TWO of the four priests to be ordained this year from Maynooth grew up just a couple of kilometres away in Castleconnell and O’Brien’s Bridge.
Ger Fitzgerald and Ger Jones, who along with having the same first names also share a birthday, albeit two years apart. Yet they never met until they started in Maynooth in 2005.
Ger Fitzgerald, St Flannan’s Terrace, Castleconnell will be the first Limerick born priest ordained since Fr Chris O’Donnell in 2005.
Mr Fitzgerald, who won’t officially be Fr Fitzgerald until he is ordained in Castleconnell on June 19, said he first thought of becoming a priest when he was nine or 10 years old.
“It would have always been something at the back of my mind that I’d like to be a priest. When you hit secondary school you begin to lose interest in the whole religious side of things and get more interested in girlfriends and part-time jobs.
“As I got older I had girlfriends and I had a couple of different jobs but all that time it was lingering away in the back of my mind to become a priest,” said Mr Fitzgerald, who added that his father Patrick and late mother Mary were always very encouraging.
He began to consider it seriously when he was 23.
“I was worried would I be able for celibacy, able for obedience, able for the life. After a lot of prayer and talking to the parish priest here and one or two priests in Limerick I took the decision to go for it. If it wasn’t going to suit me or if it’s not for me it won’t be the end of the world,” said Mr Fitzgerald.
Six years later he is now only weeks away from being ordained.
He will be one of the youngest priests in the country and disputes the idea that people are losing their faith or young people don’t care about religion anymore.
“People do turn to priests looking for hope, looking for solace. As well as that last year I was in Lourdes, there was a crowd of 50 to 60 young people who took time out of their holidays to help the elderly and the sick. I don’t understand how they can say young people are losing their faith when there are people like that,” he said.