CANON BRIAN MEETS THE POPE
Michael Fisher Northern Standard Carrickmacross News Thursday May 28th
Canon Brian McCluskey, a native of Inniskeen, has returned from Rome after celebrating the 55th anniversary of his ordination. The highlight of his return to Italy was to participate in a private Mass at the Vatican concelebrated by Pope Francis. They were joined by five other priests who were clerical students with Canon Brian at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome in 1960.
The other members of the group were Fr Kevin McMullan (Belfast); Monsignor Jim Kelly (Adare and Brooklyn); Fr Phil Doyle (Tarbert, County Kerry); Fr Brian Twomey SPS (Ashford, County Wicklow and Stirling) and Monsignor Ambrose Macaulay from Cushendall.
Canon McCluskey is a retired priest of the diocese of Clogher, now in his 80th year and living in South Belfast, where he assists the Parish Priest of St Brigid’s, Fr Eddie O’Donnell. Monsignor Macaulay was Fr O’Donnell’s predecessor and five years ago he celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination along with Canon McCluskey. The Mass in Belfast in 2010 was attended by the former Bishop of Clogher, Dr Joseph Duffy, who sent Canon Brian his good wishes on this latest milestone.
Canon McCluskey comes from Blackstaff in Inniskeen. The poet Patrick Kavanagh was a near neighbour. He is a former pupil of St Macartan’s College in Monaghan. After his ordination, he served as a curate in his home parish of Inniskeen from 1977 to 1983. He was a parish priest in Threemilehouse and later Roslea, during the troubles in the North.
He has met three canonised saints, including St Padre Pio and St John XXIII whom he visited while studying for the priesthood in Rome in the 1950s. He met another future saint, St John Paul II, on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee in 1985.