A MONSIGNOR who is to be ordained a cardinal in Rome this weekend, has strong ties with West Cork.
Monsignor Maurice Piat from Mauritius studied at Kimmage Manor in Dublin in the 60s, where he struck up a relationship with John Tobin from Leap, who was also a student there at the time.
John also struck up a friendship with another student from Mauritius – Denis Wiehe. The friendship continued down through the years, with all three writing the odd letter and exchanging Christmas cards.
Both Maurice Piat and Denis Weihe continued in the priesthood, Piat became the head of the Catholic Church in Mauritius, while Denis Wiehe heads up the Catholic Church in the nearby island of Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean.
‘Both men have fond memories of their time studying in Ireland and have occasionally returned here,’ says John’s son Gerard. ‘It is a pure coincidence as I married a Mauritian lady in the parish church in Leap in July 2008. The wedding was attended by by over 20 people who travelled from Mauritius. It was both a Roman Catholic and a Hindu ceremony, and it ignited much interest from Maurice Piat back in Mauritius, and he invited the Tobin family to visit him.’
Gerard visited Monsignor Piat in March of this year. ‘I have visited Mauritius a number of times. However, it is much similar to meeting with the Pope, as there is a fair amount of protocol to follow!’
While the two men met, another interesting connection emerged. ‘Fr Peter Queally from Courtmacsherry was also a former classmate of Maurice Piat’s and my father John Tobin’s, at Kimmage Manor,’ explained Gerard.
‘When I spoke with Maurice Piat in March, he expressed a keen interest to visit Ireland in 2017 and particularly West Cork, as his old friends reside here. He also expressed a wish to visit the parish church in Leap – the scene of the Mauritiun/ West Cork coming together in 2008,’ said Gerard.
Maurice Piat will be appointed a cardinal by Pope Francis in Rome on Saturday, November 19th, where the assembly of cardinals, chaired by Pope Francis, will take place.