Celebrations for ‘awesome’ Fr Michael’s jubilee

Canon McGourty with his family, from left, John McGourty (brother), Michael McGourty (nephew), Eileen McGourty (sister in law), Tony McGourty (brother) and Clare McGourty (sister)    RMG60

Canon McGourty with his family, from left, John McGourty (brother), Michael McGourty (nephew), Eileen McGourty (sister in law), Tony McGourty (brother) and Clare McGourty (sister) RMG60


THERE were celebrations in Irvinestown at the weekend as the parish gathered to celebrate Fr Michael McGourty’s golden jubilee. 
A special Mass of celebration was held in the town on Sunday evening, followed by a get-together at St Mary’s College, where local school children were among those who turned out to show their love for the Belcoo man, who has been parish priest in Irvinestown for nearly twenty years. 
Speaking to the Herald, P7s from St Paul’s PS said Fr McGourty was “awesome” and “the best priest,” as well as being very talented, a great singer, very generous, optimistic, and modest. 
“We love him,” added the children, who had written poetry for their chaplain that was displayed on Sunday. 
Fr McGourty is certainly a popular man around the parish, and that appreciation goes both ways. Having served in Bundoran, Kilveen, and Trillick and Clogher, when he was appointed to Irvinestown 18 years ago it was something of a homecoming. 
“I always wished to be back in my home county,” he said.  “I think it’s fantastic here, it’s a lovely parish, with lovely people, in a lovely setting. 
It’s a very vibrant parish with a great community. There’s always something going on, the people do a lot here. 
They’re very willing to help out in any way.”
Ordained in 1966 at the age of 23, Fr McGourty attended St Michael’s, “when it was the old building”, before attending St Patrick’s in Maynooth. 
Back then there were a lot more priests being ordained. He advised anyone considering the priesthood today to “go out and get some training first” as when he was young “there was no such thing as late vocations” unlike today. 
“If the path of God is calling, you will enjoy following it,” he said. 
 Fr McGourty added lay involvement in parishes had become “absolutely crucial” and said the work of parishioners in Irvinestown was invaluable. 
Speaking of his celebrations, Fr McGourty said while he had got many kind gifts and well wishes at the weekend, the “most pleasant surprise of all” had come from the Bishop. 
“He has invited me to become a member of the Diocesan Chapter, known as the Cathedral Chapter. 
They meet to consult and advise on issues. It was totally unexpected. I felt it was a great honour, and the parish feels very honoured as well.” 

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