Granddad becomes priest
Widowed father of two John O’Byrne, 67, was ordained to the priesthood in St. John’s Cathedral.
O’Byrne, from Janesboro, was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Reverend Dr. Dermot Clifford, archbishop of Cashel and Emly. He decided to become a priest in the aftermath of his wife Martha’s death in 2004, and just recently completed his four years of seminary training at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome.
The newly ordained priest said he was “a bit anxious, but looking forward to it.”
“If I am to be honest, I am always apprehensive moving into something different, something new,” explained O’Byrne, whose children Jonathan and Mary and three grandchildren participated in the Mass.
“My married life experience has to stand to me, my working life experience, having experienced difficulties that people encounter, mortgages, rearing children, married life itself, I would hope that I would have a compassionate understanding for people. That would be my hope,” added the former Irish Cement employee. He worked for 43 years with the company.
He acknowledged that these were tough times for the church, noting that he was deeply saddened by the recently published Cloyne Report.
“The church has come through crisis before and, please God, it will come through it again,” he said.
Speaking afterward, Clifford said he would like to see more people following O’Byrne’s lead.
“We would like to have more of them. There is a group of people now like him, late vocations and they could get us through to times when younger men might go again,” he said.
Wedding ‘sham’ shock
Police in Derry have apologized to a young Strabane couple after arresting them both moments before their wedding on suspicion it was a sham marriage.
Neil McElwee, 24, and his 19-year-old bride Yanan Sun, who is four months pregnant, had just arrived at the Guildhall last Tuesday when police flooded the ceremony room, arresting the couple and detaining their guests for questioning.
“Yanan had just arrived and we had filled out our final paperwork. The ceremony was just about to start when we were told there was a bit of a problem. Eight police officers then came in and we were arrested,” said McElwee.
“In front of everyone, our family and our friends, they said the wedding was a sham. I couldn’t believe it. I started shouting at them to stop. I told them they would be sorry. We knew we were in the right.
“The only sham which took place on Tuesday was how the police acted.”
The couple was taken to Strand Road police station where they were separated and questioned for five hours before being released unconditionally. Sun was so devastated by the ordeal that once she reached Strand Road she asked officers to be allowed to change out of her wedding dress.
“It is not what I dreamed of for my wedding day,” she said. “I am left absolutely devastated.”
Three of the couple’s guests were subsequently taken to Strand Road for questioning about their visas, and McElwee’s mother and best man also found themselves subjected to lengthy questioning.
The couple have been together for just over a year. They planned to marry next year, but brought their plans forward when Yanan discovered she was pregnant.
Neil, who works as a chef at Ardgort House in Castlederg, said he had been working “exceptionally hard” to make his wedding memorable.
“I saved whatever money I could to try and make the day as special as possible for my wee woman. I just wanted to give her her dream day and we put in so much effort to make it happen,” he said.
Following their release without charge, the couple heard from Guildhall staff on Wednesday who said as their paperwork continued to be in order they could still get married. The couple decided to marry at 3 p.m. that day, without all the glitz and glamour of the previous day. Dressed in their every day clothes they exchanged vows in front of a handful of guests.
“We decided not to wait around,” Neil said. “Sure, we weren’t having the day we dreamed of but the core reason was still there. We still love each other and we still want to be together.”
However he said the memory of the day that never was will stay in his mind. “The police were full of apologies when they let us go, but apologies won’t bring our wedding day back. Apologies won’t fix things.”
The couple, through their solicitor Karina Breslin, intend to lodge complaints with the Police Ombudsman, the U.K. Border Agency and the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Single dad struggles
Single fathers in Kerry are unable to have their children over to stay with them because many of them are living in one-bedroom accommodation, a meeting of Kerry County Council heard.