The parishioners of St Patrick’s, Ballyragget, came together last Friday, December 4, to celebrate a special Mass for the retirement of Canon Percy Grant following his 38 years of service to the parish.
Canon Grant was Parish Priest at St Patrick’s from 1982 until he stepped down in 2002, though he remained in Ballyragget as a Pastor Emeritus until his full retirement in June of this year.
Born in Ballyhale, Canon Grant was ordained at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, in 1951 and was posted in the diocese of Hexham & Newcastle, England, for his first five years of service. In 1956, however, he returned to Kilkenny where he served as Chaplain to the De La Salle Brothers and Holy Family Sisters in Kilmacow for two years.
Canon Grant then served for three months in St John’s before being appointed a curate in Danesfort for three years. From there he was transferred to St Kieran’s College, where he served as Bursar prior to his appointment as a curate in Ballyragget in 1971. The Most Reverend Bishop of Ossory, Séamus Freeman, was in attendance at last week’s thanksgiving Mass, which was also broadcast on local community radio for the benefit of parishioners who could not attend the service in person. A celebration was held after the service at the local community hall.
During his time in Ballyragget, Canon Grant also founded the local Credit Union, an institution in which he holds great pride, and of which he remains an Honorary President.
Members of the St Patrick’s parish have spoken fondly of Canon Grant’s time in the parish, commenting that he knew all local residents by name and that we would be fondly regarded by the people of Ballyragget for years to come.
One parishioner recounted that Canon Grant would often speak of his time posted in Newcastle following his ordination, where he learned what he considered to be his most important lesson – to make the effort to visit parishioners in their homes, where they felt most at ease.
A proud sportsman, Canon Grant is a keen golfing enthusiast and an avid follower of hurling. Though he developed a soft spot for the St Patrick’s club in Ballyragget over his time in the parish, Canon Grant remains a proud Shamrocks supporter, staying true to his roots in the south Kilkenny parish.
Three noted Ballyhale men – hurlers Henry Shefflin, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick and Bobby Alyward – surprised the Canon with a visit to his home last week, to pay personal tribute to his considerable service to the parish and the people of Ballyragget, and to wish him well in retirement.