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Mystery €100,000 donor answers Kerry church's prayers with cheque from Hong Kong

IT WAS the answer to a prayer – an anonymous donation of €100,000 to a church and the donor isn't even Catholic.

When parish priest of St John's parish in Tralee, Fr Sean Hanafin, was first contacted by a woman in Hong Kong requesting his bank details he thought it was a scam.

"I was suspicious, to tell you the truth, because the lady first of all contacted us by email looking for bank account details, which, under no circumstances, would I advise anyone to give out and she phoned looking for details and I didn't talk to her," Fr Hanafin revealed.

He said that even when the cheque arrived he wondered was it genuine.


Parish priest Fr Sean Hanafin

Parish priest Fr Sean Hanafin

Parish priest Fr Sean Hanafin

"I had to wait until it was cleared by the bank and then I phoned her in Hong Kong," he said.

"I thanked her and I assured her the money would be spent on St John's and I wrote to her then, giving her a receipt and thanking her for her donation on behalf of the people of St John's."

Fr Hanafin declined to reveal the identity of his parish's benefactor except that she was from Hong Kong, was visiting Tralee and had mentioned that someone belonging to her was sick. On passing St John's Church, she was taken by the two marble angels that have been at the entrance since 1918 and went in.

"Somehow she connected with God through the angels at the entrance to St John's," Fr Hanafin added.

"I think she was drawn to prayer possibly because there was someone sick belonging to her.

"I didn't delve into her life. She just told me what she needed to tell me and I wrote her a letter.

"It seems she made some commitment to herself there and she came back to fulfil that commitment in the autumn of 2012 and walked in with a cheque for €100,000 and left it with one of the staff for the upkeep of St John's Church."

Fr Hanafin only revealed the news to parishioners during Masses last Sunday.

"As you can imagine, there was amazement and delight and wondering about the story," he said.

He said that people were very giving despite the downturn but numbers continued to fall every year so the cheque was a welcome boost that would be put to good use.

"This is a very welcome boost for us and we're very grateful," he said.

Irish Independent