OBITUARY: Fr Terence Gogarty, Naas

Stan Hickey remembers a Naas priest who worked among the Maasai people in Kenya for half a century

Stan Hickey

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Stan Hickey

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Fr Terence Gogarty

The death occurred on Thursday, 15 March 2018, in Dublin of Father Terence Gogarty (aged 81). May he rest in peace.
Terence was born on 21 June 1936 at Donnybrook in Dublin. The family originally came from Nobber (Co. Meath) to Naas in 1887. The family ran a garage and later changed to auctioneering and a hardware store.
His father, Michael, was married to Josephine (née Whelan) from Ballycarroll, Co. Laois. Terry had two sisters, Betty and Joan. He grew up at 21 South Main Street in Naas, Co. Kildare, where the family had their long-established business. At school his friends were Eddie Hogan, and members of the Curtis, Plant and Hughes families.
From 1949 to 1955 he did his secondary education with St Joseph’s Society for Foreign Missions at Freshford (Co. Kilkenny). He then went to Rosendaal (Holland) and studied Philosophy there from 1955 to 1957. From 1957 to 1961 he studied Theology in St Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London. He took the perpetual oath on 5 May 1960 and was ordained priest on 9 July 1961 at Mill Hill by Cardinal Godfrey.
After his ordination Terry was appointed to Kenya to work among the Maasai people in Ngong diocese, close to Mount Kilimanjaro. He spent his entire missionary life there, an impressive forty-eight years. He learnt both Maa (the Maasai language) and Swahili, Kenya’s national language. Due to the nomadic life-style, so characteristic for the Maasai people, Terry chose to invest his energy in being with them, trekking from place to place for pasture for their cattle, very much in the biblical style of the shepherd in the midst of his flock.
On the occasion of his golden jubilee the superior general wrote in his letter to Terry: “You spent your many gifts and energy on developing and appreciating their (Maasai) culture, language and spiritual life with the intention of helping them to recognise Christ already in their midst.”
In 2010 it was time to retire, and Terry was appointed to St Joseph’s House, Rathgar, Dublin. He took to retirement very graciously. Once he was settled, he enjoyed his own space in his room. He walked the grounds and went on occasions to the local park. He loved to dress wearing his Maasai beads.
As his physical health continued to decline he went to stay in Orwell House Nursing Home in April 2014, where he received the care he needed.
His gentle manner, sense of humour, big smile and non-complaining ways endeared him to the staff.
In January of this year Terry was hospitalised with pneumonia and flu. He pulled through, but was never quite the same afterwards.
On Monday, March 11, he received the sacrament of the sick. The decline which had set in continued and on Thursday, March 15, he died early in the morning.
In a note to the people of Naas recorded in a local paper some years ago he said: “I find life here in Ireland so much more complicated than in Kenya. I would not change a day of my life there and thank God for my life and mission work.”
The body of Fr Terry was received at St Joseph’s House, Rathgar, on Monday, March 19, at 4 pm for prayers and repose.
The funeral Mass took place the next day, March 20, at 12 noon and burial followed at Bohernabreena cemetery, Dublin.