Fr. Frank Comerford, Urlingford who has died, was a Spiritan (Holy Ghost) priest for over 60 years. Born in 1920, he did his secondary studies at Rockwell College before entering the Spiritan novitiate in his late teens. After doing his philosophy studies in Kimmage Manor, Dublin, Frank studied classics at U.C.D. and gained an M.A. in 1946. Having completed his theology studies in Kimmage and Rome, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1949.
The following year saw Fr Frank begin what would be a long relationship with Kenya where his missionary life included ministry in education, pastoral work and journalism. Having started out at Makupa Mission in Mombasa, Fr Frank served as teacher or headmaster variously in Mangu High School, Kabaa, Nairobi and Kilimambogo in the period 1951 to 1965. He then served as Secretary in the Office of the Papal Nuncio, Nairobi for over five years; during this period he became Editor of “The Catholic Mirror”, a post he held until 1974. His hand scribed so compassionately of the human condition and a loving God who embraced it; some of his writings would be compiled in 2011 in the publication, ‘Irresistible Invitations’. For more than 17 years, until the beginning of the 1990s, Fr Frank served as pastor in the rapidly developing town of Thika.
After four decades in Africa and a short sabbatical, Fr Frank headed for Australia in 1992 to join his fellow Spiritans who had been working there for many years. On hearing of his death this month, one friend in Australia remarked how he had been ‘loved by his parishioners in Dorrington in Brisbane’ and how all who knew him ‘were impressed with his friendliness, keen intellect and ready wit’.
Fr Frank retired to Kimmage in 2000 and died peacefully there in Marian House, his congregation’s nursing home, on September 10. He is survived by his sister Peggy and Kitty and extended family as well as his fellow Spiritans, Fr Frank is buried in the Spiritan cemetery in Rockwell. Fr Comerford’s death comes just over a year after that of his fellow Kilkenny man, Fr Shay Foley from Ballyouskill, who was one of some 300 Irish Spiritans in Nigeria at the outbreak of the Biafran War in the late 1960s and who went on to spend over 30 years in Malawi.