When Josie and Dan O’Hagan would call their children for the rosary in the evenings at their Violet Street home in Derry, young Frank would always be the last to kneel.
And, almost always dark-haired Frank would, at some point, feel the heat of a sharp look from his mother instructing him to bring his fit of giggles to an end.
It was a ritual, where every night he’d join his seven siblings and parents, that would have a profound effect on Frank, who in 1973, aged 25, was ordained a diocesan priest.
“It wasn’t a decision that was made immediately, but one that was nurtured at home - through the rosary and that ritual; I suppose a notion of something, a religious way of life,” says Fr. Frank.
The path to becoming a priest wasn’t straightforward for Fr. Frank because of certain rules back in the 1960s.
He’d attended the Christian Brothers and went on to attend college in Dublin, but eventually returned to Derry and St Columb’s College. However, he didn’t have ‘A-levels’ so Maynooth wasn’t an option, and instead spent his six years training at St Kieran’s College in Kilkenny, where his classmates included Fr Declan Boland, Fr Con McLaughlin, Fr Paddy O’Kane and Fr John Walsh.
And now he’s celebrating 40 years as a priest.
Fr. O’Hagan says he has been “very lucky, with only three different parishes”, lucky in the sense of meeting people who have helped him become the priest he is today. Without their support and encouragement he doubts he would have survived.
“People are unbelievable,” he says, “and still are very supportive of their clergy.”
Life as a priest has also brought great joy for Fr. Frank, at christenings, weddings and other family occasions, and in local schools.
“It’s funny because I’m really starting to show my age because now, when I go to look for the baptismal certificate for a wedding, I think ‘I christened that wain!’”
To celebrate his 40 years, Fr O’Hagan is having a special Mass at 11am on Sunday June 9 at St Aidan’s Church in Magilligan.
Reflecting what he says are the three standards in a priest’s life, he will have children who have made their First Holy Communion and Confirmation and people he visits on the sick run, “because the day isn’t about me. There is no need for emotion. It’s about the people.”
“It’s largely due to the people I am the priest I am,” he says.
See full story online at www.derryjournal.com