Kalangan Road Galong NSW

A Mission of the Redemptorists

Redemptorist twin makes Galong home

The year 1932 was an important year for Australia and for the Redemptorists in Australia.

That year two boys each just one month old attended the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The O’Neill twins, John and Pat, went on to join the Redemptorists. 

Now, 84 years later, the younger of the twins, Fr Pat, has come to St Clement’s to join new rector, Fr John Airey, from New Zealand.

The O’Neill family had left their Bungonia farm, settled in Goulburn and grown to four, two boys and two girls, before the twins came along. They were followed by two more girls to complete the eight children.

In 1937 John and Pat began their schooling with the Sisters of Mercy at St. Brigid’s, Goulburn, continued with the Christian Brothers at St Patrick’s Technical School 1940- 1943 and St Patrick’s College 1944-1946.

Then followed four years at St Clement’s juvenate 1947-1950, a year’s novitiate at Pennant Hills, profession there in 1952 and seven years study at the Redemptorist seminary in Wendouree (Ballarat). This culminated in ordination there in 1958.

After ordination came their second novitiate in Mayfield, shortened somewhat when in 1959 both were sent to Rome for higher studies.

John specialised in philosophy, Pat in moral theology. In Rome, their paths parted. John returned first and followed the academic path teaching philosophy in the Wendouree seminary for 11 years.

After that came a  period as vocation director, director of the juvenate at Galong and 22 years in formation with Redemptorists in Burkina Faso, West Africa. A stroke forced his return to Australia in 2006. He is now retired at Kogarah monastery.

Pat walked a slightly less focused path: archives, missions, retreats, relief teaching in Wendouree and Galong, bursar at Galong, a term as director of the juvenate, more missions in Townsville and Perth, eight years as provincial bursar Pennant Hills, and again missions.

After this, he spent 14 years as bursar in the Alfonsian Academy, Rome, which was accompanied by long hours of confessions in a large Roman parish on the weekends and supplies and retreats in Rome and England over the extended summer holidays.

And now, Fr Pat is back in Galong where he began in 1947! Hopefully his stay will be long.

BELOW: The twins, Pat (left) and John.