June 22, 2018

Serra Club Vocations Essay

Irish priest shows student the ‘human side of the priesthood’

By Kevin Collins (Special to The Criterion)

A priest by the name of Father Martin Campion has been by my side throughout my life. He has made a significant impact on my life.
He lived in Ireland, and by the end of his life he achieved the title of monsignor. He was born in 1937 in Kilkenny, Ireland, and went to St. Kieran’s College with my grandfather. He became one of the first people to broadcast the Mass to the sick and elderly in Ireland. Msgr. Campion is a great man.
Msgr. Campion was in my family’s life long before I was born. He was one of my grandfather’s best friends in high school. They both took different paths. My grandfather, Andy Hughes, became a veterinary surgeon, and Martin Campion became a priest.
However, their friendship and bond lasted until his death. Msgr. Campion was the priest that married my parents in 1996 at St. Michael Church in Danesfort, Kilkenny, Ireland.
My mother emigrated to the U.S. in 1986. However, her attachment to
Msgr. Campion was so strong that she returned to Ireland to have him baptize me and my sister in the same church where my parents were married.
Golf allowed me to personally connect with Msgr. Campion. My grandfather and my uncle love to golf. My family returns to Ireland every summer, and I got to join my grandfather, uncles and Msgr. Campion on the golf course many times.
I enjoyed seeing this very holy man as a very human man. Golf allowed me to see his personality in more depth. He was kind, funny and competitive.
I could always outdrive him, but he was way better than me at chipping and putting. It was good to see the priest that celebrated Sunday Mass with us be so down to earth on the golf course.
Msgr. Campion did so much for his local community. He helped get a new elementary school built in his parish. He expanded the church and cemetery. He broadcasted Mass for the sick and elderly.
His biggest project was to create community housing for the elderly that included a community hall for the parish. The Cuffesgrange-Danesfort parish is a small country parish, so this was a huge accomplishment. It inspired me to see how much one can accomplish when you have passion, a vision and community support.
Msgr. Campion was a great man and a trusted family friend. He showed me the human side of the priesthood. He had many great traits, but the one that stands out to me is kindness. He could connect with anyone through his kind spirit.

(Kevin and his parents, Susan and David Collins, are members of Holy Spirit Parish in Fishers, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese. He completed the ninth grade at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis last spring, and is the ninth-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2018 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.) †

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