Friends and parishioners were among well-wishers at the ordination to the diaconate of Niall Leahy SJ in St Oliver Plunkett Church, Blackrock, County Louth on Monday 2 September 2019. The ceremony was celebrated by Archbishop Eamon Martin, Irish Jesuit Provincial Leonard Moloney and Parish Priest Fr Padraig Keenan. Niall, originally from the locality, worked as an accountant before entering the Society of Jesus in 2009.
In his post-communion reflection, Fr Padraig Keenan, Parish Priest of Haggardstown and Blackrock, made the auspicious remark that the ordination to the diaconate of “local boy” Niall coincided with the centennial anniversary of the laying of the church’s foundation stone. He said, “Ordinations are much rarer events in Ireland today than 100 years ago, but this beautiful and uplifting celebration is a reminder to all that the Lord never ceases to bring new life to the Catholic community.”
The ordaining prelate, Dr Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh, struck a resonant note of hope and took the opportunity in his homily to remind Niall that preaching the Gospel always ought to give hope to the people. He focused on the rejuvenating role of the Holy Spirit, who “gives life and vitality to the believer regardless of the effects of age on the body.” He noted that Jesus himself would be considered a youth today, and reminded the congregation that “if anyone wants to retain their youthfulness and enthusiasm for life then they ought to seek these gifts from the Holy Spirit, and not from any cream or chemical!”
With their ardent singing the parish choir stirred every heart in a full church. The congregation responded generously, praying and singing with true devotion throughout the Mass. The newly ordained deacon stressed how happy and grateful he was: “Personally it was a joy to have so many people gather here in Blackrock, my home village, to celebrate the call that is at the heart of my life as a Jesuit. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I am incredibly grateful to everyone from the parish and the local community who made it happen”.
Niall is second from left in the photo.