Father Keaney on Texas sabbatical

Representatives of the Coleraine Charitable Trust with the Dickey family. From left, Fr Charlie Keaney, Rev Bert Ritchie, Charlene and Neill Dickey with children Oliver and Max and David Rankin. INCR07-136MJ

Representatives of the Coleraine Charitable Trust with the Dickey family. From left, Fr Charlie Keaney, Rev Bert Ritchie, Charlene and Neill Dickey with children Oliver and Max and David Rankin. INCR07-136MJ

A former Buncrana based priest is to leave his current St John’s Parish in Coleraine this autumn to take on a ‘sabbatical of renewal’ in the United States.

Father Charlie Keaney served six-and-a-half years in Buncrana before returning to his home parish of Coleraine.

His destination is the Oblate School of Theology, a Catholic graduate school for theological studies in San Antonio, which is run by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

“I’ll be 66 and while many people think of retirement at that age and putting their feet up, I’m not”, reflected Fr Keaney.

“Instead, I’ll be doing a sabbatical course in sprituality and theology in San Antonia - a renewal if you like.

“And when I come back home I will go wherever the Bishop sends me to be a curate for my remaining days.”

Founded in 1849, The School’s initial goal was to educate young men to serve as Oblate missionaries in Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Mexico and the Philippines.

Today, it prepares men for priesthood from many dioceses across the United States and a number of religious communities. For Father Keaney it will represent a new chapter in his 41 years in the Catholic clergy. Saying goodbye to St John’s where he went to school, will not be easy.

Fr Keaney served in several churches across the north west. Following his ordination he spent five years from 1976 at St Eugene’s Cathedral - the Mother Church’ for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Derry, as well as the parish Church of the parish of Templemore.

He stayed in the city to serve a further eight years in Shantallow, followed by a year in Omagh, six years in Limavady and Ballykelly and then six-and-a-half years in Buncrana before returning to Coleraine.