- Fr. Oswald Doherty C.P. R.I.P.
sudden death of Father Oswald Doherty C.P. on the 14th April in his room
at St Gabriel's Retreat, The Graan, came as a great shock to the Passionist
Community, our coworkers, and all who came to know and love Oswald since
he came here eight years ago. Oswald was a tireless worker who was ever-willing
to help with Church duties. On the day before he died, he offered to help
with confessional duty. He played a full part in Holy Week and said the
7:30 a.m. Mass on Easter Sunday.
Oswald (Anthony) Doherty was born near Carndonagh, Donegal in September
1925. He was one of ten children and is survived by his brother Hugh (Carndonagh),
sisters Sally (Doherty) Letterkenny and Mary Rose (McElhinney) Dungiven,
as well as brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews and a wide
Oswald was a late vocation (for that time). He worked in his uncle's public
house in Limavady, Co Derry for a number of years before commencing his
studies for the Priesthood with the Passionists in Wheatfield, Belfast
on 12th January, 1946. He entered the novitiate at The Graan in August
1949 and was professed a Passionist on September 15th, 1950.
He then went to Collooney, Co Sligo, to study philosophy, before finishing
his studies in Mount Argus and Ordination to the Priesthood on May 26th
1956. He stayed in Dublin for a year before going to Drum-mohr, Musselburgh
in Scotland in 1957. From January 1st 1958 to August 1960, he was Director
of Students in Dankieth, Scotland.
In September 1960, he was sent to Africa to pioneer a Mission in what
is now known as Botswana. It was here he spent the greater part of his
priestly life. On his return, he settled in The Graan in 1996.
Life was never easy for him in Africa or indeed before his ordination.
It was difficult for him to resume studies so late in life. One of his
brothers was close to ordination in Maynooth when he tragically died of
Tuberculosis. His mother suffered greatly from an arthritic condition
and in fact was unable to be present at his ordination.
When he first went to Africa, he learned the language and then took over
a sprawling area in Serowe, the ancestral home of the Khamas. Sir Seretse
Khama was the first leader of an independent Botswana. Oswald had the
honour of taking the funeral service for Sir Seretse.
During his early years there, he lived in the most primitive conditions
imaginable. For the first ten years, roads were non-existent, there was
no electricity in the village and the only phone, primitive in the extreme,
was in the post office. Oswald got by with paraffin lamps and candles.
In a short time he built a church, a house, a school, a clinic and then
a convent. In 1970, be was blessed with the arrival of the Ursuline Sisters
who had in their midst a doctor, a dentist and highly trained teachers.
he had the church packed to capacity and then looked after almost a dozen
outstations some of which were so remote that he had to sleep overnight
in a truck. Today they are parishes with resident priests.
During those days he kept a place in his heart for The Graan. He frequently
asked his family to pray that he would get back here to end his days.
Thankfully, he got his wish. He was a most willing member of the community,
always wanting to help with duty. His special apostolates were saying
Mass and attending the residents of The Graan Abbey Nursing home, many
of whom became his close friends and looking after his Wednesday Night
Prayer Group. He will be sadly missed for his good humour, his devotion
to his priestly duties and his keen interest in every detail of Passionist
Fr Oswald was buried in The Graan cemetery on Friday 16th April after
concelebrated Mass. He was a priest for 48 years.