Missionary priest who helped South Africa's poor during apartheid
Fr Eamon O Reilly, OMI, served as a missionary in South Africa for 50 years as a member of the Oblate Order.
Tributes have been paid following the death of a popular missionary priest who was known for his work with impoverished communities during South Africa's apartheid era.
Fr Eamon O'Reilly, OMI, a native of Gartbratten, Milltown, Belturbet, passed away on Sunday last, July 12, peacefully, and in the loving care of his family at Cavan General Hospital.
Brother of the late PJ (Gartbratten), Seamus (Kells), Sr Edith and Mairead (both Gartbratten), Fr O'Reilly was one of a great number of priests and sisters from the parish of Drumlane who gave their lives to missionary activity throughout the world.
He served as a missionary in South Africa for 50 years as a member of the Oblate Order.
His first appointment after ordination was to South Africa’s Transvaal Province, where he was pastor to parish communities in and around Johannesburg.
During the difficult years of struggle against apartheid, he was a pastor to communities at iconic flashpoints, including Regina Mundi Church in Soweto.
The challenges faced by Fr O'Reilly were immense, and he was recognised for his determination in working with the country's poorest communities. Later, he was responsible for developing a much-appreciated conference and retreat centre on the outskirts of the city.
Fr O'Reilly celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of his Ordination in 2019, and travelled to be in his native parish for the great celebrations. He was joined on that day by Canon Michael Fitzpatrick, who was celebrating the Golden Jubilee of his Ordination.
Fr. Eamon had also just completed a book on his life story prior to his special celebrations.
He is survived by his sister Maureen Denning (Virginia), sisters in law Mai and Lily, nephews, nieces, all his brother priests in South Africa and Oblate House, Inchicore, Dublin, and a very large circle of friends.
Fr Eamon’s Funeral Mass will be celebrated in St. Patrick’s Church, Milltown, on Tuesday, July 14, at 12 noon.
The main celebrant will be Fr. Willie Fitzpatrick OMI, Provincial of the Order, Inchicore. He will be joined in the celebration of the Funeral Mass by Father Gerry Comiskey P.P. Drumlane.
Burial will take place after Mass in Drumlane Cemetery. Due to government and HSE regulations,
Fr Eamon’s funeral will be private to family only.