EARLY callers to Knock Church and the Shrine last Thursday morning had friendly words with Msgr Joe Quinn as he took his usual stroll through the grounds. He was in great form, exchanging pleasantries and greetings with all he met along the way. Shortly after 10am while having a cup of coffee and toast prior to celebrating the 11am Mass, he took ill and died suddenly beside the kitchen table in the Presbytery. The news was received with shock and disbelief as word spread throughout the region of Fr Joe’s untimely passing.
In 2002, following the death of Msgr Dominick Grealy, Archbishop Michael Neary appointed Msgr Joe as the new PP and Adm of Knock. He quickly settled into the role, bringing his own style to the position which is so different from any the parish on the island of Ireland.
Joe Quinn was born in New Antrim Street, Castlebar, in October 1946. His father Paddy was a member of the first Mayo team to win the Sam Maguire Cup in 1936. He was ordained in June 1970 and, after postgraduate studies served for a year in Kylemore Abbey before taking up duty as curate on Inis Mór, Árainn until 1972.
He was appointed curate to Crimlin until 1975 until his appointment to the Cathedral Parish of Tuam. He became Administrator there in 1995 until his appointment as PP of Knock in 2002. He studied liturgy in Liturgy Institute in Portarlington in 1974. In 2002 he was appointed as Chaplain to His Holiness, the Pope with the title of Msgr. In 2005 he was appointed Episcopal Vicar for Knock and in October 2011 was appointed Vicar Forane for the Claremorris deanery.
Msgr Joe loved his time in Knock. He made many good friends during the past nine years and was always accessible for the many pilgrims who flock to the village year after year. He looked forward in a special way to the annual August Novena each year and was in his element as he welcomed the thousands to the Shrine.
Many hundreds filed past the coffin from 6pm to 12 midnight on Saturday night. Fr Richard Gibbons welcomed all to the prayer service at 9pm. He spoke of the sense of shock felt throughout the region when news broke of Msgr Joe’s sudden death. He lauded his work at the Shrine over the past nine years and his excellent rapport with people.
He also recalled some of the characteristics of Msgr Joe, humourously referring to his love of cigarettes and holding them behind his back … only for the rising plume of smoke to give the game away!
The chief celebrant at the funeral Mass was Fr Michael Molloy, PP, Moore, a close friend of Mgr Joe, and also on the altar were his classmates from Maynooth, Fr JJ Cribbin, PP, Milltown, Fr Joe O’Brien, PP, Abbeyknockmoy, Fr John Walsh, PP, Aghamore, and Mgr Dick Mohan, PP, Pettigo and Prior of Lough Derg. Seven bishops as well as many priests from the archdiocese and neighbouring dioceses were present for the celebration.
Msgr Joe is deeply regretted by his brother Patrick, sister Marie, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, brother-in-law Ben, sister-in-law Claire, Archbishop Michael Neary and the priests of the archdiocese, relations, neighbours, parishioners and many friends.