Glowing tributes have been paid to the late Fr. Raymond Browne, Pastor Emeritus and former Parish Priest of Kilbride, who passed away yesterday (Wednesday) at the age of 92 following a brief illness.
Chairperson of Kilbride Community Centre, Bernie Kearney, said Fr. Browne was “a man beyond compare who never did anything by half”.
“He left his mark in every parish he was ever in,” Mr. Kearney said yesterday. “He was a deeply religious man but that never stopped him from rolling his sleeves up and getting involved in the community.
“He spent 34 years in Fourmilehouse and we enjoyed lots of cooperation in that time. He increased the size of the school and worked with Bishop Jones (RIP) to secure sites for the community centre, housing, and the childcare centre.
“He was always a dynamic person over the years and he promoted the Church’s teachings first and foremost”.
Mr. Kearney added that Fr. Browne always made himself available to those who needed him and worked tirelessly for his community.
“He never did anything by half,” he said, “A bomber plane crash-landed in Fourmilehouse in 1942 and for the 50th anniversary in 1992 he played a big part in bringing the pilot Paul Lowman over from America for a commemoration. That was a fair achievement in itself but that’s the kind of person he was.
“He was a man beyond compare and he will be very sadly missed by the whole parish,” Mr. Kearney concluded.
Fr. Raymond Browne, known to his friends as Ray or Remy, was born in 1928 in Sligo, but served most of his 66 years in the priesthood in County Roscommon.
He completed his secondary education at Summerhill College before attending St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth in 1947. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Elphin in 1954.
Due to the large numbers of ordinations in Irish Dioceses at the time, Fr. Browne began his life in the priesthood as a ‘guest priest’ in Calabar, Nigeria.
Fr. Browne returned to Ireland in 1958 and was appointed Curate at Drumboylan in the Parish of Ardcarne. He then served as Curate to the Sacred Heart Parish in Roscommon town for fourteen years.
He arrived in Fourmilehouse in April 1986, where he served as Parish Priest of Kilbride for twenty-nine years before becoming Pastor Emeritus or ‘Grandfather’ of the parish.
Fr. Browne didn’t know the meaning of the word retirement and remained heavily involved in the Parish throughout the last five years of his life. He adapted to the use of modern technology during the Covid-19 pandemic and remained a beacon in the community.
Fr. Browne’s interests extended from housing for the elderly to the care of people with disabilities. He was also National Chairman of Muintir na Tíre from 1963-1967 and was awarded an Honorary Masters in Community Development from NUIG in 2009. He always took a particular interest in encouraging the active engagement of young people in the life of the parish.
He had a deep devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. He was a regular participant in the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes. At the age of 90, during one of the hottest summers for many years, he led a pilgrimage from Kilbride to Fatima.
Fr. Browne is survived by his sister, Louise, his brother Aidan, his brother-in-law Padraig and his nephews and nieces.