This fascinating memoir, Putting Hand to the Plough, traces one man’s experiences of priesthood in Ireland over half a century from formation in the late 1940s and early 1950s, to ordination in 1956, through doctoral studies in St Patrick s College, Maynooth, followed by post-doctoral research in Rome during the heady days leading up to Vatican II.
His academic prowess led to a teaching career spanning more than thirty years at his alma mater, where as Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Vice-President of the College he helped shape the growth and development of Maynooth at perhaps the most significant time in its history. Having nurtured the formation of countless students over three decades, upon retiring from Maynooth in 1986, Monsignor O’Callaghan took up the responsibilities of parish priest of Mallow with inexhaustible vigour. He also found time for prolific media involvement with both The Corkman and North Cork Community Radio, among a range of other pastoral and educational initiatives. In the pages of this book, we meet a man firmly committed to his vocation, his community and his Church. In telling the story of his own priesthood, he holds up a mirror to the Catholic Church at large, engaging with its travails in recent years, pointing out hopes for the future and offering wise observations to assist the quest to nurture collaborative forms of ministry in the years ahead.