourning to the pub for a bottle of stout and a chat after the mart. Your company was always appreciated. Your 60 years of priesthood were marked by faithful service to the Lord, saying your prayers and loving the people. In the words of Angela Mc Govern’s poem on your retirement:
You are gone from Killesher dear Father, you were always so faithful and true, you looked after your flock as a shepherd, the four legs as well as the two. Have a happy and healthy retirement, fond memories will always remain, of a holy and saintly pastor, who never did anything of gain.’
Father Mac, as you celebrate your diamond jubilee, may the example of your faithful service inspire someone here in the parish, maybe someone here present, to offer their lives to the Lord as a priest. I know so many of you have been deeply touched by Father Mac’s priestly ministry. How about imitating him in his generosity and saying ‘yes’ to the call of the Good Shepherd? Let today’s celebration inspire you. The church of today is desperately in need of priest labourers. So how about it? To conclude with a poem entitled:
Always for Others ( a poem about priesthood) – which Father Mac, I address to you in particular.
You are the image and likeness of God
But with you the morning awakens
With the call to rise
Not for you
But always for others.
God handpicked you from a myriad of souls
Moulded you since you were a babe
To prepare you for a journey
Not for you
But always for others.
God blessed you with wisdom
To use to give form to his plans
And love to carry them out
Not for you
But always for others.
Mary walks with you
Guiding and loving you
For to her you are a Christ
Not for you
But always for others.
You hold the Body of Christ
Embrace his name and proclaim it
And a father and counsellor you have become
Not for you
But always for others.
God forever bless you
Walk and carry you when your feet are weary
Bring peace and joy to your heart
For though your life is never for you
It is Christ’s, and he delights in you. Amen.
Padre Mac, Complimenti e tutti i miei auguri per il tuo sessantesimo anniversario della tua ordinazione. Ad multos annos. Let us give our diamond jubilarean a hearty round of applause.