By Con McHugh

On Monday 3 July Father Dominic Kavanagh celebrated his 40th Anniversary of Ordination with a Mass in his church. The church was full with those wishing to celebrate with him.

Fr Dominic has been at St Augustine’s, Solihull, for almost 18 years and is clearly very much appreciated. Fr Michael White and Canon Tom Farrell, two of his best friends, are also celebrating their 40th Anniversary over the next couple of weeks - a total of over 120 years service to the Church.

In the mass booklet Fr Dominic writes:

"This celebration of my 40th Jubilee year of Ordination gives me the opportunity to express my thanks to our good Lord for all the untold Blessings I have received from Him, most of which have come on “two feet.”

I wish to thank my family, my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews and their children; my only surviving aunt, Imelda, and my cousins, my friends in the priesthood and the diaconate, and the Communities of Religious Sisters whom I have come to know; my parishioners whom I have come to love and respect, including those from the previous parishes in which I have served. You have all helped to form me and your Faith and Love have greatly encouraged me. I thank too those of you from the neighbouring Christian Churches and from other faith communities for your example and friendship.

I reflect with gratitude on the teachers of Sacred Heart Primary School in Coventry where the seed of my vocation was first sown; and where I was prepared for the Sacraments. The staff of Cotton College where I spent my secondary education, priests and lay teachers, were so totally dedicated to forming and educating us in the Christian way of life.

The staff of Oscott College where I spent six years in seminary formation were hued from the same rock as my teachers at Cotton - and their example remains inscribed in my heart.

I am so grateful to God for being a Priest in the Birmingham Archdiocese. The fraternal love and support; the camaraderie, the example of so many priests and deacons who day in and day out serve the Lord with courage and constancy is a living witness for me of the abiding friendship of Christ.

I have the additional joy of sharing this 40th Jubilee Year with Father Gerard Kelly, Father Guy Nicholls and my two closest friends Canon Tom Farrell and Father Michael White; and with our Golden Jubilarians Father Bernard Kelly, Father Christy Fitzpatrick and Canon Michael Neylon; and with our Silver Jubilarians, two of whom are members of this deanery, Father Peter Madden and Father The Quang Nguyen.

Fathers Michael and Tom are such good friends and I appreciate their patience with me, their kindness and their infectious sense of humour; and for the delightful holidays we have shared.

There are others too whom our Lord has called home to Himself and I continue to feel their presence and the benefit of their prayers; not least my parents, my sister Fiona, my aunts and uncles, my cousin Pat Farrelly and the numerous parishioners and friends whom I have had the privilege of knowing, and the priests and deacons who have been such an example for me. There are many both clergy and laity who have cared kindly for me in practical ways and I pray that they may have the reward of their goodness.

I am so thankful to have been appointed to Saint Augustine’s, to this beautiful Church, in its unique position at the beginning of the High Street and I look back with such gratitude for all the Lord’s blessings during these past years. I am particularly grateful to my housekeeper and her husband, Annette and Franc Kelly, to our Secretary, Bernadette, to Annetta and Geraldine for their help, and to Father Joseph and Deacon Kevin for their generous and exemplary witness. We are a very happy team. I remember with affection the years that I have shared with the late Canon Sean McTernan and Father Paul Devaney and how I have benefitted from their wisdom and good humour. We have had the blessed occasions of Father Andrew McCann’s Ordination here at Saint Augustine’s and Father Frank Smith’s. Father Andrew celebrates his 15th anniversary this Thursday, July 6th. We have had the joy of welcoming several Seminarians on placement, three of whom are now Ordained and serving in the parishes of the Diocese.

I thank each and everyone of you for your prayerful support and good example. I am confident that with your support I may continue to have the heart of a shepherd after the example of Jesus, our good shepherd, and that our Lord will continue to bring to completion the work He has begun in me."

During the Mass, after Communion, a presentation was made by Madeline Coburn. She thanked Fr Dominic on behalf of the parish and presented him with a Papal Blessing from Pope Francis (below).

After Mass refreshments were available in the parish hall and the garden where it was possible to thank Fr Dominic in person.

Watch! Celebration Mass

Canon Tom's Homily and a few words about Fr Dominic at 14:41, Presentation to Fr Dominic at 56:16, Fr Dominic's reply at 1:01:20.