‘Daring’ Irish missionary who died in hit-and-run built peace among faiths

‘Daring’ Irish missionary who died in hit-and-run built peace among faiths

The community of an Oblate priest who was killed in a hit-and-run in Roscommon over the weekend are “devastated” at the loss.

The retired but “very active” Fr Michael Guckian OMI (81) was hit by a car at 11pm on Saturday while walking back to his vehicle on a country road. He lived with the Oblates in Mary Immaculate Parish in Inchicore, Co. Dublin, but was spending time with relatives in Keadue.

Fr Guckian ministered in the Philippines for over 30 years before returning to Ireland in 1999. He served in parishes, schools, a retreat house, but foremost he was among non-Christian communities.

After serving in several Muslim-dominated areas he was assigned to the Vicariate of Sulu, the most southern part of the Philippines, which has a population that is 97% non-Catholic.

In a statement given to this paper by the Oblates they said Fr Guckian accepted these tough assignments “even when the Muslim rebellion was at its height in the Sulu archipelago”.

“His daring missionary spirit in building peace among peoples of diverse faith in a foreign mission is a loving historic legacy bequeathed to the OMI Philippine Province.” In the 1990s the security situation in Jolo worsened to “include threats to his life and kidnapping”. It was then that he was transferred to Manila to work as a spiritual director.

The Oblates added that his “valuable missionary presence and activities for the poorest of the poor in the most difficult and dangerous mission…is a great inspiration”, noting that his passion and enthusiasm for the poor “will forever be remembered with gratitude”.

Healthy

“It’s devastating,” said friend Fr Des O’Donnell OMI, who lived with him in Inchicore. “Terrible shock to us because he was the most pastoral priest you could think of, he visited the people all the time in their homes and in the hospital. Despite his age of 81 he was very healthy.”

“I knew him very well, I met him in the Philippines and he lived just across the corridor from me, so I’ll miss him very much.”

Fr Guckian’s funeral took place this week.

The driver of the car, a 20-year-old male, later presented himself at Carrick-On-Shannon Garda station.

Witnesses or anyone with information are asked to contact Boyle Garda Station on 071-9664620, the Garda Confidential Line 1800-666-111 or any Garda Station.

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