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Father Des celebrates 70 years in priesthood

LOOKING BACK: Fr Des Wilson ahead of his Mass yesterday, Wednesday, and inset, back in 1949 when he was ordained LOOKING BACK: Fr Des Wilson ahead of his Mass yesterday, Wednesday, and inset, back in 1949 when he was ordained
By Ciara Quinn

A Mass to celebrate the “champion of the people”, Fr Des Wilson, was held (yesterday) Wednesday, to mark the 70th anniversary of his ordination.

Parishioners and well-wishers packed into Corpus Christi Church for 10am Mass as the Springhill congregation came together to give thanks for Fr Des’ dedicated service to the West Belfast community.
Parish Priest of Corpus Christi Fr Paddy McCafferty, who celebrated the special service, praised Fr Des’ “immense strength and dedication” within and to the community and said the depths of gratitude felt towards him are “immeasurable.”

“Fr Des is a champion of the people, Fr Des saw was needed to be done and did it, he is a man without equal.”

“Fr Des co-ordinated, instigated and educated the community. I’m almost lost for words when it comes to describing him. I was looking up the meaning of the word ‘platinum’, it means hard wearing, hard, Fr Des was rock hard in his work for the community. What would people have done without him?”

On celebrating his Platinum Jubilee Fr Des said: “I never thought I would get this far.

“There were more than 80 priests ordained the same day as I was, most of them are gone from this world, a mere handful of us laughing about which of us will reach the 100th birthday first.

“What I want to do now, most of all is to thank God for allowing me to live among such good family, friends and neighbours during those years. You taught me what life means; you taught me that especially during the bad, sad times. I believe we are seeing the beginning of a renewed Ireland, a renewed Christianity, a renewed city of Belfast – and we are privileged to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the city – between the beautiful mountain that is full of surprises like the feast of bluebells in the beginning of summer to the snow topped hills in winter, between the sweeping magnificent valley of the Lough and the Lagan,” he said. “This must surely be one of the most beautiful places for a city to be in.”

Fr Des continued: “This is where I learned the best lessons about life and I am grateful to family, friends, neighbours who taught me and even had great patience when I learned so slowly. I learned how good people show their dignity even during the hardest of times, show it most of all during the hard times.

“So I am grateful to God for being here, grateful, to all whom I have had the privilege of being family and neighbour to. And very, very hopeful for the future.

“Coming out of the worst of times we could now be facing into the best of times. May God and good people make it so. Father Paddy, like our friend Father Aiden, you are with us all at the beginning of a newly awakened Church and a people refreshed by what they have suffered and achieved together. We have good reason to be thankful for that and for each other.”

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