BY Ryan McDougall | June 7 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

8-fr-sweeney

Jubilee priest says he is ‘truly blessed’ with his parish

A Coatbrige parish priest celebrating 50 years of ministry has said he was inspired to the priesthood by a vocation to serve others.

St Patrick’s Church was packed on Saturday June 1 for Fr Eamonn Sweeney’s golden jubilee, and the priest joked that it felt as if he had ‘fallen asleep for years and years and just woken up’ as the last five decades have gone so quickly.

Fr Sweeney, originally from County Tyrone in Ireland, has served at St Patrick’s for almost half of his time in the priesthood.

He said he has had ‘many blessings and tremendous support’ at the parish over the years.

“It was a great experience celebrating the jubilee,” Fr Sweeney said.

 

A priestly journey

“With things like this you begin to reflect on the great journey of the priesthood and that can be quite an emotional thing because a lot of the people who inspired you and helped to strengthen you in your journey are gone now, such as many people in my family and my parishioners.”

“Everybody’s life is a mixture of sad and happy experiences and a priest’s life is no different. In fact he enters into the emotions of his people, whether it be a marriage, a Baptism or a funeral.”

 

Inspirations

Fr Sweeney entered St Peter’s Seminary, Wexford, at 18. Reflecting on why he decided to become a priest, he said: “I was inspired by a priest at secondary school.

“He said that if you’re interested in serving others, it’s possible you can have a vocation, whereas if you’re interested in being served the chances are you don’t.

“I remember thinking ‘I’m going to give this a go’ because I felt I had a lot to give to others. In the Gospel Jesus said he wanted to serve and not to be served.

“Once I joined the seminary I was becoming more and more confirmed in my position and convinced I was on the right track. Eventually, this led to my ordination.

“At that time I had selected Motherwell as my preferred diocese and I have to say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my ministry here under all the bishops who have always been very fair to me.”

 

Gratitude

The week prior to his jubilee celebrations, Fr Sweeney’s family in Ireland held a small event for him, as he had travelled over as the celebrant for his nephew’s wedding.

At his jubilee Mass in Coatbridge, he told parishioners he ‘has a lot to be grateful for’ as he had been in seven parishes in total, but was ‘truly blessed’ to have spent so much of his ministry there and is excited for what’s still to come.

He said: “I’m feeling great and very grateful for the way I am still able to get out and about and do my work.”

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