Obituary: The Right Rev Kevin Rafferty

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The Independent Online
Kevin Rafferty was one of the last Roman Catholic priests to be raised for the Scottish priesthood in Ireland, at St Kieran's College, Kilkenny. This tradition has persisted since St Kieran's opened in 1782, the first seminary to be founded in Ireland after the end of the Penal Laws which restricted Roman Catholic religious practice.

Born in Garvagh, Co Derry, in 1933, Rafferty received his secondary education at St Col-umb's College, Derry, before studying for the priesthood. He was ordained priest in 1957 for the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh in St Mary's Cathedral, Kilkenny.

Rafferty was born into a family noted for its work for the Church. He had three cousins who were priests, two in Derry Diocese and one a Columban Father serving abroad, and a niece in religious life. He was a distant relative of Bishop Bernard O'Kane of Derry, the noted theologian and Classics scholar, who is also remembered for his work in pioneering radio and his acquaintance with Marconi.

For 30 years after his ordination, Rafferty served successively in Linlithgow (1957-67), Dalkeith (1967-77) and North Berwick (1977-86). In 1989 he was appointed Vicar-General of the archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and the following year Auxiliary Bishop.

With the appointment of myself, a native of Ballycastle, Co Antrim, as Archbishop to St Andrews and Edinburgh in 1985, Cardinal Manning's recommendation to Rome in the mid-1860s that no Irish priest should ever be appointed to a Scottish diocese had at last been broken. Manning had been appointed Apostolic Visitor to the Western District of Scotland by Propaganda Fide when a schism was threatened between the Highland Catholics and Irish immigrant Catholics. It was an added joy five years later when the Auxiliary Bishop was named as Bishop Kevin Rafferty.

Kevin Rafferty was ever cool, calm, collected; he had a great grasp of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and all it entails, was tolerant and believed that the Lord is looking after the Church, whatever human failings there may be.

Although Assistant Bishop, Rafferty remained an active priest in the parish of Saints John Cantius and Nicholas, Broxburn. His pastoral care was recognised by his brother bishops in the Scottish Episcopal Conference. He held appointments as Scottish National President of the Commission for Pastoral and Social Care and as national Spiritual Director of the St Vincent de Paul Society.

One of his annual delights was taking part in both the Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes and the Easter pilgrimage with the Handicapped Children's Pilgrimage Trust - at which he assisted as recently as Easter Week. When asked about being a working chaplain with this pilgrimage, he simply replied: "It is what I want to do. I am a priest."

=Keith Patrick O'Brien

Kevin Lawrence Rafferty, priest: born Garvagh, Co Derry 24 June 1933; ordained priest 1957; Titular Bishop of Ausuaga and Bishop Auxiliary to Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh 1990-96; died Livingston, West Lothian 19 April 1996.