Fr Sean was a Fermanagh ‘great’

ONE of Fermanagh’s best ever GAA players, Fr Sean McGrath, has passed away this week.
On Monday morning the Care Unit in St Patrick’s Kiltegan, Co Wicklow, announced the death, commenting, “Our sincere sympathy to the McGrath family. May Sean’s gentle soul rest in peace.”
Aged 76 years, Fr Sean was the son of Hugh McGrath and his wife Eleanor (née Leonard) of Edenaveigh, Ederney.
He was the fifth born in a family of three girls and eight boys and received his primary education at Moneyvriece Primary School before proceeding to St Michael’s College, Enniskillen, where he completed his A Levels in June 1963.
He joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1963. After completing the Spiritual Year he went to St Patrick’s College, Douglas, Cork, and obtained a BA degree at UCC. He returned to St Patrick’s College, Kiltegan, in September 1967 for a four year course in theology and was ordained a priest in St Joseph’s Church, Ederney, on the April 18 1971.
The ordaining prelate was Most Rev Patrick Mulligan, the Bishop of Clogher. His cousin Fr Joe McVeigh was ordained in the same ceremony.
After ordination Sean was appointed to St Patrick’s College, Buchlyvie, Scotland, where he taught for two years. In 1973 he was appointed to Grenada, a new mission opened by the Society in 1970. It would be Sean’s home for the next six years. He continued his teaching ministry and taught in St David’s School and also served in a number of parishes including Grand Roy. In 1979 he was appointed Assistant Director of the Spiritual Year Programme and was based at Kiltegan.
In 1980 Sean was appointed to Brazil where he would remain for the following thirty eight years. After completing a language course in Petropolis, a city on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, he went to work with Dermot Daly in Jardim Mitsutani which had recently been carved from the parish of São João Batista, Pirajussara
In 1986 he moved to the east of São Paulo and worked in the Cohab Itaquera. In 1992 he moved to Jardim São Bernardo in the Diocese of Santo Amaro. Sean took a sabbatical in 1999 and spent some time in Rome where he studied at the Missionaries of Africa. He returned to São Paulo in September 2000 and went to work in Paróquia Cristo Rei off the Rodovia Anhanguera. In 2006 he moved to Paróquia Sagrada Família, Jardim Antartica. He retired to the Central House in 2012.
Sean dedicated himself totally to the people whom he served. He had a special interest in the poor and in those left behind by society. In every parish where he worked he helped to establish crèches for the poorer children. Through the generous support he received from his family he was able to erect parish centres in all the communities he served. These buildings served as churches and also centres for social projects.
Sean was a very gifted sportsman in his youth. He excelled at Gaelic football and was noted for his athleticism, skill, strength and determination.
He won two Sigerson Cup medals with UCC and also represented Ulster in the Railway Cup competition as well being a regular on the Fermanagh Senior Football team. He was also a very faithful member of the Ederney GAA team and nothing gave him greater pleasure than playing alongside his seven brothers in the local colours. Together they won a Fermanagh County Championship in 1968.
His health began to deteriorate during his final tour in São Paulo. He returned to Ireland in the summer of 2018 and settled in Kiltegan.
Sean was predeceased by his sister Sr Bernadette (Our Lady of the Missions), his brother Colm and his sister-in-law Mena.
He is survived by his sisters Geraldine and Anne (Hynes), his brothers Anthony, Brendan, Leonard, Ciaran, Tom and Maurice, his sisters-in-law Angela, Anne, Mary, Patricia, Vicki and Mary.

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