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Fr. Norman Edward Fitzgerald CSSp

Obituaries

 

Fr. Norman Fitzgerald C.S.Sp., a Spiritan (Holy Ghost) missionary from Mayo and a priest for some 65 years, has died in Dublin. He was aged 93.
Born in 1925 in Ballinrobe, Norman was the second child of Edward Fitzgerald, a solicitor, and Mona (née MacAuley) who became a full-time home-maker to the couple’s eight children.
Norman attended the local CBS before moving to Rockwell College in Co. Tipperary, one of a number of Spiritans schools in Ireland where the tall, strong young Mayo man became a fine rugby player. From there he went to the Spiritan Novitiate, at the time also in Tipperary, and progressed to the seminary in Kimmage Manor. He completed a BA in Philosophy from UCD.
Ordained in 1953, Fr. Norman began a quarter century of service in Sierra Leone the following year.  He taught in Christ the King College in Bo and was the Founder / Principal of a secondary school in Pujehun.  The second half of his time in the west African country was as Education Secretary, operating from the capital city, Freetown.  He was also very involved in development work, a sector in which he retained a life-long interest, as well as in youth chaplaincy.
Fr. Norman returned to Ireland at the beginning of the 1980s. He served his congregation as Bursar in the Blackrock College Community where he was known for his innate kindness, and where one of his first successes was dealing with the aftermath of a school fire that had caused much damage including to the chapel. He was with the school’s first outreach group to Kenya.
In active ministry into his eighties, Fr. Norman served in Shankill and Westland Row parishes in the Archdiocese of Dublin, and as Chaplain to the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity in Drumcondra. He was the first Executive Director of the humanitarian aid agency Refugee Trust (now Vita) and was the familiar voice of its long-running, early morning advertisement on RTÉ radio. He was on the board of Aidlink, another overseas aid agency, for much of its early life.
Fr. Norman died in the Kimmage Manor nursing home of his congregation on Sunday7th October and was buried in Dublin’s Dardistown Cemetery three days later. At his Funeral Mass in Kimmage, where the teenage Norman had entered the seminary over 70 years earlier, his fellow Spiritan, Fr. Cormac O’Brolchain C.S.Sp., remarked on Fr Norman’s “great company, his laughter, his optimism, his gratefulness to God for all that he was given and his wonderful insights.” and noted the “deep faith, joy and gentleness” that had been instilled by his mother.
Fr. Norman is survived by his sisters Maeve (Pullen) and Therese (Mallet), his brother Frank, extended family and his fellow Spiritan missionaries.

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