Parish Priest's Page
Introducing your new Parish Priest
Fr John O'Leary
Fr John writes:
Today the first of three groups of children celebrated their First Holy Communion. This was my first such celebration on the parish. Thankfully all went well (despite my visual aid for the homily on the Trinity mysteriously going missing). Let us pray that every time the children receive our Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist, they will be aware that is just as special as their first.
If you would like to know a little bit more about me, please read what follows below. But whether or not you do, please keep me in your prayers. I will surely pray for you.
I was born in 1967, the youngest of six children. My father, (who died in 2009) was from a farming family in Co. Clare, Ireland. After coming to England he worked on the roads, then for many years in a factory. After redundancy, he became a porter at Harefield Hospital. He enjoyed that job immensely.
My mother, who grew up in Hertfordshire, is a convert to Catholicism. Before retirement she worked as an auxiliary nurse at Mount Vernon Hospital. She still lives in Ruislip Manor, where with my four older sisters and brother I was raised.
Sadly my brother, Francis, died nearly twenty-five years ago, aged 26, from leukaemia; and a sister, Maria, suffered a fatal heart attack twelve years ago, aged 47. With Dad, may they rest in peace.
It was in the church at Ruislip, dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, that I was baptised, made my first Confession and Holy Communion, was confirmed and ordained to the Priesthood.
After attending the local Catholic primary, my secondary education was at Bishop Ramsey C of E School. During my teenage years I seriously considered a career in the Army. God, however, had other plans! So instead of Sandhurst, it was to Allen Hall Seminary that I went once A-Levels had been taken. After two years at Allen Hall, a further five years of formation followed at the Venerable English College, Rome. Whilst in Rome I obtained a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology and Licence in Philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University.
I was ordained Priest on 18th July, 1992. On that same day I received my first appointment, to Holy Trinity, Brook Green (Hammersmith). Three most rewarding years were spent there; next, four just as special years at St. Francis de Sales, Tottenham. Then came teaching philosophy at Allen Hall, combined with being Assistant Chaplain to the Universities of London. My residence, Newman House, in Gower Street, WC1, was shared with fifty or so students. Great fun!
In 2002, although continuing to teach at Allen Hall, I was appointed Parish Priest of Holy Ghost and St. Stephen, Shepherds Bush. Many happy memories of my ministry of three and a half years there stay with me.
I moved from Shepherd’s Bush in order to study for a Phd at Heythrop College. During my studies I resided in the parish of Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Its beautiful church is dedicated to Ss. Anselm and Cecilia.
Doctorate completed, I was appointed Parish Priest of Our Lady and St Joseph’s, Kingsland. It’s a wonderful parish. I hoped to be there for many years. But after just sixteen months, Archbishop (now Cardinal) Vincent asked me to be his Private Secretary.
My more than five years as Private Secretary were really interesting. Nevertheless, I missed parish life immensely. It was, then, a great joy to be appointed a parish priest again. And I must say, I was very happy to be appointed PP of St. Mellitus, Tollington Park.
I very much look forward to being with you the Risen Lord’s missionary disciple, proclaiming together the joy of the Gospel and carrying to others the Lord’s limitless mercy which we ourselves have been graced to receive.
It will take me time to get to know everyone and familiarise myself with everything. After five years out of parish ministry, I imagine it will take me a little while, too, to get back into the full swing of things. I’ll certainly make mistakes. I ask in advance, for your pardon!
Another initial difficulty may be that for the first few months I will not be living in the presbytery. The Cardinal, thinking a change of parish priest provides a good opportunity for the presbytery to be renovated, and wishing to spare me living amongst the works, has kindly allowed me to stay at Archbishop’s House until they are finished. I will commute daily to the parish. Please be patient if this sometimes causes problems.
Above all please pray that I will faithfully, and with love, serve you well. Thank you.
Priests come and go, but the Lord remains. May he continue to bless you abundantly.
St Mellitus, Pray for us.