29 December 2016

Columban Fr Fintan Murtagh RIP

Fr Fintan Murtagh
(12 February 1940 - 23 December 2016)

Fr Fintan J. Murtagh was born at Moyvore, County Westmeath, Ireland, on 12 February 1940.  He was educated at Moyvore National School and at St Finian’s College, Mullingar, County Westmeath. 

Entrance to St Finian's College, Mullingar [Wikipedia]
Father Fintan was one of many Columbans who had their secondary education in this school, which is owned by the Diocese of Meath.

He came to St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, Navan, County Meath, in September 1957 and was ordained priest there, on 22 December 1963 and died on 23 December 2016.

St Columban's, Dalgan Park

Appointed to the Philippines, and to the Diocese of Iba, which covers the province of Zambales, he served initially in San Marcelino, and Botolan. He spent longer periods in San Antonio, before returning again to Botolan and later to Candelaria and to Olongapo City.

San Antonio Town Plaza [Wikipedia]

In 1972 Father Fintan became aware that he was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. With his sunny temperament, he did not allow his condition to determine what he could or could not do, and he actually continued to play golf long after others would have given up. From 1985, he began to develop a systematic approach to parishioners of Candelaria with disabilities.

Father Fintan with friend

The result was Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) for People with Disabilities and Families. By 2010 this organization was serving in thirteen parishes of the Diocese of Iba. In all, it was serving 1,037 members in a broad variety of programmes for persons with disabilities. It is serving those with cerebral palsy, stroke victims, those with Parkinson’s Disease, spinal cord injuries, and epilepsy.

With friends in Zambales

It also helps persons with learning disabilities such as those with Down Syndrome. There are programmes too for the profoundly deaf, the blind and the partially blind, and a variety of other disabling conditions.

Friends of Father Fintan

You can read articles by Father Fintan about his his work here, here and here.

As he coped with his own disability, Father Fintan gave courage and hope to so many other families in the Philippines and elsewhere. When he could no longer cope he came home to Ireland, but a mechanized wheelchair, and a special vehicle enabled him to be part of everything that was going on until he suffered a major stroke earlier this year.

Father Fintan will be remembered as a man of humour, hope and indomitable courage, a witness to all of us on how to cope  with life’s difficulties.

He was buried in St Columban’s Cemetery on 27 December.

Solas na bhFlaitheas air! The light of Heaven upon him!

St Columban's Cemetery, Dalgan Park

The students in Dalgan Park produced My Fair Lady for St Columban's Day, 23 November 1962. If my memory serves me right, Father Fintan was one of 'Eliza Doolittle's' Cockney companions in this number.

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