ON JUNE 19 fifty years ago, Fr Eamon Aylward celebrated his first Mass in All Saints Church, New Chapel, Ballyhale, County Kilkenny.
He returned there recently for a Mass of Thanksgiving for his golden jubilee of ordination and celebrated the parish 9am Mass/
Fr Eamon was born in Dublin in 1948.
He is the eldest of five children (Noreen, Joan, Marian and Patrick) born to Ned Aylward from Knockmoylan amd Maureen Brennan from Ballyhale.
Having attended primary school and one year in Secondary at CBS,
Synge Street, he left Dublin in 1961 to attend a boarding school run by the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts in Clones, County Monaghan.
After secondary he joined the Congregation of the Sacred
Hearts and in 1966 made his first profession in Cootehill, County Cavan.
That was followed by the study of Philosophy in Cootehill and from 1968, the study of Theology in the USA. He was ordained to the in 1972 in Cootehill and his first assignment was to Damien High School, Los Angeles.
While in LA he attended a Marriage Encounter (ME) weekend
experience designed to offer a process to help good marriages be even better.
Eamon became very involved with this Church movement and on his return to parish work in the UK in 1973, he regularly led weekends for ME, Engaged Encounter and Choice weekends for single adults.
In 1976 he was appointed Vocation Director for the Ireland-England
Province of the Congregation and moved to live in Ealing West London with regular ferry journeys to Ireland to speak on vocations in Irish secondary schools.
In London he continued his involvement with ME leading weekends mostly in the South-East area of the UK.
In 1983 he was appointed Provincial Leader of the Ireland-England
Province of the Congregation, an appointment he held for nine years.
Following a sabbatical year in 1993, he volunteered for the Sacred Hearts Congregation Mission in Mozambique, returning to live in Clondalkin, Dublin in 2004.
For the next 10 years he served as the Executive Secretary of
the Irish Missionary Union and Acting Director of World Missions Ireland.
In 2014 he was appointed co-ordinator of Provincial and Retirement
House, Northbrook Road, Dublin where he serves to this day.
Fr Eamon is a cousin of retired politicians Bobby and Liam Aylward and son of Garda Chief Superintendent Ed Aylward.