By Nicholas Waigwa
Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Ngong and the Archdiocese of Dublin in Ireland are mourning the demise in the early morning of 15th March 2018 of Fr. Terrence Gogarty, a Mill Hill Missionary from Donnybrook in the Archdiocese of Dublin. An obituary announcement numbered 06/2018 by the Mill Hill Missionary said the priest was in January 2018 hospitalized with pneumonia and flu, where he exhibited signs of improvement but his health deteriorated in March.
Terrence Gogarty who was born on 21st June 1936 did his secondary education in Freshford between 1949 and 1955, following which he went to Roosendaal in the Netherlands for philosophy studies in 1955 to 1957. He studied Theology in St. Joseph College, Mill Hill - London from 1957 to 1961. He took his perpetual oath on 5th May 1960, ordained priest on 9th July 1961 at Mill Hill by Cardinal Godfrey and appointed to Kenya to work among the Maasai people in the Catholic Diocese of Ngong where he spent an impressive 49 years of his entire missionary life.
According to the Mill Hill missionaries in Kenya and those that worked closely with him in Kenya, Fr. Gogarty learnt both the local Maa language and Kenya’s National Language Kiswahili and in conformity with the nomadic lifestyle of the Maasai community chose to invest his energy in being with them, trekking from place to place for pasture for their cattle - very much in the Biblical style of the shepherd in the midst of his flock.
“You spent your many gifts and energy on developing and appreciating their [Maasai] culture, language and spiritual life with the intention of helping them to recognize Christ already in their midst.” wrote the Mill Hill Missionary Superior General to Fr. Terry on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee.
Fr. Francis Ng’ang’a from Rombo Parish in the Catholic Diocese of Ngong, currently the priest in charge of Abosi Parish in a tribute to Fr. Terrence Gogarty describes the Mill Hill missionary priest a great servant who lived his ambition and conviction to the very end.
“Always smiling and not interfering with anyone especially his parish priest, Fr. Gogarty regardless of age or race was compliant, available, and respectful. …Gogarty had the option to evangelize the diocese in the language of the native majority the Maasai which was met with stiff and silent resistance to date. Without much writing, he lived his ambition and conviction to the very end.”
Upon reaching retirement in 2010, Terry as he would be called by his colleagues was appointed to St. Joseph’s House Rathgar, Dublin where he took his retirement very graciously and enjoyed his own space in his room and would be seen from time to time walking to the local park wearing his signature Maasai beads. “His gentle manner, sense of humor, big smile and non-complaining ways endeared him to the staff at the Orwell House Nursing home where he received the care he need.”
On Friday May 13th 2016 Fr. Gogarty is reported to have appeared in a front page photograph of one of the main papers in Ireland with the title “Chilled out: Enjoying the Dublin sun with ice cream cones” as he sat in the garden of Orwell House Nursing Home with his straw hat on together with two 95-year-old ladies enjoying an ice cream.
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The body of Fr. Terrence was received at St. Joseph’s House, Rathgar on Monday 19th March 2018 for prayers and repose. Funeral mass is scheduled for 20th March 2018 and burial on the same day at the Bohemabreena Cemetery.