The death has occurred of Fr. John Kilcrann C.S.Sp., a Spiritan (Holy Ghost) missionary priest.
Aged 71, he died, after a short illness, in Dublin on 11th June 2019, Feast Day of St. Barnabas.
Born in 1948 in Co. Leitrim in Ireland’s north-west, he attended primary school locally, and completed his secondary studies in Dublin’s Blackrock College. His training for the priesthood culminated in 1976 in ordination, by Bishop (later Cardinal) Daly of Ardagh & Clonmacnois.
Fr. John, whose specializations were geography and archaeology, had by then graduated from University College Dublin. Qualifying as a secondary school teacher, he worked for two years in Rockwell College, in Ireland’s southern province of Munster, which like Blackrock College was – and still is – a Spiritan school.
While a seminarian, he attended the first meeting in Dublin of the international humanitarian agency now known as Concern Worldwide, and he completed a year of development studies in the period between ordination and going ‘on the missions.’ Later, he did an MA in the School of Religion and Religious Education in New York’s Fordham University, and he completed his doctorate in The Catholic Theological Union, Chicago.
The first half of Fr. John’s missionary priesthood was spent in Brazil. After a language and acculturation course in Rio de Janeiro, he served in a number of parishes across São Paulo state. A fluent speaker of Portuguese, he was involved with diocesan and regional commissions working on behalf of people who were landless, and he ministered in Basic Ecclesial Communities. His positions in the justice & peace area included as his congregation’s regional coordinator for Brazil/Paraguay and as founding director of Serviço Brasileiro de Justiça e Paz.
Later, based in Rome for almost a decade, he was the Spiritans’ director of justice & peace across the globe, serving on various boards including Africa Europe Faith & Justice Network.
In 2009-2010, as a Fellow at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, he worked on the development of a distance-learning program in justice & peace and was subsequently consultant to the university’s Annual Presidential Conference on the Integrity of Creation. When the sad news of his death reached Duquesne, its president recalled a ‘great scholar’ and a ‘wonderful friend’.
The final decade of Fr. John’s life was largely spent in Ireland. Serving for six years on his province’s leadership team, he was central in setting up both Spiritan Mission Ireland and an orientation course for incoming pastoral ministry workers, and in negotiations leading to the move of Kimmage Development Studies Centre to the National University of Ireland in Maynooth outside Dublin. Shortly before his untimely death, he had taken up the role of director of World Missions Ireland, the pope’s official charity in Ireland for overseas mission.
Fr. John was buried in Dublin on Saturday 15th June. At his Funeral Mass in Kimmage Manor, where he had once been a seminarian, the large congregation heard that he ‘never took the limelight’ but was a ‘wise and valued’ colleague who was always ‘contented to see the job done’. He is survived by his sister Mary, brother James, extended family and fellow Spiritans.