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67 year old widower takes vows as priest in Limerick

WIDOWED father of two John O’Byrne, 67, was yesterday ordained to the priesthood in St John’s Cathedral.

WIDOWED father of two John O’Byrne, 67, was yesterday ordained to the priesthood in St John’s Cathedral.

Fr O’Byrne, from Janesboro, was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Rev. Dr. Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly. He decided to become a priest in the aftermath of his wife Martha’s death in 2004, and just recently completed his four years of seminary training at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome.

Speaking to the Limerick Leader before the ceremony, the newly ordained priest said he was “a bit anxious, but looking forward to it”.

“If I am to be honest, I am always apprehensive moving into something different, something new,” explained Fr O’Byrne, whose children Jonathan and Mary and three grandchildren participated in the mass.

“My married life experience has to stand to me, my working life experience, having experienced difficulties that people encounter, mortgages, rearing children, married life itself, I would hope that I would have a compassionate understanding for people. That would be my hope,” added the former Irish Cement employee, where he worked for 43 years.

He acknowledged that these were tough times for the church, noting that he was deeply saddened by the recently published Cloyne report, but said “the church has come through crisis before and, please God, it will come through it again”.

Speaking afterward, Archbishop Clifford said he would like to see more people following John’s lead.

“We would like to have more of them. There is a group of people now like him, late vocations and they could get us through to times when younger men might go again,” he said.

“It is important at the present time that priests would be with the people because people love their local priests and scandals won’t put them off their love for their local priest even though what happened is a scandal and very regrettable,” he added.

Fr O’Byrne will celebrate his first mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church at 7pm this Monday.

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