The past few days I have been in Dalgan Park, Navan, Co. Meath. It is the home of the Columban Missionaries. A fine facility, set on spectacular grounds it is home to many events, including Diocesan Priests’ Retreats. It is to that end, I am here, with the priests and bishop of the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois. The days have passed quickly and, thank God, gone well. It’s always good to meet with priests like this and to hear some of their stories – humorous and otherwise. I’m lucky to be able to do this.
The weather has been fantastic and the heat almost unbearable but a welcome change to winds and rain. I walked a bit – though not as much as I could have or should have but that’s another story.
The cemetery here is amazing. It is so well maintained and a sacred piece of God’s earth. God rest all buried here – included among them Fr Frank Gallagher, an old family friend, who died in 2010 after more than seventy years of priesthood.
I heard in my youth that Fr Frank had been subjected to some tragic torture and treatment during his Missionary Days in Korea. I never heard that from Frank, since he did not speak about this time but it seems certain that there’s truth in it.
Earlier today I spent a bit of time in the main chapel here in Dalgan Park and there’s a collection of pictures on the back wall, twenty-four in all, of members of the Columban Society who lost their lives tragically in the course of their “journeying for the Lord”. Twenty-three of them are priests and one a sister. May God rest their souls. They are not buried in Dalgan, most of them are buried where they were killed and for some, to this day, the whereabouts of their bodies is unknown. It was humbling to look at these faces – most of them very young – and to realise how much they were prepared to give.
I took photos of the photos. They’re not great quality but it’s my way of taking them home with me and, more than that, sharing them and their Ministry with you. (If you click on an image you will have the option of viewing in larger format and the captions will be more easily read.)
Further information available on the Columban Website