A HAPPY PRIEST There was sadness in Wexford last week as Monsignor Lory Kehoe, who served as a priest around the county for decades, was laid to rest. reports
THE DEATH of Monsignor Joseph Laurence (Lory) Kehoe brought a real sense of sadness to people in many places, the Bishop of Ferns, Denis Brennan told the congregation at his funeral Mass on Saturday in Clonard Church where he served as parish priest for almost a decade.
‘Lory was a father figure in the Diocese and was held in great affection and esteem by all who knew him. His pastoral style was one of gentleness and compassion,’ said the bishop.
Monsignor Kehoe passed away peacefully in Wexford General Hospital on November 30, following a short illness, having served as a priest in parishes of the Diocese of Ferns for over 50 years including Ballycanew, New Ross, Clonard, Craanford and Gorey and also St Peter’s College and the St John of God community where he became chaplain following his retirement from active ministry.
His death also struck a chord in Savannah, Georgia where he made a number of trips to explore and document the links between Wexford and Savannah. His book ‘County Wexford and Savannah, Georgia, 1848— 1860’ was in great demand in the southern American city.
Born in 1935, Monsignor Kehoe was a son of national school teacher Micheál Kehoe and Margaret Kehoe (née Wadding) of Glynn and a nephew of Fr Joseph Wadding. He was educated at Glynn National School, St Peter’s College secondary school and St Peter’s seminary, and was ordained at St Peter’s College on May 31, 1959.
His first posting was to Ballycanew, where he served from 1959 to 1969, and during his time there he was instrumental in the building of a new village school, which is still in use today. Fr Kehoe was transferred to St Peter’s College as spiritual director a week before the official opening in September 1969, which he attended.
He was appointed curate in New Ross in July 1976 and was president of St Michael’s Boxing Club in the town for two years when the club was getting on its feet. He was also instrumental in the club’s move from the Scout Hall to its premises on Michael Street. He continued to have an interest in St Michael’s even after his departure from New Ross.
He became parish priest of Clonard in July 1985 and was involved in the planning stages of the area’s community centre. He became PP of Craanford in September 1994. Four years later, in 1998, he was appointed vicar general of the diocese of Ferns and the following year became parish priest of Gorey, where he served for a decade up to August 2009, when he retired. He was appointed vicar forane in February 2000 and was given the rank of monsignor in September 2001.
Monsignor Kehoe celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination at a well attended function in Gorey in 2009. A gathering of 64 clergy participated in his jubilee Mass. The following year, he was invited back to Gorey to be honoured at a civic reception hosted by Gorey Town Council.
Bishop Brennan said the past few months have taken a heavy toll on the diocese with the deaths of Fr Fintan Morris, Canon Matt Glynn and now Monsignor Lory.
He described Monsignor Lory as a happy priest with a profound love for the church. He had many interests including the Irish language, history and Gaelic games but the burning passion of his life was the health and welfare of the church and its mission to serve people.
‘Priesthood wasn’t something Lory did, it was something he was wrapped up in. As we would say nowadays, it was in his DNA, and he spent his life and talents living it out in the service of God and people’, said Bishop Brennan.
‘Lory was a man of lasting values, a believer and a follower. He was a man of God for whom faith and reason rhymed and for this we give thanks today.’
In addition to his pastoral appointments, he served the diocese in many other ways. In 1996 he was appointed vicar general, a position which brought a heavy workload, according to the bishop.
‘It was also a position which demanded sensitivity, discretion and a listening heart. In those areas he was never found wanting and on a personal level I have always appreciated his wise and kindly counsel,’ he said,.
‘We feel a sense of gratitude today that he was a part of our lives for so long, part of the lives of so many people in the places he served and part of our special moments as diocese.’
‘We would love if that could continue but we know it can’t. There is a sadness in that but I think Monsignor Lory would like us to remember the happy times today – the matches in the park, the priests’ reunions, at home and abroad, the clerical gatherings, his golden jubilee in Gorey eight years ago, the happy parish days in Ballycanew, New Ross, here in Clonard, in
Monsignor Kehoe receiving a presentation from GAA president Christie Cooney at the Glynn-Barntown GAA Club’s 125-year celebrations in October 2010. The presentation was made to recognise Monsignor Kehoe’s dedication to the club over the years.
The late Monsignor Lory Kehoe.