ly Name Catholic Church - parish priest Father John Keegan will celebrate 60 years as a priest and Sister Margaret 50 years as a Sister of Mercy
In a time when people change jobs as often as hairstyles, one man's lifelong commitment to the Catholic Church stands out like a beacon. Fr Thomas Keegan has spent the past 60 years doing God's work in Australia, after arriving by boat from Ireland in 1953, reports The Chronicle.
His story is an inspiring one, littered with tales of sacrifice and fulfilment. As a child, Fr Keegan always knew his life's path lay with the church. "Every time my Aunt Lizzie and the other women would come over, they would ask me 'What are you going to be when you grow up Tommy? You're going to be a priest, aren't you?'"
"'Oh, of course,' I would reply. "That was when I was four or five years old."
He went straight from school to the seminary at St Patrick's College in Tipperary - the same college in which the first bishop of Toowoomba James Byrne was educated and ordained.
"We went in and became kinds of mercenaries," Fr Keegan said. "It was a case of 'Where do I go now to be a priest?'
The rector, a former neighbour of Bishop James Byrne, suggested Toowoomba. "When I asked what sort of a place Toowoomba was, he told me there was lots of elbow room," Fr Keegan said. "Never a truer word was spoken."
Times have certainly changed since Fr Keegan came ashore on Australian soil and headed to Toowoomba in 1953. There were six other priests on board the ship, alongside 14 nuns.
"I've been here from the days of camel traffic to the days of the satellite," he said. "In those days, there was an abundance of priests in the Toowoomba Diocese."
So many, in fact, that one-fifth were "on loan" to other dioceses as far afield as Western Australia Fr Keegan's first placement was closer to home, spending his first few years of priesthood in Warwick.
His first post as a parish priest was in Cunnamulla, before eventually taking up the post at the Holy Name Parish in 1988. "I used to love writing home to tell my family that my parish was twice the size of the whole of Ireland," he said.
FULL STORY Holy name priest and nun achieve remarkable lives of service (The Chronicle)