Ordained: 17 June 1956
His home place was Borris, Co. Carlow.
St. Mary’s College, Knockbeg, Carlow
St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth
Appointments with Dates:
|Knockbeg College||1957||– 1981|
|Rector, Knockbeg College||1981||– 1985|
|PP, Naas||1986||– 2006|
|PE, Naas||2006||– 2015|
Reposing at Craddock House Nursing Home, Craddockstown Road, Naas, on Monday from 5pm to 9pm with funeral prayers at 8pm
Tuesday from 3pm to 6pm with removal at 6.15pm to The Church of The Irish Martyrs, Ballycane, Naas.
Funeral Mass on Wednesday at 12 noon in The Church of Our Lady and David, Sallins Road
followed by burial afterwards in the church grounds
Today is the Feast of St. Moling – June 17th.
Today is the 59th Anniversary of the Ordination to the Priesthood of Fr. Moling Lennon.
We will later lay him to rest in the church grounds outside, fifty-nine years to the day after Archbishop John Charles McQuaid laid his hands on him on Ordination Day.
He wasn’t alone that Ordination Year; alongside him were five other classmates from the Knockbeg Class of 1949 – Bishop Larry Ryan, Fr. Garry Doyle, Fr. John Augney all deceased, Fr. John Fingleton whom we buried just two weeks ago and Fr. Matt Kelly who joins us today.
Matthew’s gospel taken from Chapter 25 reminds us of the questions we’re all faced with on Judgement Day.
That text assures us the Lord will recognize us if we have recognized his face in the face of the hungry, the poor, the marginalized, the sick and the lonely.
Moling had that gift of reading all our faces well when he first met us; I remember he asked me after about a fifteen minute conversation over in Craddock House, looking sideways at me, he said: “and who are you, in any case?”
I mentioned something about being the man from Meath and he shook his head in that dismissive fashion, sighing “Sure they could never play good football!”
It was very unlikely a Meath man might share much in common with someone whose inspiration came from the great arch-rivals Dublin, in the person of one Kevin Heffernan who played left corner-forward for the Dubs, before later steering them to three All Irelands between 1974 and 1983.
Heffo’s army; Heffo’s methodology; Heffo’s approach resonated very much with the man who was born into a staunchly nationalist family in South Carlow on May 26th 1931.
On my first visit to meet him in Sundays Well, he proudly showed me the picture of the first Dáil – his father a member of that first Dáil – an important figure in the early years of the fledgling state.
I think Moling never lost those core nationalist values which found expression in his undying loyalty to all things Irish and especially, as mentioned by many, to the traditional games of hurling, football, handball and rounders, at all of which he excelled.
Curiously I’m told, he quietly had a respect for the foreign game of cricket, proudly possessing his late uncle Fr. John Lennon’s shinguards and cricket bat!
No doubt he would also have very direct advice for a Cricket pundit like Sir Ian Botham, on how the game should be played!
With all sport, Moling had a very angular opinion and didn’t demur at proffering it!
Though small in stature, he distinguished himself on the playing fields of Knockbeg, Maynooth and his native Carlow.
Writing in that lovely tribute book in memory of his classmate Fr. Garry Doyle, Msgr. Denis Faul describes Fr. Molings prowess on the Maynooth field as “a Peter Canavan in the front line”.
The story is told that on the evening after his First Mass there was a gathering in the home at Cournellan, Borris where the under 30’s played the over 30’s on the lawn outside the house.
It was as if the game was embedded in his DNA.
Later at Knockbeg College he would in time be a wonderful mentor, coach and trainer for generations of Knockbeg pupils where he is remembered for his passion for the games including athletics, decency and manliness – the hallmarks of a good priest and teacher.
It is said that after a match in Knockbeg, if he saw a young lad coming in after the match with clean togs and no sweat dripping from the jersey, he would have been unimpressed.
He was adepth at devising a training schedule to cope with all weather conditions, long before the astro-turf generation!
In an interview a few years back he talked frankly about his own training methods as a young lad growing up in Borris: “we had to kick the ball with our weak foot, if you didn’t you suffered the disgrace of being sent home” – giving us a rare insight into the incisive coaching early in the GAA history before the word entered GAA parlance.
He would serve as a selector on two county management teams, with Ollie Walsh for Carlow in the early 1980’s and later with Mick O’Dwyer training the Lily Whites.
As a priest who taught Latin and Religion and a teacher who mentored many a team, he inspired many of his pupils to think of priesthood through his own very obvious commitment to prayer, commitment to living out those words from Matthew 25 “in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me”
It is this total dedication to his priesthood that epitomizes Fr. Moling, I never met him without his breviary except at half time when I bumped into him at the AIB Club Finals last year as the Mount Leinster Rangers took on Portumna.
Perhaps its best not to quote extensively from his half time musings!
As everyone knows he loved golf and played golf every Monday with his cousin Fr. Sean Kelly, Tom Little and the late John Aughney.
And like most golfers including Harrington and McIroy, Moling couldn’t understand why his theory was never quite matched by his achievement in the game!
Returning to his total dedication to his priesthood, it was this that allowed him to see the face of Christ in the poor and the lonely who called on him to the Parochial House in Naas and later Sundays Well.
Its this total dedication to priesthood that allowed the lifelong Pioneer to immerse himself in the local Pioneer group here in Naas; to immerse himself completely in the work of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul here and his encouragement of vocations with St. Josephs Young Priests Society and many other organisations, schools and clubs, too many to mention.
It’s this total dedication to his priesthood that made him a visible and authentic presence in so many lives, riding that bicycle until it was too dangerous, wearing his black cap but no coat, because of his singular theory that all the heat leaves through the head, smoking or stoking the pipe when matters were becoming that bit more tetchy!
Yesterday Fr. Hugh Lagan, an SMA priest facilitated a day with the priests of the diocese around the theme of wellness.
He referred to the funeral of a priest and how his list of buildings and accomplishments would be outlined; Hugh reminded us “it should be much less about what he did, but how he was present to people”.
Fr. Moling has been very much present to you the people of Naas for the past thirty years; the Church of the Irish Martyrs over in Ballycane built in 1997 is a tremendous legacy of Fr. Moling in this parish.
How fitting it was that his remains were first removed there last evening, to allow them to rest before coming to the beautiful Our Lady & St. David’s this morning.
I remember having to call on him in Sundays Well with a few unnamed individuals to persuade him not to drive the car any more, he was dangerous enough on the bicycle.
I took advice before the visit and was told “Moling would respect authority”!
Well as the conversation ensued and I could see we were getting nowhere very fast, I threw in the well rehearsed juglar: “Moling, maybe out of obedience to me, your Bishop, you might stop driving”.
The more I said, the worse it sounded and before I could finish, there was an expletive and a simultaneous bang of his fist on the kitchen table: “I don’t give a damn about you, it’s God I’m worried about!”
His gentle slipping off into eternity at around quarter to six last Sunday morning was nothing less than he deserved.
I have no doubt it was a source of pain to those close to him to see his memory fade and his precise recall of matches, players and scores falter towards the end.
Moling or ‘the Mole’ as he was affectionately called in Knockbeg was one of that exceptional Maynooth Class of 1956 – Bishop Larry Ryan, Frs Garry Doyle, John Aughney, John Fingleton – all now slipped into their eternal reward, while Fr. Matt Kelly looks younger every day – they were a very talented group who made a huge contribution to the Church in Kildare & Leighlin.
Our challenge today is to pray for another generation of priests, equally talented, diverse in their interests and personalities who might carry on the work of the class of 1956.
With St. Moling we pray his prayer as he looked on St. Mullins, and historians tell us he saw it “as a place of thieves and outrage”.
God only knows what he might said if he looked a few miles up the road at Cournellan, Borris!
Returning to that prayer as the Saint decided to lay down his roots at St. Mullins:
“Here I come to work and pray,
here I build my abbey grey,
here I stay in God’s protection,
till the Resurrection Day”.
May Fr. Moling, the man from Borris, the Rector of Knockbeg, the Parish Priest of Naas, enjoy God’s protection and may he rest in peace this day. Amen.
 Mt. 25:40