THE parishioners on the Sheep’s Head peninsula were saddened this week to hear that much-loved parish priest Fr Ger Galvin was to retire, as he continues his struggle with incurable cancer.
In an emotional farewell broadcast online, Fr Galvin asked for prayers and forgiveness as he explained about the cancer in his bones and lungs.
‘I wish it wasn’t like this. I wish I could shake your hands and say goodbye but I can’t, I don’t have the energy anymore,’ Father Ger said, as he teared up before the camera.
Fr Ger’s retirement was officially announced by the Bishop of Cork and Ross Fintan Gavin last week, and as a firm advocate of technology in his work, it was fitting that the priest used video to reach out to his legion of friends across his parish, Muintir Bhaire.
Fr Galvin first arrived to take over the care of his three churches and the communities at the Sacred Heart Church in Durrus; the Church of Mary, Star of the Sea in Kilcrohane, and St Patrick’s Church in Rusnacahara in 2009 and he quickly became a leading light and a very popular priest on the peninsula.
No stranger to bright lights, Fr Galvin was also a regular at the famous Ahakista quiz which was MC’d annually by local resident Graham Norton.
Norton famously described Fr Galvin as being ‘a lot easier to handle than Lady Gaga’ and Fr Galvin offered his culinary skills (an evening of him cooking dinner for a group), as a top prize at the sold-out quiz events.
Residents, both at home and abroad, looked forward to his live-streamed Christmas Mass from Kilcrohane every year.
In his farewell address, Fr Ger spoke of his joy of serving in the parish over the years. However, he also asked for forgiveness as he said no one is perfect and nobody gets it right all the time.
‘I certainly made my fair share of mistakes and blunders, but I have never set out to deliberately hurt anyone or to offend anybody or to upset them. But I know I have, by my words, deeds and lack of same,’ he said. ‘And therefore I now want to apologise to those people whom I upset or disappointed or hurt or let down in any way. I hope that some day you can forgive me for my failures and for any hurt that I may have caused you.’
‘I am healed and that means the taking away of fear, anger, resentment, self-pity, pain and much more – they are gone and they are replaced with hope and with love.’ As he signed off, with tears in his eyes, Fr Ger asked for the people of his parish to pray for him.
‘I will treasure your prayers and I will never forget the people of this parish, the people of my parish. God bless you and thank you,’ he said.