FATHER MICHAEL KEANE was ordained a priest for the archdiocese of Tuam.
He had a wonderful approach to pastoral ministry.
His strategy was to go to a parish and study the particular needs of the people there and then begin to practically address them.
Early on he noticed that one of the big problems of the West of Ireland was lonely bachelors and spinsters living in isolated places with very little opportunity to meet friends, partners and future husbands and wives.
So Michael set up the Knock Marriage Bureau to address these issues. The bureau had great success and led to something like 500 marriages.
Father Keane’s trouble with the church started when he inherited a fortune on the death of a relative.
The archbishop Joseph Walsh wanted Michael to give the money to the diocese and told Michael: “A man with that kind of money would get a mitre”.
Michael refused and his fate was sealed.
Walsh made it impossible for Michael Keane to work in Tuam and Michael, with the agreement of Walsh and Dermot Ryan of Dublin moved to work in Templeogue in Dublin.
Unfortunately in Templeogue Michael met a difficult parish priest who carried stories to the cold and aloof Dermot Ryan.
In any event Ryan wanted Michael out of Dublin. Michael refused to go and squatted in the presbytery.
Ryan, with his normal thickness, brought the matter to the court and obtained an eviction. The Garda carried Michael, Molly his long time housekeeper and all their belongings out of the house and dumped them on the street.
The eviction had a profound, life-changing effect on Michael and Molly. Both devout Catholics being thrown out on the street by the archbishop and the Garda.
Fortunately, with Michael’s money, he was able to buy another house in the parish where he lived until Molly died.
After his eviction and sacking Michael became involved in protesting against the Church on various matters including optional celibacy. He and I were in many protests together.
After Molly died, Michael retired to his native Mayo where he lived with a nephew.
He had good health for a while. But when it failed he went to a nursing hime where he died.
At some stage before this he had a reconcilitary Mass with the Church presided over by the auxiliary bishop of Dublin, Eamon Walsh.
There was no fulsome apology offered but Michael wanted to be reconciled with them.
His funeral Mass was celebrated by Michael Neary of Tuam where all Michael suffered was glossed over – in typical Roman fashion.
For some reason Michael never wanted to do anything against Roman canon law?
He didn’t run a coach and horses through it as I happily have 😁
I must say death bed reconciliations with Rome always make me feel very queasy.
Even my beloved Oscar Wilde succumbed.
It is my firm intention not to go there 🥳