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Diocese of Derry cleric Fr Michael Keaveney marks 70th year as priest


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Fr Michael Keaveney was born in Moville, Co Donegal, in 1927 and was ordained in 1951

Fr Michael Keaveney was born in Moville, Co Donegal, in 1927 and was ordained in 1951

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Fr Michael Keaveney was born in Moville, Co Donegal, in 1927 and was ordained in 1951

A priest celebrating 70 years since his ordination is understood to be the first to reach such a significant milestone in the Derry Diocese

Fr Michael Keaveney was born in Moville, Co Donegal, in 1927 and was ordained in 1951.

Last night at Stella Maris Church in Faughanvale, where Fr Keaveney resides, Bishop Donal McKeown celebrated Mass in thanksgiving.

It was viewed by Fr Keaveney's family, friends and parishioners via webcam.

Fr Keaveney said he viewed the past seven decades as a priest teaching in St Columb's College and in parish ministry as "a privilege".

Although advanced years, ill health and mobility issues prevent Fr Keaveney from ministering, he still recalls his ordination with clarity.

He said: "As I begin to realise I have reached 70 years as a priest, my first reaction is to thank God from the bottom of my heart for the great privilege that that has been.

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"I know that there must have been priests who have reached this milestone in other places but I can't think of any who have done so in our diocese.

"It may seem a long time ago now, but the morning of my ordination is still vivid in my memory.

"It took place in the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome on March 10, 1951.

"The ceremony was performed by Cardinal Micara, the Pope's deputy, who was in charge of the actual Diocese of Rome."

Following his ordination Fr Keaveney returned to the Derry Diocese.

He added: "When I returned home I was told by my Bishop Dr Neil Farren that he was appointing me to the staff of St Columb's College.

"I may have been thinking of going to some parish as a curate but I soon got used to the routine at the college.

"Hopefully I was a good influence for good on many of my pupils."

Fr Keaveney was eventually placed in the newly created Galliagh parish.

He said: "I had plenty of experience of pastoral work so I was no novice and Galliagh was a great place to start.

"I went on as parish priest in Killygordon in Donegal and after that I was 10 years as parish priest in Omagh before retiring to become a curate in Faughanvale in 2002.

"Four years later I suffered a stroke.

"As a result I had to completely retire in 2008 and since then I have remained a resident in the parish."


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