The twenty-seven delegates to the Irish Provincial Assembly have elected the two Councillors to assist Fr Malachy Flanagan, the recently-elected Provincial Leader for Ireland.
The first Councillor and Vice Provincial Leader is Fr Eamonn Finnegan, from Whitecross, Co Armagh. One of a family of seven (2 girls and 5 boys), Fr Eamonn began his life with the SMA as a Brother. After priestly ordination in 1982 he was assigned to Badagry parish in the south-west corner of Nigeria where he served with Fr Eddie Hartnett SMA (from Cork). Recalled to Ireland in 1986, he subsequently served as Family Vocations Community (FVC) Director in the north of Ireland (Dromantine) and then in the West (living initially in Claremorris but later in the SMA House, Claregalway). In 1995, he was appointed Superior of the African Missions, Dromantine, Newry where he oversaw a major renovation of the House. Elected Provincial Councillor in 2001, he moved to Cork and took responsibility for the Promotion portfolio. In 2008 he returned to Lagos, Nigeria and served for five years in the parish on Ajah on the Lekki peninsula, beginning the construction of the new parish church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help which will accommodate 1,500 people. He was appointed the Leader of the Claregalway Apostolic community, Co Galway, in 2013.
Galway-born Fr Anthony Kelly hails from Aughrim, Ballinasloe, one of a family of five. An uncle was one of the great early missionary bishops in Nigeria, Right Rev P J Kelly SMA. A greatly loved pastor, Bishop Kelly served as Vicar Apostolic of Western Nigeria and then as Bishop of Benin City from 1939-1973.
A noted hurler during his Maynooth days Fr Anthony won two Fitzgibbon Cup medals (1974 and ’75). Ordained in 1977, Fr Anthony was assigned to Ghana and ministered there for thirteen years before his recall to join the SMA Vocations team, based in Dromantine, Newry. After nine years he returned to Africa, to join the SMA team in Ndola diocese, Zambia. His organizational skills were appreciated by the SMA members there and he was elected Regional Superior in 2006. After a sabbatical year in 2014, Fr Anthony accepted a request from the then SMA Superior General, Fr Fachtna O’Driscoll, to go to the SMA House of Studies in Nairobi and serve as Spiritual Director to our seminarians, who come from several African countries and other parts of the world. The SMA Superior General, Fr Antonio Porcellato, who is attending part of the Assembly, confirmed Fr Anthony’s election but added, “even though I lose a valuable formation staff member in Nairobi”.
Following the election, the Assembly delegates gathered in the Chapel for prayer and then had a celebratory supper.
We wish Fathers Malachy, Eamonn and Anthony every blessing for the coming six-year term. The Assembly work continues until Friday and we ask your prayers for a successful conclusion to our deliberations.