Fr Brendan Heeran C.S.Sp., a Spiritan (Holy Ghost) missionary priest from the parish of Fenagh, Co Leitrim, has died. He was aged 89.
Brendan was born in 1931 to Brigid (née Foran) and Francis Heeran of Cornagon, Keshcarrigan P.O. who were both teachers. Several members of the family would go on to choose religious life.
After his Leaving Cert. in St Mel’s College, Longford in 1949, Brendan began a near decade of training for the priesthood. He also completed his B.A. during this time.
Fr Brendan was ordained into the Spiritan Congregation in 1957. Also ordained that year were his fellow county-men, Fr Jim McNulty from Proughlish and Fr Ciarán Shanley from Dromod.
Appointed to Kenya, Fr Brendan served there for four decades in a number of different missions. He was Rector of Pope Paul V1 Junior Seminary, Machakos, Father-in-charge of Ngunga parish, Bursar in St. Mary's School (Nairobi), a chaplain in St Paul's University, also in the Kenyan capital, and he served in the Teacher-Training College in Kilimambogo.
In Tala, where the secondary school began in a borrowed classroom, he organised the building of classrooms using local labour for a fraction of commercial costs and he is remembered there not least for the annual cross-country event and his coaching of athletes, a number of whom went on to compete at international level.
Fr Brendan returned to Ireland in 2000. Described as “a rock of good common sense”, he kept in touch with news from Kenya long after leaving there. He enjoyed photography and craftwork.
A follower of all sport, he was chuffed when Zak Moradi, with his migrant background, was on the victorious Leitrim hurling team that won the 2019 Lory Meagher Cup!
At his Funeral Mass in Kimmage on 29th January, Fr Paul Walsh C.S.Sp. – who served with his fellow Spiritan in Kenya – recalled how much Fr Brendan “treasured the opportunity to work with and minister to young people of impoverished families, many who lacked the basic necessities of life such as education”.
He added that though schools were important for him, Fr Brendan “saw them as secondary to the fundamental spiritual needs of the Kamba people.”
Pre-deceased by his brothers Colm, Tim and Pádraig, and his sisters Máire, Sr Christina MSHR and Sr Sheila RSM, Fr Brendan is survived by his sisters Sr Margaret MSHR, Rita, Sr Annetta FMSA, Sr Fidelma RSM and Monica, and his extended family.
Spiritans have a long connection with Co Leitrim. Fr John Kilcrann C.S.Sp., who died in 2019, was from near Mohill. The late Fr Eamonn McMahon C.S.Sp., who served in Nigeria and Brazil, grew up in Dromahair. Fr Peter McEntire C.S.Sp., ordained in 1962, is from Carrigallen.