Sadness in Athlone as popular Fr Patsy set to depart area

The popular and well-known parish priest Fr Patsy McDermott is moving to Moyne, Co Longford at the end of the year. Fr Patsy the Diocesan Youth Director with St Mary's, is well-known for his work with young people in the town for almost two decades. The news was announced at the November meeting of the Parish Pastoral Council by Fr Liam Murray. It will come as a great surprise to many people in the parish both young and old, to those who took part in youth clubs and those who have been married by him or gone to him for help over the years. Originally from Donegal, Fr Patsy came to live in Athlone in 1991, just one year after his ordination. Before that he spent one year as a deacon in St Andrew's parish, Cape Coral in the diocese of Venice, Florida. Prior to his ordination, Patsy studied in St Patrick's College, Carlow, and the Liturgical Institute and at a pastoral ministry course in All-Hallows College, Drumcondra. Patsy was first the chaplain at Marist College and Our Lady's Bower, while at the same time working as a curate in St Mary's Parish. However, when he called a public meeting in 1991, inviting all interested people to attend and discuss the needs of young people in the locality, the face of local youth work changed. St Mary's Youth Ministry has become a hugely successful local movement of voluntary work since that meeting. The drop-in centre was later established so that young people could gather in a safe place. Patsy initiated the Athlone Youth Festivals and the Rainbows Bereavement Support Group for children who are grieving over the death or separation of a parent or loved one. He also organises school retreats and youth pilgrimages. He also inspires youths from ten to 18 years of age to take part in all kinds of projects from faith and personal development programmes to building floats for various parades such as St Patrick's Day parade and street festivals. In recognition of his work with young people in the town, Fr Patsy McDermott was chosen as one of the Athlone People of the Year Award winners for 2008. Fr Patsy also travelled to Sydney in the summer of that year, with a crowd of youngsters from the wider Ardagh and Clonmacnoise Diocese to celebrate World Youth Day. He said it was a brilliant experience with like minded people coming together singing, praying and travelling, which helped to strengthen their faith. Many kids have graduated and moved on from the Youth Ministry Centre. However some have returned and taken up their role as Youth leaders. These are the many success stories to which Fr Patsy has contributed. He will now continue his important work in Longford.