Fr Damien Lynch, aged 26, from the Cúil Aodha gaeltacht in West Cork, was ordained by Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown on Sunday in St Gobnait’s Church in Ballyvourney for service in the Diocese of Cloyne. It was the first ordination in Ballyvourney and Cúil Aodha for nearly 80 years.
Fr Lynch, who celebrated his first Mass in Seipéal Chúil Aodha in Irish last night — the church where he served as an altar boy — said he was aware there was a generation today which considers itself spiritual but not necessarily religious.
“They have a spiritual life but can’t identify with the Church, as an institution. I hope to re-establish the link between the two,” he said.
“I hope to be an example of Christian life, of Catholic life, and to show people how fruitful the seven sacraments can be — they are the real kernel of the spiritual life of Catholics.
“It is always daunting setting out into the unknown but I have spent a long time preparing for the priesthood. I trust that the Lord will give me the strength to carry out whatever tasks I’m set.”
Fr Lynch said he hopes to explain the reasons behind certain church teachings to those who have difficulty with them, without necessarily knowing exactly what those teachings are.
The only son of Gerard and Nora Lynch, he attended Scoil Chúil Aodha and Coláiste Ghobnatan, Ballyvourney.
After completing his Leaving Certificate in 2004, he began his studies for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.
He graduated from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and nua-ghaeilge in 2007.
He has just completed his studies in theology at St Patrick’s College and will graduate with a baccalaureate in divinity from the Pontifical University in November.
During his time in the seminary, Damien undertook various pastoral placements, including periods in the parishes of Newbridge, Co Kildare, and in Mallow.
He was ordained to the diaconate last January in the College Chapel, Maynooth, by Archbishop Dermot Clifford, apostolic administrator of Cloyne.
He is still awaiting news on his parish appointment but he will celebrate this evening’s Mass in Ballyvourney at 7pm, the annual shrine Mass at St Gobnait’s on Sunday, and Mass in his mother’s parish of Aghabullogue next Monday.
The Diocese of Cloyne, which has 46 parishes across east, north, and mid-Cork, currently has two other men training for the priesthood.