Fr Paddy Mackle: Missionary priest's concern for poor continued right up to end
FR Paddy Mackle has been remembered as a priest who over seven decades put himself at the service of God, his missionary order in Africa and Ireland and the local church in the Archdiocese of Armagh.
Born in 1925 in Castledawson, Co Derry, he was one of a family of seven to Hugh and Ellen Mackle and followed his brother John into the Society of African Missions (SMA).
Ordained in 1950 in Newry Cathedral, ill health meant he was initially asked to assist with ministries in Ireland, including the formation team at the order's novitiate in Cloughballymore, Co Galway.
However, in 1954 his wish to join the Missions was granted and he was appointed to northern Nigeria, where he worked in schools for the next 26 years.
Fr Malachy Flanagan, Vice Provincial of the SMA in Ireland, told his funeral at St Mary's Church, Bellaghy how the dusty, dry climate was demanding on his respiratory system and illness saw him return home in 1980.
"After some time he requested to try his hand at parish ministry where he would spend the next 22 years in the Archdiocese of Armagh, serving most of that time in Moortown in the parish of Ardboe - a place he loved and enjoyed immensely and had a great rapport with the parishioners," he said.
"Fr Paddy was a gentle and comforting presence to families suffering as a result of violence and death.
"By 2003, at the age of 78, he decided to retire to his home in Castledawson where he was to spend the last 16 years.
"He was happy and contented there and among his interests was tending to his garden and doing the daily crossword in The Irish News."
Fr Paddy continued to help out in the parish of Bellagy-Ballyscullion and neighbouring areas
"His concern for the poor and those less well-off continued right up to the end," Fr Flanagan said.
"Many times he spoke to me about his wish to help the poor in Africa and he did so by providing assistance to needy families there for school fees, medical bills, educational books and so on.
"He had given 69 years of service as a priest. Loyal and generous service to the SMA both in Africa and Ireland and to the Irish Church. It was service given often in difficult situations and when his health was not always so robust."
Fr Paddy Mackle died aged 94 on June 13 and was buried in Bellaghy.
Brother of the late Redmond, Fr John, Charley, Mary and Jimmy, he is survived by his brother Dan, sisters-in-law Rose and Bridget, nephews, nieces and family circle.