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African Brothers all smiles at joining busy Irish order

THREE young men from Africa made their first professions on Saturday as members of an Irish religious order at the Church of the Resurrection in Killarney.

The former plumber, statistician and teacher took their vows to become Presentation Brothers, a congregation that was founded by the Irishman, Blessed Edmund Rice, in the 19th Century.

Speaking after the ceremony, Sebastian Dery (26), Leonard Derbie (33) and McSimon Azenda (34), who come from Ghana and Nigeria, admitted that Ireland took some getting used to.

"The weather in Ireland is the first thing an African notices about Ireland," joked Br McSimon, saying the recent heatwave had reminded him of home.

"People in Ireland are very busy. It's a challenge to speak about God in a culture where people have so many other distractions," observed Br Sebastian; while Br Leonard noted that while "missionaries came from Ireland to Africa in the past, now I can see how missionaries will come here from Africa in years to come".

The trio made vows of poverty, chastity and obedience before Br Martin Kenneally, the Congregational Leader of the Presentation Brothers in Killarney, where the order has its novitiate.

Earlier this year, Scoil Mhuire na Mainistreach (The Mon) in Killarney marked the 175th anniversary of the Presentation Brothers' arrival in Kerry.

During their time in the town, the three young men got involved in the local community. Br Leonard served as volunteer with the Kerry Parents and Friends Association while Br McSimon and Br Sebastian helped out with the Kerry Diocesan Youth Service.

The three are due to return to Ghana later this month.

There are nine men studying to join the order at the moment.

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