Parish priest

Father Patrick Doran – Fifty Years of Priesthood

Father Pat was born in 1931 in Rathnew, County Wicklow, Ireland, the fifth son of seven boys born to Lill and John Doran. He entered the Holy Ghost Missionary College, Kimmage, Dublin in 1949 and during this training was sent to Trinidad where he taught at St Mary’s High School, Port of Spain for three years before his ordination. On a bright sunny morning on the 12th of July 1959 Fr. Pat was ordained a Missionary Spiritan Priest. When he came out of the seminary church he was greeted by his father, his mother and his six brothers. The first words his father said were “NOW, I believe it”! His brother Tom was the first person to rush up to call him “Fr Pat”.

In 1960 Father Pat, with about 12 other newly ordained priests, was appointed to Nigeria. Nigeria had many tribes, each with their own language and culture. They were sent to the IBO tribe of which there were 12 million people who loved their priests and did their best to make them welcome and keep them fed!!.

The parish where Fr. Pat worked with three other priests was called OKIGWI. It was a huge parish with 80 “out -stations” which were scattered over a large area with gravel and sand roads, very difficult to move about especially in the rainy season. Each week, all the priests were given a certain number of villages to visit for Mass and the Sacraments, beginning on Tuesday morning and sleeping out in the bush churches or schools, mud walls and floor and no doors or windows. They lived a very “transparent life”. Each village fed the priests the local food. They usually got back to the Parish house on Sunday mid-day. To-day this is area is known as the OKIGWI DIOCESE!

In 1966/67 a civil war broke out and the Ibo people seceded from the Federation, because they were not getting their fair share of the wealth from the vast oil wells under their land. Almost two million died of famine, mostly women and children. The missionaries tried every means to find food and were accused of being mercenaries feeding “the enemy’. Fr. Pat was arrested at gun-point, imprisoned for 10 days and threatened with a firing squad each morning. He was then deported with the warning “you’ll be shot on sight if you come back”.

Four months later he was sent to the island of San Paulo, 300 miles off the Nigerian coast, where all the food and medical supplies for Nigeria were stockpiled. He was a member of a team of four Holy Ghost priests who co-ordinated famine relief flights into Biafra. The team conducted up to 24 flights nightly. One part of Fr. Pat’s job was to check on the distribution of all medical and food supplies to the clinics in Biafra (a three-day task every three weeks). Father Pat left just before the collapse of Biafra on 9th January 1970.

Following this time he taught in Ireland for four years. Then he was sent to Canada for youth and vocations work and then he joined a teamn of diocesan and Spiritan priests sponcered by the Calgary Diocese to work in Malawi inEast Central Africa for 4 years.

In 1985 he was posted to Papua New Guinea where he worked for fifteen years, eight years at Aitape and seven years at Wewak.

The Spiritans had arrived in the Aitape Diocese early in the 1980’s. Father Pat spent 8 years until 1992 ministering to the people of Aitape. The people of Aitape were his “ family”.

In early 1990 the Spiritans extended their ministry to Wewak which was about 120 km along the coast.

Wewak, where Father Pat ministered for 7 years had its own Cathedral and its own Bishop and had a population of about 4000 people. Catholicism was the principal faith in the area. It was situated on the coast with beautiful beaches and was supported by fishing and local farming. The area was essentially a family area. Father Pat’s parish was a simple faith community with a deep love for the mass and a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

During the month of May the statue of Our Lady was put on a stand, decorated with flowers and taken through the town to a home of one of the local leaders. The statue would stay on an altar in the front garden of one of the parish leader’s homes for about a week where this local group would meet each night and say the rosary, sing hymns and read scripture. This would be repeated at the homes of other group leaders during the month of May.

The Tsunami occurred in Aitape July 1998. Father Pat visited the area 2 days after the tidal wave occurred. To reach the people he traveled by boat across a lagoon approximately 8km inland. Conditions were terrible. The stench from decaying bodies unimaginable. He marveled at the quiet courage and great dignity of his people as he listened to stories, consoled and gave the sacraments.

Father Pat returned a week later and, due to the unhygienic conditions, the people had moved further inland. He slept under the trees with some 1600 people who also slept on the ground under light plastic roofing tents. More than 600 people per day required medical help for their incredible injuries. No one complained. On this second trip Father Pat assisted with various relief efforts. Arranging for relief teams in the area, provision of tarps, clothes, pumps and short wave radios to provide contact with the outside areas. Soccer balls for the children and numerous other relief efforts. The Australian family, the Parer’s who were merchants at Atiape town. Rob Parer the owner of the Store emptied his warehouses of all available food into trucks and sent them into the devastated areas without charge

In 2000 Fr. Pat was appointed to St. Michael’s Parish at Dorrington, Brisbane where this charismatic priest with his friendly way was soon forging ahead with youth work and generally nourishing the parish of Dorrington. Fr. Pat is now in his tenth year as Parish Priest at Dorrington and has drawn the community together and worked on numerous projects in the Archdiocese including World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008.

The Parish of Dorrington is administered by Fr. Pat Doran CSSp.

Father Pat is a Spiritan Priest.

Outlined below is a brief history of the Congregation to which Father Pat belongs.

THE Congregation of the Holy Ghost under the protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. (Also known as “The Spiritans”)

The Holy Ghost Congregation has two founders who lived a century and a half apart.

Claude des Places (founder of the Holy Ghost Congregation in 1703) and Francis Libermann (Founder of the Holy Heart of Mary in 1841).

FRANCIS LIBERMANN (1802 – 1852). Francis Libermann, the son of a Rabbi grew up in a Jewish Getto. At 20 he travelled to Metz in France for rabbinical studies. During these years he struggled with the Christian ideas which were so different from his own Jewish faith. He was lonely and unhappy. He prayed to God to answer his prayers. “Father, if the Christian beliefs are true let me know. But if they are false remove me from them at once”. His prayers were answered. On Christmas Eve 1826 Jacob Libermann, the Rabbi’s son was baptised a catholic. He began studies for the priesthood but, although very happy, Francis suffered greatly when he thought about his father who had now watched five of his sons turn away from the synagogue and become Catholics. Francis received a letter from his father calling him a traitor and a liar and threatening to force him to return home. Soon after this event his father died. Francis mourned him greatly for a long time. In 1828 Francis received minor orders but, on the eve of his ordination, he was stuck down by a grave illness, epilepsy, which deemed him unable to become a priest, He was 27 years old. Francis’ great faith believed God would not abandon him.

In 1838 two special friends visit Francis. Father Eugene Tisserant from Haiti in the West Indies and Father Frederick Le Vavasseur from Creole in the French Islands of Reunion. They request help in bringing God’s joy to the destitute people of Reunion and Haiti. How could Francis help? He was in bad health, unable to be ordained, unable to travel. His friends insisted. “Our people need you Francis. They need prayers and someone to organise everything from Paris. We wish to form a new Missionary society…” and so seeds were planted for the Foundation of the Congregation of the Holy Heart of Mary. Inspired by God, Francis responded positively to the invitation to dedicate his life to the abandoned people of those places far from Paris. His first action was to obtain from the Holy See approval/permission to proceed. Early January 1840 he arrived in Rome to visit Pope Gregory XVI. He spent a year in Rome presenting his plans to the Holy See, awaiting a decision on his ordination and drawing up the Provisional Rule of his still unfounded Society, which he intended to dedicate to the Holy Heart of Mary. In February 1841 after ten years Francis re-entered the seminary and, seven months later, on the 18th September 1841 in Amies, France he was ordained a priest at 39 years of age. Nine days after his ordination a Novitiate was opened. With his two companions Fathers Tisserant and Le Vavasseur he began the Congregation of the Holy Heart of Mary.

After only seven years of the Society’s life the Holy See requested Father Libermann to merge his new Society with the Holy Ghost Congregation which had existed in France since 1703. This congregation had been training priests and sending missionaries abroad for more than 100 years. The Holy Ghost Congregation was founded by Claude des Places (1679-1709) on Pentecost Sunday 1703. He lived 150 years before Francis Libermann. His background could not have been more different to Libermann. Claude was born of wealthy parents (close to nobility) in France in 1679. He studied law but never practiced. He became a student for the priesthood in the Jesuit School of Theology in Paris. At the age of 24 (he was not yet a priest) Claude des Places and 12 companions went to mass on Pentecost Sunday 1703 and the Holy Ghost Congregation was founded. Claude was ordained four years later in 1707 but died two years later in1709 from pleurisy. He was 30 years old. He was buried in a pauper’s grave in Paris. He is the youngest founder of a religious Order in the Church. From the very beginnings of the foundation of Francis Libermann’s Congregation of the Holy Heart of Mary in 1840 there had been discussions about joining this Congregation with the Society of the Holy Ghost Fathers.

Claude des Places’ Holy Ghost Fathers Congregation had suffered greatly from the French Revolution. They had many mission fields but few priests. Francis Libermann fully supported a merger as both congregations had the same purpose. He felt that two societies were not in order if one could suffice. In those early years the time was not ripe to merger. There were those in both orders who strongly opposed any ideas of a merger but Francis Libermann did not give up hope. He needed to persuade his own congregation that it was the wisest thing to do. In 1845 when the merger was under discussion Francis wrote that members of his Society may loose their name and be called Spiritans but they should hold fast to things that counted rather than to a name. Father Libermann, dedicated to the poor and deprived used every means to improve their spiritual and material welfare. He envisaged a merger would enable a continuation of the missionary ministry and would be in line with God’s will. By 1848 the atmosphere towards a merger was more favourable. The Pope also encouraged the two Societies to unite. After much discussion, on the Feast of Pentecost, June 10th 1848 both parties gathered and unanimously accepted the merger in principle. By August 1848 a signed agreement for the merger had taken place and on the 28th Sept. 1848 official approval of the merger occurred such that the Congregation of the Holy Heart of Mary ceased to exist and Father Libermann’s men entered the Holy Ghost Congregation under the changed title – Congregation of the Holy Ghost and the Immaculate Heart of Mary – Francis Libermann was Superior General.

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