24 January 2018

Columban Fr Donal O'Farrell RIP

Fr Donal Gerard Patrick O’Farrell
(29 October 1928 - 22 January 2018)

Father Donal was born in Limerick on 29 October 1928 when the family lived in Dungarvan, County Waterford, Ireland. He was educated at Presentation Convent, Lismore, Christian Brothers' School, Lismore and St Joseph’s College, Ballinasloe, County Galway. He entered St Columban's College, Dalgan Park, in 1946 and was ordained priest there on 21 December 1953.

St Senan's, Cahiracon, County Clare

Father Donal suffered from tuberculosis, and while being treated for it he spent the first years after ordination in Ireland doing temporary pastoral work in Ardee, County Louth, in Clonfert, County Galway, and later serving for a four- year period as chaplain to the Columban Sisters at St Senan's, Cahiracon.

In 1965, he was appointed to the United States and served in New Jersey, and then Philadelphia, before being transferred to Los Angeles where he served as bursar, superior, and in every other role over a twenty-year period.

St Columbans, Bellevue, Nebraska, USA

In 1989 he was transferred to St Columban's, Omaha, Nebraska where he spent the following five years. In 1995 he asked for an appointment to Jamaica where he served as a gracious host in the Columban central house. However this appointment did not last very long as Central Administration soon began preparations for closing the Jamaica mission for lack of personnel.

Father Donal returned once again to Omaha where he would spend the next ten years doing as much as his fragile state of health permitted. Finally in 2010 he returned to the Dalgan Retirement Home where he was  a gentle, undemanding presence until his death.

St Columbans, Nebraska

Over the years there have always been individual Columbans who, because of ill health or because of their outstanding talents in promotion or office management, never got much of a chance to serve on overseas mission. The work they did was essential for the success of the whole Columban mission venture. The best of them, and that included Father Donal, accepted their roles wholeheartedly without complaint or bitterness. His was a quiet, gentle, affirming presence in every appointment right to the end.

May he rest in peace.

St Columban's Cemetery, Dalgan Park

Father Donal had his chair specially positioned near the window to give him a full view of the garden and various shrubs outside his room in St Columban's Retirement Home, Dalgan Park.

Flowering Garden, Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

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