Everyone has their own personal story about their friendship with Fr. Kieran, as he was loved by so many, but this one is mine. I’ve known Fr. Kieran for nearly 50 years. I can’t remember the first time I met him but it goes back to when he had been ministering to our parish here at St. John of the Cross in the 1960’s. He was one of the priests who participated in my First Holy Communion. Then when I was 10 years old, in 1970 I was an Altar boy. We all loved serving his Masses as he was always so kind to us. When I became ill and homebound in my early teenage years he would come over to visit. I usually was in bed and he would find a place on the floor to sit and we would talk about all kinds of things. He was someone that you instantly felt comfortable sharing your whole life with and never feeling awkward or embarrassed.
Fr. Kieran was a humble and modest person, so much so that some years back when he started his weekly visits he wanted me to call him by his first name and I responded “OK Father”. You see I knew Fr. Kieran for so long that to me ‘Father’ was his first name and I couldn’t respond any other way! As the years went by Fr. Kieran was not just a priest who ministered to me but someone who became like a second father to me, my best friend and mentor.
Fr. Kieran was never full of himself but ALWAYS full of the Lord. That’s because Fr. Kieran and God were partners in his journey through this earthly life. They were partners in everything he thought, said and did. Every time he came to our home I felt that Jesus was walking along side him and that his presence was right there with us too.
To be a friend of Fr. Kieran’s meant you were continually being challenged and inspired to live up to the loyal faith he had in you. Without actually realizing it, you instinctively wanted to be a better person.
Fr. Kieran had a special way about him that made everyone feel like they were ‘best friends’. His love and loyalty to his friends was legendary. Other peoples’ needs were always a priority with him and it was God’s love that flowed from him to minister to his flock. He demonstrated this by writing to me twice a week for more than 10 years back in the days before the internet. He then visited me weekly for 11 years until his poor health put him into a nursing home.
I know from personal experience how he could minister to everyone from children making their First Holy Communion, to teenagers, young adults, and old age. I lived through all the ages with him. However the time has come now when I must travel the rest of my journey without my priest, second father, mentor, best friend, Fr. Kieran! After all these years spent with Fr. Kieran I feel he has given me a strong foundation to continue on my life’s journey. Everyone in our family has an imprint of Fr. Kieran’s love on their hearts, as do all of his friends, which we will carry forever. This love has spread through the years to unite all of us who knew him to form a special bond with him and our Lord.
Take care my friend and enjoy the banquet that Jesus has prepared for you which you so richly deserve. You have fulfilled God’s dream for you!!