Father O’Rouke greatly contributed to the life of the Kiltegan community

FR Dennis M O’Rourke of the 1971 class of the St Patrick’s Missionary Society passed away peacefully at St Vincent’s Hospital on Monday and his funeral is Thursday at St Patrick’s Chapel, Kiltegan, followed by his interment at the society cemetery .

enis Mary O’Rourke was born February 11, 1942 to Jack O’Rourke and his wife B’Mai (née O’Doherty) of Kickham Street, Thurles, Co Tipperary. He was the second oldest in a family of two girls and two boys. He received the first years of his primary studies at the Convent of the Presentation, in Thurles.

He then went to the Christian Brothers for the rest of his primary studies and continued with the Christian Brothers for his secondary studies. He took the Leaving Certificate in June 1959 and joined the St Patrick’s Missionary Society the following September.

After completing the spiritual year, he attended St Patrick’s College, Douglas, Cork, and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from UCC. He returned to St Patrick’s College at Kiltegan in September 1963 for a four-year theology course.

He and his ten classmates were ordained in St Brigid’s Church, Hacketstown, Easter Sunday, 1967. The ordination prelate was Bishop Patrick Lennon DD, then Auxiliary Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin.

After ordination, Denis was appointed to the Diocese of Minna, Nigeria, but due to the civil war he was unable to take office immediately. Instead, he was sent to teach science at Baltinglass Vocational School and to study for the Graduate Diploma in Education at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.

He left for Nigeria in September 1968 and spent the next thirteen years in the diocese of Minna. Her first date was at Fatima High School in Minna. While there he also did pastoral work in Gwada.

In 1972, Denis was transferred to Zuru in the north of the diocese. He taught in a coeducational high school. In 1975 the school became a teacher training college and Denis became the “unofficial” deputy principal. When Denis finished his stay at Zuru, he decided to take a sabbatical and attended a nine-month liturgy course at Mount St Anne’s, near Portarlington.

Denis returned to Minna in July 1978 and was appointed to a provincial town called Abuja which would later become the federal capital of Nigeria. He ministered there for three years.

He left Nigeria in December 1981 after his father fell ill. As he wanted to be close enough to his parents, he was appointed to St John’s, Tralee, for a number of months. Then he was appointed to promotion work in Ireland and visited some parishes in the Archdiocese of Dublin as well as parishes in the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore and the Diocese of Cork.

At the end of his promotional work, he was asked to join the training team at our House of Philosophy in Douglas, Cork. He served there as dean and bursar from 1984 to 1986. When our House of Philosophy moved to Maynooth, Denis continued on the formation team for another two years. In 1988 he was renamed to St John’s, Tralee, and served there until 1992.

In 1992 Denis was appointed Superior for Ireland, a position he held until 1998. During these years he visited members living in different parts of Ireland and was also very involved in day-to-day management of the Kiltegan complex.

After his appointment as Superior for Ireland, Denis took a year off during which he took the Faith and Mission course at Dalgan Park and a three-month renewal course at Marianella, Dublin.

He then went to work at a retreat center run by the De La Salle brothers in Castletown, Co Laois. He has helped with school retreats and has found the ministry very rewarding. He was appointed General Bursar of the Society after the 2002 Chapter and he held this position until March 2015.

After resigning as bursar general, Denis continued to live in Kiltegan and helped the promotion office until he fell ill.

In April 2021, Denis started to feel bad. He was admitted to the general hospital of Saint-Vincent where he was diagnosed with a serious illness. Over the next few months, he received treatment for the illness which required fairly long hospital stays. He was again admitted to St Vincent General Hospital at the end of October. Her condition began to deteriorate. He passed away peacefully at 10 p.m. on Monday evening. At his bedside were his sisters Claver and Ita.

Denis was very warm, friendly, kind and in a good mood. He was a very outgoing person who enjoyed the company of others. He was the life and soul of all the parties he had attended and was a gifted emcee.

He liked to sing a song or tell a story or a joke. He was constantly on the hunt for a good joke and had built up a vast repertoire of funny stories over the years. Denis rendered great service to the Company during the 54 years of his priestly life. He has worked in training, promotion, leadership and finance.

He has made a huge contribution to the life of the Kiltegan community over the past two decades. He took a keen interest in all aspects of the life of the Society and enjoyed being in regular contact with many members. He was also very interested in the liturgy and was a gifted preacher. His homilies were well prepared, precise and illustrated with memorable little stories.

He remained very close to his family all his life and loved to be present for the baptisms, birthdays and weddings of his sisters, nieces and nephews. It was only fitting that they were with him at the time of his death.

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