ALTHOUGH he officially left the parish in February last year to take up the position of administrator in Wexford, Fr Billy Swan was delighted to get the opportunity recently to say a proper goodbye to parishioners in Enniscorthy where he served for over eight years.
Fr Billy celebrated his official final mass in St Aidan’s Cathedral on February 13, 2021, however, that was in the middle of the pandemic lockdown and that meant that although it was live streamed Fr Billy’s final mass took place in an empty church.
To get the opportunity to say mass in the cathedral once again was something he very much appreciated.
Speaking to the Enniscorthy Guardian, he reflected on his eight-and-a-half years in Enniscorthy where he was very much a part of the local community.
“I left during Covid, on February 13, 2021, and I suppose I never really got to say a proper goodbye to the people who meant so much to me and it was nice to get that opportunity now,” he said.
“I was delighted to be invited back to celebrate mass there again,” he added.
“I wanted to thank the people for their friendship and support during my time in Enniscorthy.”
Thinking back to his last official mass in the town he said: “When I said goodbye initially it was over webcam and to an empty church and to be honest it was a lonely so it was really nice to be able to say goodbye properly.”
Fr Billy also valued the opportunity he got of meeting up with parishioners in the Cathedral courtyard after the mass.
In addition to being a well known priest across the county Fr Billy also holds a degree in chemistry and worked for a number of years with a pharmaceutical company in Swords before entering the seminary.
It’s an area he still retains an intense interest in along with a very active interest in the universe.
Commenting that faith and reason along with religion and science being interlinked he said looking at the world around us and further, out into space beyond earth leads to bigger questions about faith and God’s power.
“I see the two as necessary,” said Fr Billy, referring to science and religion.
“I still have an interest in science and new discoveries in the universe,” he said.
“I was born around the time of the Apollo missions and the moon landings and from the perspective of space the earth seems very small,” he added.
He said faith is about a creator God and that it’s from created things God can be known.
Fr Billy said that studying the natural world invariably leads to the question of who is responsible.
“One thing depends on another thing and where did it all come from?” he said.
“What caused the cause, and the cause before that,” he added.
“At one stage you had something move into being and it was a movement from non-being into being and that brings back the question about the creator God.”
For Fr Billy it’s a case of “science studies God’s handywork” and it’s something that he’ll always examine.
With regard to his time in Enniscorthy he said it was a privilege to serve in a cathedral.
“You are conscious of that and St Aidan’s is not just in Enniscorthy it's also in the centre of the diocese and you are aware of that,” he said.
In its invitation to Fr Billy, St Aidan’s parish expressed satisfaction in being able ‘to say goodbye and good luck in a proper way’.
A spokesperson for the parish commented: “We take this opportunity to thank Fr Swan for his ministry here in St Aidan’s and to wish him every happiness as he continues his new role as administrator of Wexford parish.”