Bishop of the Diocese of Meath Michael Smith yesterday (Sunday, September 8) revealed details of the appointment of seven new parish priests in the diocese.
The new appointments include Fr Joseph Gallagher, who will leave his role as parish priest of Kilcormac to succeed Monsignor Heaney as parish priest of Tullamore. Mgr Heaney is to remain in the parochial house in Tullamore as a vicar general, and will in future serve as a pastoral assistant.
Former parish priest of Collinstown Fr Michael Walsh has been appointed parish priest of Kilcormac meanwhile, while former Tullamore curate Fr Patrick Donnelly is to take the role of parish priest of Collinstown.
All appointments are effective from Sunday, September 29 next.
Speaking as news of the new appointments was revealed Mgr Heaney said he has found “great joy and fulfilment” in his role as parish priest in Tullamore over the past nine years. However he said he feels the time has come now to hand over to a younger man.
Mgr Heaney was ordained in 1964, and has served as part of the chaplaincy team in Birmingham in the UK, as curate in Rahan and Mucklagh, as curate and parish priest in Dunderry in Meath, as parish priest in Kingscourt in Cavan and finally as parish priest in Tullamore. He became vicar general of the Diocese of Meath in 2004, a role he will retain into the future.
Welcoming the news that Fr Gallagher is to take over as parish priest in Tullamore, Mgr Heaney said he is grateful for the opportunity to continue in the parish as pastoral assistant.
“I hope I can continue in this role as long as I feel able to carry on the work,” he said, adding thanks to all priests he has worked with over the years.
New Tullamore parish priest Fr Gallagher is a native of nearby Mucklagh. He was ordained in his home parish in 1988, and this year marks the silver jubilee of his ordination. Over his 25 years as a priest he has served as curate and administrator at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Mullingar and as parish priest of Kilcormac.
Meanwhile Kilcormac is from September 29 next to be served by Fr Michael Walsh. A native of Milltown in Westmeath, Fr Walsh was ordained in 1974. He served in Nobber, Clonmellon and Dunshaughlin before becoming curate in Trim and later Kenstown. He was appointed parish priest of Collinstown in 1998.
Speaking of his new role as parish priest in Collinstown, Tullamore curate and Ireland’s youngest parish priest Fr Patrick Donnelly (33) said he values his time spent in Tullamore since 2010 and previously in Kingscourt and Ratoath.
“During my eight years as a priest I have been privileged to have been able to work in three very different parishes from rural, the commuter belt and a vibrant town, as well as working as a catechist and chaplain to various different post primary schools,” he said.
“I look forward to bringing this experience to Collinstown as well as learning new ways of ministry from the people of Collinstown.”
Fr Donnelly also added his appreciation for Tullamore. “I am sad to leave Tullamore parish which has been so supportive of me and I am grateful for all they have taught me,” he said.