Fr Joe Walsh is pictured with his father, brothers and sister
The Church of the Sacred Heart in Templemore was packed to capacity on Saturday night last as the priests and people of the parish gathered to celebrate Fr Joe Walsh’s final Mass with us.
In his short time with us Fr Joe has endeared himself to one and all and his transfer to Thurles after a short two and a bit years was quite unexpected.
A special welcome was extended to Fr Joe’s family who travelled from Fethard and beyond to be with us.
Fr Joe Walsh is one in a million – his door was always open for a chat and a cuppa. He will be always be remembered for his compassion, humility, kindness and his wonderful sense of humour, devilment and hilarious jokes !!.
Two years ago Fr Joe set up the ‘Journey in Faith’ group for young teens along with helpers Sile Keely and Ciara Ormond. Síle recalled seeing at first hand the fun and joy he brought on just one Friday a month to each young person that came through the door. They had fun and games as well as the odd trip bowling or having a party. His tea making skills though left a lot to be desired!
There was sadness she said that they are losing Fr Joe in the Diocesan changes but it was a pleasure to have worked with him and they all had much to smile about. Despite Joe’s departure they are confident this group of teens will continue to meet.
Joe was behind the setting up of the Childrens’ Choir and had hopes of setting up a Teenage Choir.
On behalf of the group Síle thanked Fr Joe for all he has done, wished him well on his new adventure and was delighted to play a part at his last Mass here.
An emotional Fr Joe thanked all who were present at the Mass and spoke of how humbled he was with how accepting everyone was of him. Tonight, he said ‘was a celebration of the lovely time he had in Templemore – two and a half brilliant years and that’s lots of reasons for smiling’.
He acknowledged the presence of the Folk Group, and the various parish teams who ‘made my journey easy’ he said, as everyone worked as equals. He thanked Fr Eugene Everard who was in charge when he arrived here, and now Fr Conor Hayes and Fr Dominic Meehan for keeping ‘their little Vatican’ alive. He thanked the young people of the parish, he enjoyed so much being with all of them they kept his faith alive – not one person, but a team keeping the flag of faith and of Jesus flying. Change is difficult he said, but ‘I’m only over the road’. Don’t cry because it’s over, Smile because it happened” Fr Joe doesn’t ever like to say goodbye, he much prefers to say See You Later.
Fr Hayes spoke kindly of Joe, and recalled the time Joe came to him to speak to him about becoming a priest. He was friends of his parents and family, cousins and relations for many years and appreciated their support when he was their Parish Priest.
Joe, he said has been moved about so much, he must be doing terrible damage !! He was not being replaced – he couldn’t be replaced !
Marian Keely speaking on behalf of the Parish Council thanked Fr Joe for his ministry in the parish and wished him all the best in Thurles. Fr Joe she said leaves with many many friends in the parish who will never forget his kindness – whether in a joyful or sorrowful occasion.
Joan Egan and Martina Ryan, members of the Parish Council presented Fr Joe with a painting of the three churches of the parish.
Everyone was invited to McAuley Centre where it resembled the miracle of the Loaf & Fishes. There was so many people, but everyone got fed. Thanks to all who made sandwiches, did some baking and helped on the night.