Well-known Wexford town priest to become country PP
AFTER 27 years in the town, one of Wexford's best-known priests, Fr. Jim Fegan, is being transferred to the parish of Ballindaggin.
Fr. Fegan takes up his new position this Saturday (May 17) with Wexford curate Fr. Aodhan Markham taking over his role as Administrator in Wexford.
'It's a big shock to the system after 27 years ministering to the people of the town,' said Fr. Jim. 'I've never lived on my own and have never lived in the country,' said the 53-year-old Wexford priest, who has a large circle of friends in the town where he is well known for his larger-than-life, outgoing personality and great singing voice.
He said that six weeks ago when he sang at the funeral Mass for then-Ballindaggin PP Fr. John Sinnott, on his first visit to the village, he had no idea he would be taking the place of the late priest.
'Fr. Sinnott died and a vacancy was created. I was aware I would be moving later in the summer. When I sang at Fr. Sinnot's funeral I never saw myself as his successor, but that's the way the mop flops,' said Fr, Jim, who grew up in Dublin and has been part of the furniture in the town throughout much of his career as a priest.
He said Bishop Denis Brennan had asked him to remain as Chaplain in Loreto and he would retain his posts on the board of the Family Life Service, and with the Friends of Wexford General Hospital and the Hospital Community Alliance group. He said he would miss Wexford town and its people, but Ballindaggin is only 40 minutes up the road, and he was looking forward to a solitary role in the country.
Asked whether his new post would allow him to give full voice to his musical talents, Fr. Jim said he could only hope that he may be able to get together with the Ballindaggin Pipe Band 'to form a bit of music'.
Wexford's Mayor Cllr. George Lawlor praised Fr. Jim for his service to the town.
'Fr. Jim has been an integral part of the community and religious life in Wexford for the past 27 years,' said Cllr. Lawlor, 'he has made the Presbytery a focal point in the heart of the town. He will be sorely missed, but we hope he will be a frequent visitor.'
Fr. Jim has seen the role of local priest go through huge metamorphosis in his tenure in Wexford town. He arrived as a young curate - a 'Fr. Trendy' of sorts - when Fr. Hugh Byrne and Fr. Paddy Cushen were running the respective shows in the Twin churches.
However, the comfortable routine of parish life was soon to be turned on its head through bitter tales of abuse. Fr. Jim witnessed the devastation, hurt and subsequent healing that spilled from the aftermath of the Ferns Report.
He was was ordained out of St. Peter's College in 1986, and was initially appointed as parish chaplain in Our Lady Queen of Peace in Merrion, Dublin. It was a time when secondment of a priest wasn't such a big deal as healthy vocations were evident in Wexford.
While in Dublin Fr. Jim continued his studies and spent a year in Careysfort studying religious formation before being brought back to St. Peter's to act as Dean of Discipline in the boarding school for a year.
He was appointed to Wexford town, on the departure of the late Fr. Jackie McCabe in 1988, but did a short stint in Ramsgrange before taking up duties.
For six and a half years he was a curate before being approached to become RCA - the administrators job for Rowe Street. Three years later, and only 35 at the time, he was made Administrator - the youngest ADM ever appointed.