Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Fr. Paddy King


Fr. Paddy King

By Jim McGuigan, P.P., of Cranbourne, Australia

Paddy King from Brown Street., was born on October 25th. 1929. He was educated by the Christian Brothers at Carlow and entered St, Patrick's College, Carlow in 1946. He was ordained there by Bishop Thomas Keogh on June 6th. 1952. As he was only 22 years of age it was necessary for him to obtain a special dispensation so that he could be ordained before reaching the age prescribed by Canon Law. He died on 15th October, 1987.

Fr. Paddy King was a 'callow youth' five weeks short of his 17th birthday when I first met him, early September, 1946, in the grounds of St. Patrick's College, Carlow. He would like that phrase 'Callow youth'. He and I often joked about our early days in the Seminary and we used the term rather in-discriminately about fellow students and ourselves. Fr. Paddy King was anything but callow when, just short of his 58th birthday, he died a very peaceful and holy death in St. John of God Hospital, Geelong, Victoria, Australia, on 15th October, 1987, the feast of St. Theresa. Leaving reference to his life in Ireland to friends and relatives in Ireland. I shall confine myself to the story of Paddy's life in Australia.

On the day of his Ordination, 8th June, 1952.
Thirty-Five years a Priest. The vestments were a gift from Carlow.

We both travelled to Australia in, the company of several other recently ordained priests, on the 'Strathedin' (P & O Line) arriving in Melbourne on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (8th December, 1952). We had already sampled Australia in one day stopovers in Perth and Adelaide; both beautiful cities, where we experienced a generous measure of hospitality at the hands of the Federal Minister of Trade, Mr. Sullivan, who gave us a sightseeing trip by taxi. Also we were made to feel very welcome by the gracious and friendly family of Betty and Alan Carmody, who shared with us the voyage from London to Melbourne, as well as some of the privileges of first class passengers, (we, of course, were travelling second class down in G. deck). The Columban Fathers met us at hte dock and invited us to stay overnight at their house in Essendon.

Paddy and I parted company then. I to St. Mary's Cathedral Parish, Sale, and he to Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, Swan Hill. Swan Hill is situated about 350 miles inland and N/W from Melbourne. It lies in the heart of a vast Citrus Fruit growing area, and Paddy's first sighting of his new home would have been mile after mile of a delightful green carpet of orange, where in summer the heat can be quite intense often over the 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The winter climate can be very pleasant, cool nights, warm and sunny days.

Paddy very quickly got involved in the priestly Ministry. Already he was making a name for himself as a preacher not in the flamboyant style of the parish missions, but rather in the 'Mannix' mould simple. succinct, topical a remarkable economy of words, and low key conversational voice.

Perhaps, I should say, after the Master's style, too . . .? Paddy had an extraordinary facility for drawing powerful lessons on Christian living from the ordinary everyday events of life: footballers, coaches, captains, the crops, the seasons, the economic climate, and so on, there were no big words in Paddy's vocabulary!

One can easily imagine the discomfort he experienced in driving to outlying parts for Sunday Mass, Catechetics in the scattered Government schools, administering Communion to the sick and elderly, in a car that was as hot as an oven!

Paddy was suitably instructed in his youth, in the place the Cross has in the Christian life. On one of his rare trips back to Melbourne, he was involved in a car accident, which hospitalised him for several months. He was left with a chronic back complaint, a source of much pain equally, a source under God of a great Christian patience and acceptance of adversity. For Paddy, as a Paul, the language of the Cross might be illogical to those who are not on the way to Salvation, those who arc on the way to see it as God's power to save!

From that time in 1953 till his death in '87 Paddy was scarcely a day without pain and who will ever know the traumas, the frustration, the disappointments, the opposition, that is the lot of any good priest, and most assuredly, was Paddy's lot!

Paddy's long hospitalisation with the John of God Sisters in Ballarat occasioned my next meeting with him where I witnessed his bearing up under great pain and-stress.

Over the next decade Paddy had appointments in Horsham, Hamilton, Koroit, Warrnambool, Coragula, Charleton, and during this decade, apart from my visiting him in hospital, following his accident we saw little of each other.

Our paths crossed again in 1962 when Paddy came to Fish Creek to recuperate after yet another bout of illness. I was able as Parish Priest of Fish Creek, to extend hospitality.

From that time onwards, Paddy and I met on a regular basis. Usually it was a noon to 5 p.m. thing as both of us had Pastoral obligations back in our respective parishes. One time it would be to have a meal in the city, another time to view a film. You could always rely on Paddy to choose a film that was 'rated' just right!

During these last 25 years, I was stationed in parishes with easy access to the beach, and Paddy would grace our presbytery with a couple of visits of 3-4 days duration each summer. Paddy loved the beach, as most people do, but for Paddy, a swim in the sea had the added benefit of being theraputic. I in turn would be Paddy's guest for a couple of days, once or twice a year, For whatever reason,

Paddy always believed housekeepers were dispensable. So, on the occasions of my visits, I was treated to Paddy's special breakfasts of Wheaties and Talk-back Radio. Talk-back Radio sessions, for Paddy, as Pastor and Shepherd, were invaluable ways of getting to know what the man/woman in the street "were on about". And of course, Paddy knew very well that the man/woman in the street on Wednesday and Thursday was the man/woman in the pew on Saturday/Sunday!

Paddy had only recently been appointed P.P. of Coragulac. Once during a visit I heard a father of a large family, quote one of his teenage children, after the Sunday Mass, as saying 'that's the first time I've really listened to a sermon!'

Every afternoon about 4 o'clock, Paddy left his sick bed and travelled the 75 - 100 yards to the convent chapel, where he celebrated the Eucharist with the sisters and congregation. I had the privilege of celebrating with him on Monday, October 12th. This was to be the last Mass Paddy would celebrate, I anointed him during the Mass and fittingly, the Bishop, Ronald Mulkearns was present at the Mass. So were the nuns of St. John of God and some priest friends, amongst them Fr. Paddy Gulligan, one of Paddy's great admirers; a very sincere and life long friend.

On the afternoon of his death, October 15th, 1 again celebrated Mass, this time with Fr. Pat O'Brien, another life-long friend of Paddy's, and this time the Mass was in Paddy's hospital ward. Fr. O'Brien remarked that just as St. Teresa's name in religion was Teresa of Jesus so indeed we could refer to our sick friend as Patrick of Jesus. Indeed Patrick and Jesus had become firm friends! It was so fitting that practically all of Paddy's most dedicated friends shared in that Mass.

Paddy completed the journey to Easier and the Resurrection at about 3.00 p.m. on Thursday, October 15th. 1987. God rest this true Catholic Priest: and proud boast of his Alma Mater, St. Pat's. Carlow. God bless his revered parents, and the staff of St. Patrick's for sharing in the formation of a true man of God.

Across my foundering deck shone
A beacon, an eternal beam.
Flesh fade, and mortal trash
Fall to the residuary worm;
world's wildfire, leave but ash;
In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is,
since he was what I am and
This Jack, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood,
immortal diamond.
Is immortal diamond.
Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Source: Carlow Past & Present 1987-88 Vol.1. No. 2 Pages 41 & 42

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2001 County Carlow Irish Genealogy Project. IGP

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