Home Masses Grangegeeth Matt Carpenter
Sunday, 21 July 2024
Matt Carpenter

Golden Jubilee of
in our parish

Fr. Mathew Carpenter is a native of our parish of Rathkenny. Born in 1933 into a family of six children, he lived in Grangegeeth. His father was a baker working his trade in the nearby villages of Collon and Slane. His mother was, in the priest?s words, "a thrifty manager " of the family affairs. As a young boy, Fr. Matt went to school in Freshford, County Kilkenny, where he studied under the guidance of the Mill Hill Fathers. Through the junior seminary, this young student continued his studies with the Fathers in their London seminary.

Ordained to the priesthood on July 7th 1957, Fr. came home to St. Brigid?s Church, Grangegeeth to celebrate his first Mass with his own people.The date was July 10th 1957. A huge congregation filled the church, consisting of family members, parishioners, many friends and well wishers. Great numbers received Holy Communion and after Mass Fr. Matt gave Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. He finally gave an individual blessing to everybody present. In the nearby school James Reilly (Creewood) gave an appropriate speech of congratulations to the new priest, and Fr. Brendan Caffrey, curate in the parish at the time, also spoke. On behalf of parishioners, Fr Caffrey made a presentation of a wallet with some money and a beautiful wrist watch to Fr. Carpenter. Generosity, hospitality and goodwill marked this occasion as very special in the life of the parish.

What made Fr. Carpenter?s ordination to the priesthood doubly special and memorable was that he was the first young man to be raised to the priesthood from this parish in a lapse of 130 years. In 1827, Fr. Nicholas Duff was ordained a priest and in 1831 Fr. Patrick Kealy was ordained (Thomas Kealy, Ivybrook was his nephew).

In 1969 Fr. Matt Carpenter was assigned to the diocese of Miri in Malaysia. There, the love for and interest in the culture and language of the Chinese people expressed by his bishop, Anthony Galvin, influenced him so much that a desire sparked in him to see China for himself. In July 1981 he became a student again. He became a student of Chinese in Beijing and then a teacher of English in China for twenty years. In 2001 The Chinese authorities opened up the rural countryside to foreign agencies. Taking advantage of this landmark initiative, Fr. Matt launched his New Chinalink agency .This is a non Church, secular agency. The goal of this agency is to enhance the lives of migrant workers and give them control of their own lives. This development is ongoing?.

Fr. Matt, we hope that the warmness of the jubilee celebrations here in Ireland will help thaw the chill of the Arctic conditions endured by you in China and lessen the feeling of isolation experienced by you there.The latter feeling doesn?t necessarily "go with the territory!" It is part of the vocation wherever you are !