'I fell in love with a woman but never broke any of my vows' - Fr D'Arcy
Published 09/05/2016 | 02:30
Father Brian D'Arcy has revealed that he once fell in love with a woman and questioned whether he should leave the priesthood.
Fr D'Arcy fell in love after he joined the priesthood in 1962 and described the experience as "the most lovely thing that ever happened to me".
"I did fall in love with a woman, but I didn't break any of my vows," he said.
"It did come down to a 'should you or should you not leave the priesthood'."
The controversial cleric from Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, said the relationship had a lasting impact on him.
"It was the most lovely thing that ever happened to me. It made a man of me," he said.
"Everyone that's normal should fall in love and everyone should understand that's an opening out of your spirit.
"What's the sacrifice of being a priest and being celibate if you don't know what the sacrifice is in the beginning and you don't know what you are giving up?" he said.
Fr D'Arcy has previously said that priests should be allowed to marry if they want to.
"I definitely regret that I couldn't get married. I would have loved to have got married," he said.
"I would love to be at a stage now where I'm talking continuously about my grandchildren, like most of my contemporaries.
"I think I would have left something to the world after that. As I go now, I'll drop out of it and maybe not have left all that much, but if that's what God wants, that's what God wants."
He revealed that falling in love was one of several moments in his life where he questioned his vocation.
"I've had to look at my vocation at least five or six times in a 50-year period."
However, he added: "I still go to Knock and I still pray and I still am convinced that God wants me to be a priest."
In an interview with Irish TV, a cable channel aimed at the diaspora, Fr D'Arcy also said he would have voted yes in the same-sex marriage referendum.
"I still think a marriage is between a man and a woman but the State has made an equivalent arrangement between same-sex people so I'm quite happy to allow that to happen," he said. "Had I a vote, I probably would have voted yes to it because it was the State saying we have to look after people that nobody else is looking after."
Fr D'Arcy's parents tried to discourage him from joining the Church when he was growing up in the village of Bellanaleck in Co Fermanagh. His father worked at the nearby railway station and was a well known GAA player.
"My father and mother convinced me for at least a year that I couldn't be a priest. They said 'One, you aren't good enough; two, we don't have the money and, three, there's no priests in our family.'"
Despite his parents' objections, he went on to became a novice at the Passionist monastery in Enniskillen at the age of 17.