Date of Birth: 8 January 1929
Date of Ordination: 28 March 1953
1953 – 1954: Killashee
1954 – 1958: Carlow College, St Patrick’s
1958 – 1961: CC, Edenderry
1961 – 1970: CC, Borris
1970 – 1980: CC, Monasterevin
1980 – 2004: PP, Monasterevin
May he rest in peace.
Reposing in St Peter and Paul’s Parish Church, Monasterevin on Wednesday the 12th from 2.30 to 7.30pm with prayers at 7.30pm.
Requiem mass on Thursday at 12noon with interment afterwards in St Evin’s Cemetery, Monasterevin.
Requiem Mass: Fr. Denis O’Sullivan PE: 13.07.23
Mass @ 12noon – St. Peter & Paul’s Church, Monasterevin
We gather this Thursday morning to pay a faith-filled farewell to Fr. Denis O’Sullivan, fondly known in this parish as Fr. O.
Monasterevin has been home to Denis for over 50 years, appointed here in 1970. Fr. Denis held the distinction of been the oldest priest in Kildare & Leighlin, dying in his 95th year, having reached the Platinum Jubilee of Ordination (70 years) earlier this year.
My thoughts and prayers are very much with you George this day, Fr. Denis’ last remaining sibling, with Fr. Denis’ sister-in-law Pauline, brother-in-law John, nieces, nephews, his brother priests, religious and friends and especially Fr. Liam and you the people of Monasterevin.
Liam has always shown exceptional kindness to Denis. It’s the mark of a priest – his kindness, his consideration, his care for the man who precedes him. Liam was never found wanting.
It is July, the month of the Gerard Manley Hopkins Society Festival here in Monasterevin. Fr. Denis was a founding member and a huge supporter of the poet convert Jesuit priest who spent several short breaks here in Monasterevin in what we know today as Moore Abbey.
Poets paint pictures and Hopkins was never short of using complex but splendid images in his poetry. There is absolutely nothing complex in the comments, the words, the condolences expressed since Denis’ gentle passing last Sunday afternoon. Comments that show enormous respect, genuine love and fulsome admiration for a priest who gave his life fully to God.
And so the time has come to give him back to his maker, his creator and as we do, we pray, that the Lord who has been merciful to Fr. Denis in life, may also be merciful to us as we call to mind our sins and pray for forgiveness …
It is July 13th. On this very date three years to the day, I attended a meeting around the ongoing care of Fr. Denis. Those around him realised things were slipping. Little by little his memory was being challenged. Sometimes it could be sharp but more often then it had begun to slip. That line between day and night was becoming very veiled and thin for Fr. O.
Memory is a very powerful capacity. Maybe we only appreciate it, when it starts to fade. The Church in her liturgy around death, and Fr. Denis loved liturgy, the liturgy around death focuses clearly on us placing the memories we have of our loved one into the mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
The Book of Ecclesiastes reminds us of the importance of seasons, of the value of time. There is always a season, and climate change enthusiasts might suggest those seasons are also becoming a little less defined. And there is always a time, for Denis it was during that afternoon nap after his Sunday lunch that God called him home.
I recall my very very first visit to Drogheda Street ten years ago, ringing the bell but getting no answer, until I gave the front bay window a gentle tap. Denis was having his customary quiet afternoon nap in the armchair, surrounded by the daily edition of the London Times. No other paper crossed his doorstep. I thought he bought the London Times, the newspaper of record across the pond, for its literary columns or the erudite letters to the editor, but it was much less profound. He reassured me looking over his reading glasses that the simple reason he bought it “was for the price”, it was the cheapest!
From that day, sharing the same Christian name, he would chuckle at the door as I greeted him “from one Denis to another!” And you know, despite the challenges of his memory in more recent times while a resident in Suncroft, that same greeting held, at least he repeated those words with me.
Of course also in that front room on Drogheda Street was his three volume breviary. Fr. O. was a man of prayer. Often he might check with me the particular volume he should be using. He was always faithful to prayer. He was faithful to liturgy.
St. Paul to the Romans speaks of how the life and death of each one has its influence on others. This reading took flesh in the splendid comments and tributes left on the condolence section of rip.ie these recent days. To mention but a few: “he lived and went among his flock, and he knew his parishioners, young and old”; “the extent of his kindness to so many will never be known and he will never be forgotten in the hearts of so many”; “he played a big part in some of the most joyous moments in our lives and that of our children”; “a man who told it like it was, a great friend to many” and “he gave a lifetime of service and dedication to Monasterevin”. There can be no doubting that this 94 year old whom we bury this day, Fr. O., touched the lives of many. There were many helped over these past years, help that was always discreet, always hidden, but deeply appreciated.
Luke’s account of the Supper Table at Emmaus is all about recognition and faith. The disciples recognise Jesus at the breaking of bread. This church here mean’t everything to Fr. Denis. He was so proud of the Stations of the Cross, stations that might be as much at home in the Basilicas of Rome as on Drogheda Street.
For family and friends Denis’ parting leaves a huge gap, the death of someone who lives to such a ripe age. While Ecclesiastes reminds us of time, there never is a right time to die even for someone in their 95th year. St Luke comforts us with that fleeting moment of recognition at Emmaus.
With dementia, there always are fleeting moments of recognition. And while at times our loved one may forget who they are, where they are and what they’ve done, family and friends never forget and the past few days have spoken that message in abundance here in Monasterevin. But even more reassuringly the Lord never forgets. He has carved our names in the palms of His hands. And Fr. O’s is clearly written on the Lord’s palm this day as in that beautiful line from Hopkins ‘God’s Grandeur’, his life has ended “like shining from shook foil”.
I pray that great Irish Blessing:
“May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always on your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
The rain fall soft upon your fields and,
Until your journey’s end,
May God hold you safely in the palm of his hand”
In the inimitable words Fr. Denis said when his lifelong friend from their days together in Clongowes and later in Rome, the late Fr. Barry O’Connell died in 2005, may Denis himself now celebrate with the angels and the saints. Amen.
 Lk. 24:35
 Hopkins, Gerard Manley: ‘God’s Grandeur’.