Parish Priest Rev Fr Sean Rogan will `return back home' as he
puts it when he leaves Blaris Parish for Downpatrick on August
Fr Rogan (66) will return to the parish of his child-hood
where he was brought up and served as a priest in the early
He will succeed Fr Brendan Murray who is due to retire
because of ill health.
His successor in Lisburn will be Fr Hugh Kennedy from the
Sacred Heart Church in Belfast.
Fr Rogan has been a priest for 43 years. He was ordained at
the age of 23 in 1962 and said he made his life changing choice
of vocation because he was impressed by the kindness and
goodness of the clergy.
He has served in 11 different parishes throughout the Diocese
of Down and Connor which takes in parts of Counties Antrim, Down
He has served in all three counties at some stage beginning
at St Mary's in Belfast's Chapel Lane.
He then moved to Ardglass for just one month before going to
St Teresa's on Belfast's Glen Road where he stayed for two
He then moved to Saintfield for six and a half years before
going to Downpatrick where he remained from 1971 to 1977.
The next five years were spent in Twinbrook. Fr Rogan then
went to Antrim for four years, Larne for five years and
Coleraine for eight years before arriving in Lisburn.
He has since served in Antrim for four years, five years in
Larne and then eight years in Coleraine before coming to Lisburn
where he succeeded Canon Joseph Cunningham.
He told the Star he felt honoured to have served in the
parish and admitted leaving will be an emotional experience.
"I will leave Lisburn with plenty of fond and happy
memories," he said. "I will particularly remember the kindness
of all the parishioners whose friendship and advice I have
"I would also like to thank all my colleagues from other
churches for their kindness and co-operation especially those
from the town centre group of ministers with whom I had a
"We met every month in each others' houses where we arranged
many things that we had in common including the carrying of the
cross at Easter and Christmas events."
Fr Rogan was first told that he was moving last Thursday when
he got a call from the Bishop Most Rev Patrick Walsh.
Fr Rogan said he views the move as an honour and said it will
be a privilege to take over from Canon Murray. "I was a little
bit surprised but it is indeed an honour to be asked," he said.
"I knew Fr Murray was retiring but it was felt that someone
else would take over as parish priest."
Fr Rogan said he is looking forward to returning to
He said that in ecclesiastical terms he views the move as
significant because St Patrick first served his ministry in the
town in 432AD.
When Fr Rogan first moved to Lisburn in 1998 he faced a
He had only been in the parish a month when St Joseph's
Church in Magheragall was destroyed in an arson attack during
the Drumcree Crisis.
He also had a difficult task during much needed work at St
Patrick's Church in Chapel Hill.
He had to re-adjust and replace many items in the church
which had not been re-organised for 100 years. Fr Rogan did not
want to take away from the beauty of the church but wanted to
develop and modernise much of it without destroying many of the
After the work was completed a rededication service at the
church was held in 2000.
He said that he had nothing but praise for all the
parishioners during that time.
"People in the parish responded magnificently during 'that
time and were willing to undertake anything which would help to
enhance the beauty of the church which helped to proclaim
Christ's Kingdom," he said.
He also thanked all those who worked alongside him closely
during the seven years he was there.
"I would like to express my gratitude to all my colleagues
and wish them well in the years that now follow," he said.
"I would also like to thank my fellow priests in particular
Fr Eammonn McGarrion. He has been a great inspiration and help
to me over these years."
Fr Rogan also thanked the many parishioners who helped him
throughout his stay in Lisburn.
One of the most cherished memories he holds is of a recent
event - a service held to mark the 200th anniversary of St
Colman's at Reilly's Trench near Hillsborough.
Another happy memory was being asked by former mayor Betty
Campbell to serve as chaplain during her time in office.
He also has happy memories of the building and opening of the
Lagan Valley Island Civic Centre.
"The saddest time was when the boy James McMahon was killed
in the town which brought such revulsion within the community,"
Father Rogan said he hoped people will continue to be united
in Lisburn. "Lisburn is a City for Everyone and it would be my
wish that all citizens of Lisburn, irrespective of political,
religious, or ethnic affiliation will help to build on a city of
unity especially in these days when Lisburn has seen many people
from ethnic back-grounds - India, Poland Lithuania Phillipines
and other countries - who have come to live in Lisburn."
Fr Rogan said he wished Fr Hugh Kennedy a Doctor of Divinity
and expert in Sacred Liturgy, the best in the future.
"I wish him well in the city and parish which I have been
very proud to serve and in which I have had so many happy
times," he said.
He also said as he leaves he will remember a Latin motto on
the back of a medal of the patron Saint of Europe, St Benedict
which says 'May the Holy Cross be a Light to Me and Never the
Devil be My leader'.
He said as he leaves he will also seek comfort from the words
of the former Pope John Paul II 'Look for Jesus, Love Jesus and
Give Witness to Jesus.'