Ex-Irish College vice-rector appointed parish priest


CLARE:One of three priest staff members at the Irish College in Rome who returned home this summer was yesterday appointed a parish priest in Co Clare.

Last May, the college announced its vice-rector, Fr Albert McDonnell, was one of three staff priests to return home at the end of the academic year.

A native of Kilmaley, Co Clare, Fr McDonnell was one of the names mentioned for the vacancy of Bishop of Killaloe before Pope Benedict XVI appointed Dr Kieran O’Reilly in May 2010.

In May, the rector of the Irish College, Fr Ciarán O’Carroll announced the return of Fr McDonnell and two of his colleagues.

The return of the three followed the completion of a highly critical report by a visitation team led by the Archbishop of New York which expressed concern about “the atmosphere, structure, staffing and guiding philosophy” of the college.

The Association of Catholic Priests stated they protested in the strongest possible terms against the methodology and conclusions of Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s report, criticising the absence of any right of reply for the staff priests concerned.

The college, which was founded in 1628, educates students from Ireland and other countries for the priesthood, and is a popular wedding venue for Irish couples who wish to get married in Rome.

Along with other diocesan changes, the Bishop of Killaloe confirmed Fr McDonnell is to be the new parish priest of Kildysart and Coolmeen/Cranny. Four local priests are retiring, including well-known GAA figure Fr Séamus Gardiner.

According to the diocesan spokesman, Fr Brendan Quinlivan, two other priests from abroad have also strengthened priest numbers

Fr McDonnell has also been appointed chancellor of the diocese of Killaloe.

He was ordained in 1985 and worked in Rome from 1998. The Co Clare man had served as vice-rector of the Irish College in Rome since 2002.