13 August 2014

Columban Fr Cathal Coulter RIP

Fr Cathal Coulter

Fr Cathal ('Charlie') Coulter was born 9 July 1931 at Saul, Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland. Educated at S. Patrick’s Saul, St Columbanus, Belfast, and St Malachy’s College, Belfast, he came St Columban's College, Dalgan Park, Navan, County Meath, in 1948. He was ordained priest 21 December 1954.

Statue of St Patrick, Saul, County Down [Wikipedia]

His first appointment was to post-graduate studies at Fordham University, New York, followed by further studies at Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada. Then for three years he served as an Observer for Caritas International at the United Nations, New York. He was assigned to vocations work from West Chester, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,  in 1960 and became Director of Promotion in the US Region in 1967. This involved a move to Omaha, Nebraska. He served two terms as Director of the US Region from 1977 to 1983. He was responsible for setting up low-cost housing for the elderly on surplus Columban property in Bellevue, Omaha.

One of many videos produced by the Columbans in the USA

After some months study of Spanish in Bolivia and Chile, he returned to San Francisco for Mission Education, Justice and Vocation work. In 1990, he was reassigned to Omaha where he and his team were responsible for the production of an excellent series of films and videos. He learned the technical side of this art as he went along, but there was no denying his creativity and his skill as a writer.

In 1992 Father Cathal was elected with Bill and Mary Anne Boylan as the Leadership Team for Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME) in the USA. He loved to work with married couples and was dedicated to this pastoral outreach for many years. His gift for this work was recognised when, in 1995, he and the same couple were elected as the International Coordinating Team for Marriage Encounter in 81 countries.

Fr Cathal with Bill and Mary Anne Boylan of WWME [Photo: WWME-Phils]

In 1995 he was appointed to Ireland where he and the late Fr P.J. Kelly set up a trust fund for the support of the Columban Nursing Home in Dalgan. He became editor of Columban Intercom in 1997 and published many stimulating articles in the magazine. 

Father Cathal developed his many gifts over lifetime of service in a broad variety of tasks. Ever pleasant and with wide interests, he was always good company. He suffered greatly in recent years as his health deteriorated but showed great patience to the end. May he rest in peace. 

St Columban's, Dalgan Park, where Father Cathal spent his first seven years as a Columban and his latter years.

Though he was ordained on 21 December 1954 Father Cathal would have been celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of his ordination on 15 August, the date when Columbans in Ireland come together each year to honour our jubilarians.

'I look back in gratitude to God for the many blessings on the journey and for the many good people who were part of my life . . . The Society [of St Columban] has been very tolerant and generous to me. I doubt if I would ever find the same anywhere else.'

- Fr Cathal Coulter

I'll Never Find Another You, written for The Seekers by Tom Springfield in the 1960s, was adopted as the Theme Song of Worldwide Marriage Encounter. Father Cathal would have sung this many times with his friends in WWME.

'Cathal', pronounced 'KAhal', is an old Irish name often used as an equivalent for 'Charles'. In the USA Father Cathal was known to his friends as 'Father Charlie'.

The cemetery at St Columban's, Dalgan Park, where Father Cathal was buried on 11 August.

1 comment:

Jackie Parkes said...

I didn't know that's how you pronounced Cathal. A very youthful Fr Sean!