07 February 2019, The Tablet

Daniel O’Leary - the priest’s view


I received the news of Donal’s death only this morning. My heart feels like a stone.

In that regrettable male quirk of hesitation and shyness, I am not sure I ever told him just how deeply influential he has been in my own life and ministry. In more than 50 years of wrestling with the challenge to be an authentic believer and, even more, an effective minister, there have been few voices that have rung as true as his. For me, his insights never failed to hit the gong, particularly in our search to bring genuine humanity to the Gospel.

But our relationship has meant more to me than ideas and writing. I simply loved him. His absurd adoration of Irish rugby. His outrageous pride at getting a medal in a Seniors’ sprint race – in front of his mother. His deep rootedness in County Kerry. His support for Australia whenever we played games against England (probably for my benefit). His struggles with church authorities and blinkered bishops. His love of the exuberance of dance. His deep appreciation of the language of the poets: it was he who introduced me to the great Mary Oliver, who died in the same week.

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