The popular Fanad-born priest, Fr. Michael Sweeney, celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his ordination in Glenvar on Sunday evening.
Father Michael celebrated his Jubilee Mass in the company of 15 priests at St. Mary’s Church, Glenvar, where he is currently based. In his homily Father Seán Ó Gallchóir, P.P., Gortahork, said Father Michael has given 50 years of wonderful service to God and to the people.
He received his primary education in Fanad national school and later studied at St. Eunan’s College, Letterkenny. Afterwards, he went on to study for the priesthood at Maynooth.
Father Michael’s first assignment after his ordination was curate of Tory Island, where he served for three years. Afterwards he ministered in Kilmacrennan, Lettermacward, and Falcarragh Community School.
Later, Father Michael moved to Gaoth Dobhair. He gave a total of 28 years of service to Gaoth Dobhair, first as curate of Cnoc Fola for three years, and then served as parish priest in the parish for 25 years. During his time in Gaoth Dobhair he received the Donegal Person of the Year Award.
In his homily, Father Seán said many stone buildings in the parish of Gaoth Dobhair bear witness to Father Michael’s vision and hard work. Father Seán referred to all the projects Father Michael successfully completed during his time in the parish, including Ionad Pobail Chnoc Fola, the Gaoth Dobhair Day Centre, the nearby houses and flats for older people and his work on the former St. Mary’s Church in Derrybeg. Father Michael also started lobbying for a nursing home which now stands close to the day centre.
Father Seán said the basic call of the priest is to ensure God inhabits the hearts of the people and Father Sweeney did that. He referred to his work with young people, visits to hospital and said he brought many people to God. Father Michael’s enthusiasm never flagged, Father Seán said, calling him a man with great devotion to prayer who always saw the good side of people.
After the mass, refreshments were served in the local community centre, the former national school, and a number of presentations were made.