Parish priest slams disgraceful allegations made about him online

By Maurice Garvey

A PARISH priest slammed “disgraceful allegations” that were posted online about him in the aftermath of a recent funeral.

The posts, which have since been removed by administrators on the Legends of Ballyer Facebook page, questioned the priest’s handling of a funeral for Patrick Lim (22), from Kylemore Road, who passed away on December 15.

Fr Joe McDonald 4fin 1 Fr Joe McDonald, author of the book "Why the Irish Church deserves to die"

The funeral mass was celebrated by Fr Joe McDonald, parish priest at St Matthew’s on December 21.

Fr McDonald, an outspoken critic of the Catholic Church in recent years, appeared on the RTE Radio Liveline show on Tuesday, to engage in a discussion with Mr Lim’s sister Patrice (21).

Patrice claimed the family were treated “rudely’ by the priest in preparation for the mass the day before, and during the service itself.

She said the first meeting with the priest “got heated”, after they clashed on certain aspects of what the family wanted at the service – Patrice claiming the priest wouldn’t allow readings, gifts or songs, or her Aunt from Australia deliver a eulogy.

At the service the next day, Fr Joe said he realised that a group of people came to the mass “gunning for him” after he called the Aunt up early on for a reading.

The priest said he “clumsily’ told the mourners ‘we need to move’ after a 30 second delay.

“I’m not sure if she was briefed on speaking early in the mass, there was a considerable delay – a group of two rows reacted most aggressively,” said Fr Joe.

“I was quite taken aback. It was quite a harmless comment. I realised then that the group came to mass angry because they heard this priest blocked this. My feeling (day before) is that what Patrice wanted was something different to mass.”

The priest wasn’t invited to the crematorium after the service, but felt compelled to respond to some comments delivered by other residents on Facebook, claiming he did not treat Patrick, who died by suicide, with respect.

“The allegations against me were disgraceful, not from the Lim family, but social media had a field day,” said Fr Joe.

“In six years at St Matthew’s, we have celebrated over 500 funeral masses. If four or five people are upset, I’m not aware of anybody. I often speak out about how the Church has treated people in that manner of death. I have celebrated many tragic funerals and would never judge. It was a most unfair allegation.”

Fr Joe said it was not his intention for the family to have that experience and “for that failure I’m truly sorry.”

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