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Fr Tom O’Toole


The death has taken place of Right Rev Dom Colmcille O’Toole, who for 36 years (1964-2000) was Abbot of Mount Saint Joseph Abbey, Roscrea, Co Tipperary. He  died in his 89th year, at his monastery, on the 8th of December, Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
 Dom Colmcille who was a native of Ballintubber was one of the seven sons of William and Eliza Ellen O’Toole.  He was baptised in Ballintubber Abbey and was a Mass server there.  He attended the local National School, and continued his education  later as a boarder in the  Cistercian  College, Roscrea (1940-45).  He entered Mount Saint Joseph Abbey, 15th August 1945, making Final Profession in 1950, and being ordained priest 1952.
 After his ordination Fr  Colmcille taught RE and Irish at the College, later becoming Dean of Studies.  He was a great listener and a patient task-master, soon winning the confidence of students and teachers alike.
 In 1964 he was elected Abbot by the monastic community.  At that time it was an assignment for life. Retirement at the age of 75 was later introduced, so he was in office until 2000.  His first major task was the setting up of a new monastery in County Kildare, with 17 monks of Roscrea to establish it.  Monasteries in Scotland and Australia had been founded by Roscrea monastery in 1946 and 1954.  During his term of office, Abbot Colmcille visited both monasteries on several occasions, often  spending time in American, Asian and African monasteries en route.  He was a much travelled man.  On the home front he set up a Board of Governors at the College, later to become a Board of Management.  For some years he was a member of the Ballintubber Abbey Trust.
 His period of being Abbot started with the Second Vatican Council, after which the fall in vocations in the Church began.  So he lived through the period of dwindling numbers in the monastic community and in the Church generally.  A man of strong faith, he was able to see the hand of God in adversity.  He never panicked, and was at his best when adversity was taking over.  Above all he is remembered as a man of great wisdom.
 Dom Colmcille had a real interest in sport, though  it was never an addiction.  He would listen keenly to an Irish rugby win over the opposing team.  Having lived most of his life in a hurling county, he greatly appreciated the clash of the ash.  On his last visit to Ballintubber his proud boast was having shaken hands with the Mayo football captain just before his home county headed towards Croke Park.
 He has been a life-long friend and confidant to a great number of  people,  inside and outside the monastery, and was an extremely grateful person to those who cared for him during his latter years.
He is deeply mourned by his brothers, Liam (Ballintubber), Pat (Maynooth), Fr Seán (Arklow) and Frank (Ballintubber), sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, Cistercian Community, relatives and friends.
 Ar dheis De go raibh a anaim dhilis.