Carnaun School and Religious Vocations - Fr. Michael Higgins


I have been asked to write an article and share some reflections on Carnaun School and Religious Vocations.  During my years at Carnaun School I was always impressed with the way that the teachers promoted religious vocations.  They certainly showed a great interest in the missionary activity of the Church.  The words of Jesus, "come and follow me" were very much a reality' in the school programme.  We had talks given to us by priests and religious on vocations and the fulfillment that it can bring to a person's life.  It was many of these talks that helped students to make a decision to follow a vocation in the priesthood or religious life.

Vocation to the priesthood and religious life is a call and decision for the Lord.  Vocation is a life of faith, leaping for a journey that will take you where you have never been.  Vocation is a life of hope, responding through prayer to a discerning call to make a difference.  Vocation is a gift of love, witnessing to the prophetic mission of gospel values.  In the light of this challenge many students of Camaun School have responded to the call of Jesus and have played a vital part in the missionary activity of the Church not only here in Ireland but in many other countries around the world.  This is very obvious from the brief biographical sketches that follow of former students.

Delia Coffey (1922) joined the Presentation Sisters in New York.  After receiving a M. A. in Mathematics from Fordham University she taught in many different schools which are staffed by the Presentation Sisters.  Her students won many awards as a result of her excellent teaching.  Many of her students won scholarships and are now enjoying their professional careers as mathematicians.  She also received grants for research in the field of mathematics.  Besides her many activities, she also found time in teaching "The Native American Indians".

John Walsh (1924) studied for the priesthood in All Hallows College, Dublin.  He was ordained in the Church of the Assumption, Athenry in 1935 for the Diocese of Middlesborough.  Since then he has served in different parts of the Diocese and is presently retired.

Julia Fahy (1928) studied at the Presentation Covent, Athenry and afterwards entered the Incarnate Words Community in Dunmore.  For almost sixty years she has served the Church in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas.  She has held different positions with her community and was responsible for running an orphanage for about 20 years.  She is presently retired but still has a very active life.  She now enjoys visiting the elderly and shut-ins.

Rosalic Walsh (1936) entered the Daughters of Charity in 1942.  During her religious life she has been involved in health care and nursing in the various hospitals run by her community.  She has served as Administrator for some years in St. Mary's Hospital, Lanark, Scotland.  However, in recent years she has become involved in pastoral ministry to those who are terminally ill and home visitation to the elderly which she enjoys.
 

Paddy Higgins (1943) studied for the priesthood at St. Peter's College, Wexford.  He was ordained in 1954 for the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas.  Since then he has served in different parishes of the Diocese and is presently Pastor of St. Patrick's Church in Corpus Christi.
During his term as Pastor, St. Patrick's School was among the 230 elementary schools to receive the "National Award for Excellence in Education".  Over 80,000 elementary schools in the United States competed for the award.  The award was presented at the White House in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan.  He has also received many other awards and in 1968 he was selected as Rural Minister of the year in the state of Texas and it is given each year by Texas A & M University.
 

John Corbett (1947) studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1960 in Cluain Mhuire, Galway for the Redemptorist Congregation.  Since then he has been assigned to different Redemptorist Colleges in Ireland.  However, he has spent most of his priestly life at the Marianella House of Studies in Dublin.

Richard Higgins (1948) was ordained at St. Peter's College, Wexford in 1958 for the Diocese of Motherwell, Scotland where he served for many years.  In recent years he worked in the Diocese of Galway and was Chaplain at the University College Hospital, Galway.  He is presently assigned to the parish of Maree, Oranmore.  He has many hobbies including golf.  He has shown a keen interest in the development of the Athenry Golf Club and this past year served as its President.

Martin Rabbitt (1947) studied for the priesthood at Moyne Park, Ballyglunin.  He was ordained in 1960 for the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart at twenty three years of age.  He was the youngest ever to be ordained for the Order.  After two years of teaching in England, he left for Indonesia where he served the Church for six years and afterwards in the United States for twenty years.  He is presently assigned to a parish in Hertfordshire, England.

Anne Cooley (1949) and Mae Cooley (1949) were professed in the community of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny, Ferbane, Offaly.  They have worked in different assignments in their community both in England and Australia.

Mary Finn (1950) entered the Sisters of St. Thomas of Villanova in the United States.  After spending some years nursing in Paris, she taught secondary school in the United States.  She is presently doing nursing and home visitation of the elderly in a parish.

Breda Rabbitt (1950) joined the Sisters of Nazareth.  She has had different assignments both in Ireland and England especially with the office of development and fund raising for her religious community.  She is presently assigned to Nazareth House, Sligo, where she works taking care of the elderly and the sick.

Michael Higgins (1951) studied for the priesthood at the University of San Diego and was ordained in 1964.  After several years in a parish, he pursued graduate studies in Canon Law and Dogmatic Theology in Washington, D.C. and Rome and obtained his Doctorate in Canon Law and Doctorate in Divinity.  After his return to the Diocese he taught Dogmatic Theology and Canon Law at the University of San Diego.  In 1979 he was chosen as one of the fifty experts out of possible thousands to meet with His Holiness, John Paul 11 when he visited the United States.  His articles and books have gained widespread recognition, especially his book on The Historical and Canonical Development of the Anointing of the Sick.
 

We also have had three past pupils who have died and gone to their eternal reward.

Joseph Corbett (1944) was ordained for the Redemptorist Community in November, 1955.  After an outstanding academic career, he was asked after ordination to study for the Doctorate of Canon Law in Rome which he obtained with honours.  He was appointed professor of Canon Law at Cluain Mhuire, Galway.  Later in his life he worked in the Archdiocese of Chicago doing counselling and parish work.  He passed to his eternal reward on September 10, 1977.  May he rest in peace.

Patrick J. Duffy (1943) studied for the priesthood at St. Patrick's College, Carlow.  He was ordained in 1954 for the Diocese of Yakima in Washington State.
After some years in parish work, he was invited by his bishop to study civil law at Haryard University and obtained his law degree. Later he obtained a Ph.D at Stanford University in California.  As a result of his outstanding academic record at both universities, he was offered the position of Professor of Education at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D. C. In 1976 he accepted a professorship at the University of San Francisco where he was acclaimed more than once teacher of the year.  It was here that he became ill in 1989 and passed to his eternal reward on April 22, 1990.  May he rest in peace.

John Glynn (1912) was ordained to the priesthood at the Irish College in Rome in 1926.  He studied theology at the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome where he obtained his degree in theology with honours.  After his ordination he served on the staff at St. Jarlath's College, Tuam.  Later in his life he served in different parishes in the Archdiocese of Tuam and became Parish Priest of Crossboyne where he served the parish for thirty years until his retirement in 1986.  He was admired for his humility and his great love for the poor.  He passed to his eternal reward on December 25, 1986.  May he rest in peace.

These were gifted priests and possessed exceptional qualities as loyalty to their friends; an understanding of differences; an appreciation of life and a value of time.  They had brilliant minds, constantly searching and questioning.  They were men of prayer and had a remarkable love for the priesthood and the Church.  We can definitely say that the deaths of these gifted priests will leave us and the Church poorer for their passing.

By Michael Higgins, M.A., D.D., D. C.L.Diocese of San Diego, California for "Carnaun School, Athenry 1891 - 1991"


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