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Dunlavin priest Fr Foley helped build nine schools


The late Fr Gerry Foley C.S.Sp.

The late Fr Gerry Foley C.S.Sp.

The late Fr Gerry Foley C.S.Sp.


DUNLAVIN born Fr Gerry Foley C.S.Sp. passed away peacefully on Thursday morning in Tallaght Hospital after a short illness.

Fr Foley was a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit and was the Province’s fifth-oldest member, aged 93.

Gerry was born on April 3 1928 to Mary Frances (née Holden) and Patrick Joseph Foley of Dunlavin. After completing his Leaving Certificate in Terenure College, he entered the Spiritan novitiate in Kilshane in 1947 and was professed the following year. He completed his Philosophy studies in Kimmage in 1951, prefected in St Mary’s College, Rathmines for a two-year period, and returned to Kimmage to do four years of Theology studies.

Following in the footsteps of his older brother, the late Fr. Paddy C.S.Sp., he was ordained in 1956. Appointed to the new Diocese of Mombasa and Zanzibar, he began some 55 years in Kenya in 1957 after a three-week journey by ship via the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal and the Red Sea.

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Fr Gerry initially did parish work in Taveta and was involved in Eldoro Trade School. He did pastoral work in Makupa Parish and, further north, in Kilifi. He built the Kwale novitiate for the Sisters of St. Joseph, before being appointed to Marafa parish in Malindi. He was engaged in development – much of it linked to irrigation – and pastoral work in Wema (Tana River). He returned in 1978 to Taveta where he once again combined pastoral and development work.

In 1980 Fr Gerry began a ministry of over three decades with the Pokot people, initially in Kositei and, for over 20 years, in Barpello. His approach to mission was firstly to be with the people, to see where they were at, and to work with – not for – them. He helped to develop services by securing reliable watering places through building dams to harvest the rainfall, as well as constructing nine primary schools.

He was also involved in providing a medical centre and mobile clinics. In Tugomoi, in a period of some eight years, he built several primary schools using a variety of local materials and concrete, as well as being was involved in development. Attached to Adraa Agricultural College, he made a big contribution to the lives and work of the Franciscan Brothers in East Africa as their chaplain in Uganda’s West Nile region (2012-’16)

Returning to Ireland in 2016, aged 88, Fr Gerry was appointed to Kimmage.

He continued to say Mass for the Holy Rosary Sisters until earlier this month and, until the Covid-19 lockdown, he regularly made the trip by car, LUAS and bus to visit his confrères in Nazareth House.

He is deeply regretted by his brother Fr Michael (Ned) OP, niece Barbara, grandnieces and grandnephews, cousins and Spiritan confrères.

His funeral was held in The Church of the Holy Spirit, Kimmage Manor on Monday.