Originally from Melbourne, the 38 year old has taken to his new role in the Mid North of South Australia with the same enthusiasm he demonstrated as a school teacher and chaplain at Saint Ignatius’ College, Norwood.
Fr Kieran joined the Jesuits in 2008, attracted by Jesuit spirituality’s emphasis on companionship with Jesus and by the way so many Jesuit saints through history have served in places of great need.
That initial attraction led to participation in retreats for young adults and guidance from Jesuit spiritual directors who helped him to develop a life of prayer and follow where the Lord was leading.
After a two year novitiate, a time for ongoing discernment through various experiences of Jesuit community and ministry, there followed study in Melbourne, pastoral ministry in Adelaide, and then further theological studies at Boston College in the United States.
In 2019 Fr Kieran was ordained a priest and was missioned to be an assistant parish priest at St Ignatius’ in Adelaide. The following year he was missioned to the Jesuit school in Adelaide,
Saint Ignatius’ College, where he taught classes in legal studies, history, and religious education. He also acted as a chaplain to students and staff. Before long the Jesuit Provincial, leader of the Jesuits in Australia, had a new assignment for him.
“I was enjoying my previous work as a school teacher and chaplain and I was surprised when the Jesuit Provincial asked me to become a parish priest, but I immediately said yes,” Fr Kieran said.
“It was consoling to receive this new mission – I joined the Society of Jesus to serve wherever I could be of greatest service, and the Society of Jesus and the Archbishop of Adelaide have given me a great gift by appointing me parish priest here.”
The appointment to Sevenhill has taken him to the foundation place for the Jesuits in Australia. Settling near the township of Clare in 1848 the Jesuits have served the Catholic communities in South Australia’s Mid North ever since. The site is home to Sevenhill Cellars and Sevenhill Retreat Centre, a place of deep historic and spiritual significance.
“At Sevenhill, it’s a blessing to both live and work among the people of the Clare and Gilbert Valleys, and to welcome numerous visitors,” he said.
“Priests are called to be with people in both joy and in sorrow, and to help people to be touched by the heart of Christ which beats with love for every single person.”
Fr Kieran said his vocation to Jesuit and priestly life was sustained by living and working with people of great generosity. These relationships, along with prayer, the liturgy and the sacraments, have been incredibly life-giving for him.
Testing positive to COVID on Good Friday in his first year as a parish priest was deeply disappointing as it meant he could not celebrate the Easter Triduum, the high point of the Church’s liturgy, in his new parish.
But the separation from parishioners at such an important time only confirmed his care for them, and theirs for him.
“During my time in isolation I was overwhelmed by supportive messages and assistance from parishioners and friends at Sevenhill,” he said.
“When I returned to Mass after isolation ended, everyone welcomed me so generously and I felt so deeply at home here in the Clare Valley.”
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