AS if moving to Ecuador to work with some of the country’s poorest people wasn’t enough of a challenge, former Ennis priest Fr John Molloy is now set to run in this year’s Dublin City Marathon.
He is now fitting in training alongside his busy work in his parish of Monte Sinai. He is calling on others to join him in taking part in the event, which takes place in the capital on October 29. Fr John is set to head back to Ireland for a short time in September and he told The Clare Champion that he, his sister and many friends will be taking on the marathon to raise funds for the ongoing work in Ecuador.
This weekend, he will begin the journey home to Ireland via New York. On Saturday, he will fly to the US city where he will minister and preach in St Paul’s Parish, Yonkers. The following weekend, he will celebrate masses and preach in Our Lady of Good Counsel, Methuen, Boston, where he will continue on behalf of the Society St James to look for support for the development of the parish in Monte Sinai.
Still in Ecuador, Fr John has welcomed two local Ennis men who have come to work in his parish. At the end of July, Owen Kelly from Dalcassian Park and Chris Chreevey, Larchill, headed to Monte Sinai to support Fr John’s work.
Fr John expressed his support for their help saying, “They have left family, friends and home and have commenced their Latin American journey here in Ecuador. They have received an Irish welcome in our parish community of Monte Sinai. While here, they have repaired and painted the church benches and are at present in the middle of building a toilet and wash area for a family who don’t have any. The heat is presently 37C so a dramatic culture and climate difference for our two lads and a change from Clare but they are doing the county proud.”
It is hoped to continue providing more toilets and wash areas for very needy families later this year through a project in connection with the archdiocese in Ecuador. Construction work continues voluntarily on the building of the hall for the indigenous people who live in Monte Sinai.
“I purchase all the building materials so again, your monies are being well spent and monitored. This project, as I have already stated, is in conjunction with the Archdiocese of Guayaquil. The diocese here is very ‘pro-indigenous’ and, thank God, we follow example and I witness first hand the genuine hard work, labour and appreciation for this worthy new community centre for people who will preserve all that is good about South American cultures,” said Fr John.
He explained the school, San Filipe, is thriving and they are now almost midway through the school year. “Our 178 children are working hard and with the help of two Rostro De Cristo volunteers from the USA, we are really blessed this year in furthering education. Computer classes are now a major part of the school week, as is physical exercises being given by new volunteer, Gregorio. My next task will be to continue the construction and completion of the school when I return in October. I can’t wait,” he said.
He paid tribute to the people of Clare and elsewhere for their ongoing support for his work and described how much he will miss his “family” in Ecuador when he returns to Ireland for a few weeks.
“This year, we have supported financially many children who could not attend school if we were not able to help them. We are also helping financially some children to go to secondary school and some to third-level. I think the young people here are great. They are able to progress and better themselves, many without much support from home. Some get accepted on courses and it gives me such joy to be able to help them financially to get a good education. They all certainly have become my family here and I will miss them when I am home in September,” he said.
After the marathon, Fr John will return to Monte Sinai where he will stay for another two years. Among his future plans for the parish are improvements to the church, El Bautismo De Jesus.
“The parish church needs a tower for a gravity feed water system for our church buildings and also to house the church bell. I have big plans for this project and have all the costings ready and builder booked. I have been thinking a long time about this construction. As it’s not a real priority, especially when life conditions are so bad for so many, what I do think is and believe that the tower/spire and bell will be a symbol of hope and new life and give great ownership to the people that it is their church, they actually own it and it will be our gift to the people here for the future,” he explained.
When he’s home in September, he hopes to visit extended family and friends in different parts of the country. He will return to his ordaining seminary, St Patrick’s College, Thurles, to speak about life in Ecuador to the students. “These theology students are hope for our Irish Church and it is a great blessing to the Irish Church that so many are interested and being educated in religion and will pass on their faith/education to future generations,” he said. He will also be preaching in Shannon, where he will speak about his experiences in South America.
Fr John, along with his mother, Fr Tom Hogan, Fr Tom Ryan and Fr Tom Whelan will join the Killaloe Diocesan autumn pilgrimage to Lourdes in early October. Following that, he will return to his home village of Terryglass to supply for Fr Michael Cooney.
He concluded with a message to his friends here in Ireland, “I salute you all with huge affection, gratitude and appreciation. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all the support, prayers and generosity over the last year here in Monte Sinai. I cannot believe an entire year has passed since I was home. You are in my prayers and thoughts and I hope to see you all when home again in our great country,” he said.