15 September 2012

Columban Father Michael A. Healy RIP

Fr Michael A. Healy (2 February 1921 - 10 September 2012)
Fr Michael Healy was born in County Cork, Ireland. He was a nephew of Columban Fr Edward J. McCarthy, founder of Student Catholic Action of the Philippines in the 1930s. His late brother Columban Fr Olan Healy spent the difficult years of World War II in Mindanao.
Many Columbans have been expelled from ther mission but Father Michael was expelled from China in 1952 and from Burma in 1966. He was able to visit China again in 1990 and Burma, now Myanmar, in 1998.
Ordained in December 1943 he spent the first part of his priesthood in the Diocese of Menevia, Wales, as Columbans coud not go to any of our regular missions because of World War II. He later spent many years 'on the road' in Britain, doing mission appeals in England, Scotland and Wales. Indeed, when your editor was assigned to Britain in 2000 to do that kind of work Father Michael was still doing appeals. He retired to Ireland in 2001 when he was 80.
He had an enormous capacity for friendship and never took the direct route when travelling. He took to the highways and byways to visit friends. He was also a cheerful, joyful person. You would know he was around because you'd hear him singing.
One song I remember him singing around the Columban house in Solihull, near Birmingham, England, was Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye, written by Welshman Harry Parr-Davies, which was very popular during World War II in Britain. The video below, in which Gracie Fields sings the song, shows photos from the England of that time. Though north Wales, where Father Michael worked during the last year of the war, had been spared, nearby Liverpool hadn't. Hearing him sing this song was for me one of many illustrations of the great love and respect he had for people wherever he served. This, I think, is because he was so at home in himself.
May this great priest, the embodiment of all that is best in the vocation of the Columban, rest in peace.
You will find an obituary and the funeral homily of Fr Cyril Lovett on the website of the Columbans in Ireland here.

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