TWO PRIESTS in Belfast with a century of service to the Church between them have marked their golden anniversary with a thanksgiving Mass.
Pope Benedict bestowed an apostolic blessing and sent his prayerful good wishes for the occasion.
Cardinal Seán Brady also sent a message of congratulations to the jubilarians, Mgr Ambrose Macaulay and Canon Brian McCluskey.
The Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr Noel Treanor, presided along with Bishop Joseph Duffy of Clogher.
Mgr Macaulay, a native of County Antrim, is parish priest of St Brigid’s in south Belfast, where the Mass was celebrated.
Seven years ago he was joined in the parish by his former colleague at the Irish College in Rome, Canon McCluskey.
Originally from Inniskeen in County Monaghan, he came to live with his sister in Belfast after retiring from the Diocese of Clogher, where he served in a number of parishes.
Both priests were ordained on the same day 50 years ago at the Basilica of St John Lateran. Bishop Treanor praised Mgr Macaulay’s contribution in particular as a Church historian, who has explored the archives at the Vatican.
His books include biographies of Archbishop Crolly of Armagh, Dr Russell of Maynooth and Bishops Dorrian and Mcalister of Down and Connor. Dr Treanor described Canon McCluskey, who he recalled from his own days in the Clogher diocese, as a wonderful pastor.
Fr Hugh Kennedy of St Peter’s gave the homily and praised Mgr Macaulay for his work as a former Queen’s University chaplain and avid supporter of the football team there.
Professor Dan Slattery spoke on behalf of parishioners at the end of Mass. He said he had been a newly appointed junior lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast when Mgr Macaulay was chaplain.
Professor Slattery described both clergymen as a shining example of devotion at a time when he said the Church in Ireland was sorely afflicted.
He said they had continued to work tirelessly despite suffering ill-health and that the parish was doubly blessed with them.