THE impending departure of the hugely popular curate Fr Shane Crombie is set to leave a deep void in lives of many people in Tullamore.
Since his arrival back in 2005 he has placed an indelible stamp on the parish and left a mark that will be hard to fill.
Fr Shane was to the forefront of almost every major ceremony in the Church of the Assumption over the years. He was also heavily involved in the schools and the hospital and he co-presented the religious affairs programme, ‘Heartlands’ on Midlands 103 along with the Rev William Hayes.
Possessed with an enviable way with words, his homilies, which were usually given without notes, were always interesting and enlightening and got people thinking.
Fr Shane announced that he was to leave the parish last Wednesday morning, May 1, at the 10am Mass resulting in a huge outpouring of sadness and best wishes at his departure. A post on the Tribune’s Facebook page on the same day attracted over 8,300 views within a matter of hours with a large number of comments from people expressing their shock and sadness.
“My greatest sense is one of gratitude. I had 14 very happy years in this parish and got to know so many people. The faith is very well lived here and it has been a tremendously good experience,” he said this week.
Fr Shane was told of his transfer on Monday April 29 by Bishop Tom Deenihan. “He told me he intended to send me as curate to Navan and I accepted, as one would.”
However, he said even though he knew that the day would come when he had to leave it was still a shock.
“It always comes as a surprise, even though I was 14 years here. In the back of your mind it’s always going to happen. I remember when I came here I was replacing Fr Gerry Boyle. He was well got in the town having been here for17 years. I remember thinking, how am I going to spend 17 years here and yet if I was here in November I would be have been here 15 years.”
Fr Shane was extremely happy when he was sent to Tullamore after his ordination as he saw it as a very dynamic parish. “If I was asked in December 2005 where I would like to go. I would have said I’d like to go to Tullamore. It had a tremendous reputation as being a very active parish with lay involvement and still does.”
During his time here he was curate to a number of national schools especially during their preparations for first holy communions and confirmations. He will celebrate his last First Holy Communion Mass later this month, which he said will be “very poignant.”
In recent years he worked with the three secondary schools in the town which he found very demanding. “It’s a totally different approach. They have questions which are very challenging and you have to be sure in your own faith.” he said. He reiterated that it was a privilege to work with the schools and spoke highly of the calibre of teachers in Tullamore and thanked the boards of management.
The hospital was another major part of his working life as a priest in Tullamore and he described it as a great honour to work with the staff and patients. This is something he hopes to continue in Navan.
Fr Shane is not entirely a stranger to Navan and spent a couple of weeks there when he was first ordained. He describes the parish as similar to Tullamore, with 3 curates and an administrator.
Fr Shane will celebrate his last mass in the parish of Tullamore on the weekend of June 9 and no doubt this will be a bitter sweet occasion for Fr Shane and parishioners alike.