A religious order has said it has experienced an “overwhelming” number of deaths in a short period of time, amid the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Irish Times reports that ten priests from the Spiritan order died in the month of January, eight of whom had tested positive for Covid-19.
The order, also known as the Holy Ghost Fathers, saw a further seven priests die during the first wave of Covid-19. Three had tested positive for the disease, while three others had Covid-related symptoms.
Between January 8th and 31st of 2021, Fr Dermot Kavanagh, Fr Leo McGarry, Fr Christy Burke, Fr Jimmy Peters, Fr Brendan Heeran, Fr James Delaney, Fr Padraig Donovan, Fr Tom Cunningham, Fr Tony Darragh and Fr Paddy Reedy died.
All but two of the priests had tested positive for Covid-19, with the order declining to state which had not tested for the virus. Six of the priests were in their eighties, and four were aged between 90 and 97.
In a statement, the Irish Spiritan Province said the emotions of those involved ranged from “extreme sadness to bewilderment”.
“We sympathise with all who have lost loved ones in the current climate where all families and communities are unable to grieve as they normally would,” it added.
“For us mourning so many, each of whom also had an extended family, in such quick succession in the present circumstances, feels overwhelming.”
The priests involved were mostly retired from active ministry, and all had served on the missions. Almost all had spent most of their working life abroad.
The order runs some of Ireland’s best known schools, including Blackrock College in Dublin and Rockwell College in Co Tipperary.