Obituary: Fr Patrick Geary

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The Independent Online
Patrick Geary, priest, born Ballinacurra Co Cork 1 March 1908, Commissary-General Carmelite Communities of England and Wales 1952-59, died Aylesford Kent 13 August 1992.

PATRICK GEARY was appointed the first provincial superior of the restored Carmelite Province of England and Wales in 1952 when the Roman Catholic religious order initiated plans to establish a branch in Britain separate from its Irish province. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries there had been a number of attempts to refound the order in Britain, one in the reign of James II, but it was not until 1926, when a group of friars came from Ireland and set up a house in Kent, that the order first renewed its presence in Britain.

Geary was born near Kinsale in Co Cork in 1908 and entered the Carmelite novitiate in Dublin in 1923. After ordination in 1931 he was involved in hospital ministry for a while in Dublin before moving to Aberystwyth in 1936. The rest of his religious life and ministry was to be spent in England and Wales. This was the period when friars from Ireland were re-establishing the old English province of the order. Fr Geary and Fr Malachy Lynch built up St Mary's College and the parish at Aberystwyth during the war years, also opening a parish at Lampeter and a school at Llandeilo. After the war Geary was instrumental in turning St Mary's College, Aberystwyth, into a centre for late vocations and St Mary's fulfilled that role for some 30 years.

In 1952, Fr Geary became Commissary-General, a post he held until 1959. In 1969 a separate province of England and Wales was formally established, with the superior styled the Prior Provincial. During that period he helped establish Whitefriars School at Cheltenham and encouraged cloistered nuns of the Ancient Observance to open a convent in Blackburn. The 1960s saw him as parish priest of Llandeilo and prior of Aberystwyth.

In 1972 Geary became sub-prior of Aylesford Priory, near Maidstone, in Kent and became a pivotal figure in the life of this busy pilgrimage centre. He was well known for his availability and kindness as counsellor and confessor to countless clergy and pilgrims. He took pride in ensuring that the gardens should look their best and spent many an hour working patiently at the roses and hedges.

In a time of change in the church and religious life, Patrick Geary was always open to the new but lived with a deep sense of observance and commitment. His gentle but firm presence was a key factor in the formation of many of his confreres and a deep encouragement to the students for the priesthood at St Mary's College, Aberystwyth.