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25 May 2022

Carrick-on-Suir people support their former curate in wake of his departure from priesthood

GoFundMe page set up in 'support and appreciation' for Richard Geoghegan

Carrick-on-Suir people voice support for Fr Richard in controversy over his departure from priesthood

Fr Richard Geoghegan pictured in the presbytery of St Nicholas Parish in Carrick-on-Suir in 2015 after the building was damaged by fire. Picture Anne Marie Magorrian

There has been an outpouring of support for former priest Richard Geoghegan in Carrick-on-Suir where he served as a curate for many years, since controversy erupted last week over his departure from the priesthood.
The Dungarvan native, who was curate at Carrick-on-Suir/Faugheen Parish before becoming parish priest of Ballyneale, announced on Twitter last week that he was “officially dismissed by Rome” on January 7.
“My Bishop was happy to dispense me. I’m a good man. And he talks about the shortage of vocations,” said the Tweet by Mr Geoghegan, who performed a drag impersonation of singer Shirley Bassey on Francis Brennan’s Grand Tour of Vietnam television show on RTE in 2017, which drew criticism from some conservative Catholics.
Bishop of Waterford & Lismore Most Rev. Alphonsus Cullinan rejected Mr Geoghegan’s claim that he was dismissed by Rome and in a statement said he had “of his own accord” petitioned Pope Francis for laicisation.
But the Association of Catholic Priests responded with a strongly worded statement describing the Bishop’s treatment of Mr Geoghegan as “inappropriate,unreasonable and unacceptable”.
The ACP claimed Mr Geoghegan “reluctantly signed” his laicisation papers confirming his departure from the priesthood as he “felt unsupported” by Bishop Cullinan.
In Carrick-on-Suir, Richard Geoghegan’s announcement was greeted by an outpouring of supportive messages from local people on local community news Facebook pages.
And in the past two days a GoFundMe Page has been set up by Martina Walsh, community liaison officer for Carrick-on-Suir’s Bridgewater House Direct Provision Centre, as a gesture of support and appreciation by local people for Mr Geoghegan, who was a very popular priest in the town during his years in St Nicholas Parish.
In her introduction to the Supporting Richard GoFundMe Page, Martina Walsh said Richard Geoghegan was “loved by so many whose lives he touched”.
“He was there for happy occasions and the sad ones too. He travelled to Nepal on 10 occasions to help the Leprosy Mission.
“We would like to show our appreciation to Richard now that he is in our thoughts at what is a difficult time in his life,” she concluded.
Martina, who formerly managed Bridgewater House, recalled that Richard provided a lot of help and support to her and the residents of Bridgewater House during his years in Carrick and still kept in contact with them.
Carrick-on-Suir Cllr David Dunne is also among the local people who have spoken out over the past week in praise of Fr Geoghegan’s service as a priest during his time in Carrick-on-Suir.
The Sinn Fein councillor said there had been a stunning “outpouring of affection” in Carrick for Richard Geoghegan over the past week.
“To me he will always be known as Fr Richard. He is a good man and was liked in Carrick-on-Suir. I don’t know the ins and outs of what went on but all I can say is that as a human being he is one of the nicest people I have met and I give him my 100 per cent support.”
Cllr Dunne recalled that when Richard Geoghegan celebrated Mass, a wedding or Christening, he always made the ceremony very personal, easy and enjoyable for parishoners.
“That is why when he celebrated Mass there were always a lot of young people present.”
Meanwhile, the Association of Catholic Priests, in a statement, said it was with “dismay and sadness ” that it had learned of the news that Richard Geoghegan had left the priesthood.
The group claimed that Richard Geoghegan’s reluctant signing of his laicisation papers after 28 years of service to the Diocese of Waterford & Lismore had left him “without an income, accommodation and dependent on a derisory financial settlement”.
The Nationalist contacted the Bishop of Waterford & Lismore’s office to see if he wished to respond to the ACP’s criticism. A spokesperson said the Bishop was not commenting further on what was a private and confidential matter.
The spokesperson referred The Nationalist to the statement issued by Bishop Cullinan last week in response to Richard Geoghegan’s Tweet. It stated: “Of his own accord, Richard Geoghegan petitioned Pope Francis for laicisation from the priesthood on March 31, 2021.  
“At the meeting last March, Richard attended the diocesan offices, in the company of a chosen colleague, to sign the request to the Holy Father for laicisation. On December 15, 2021, Pope Francis granted Richard Geoghegan’s petition, meaning that he is no longer a priest. I wish to acknowledge and thank Richard for his pastoral ministry over the years and wish him well for his future.”

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