BY JACKIE KEOGH
ST MARY'S Church in Leap was full to capacity to mark a community's deep and abiding respect for Fr Pat O'Sullivan, who not only celebrated his Golden Jubilee but also his retirement.
Fr O'Sullivan's priestly community, the Sacred Heart Missionaries, was well represented by nine priests from the surrounding pastoral area, but Fr Pat's own family was also well represented with over 30 members attending the special Mass of Thanksgiving.
But it was the community that swelled the numbers â Fr Pat's parishioners all wanted to be there to acknowledge the fact that he has been a constant source of support for everyone living in Kilmacabea parish.
A heartfelt tribute at the beginning of the mass by Des Murphy, the chairman of Leap and Glandore Parish Assembly, was met with sustained applause.
Mr Murphy likened Fr Pat, who is a native of Glengarriff, to âThe Quiet Man' saying: âIn your own gentle way, your sincerity has always been an outstanding quality, which has defined your 15 years here in Kilmacabea. Your dedication to the young, the old and the community is admirable.'
Mr Murphy added: âFr Pat has touched each one of our lives in so many ways. He has been with us through so many stages of our lives â from the womb to the tomb. He has celebrated our christenings, our communions, our confirmations, our weddings, our special masses and our family funerals.'
Speaking directly to Fr Pat â who will be celebrating his 75th birthday on August 23rd next â he added: âYou have laughed with us all through the happy occasions, and stood by us through all our sad times. Your gentle presence has been a constant support for all of us, and for that we are grateful.
âYou have always been there for everyone. Your words of wisdom, your counsel, your gentle words, your humbleness, and your unassuming ways have endeared you to us all.'
Following the Mass of Thanksgiving, which was made all the more memorable by the active participation of no less than three choirs â the Leap and Glandore senior choir, the Leap youth choir, and the Leap's children's choir â everyone headed to the community hall, where presentations were made and refreshments were enjoyed.