Time for a Helping Hand

RECENTLY a man asked me out of the blue “Why did you leave the priesthood?” I was taken aback by the directness of his question and replied that I wasn’t cut out for the celibate life. He laughed at my response but that evening I reflected on that difficult decision I made 35 years ago.

When I took my vows at ordination in June 1981 it was my sincere intention to remain a priest for the rest of my life.

Initially there was a honeymoon period when I was the flavour of the month and everything was new and exciting. I was then appointed to be dean of discipline at St Michael’s boarding school in Enniskillen. It was not what I wished for as I did not have happy memories of my time in boarding school.

However, I had no choice and was determined to give it my best shot and perform it in a compassionate manner unlike some of the cruelty that I had experienced in boarding school. It went well at the start as only 40 boys were boarding and they went home at weekends so I was free to do as I pleased. I tried to treat the boys with respect and they responded well although some of the more senior clerics were sceptical.

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