On All Souls Day, the Lord came for the soul of another of our priests who will be well known to many, especially in St. Catherine of Siena parish in Largo, where he served for many years, and at St. Brendan parish on Island Estates and other parishes in the Clearwater area where he assisted after his retirement from active ministry. Father John O’Donovan battled cancer while living here and ultimately he returned to his native Ireland to finish his treatment and his life among family and friends. At 150pm GMT (Ireland time), the Lord came for him and said “enough, come now to the place prepared by my Father and enter into eternal rest.
A tall man with big heart, he came to our diocese to serve much of his priesthood with Father Michael Finnegan, pastor at the time of St. Catherine. They were both heavy smokers and both confessed to me at one time or another that they fully understood the risks they were taking. Father John had that innate Irish wit which so many of our priests had and a dry sense of humor. He was loved and appreciated by all who heard him preach or to whom he came in the times of their own distress.
I spoke with Father last week as he was leaving a hospital for a last time to enter hospice. He was comfortable knowing that death might be imminent but he never gave up hope for a miracle. Kind, consoling, compassionate, Father John O’Donovan helped us enormously here in the diocese.
If you read this and know or remember him, please keep he and his family in your prayers on Tuesday afternoon when there will be a wake service and on Wednesday morning when his funeral Mass will be celebrated. I had hoped that I might be able to fly to Ireland to celebrate his life and death but it is not possible for me. Perhaps it is just as well because his friend of many years, Bishop William Walsh, Bishop Emeritus of Killaloo will be present. I will offer Mass, however, for the peaceful repose of Father John’s soul.