Sadness at the passing of Sligo priest who spent many years in Kenya

There has been widespread sadness at the passing of Fr Gerry O’Carroll on Friday last, February 24th, peacefully at North West Hospice, Sligo. The Kiltegan Fathers have offered its sincere sympathy to Fr Ger’s family and friends both in Ireland and Kenya.

ather Gerard Joseph O’Carroll, popularly known as Gerry or Ger, was born on the 8th of January 1944 in Cloghogue, Castlebaldwin, Co Sligo, to James and Beatrice O’Carroll (née McDonagh). He attended Cloghogue Primary School (Ballinafad Parish) from 1949 to 1953 and Annagh Primary School from 1953 to 1956. He had his secondary education in Colaiste Muire, Ballymote, from 1956 to 1961.

In September 1961 Gerry joined the Spiritual Year in Kiltegan. From 1962-1964 he studied philosophy in Cork and then proceeded to Kiltegan for theology from 1964 to 1968. Gerry was one of 23 priests ordained for St. Patrick’s Missionary Society by Bishop Lennon on April 14th, 1968.

After ordination Gerry was appointed to the Diocese of Lodwar, Kenya. When Gerry arrived in Lodwar it was still a relatively new mission for the Society with only a few parishes. Gerry worked in most of them beginning in Kaputir, and later Lorugumu, Kerio, Loarengak, Kataboi, Kalokol, Kakuma, Turkwell, Kainuk and finally Kanamkamer.

Gerry was a tremendously dedicated missionary who gave everything for the cause of making Christ known and loved. He placed a lot of influence in catechetics and explaining all aspects of the Christian faith. He was fluent in the Turkana language and taught it to many of the younger Saint Patrick’s missionaries who came after him. He also translated the bible into Turkana. Gerry was very influential in providing education for the Turkana people and was instrumental in the construction of Kakuma Girls Primary School, Our Lady’s Girls’ Secondary School in Kakuma, St. Leo the Great Boys’ Secondary School, Kacaimeri Primary School, and Kabulokor Primary School in Turkwell.

In 2007 after giving everything to the Church and people of the Turkana desert, Gerry returned to live in Ireland and began his ministry in Knock shrine where he dedicated himself once again to serving the people by providing them with a listening ear in the sacrament of confession as well as other pastoral duties. When the Covid lockdown arrived in March 2020, and pilgrims could no longer visit Knock, Gerry went to live with his sister Patricia in his home place and helped out in his parish by celebrating daily mass in St. Patrick’s Church, Ballyrush.

In January 2023, Gerry was taken into Sligo University Sligo. On Shrove Tuesday, February 21st, he moved to the hospice where his family took turns to be at his bedside. On Friday night, the 24th February at 10.55 he passed away peacefully, in the presence of his brother Edmund, his nephew Jim and partner Christine, and Fr. Brian Conway.

Gerry is predeceased by his parents, James and Beatrice. He is survived by his sisters Miriam and Patricia, his brother Edmund, his nephews and nieces, Fr. Patrick Esekon SPS and his parishioners in Lodwar and his Society family in Kiltegan.

Funeral Mass took place yesterday (Tuesday) at 12 noon at St. Patrick’s Church, Ballyrush followed by burial afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.


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