‘Thank you for your service’

Thanks boss! Smiling Fr George accepts the warm wishes of Pope Francis to celebrate his sixty years in the priesthood.

Thanks boss! Smiling Fr George accepts the warm wishes of Pope Francis to celebrate his sixty years in the priesthood.

Pope Francis praises Fr George for his sixty years in the priesthood

Most Inishowen employees wouldn’t keep framed photographs of meetings with the boss.

But, when you’re a priest and the Pope is your boss, it’s a very different story; a brief encounter becomes a cherished memory, a moment to be treasured forever.

For Fr George McLaughlin, who rounded off his diamond jubilee celebrations in style at the Vatican, meeting Pope Francis was simply awesome.

“It meant the world to me. I felt that I was meeting someone very, very special. His goodness flowed out,” the 84-year-old said.

The former Moville parish priest completed six decades in the priesthood in June. Not surprisingly, meeting Pope Francis at St Peter’s Square qualifies as the highpoint of his anniversary year.

“That certainly was the highlight so far,” Fr George smiles.

Fr George, a native of Buncrana, described the head of the Catholic Church as warm, welcoming and approachable.

“He came across as a very nice man. I told him where I came from and that I was in Rome as part of my anniversary celebrations and he seemed to be very thrilled about that.”

“He put his hand on my head, blessed me and expressed his thanks for all the work that I had done during my sixty years as a priest.”

In all, Fr George spent around five minutes with Pope Francis, who assumed the role of pontiff following the resignation of Pope Benedict in 2013.

“His English was definitely much better than my Italian,” he joked.

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Donna Roddy