IT was a departure wholly in keeping with the colourful, charismatic, and controversial cleric who has never been far removed from the headlines.
Fr Michael Kennedy, a distant cousin of assassinated US President John F Kennedy, has taken administrative leave from his post as parish priest of Dunhill/Fenor in Co Waterford, pending the completion of a Church investigation into allegations of misconduct made against him in 2003.
Hundreds of parishioners packed the church in Dunhill this week for a "farewell’ Mass celebrated by Fr Kennedy, and attended by up to 13 other priests.
The Mass was followed by what one parishioner has described as "a right old hooley" in a local pub, and again many of the priests attended.
Fr Kennedy, who won a senior All-Ireland hurling medal with Offaly in 1981, has been embroiled in a number of high-profile controversies.
He hit the national and international headlines a decade ago when he told stunned massgoers in Dungarvan that a woman infected with AIDS had set out to deliberately infect as many men as she could with it in an act of revenge.
His claim has never been substantiated and cold water has been thrown on it by several reputable sources.