Fr Thomas O'Reilly SSC

Fr Tom O’Reilly, a native of Portlaoise, Ireland, joined the Columbans in 1961 and was ordained in 1967.

After postgraduate studies in Rome (1968-1973), he lectured for five years in Biblical Studies in St Columban’s Major Seminary, Navan, Ireland.

In 1978, the Columban Society took the decision to open new missions in predominantly non-Christian countries and Fr Tom was chosen to be a member of a team of six Columbans who began a new mission in Pakistan. Along with his fellow Columbans, he ministered in three different parishes to very small Christian communities who can easily be marginalised in an Islamic State. Columbans in Pakistan searched for an understanding of mission that would in some way integrate the care of these Christian communities with outreach to the wider Muslim community, which amounted to 98% of the total population. Mission often took the form of building relations of respect and mutual understanding between peoples of different faiths.

After ten years on mission in Pakistan, Fr Tom served for six years as a member the General Council of the Columban Society (1988-1994). In this role, he had the opportunity to visit every Columban mission throughout the world and see the ways in which Columbans engage in the mission of Jesus Christ in very different and changing circumstances.

From 1995 to 2001, he was involved again in the formation of Columban seminarians in Ireland and also lectured in Biblical Studies in the Kimmage Mission Institute in Dublin. After that, he served on the Columban leadership team in Ireland for three years.

Fr Tom was re-appointed to Pakistan in 2004, but he was unable to return to his previous overseas mission for health reasons. After recovery from heart surgery, he came to Britain in 2006. For four years, his main work was weekend mission appeals throughout England and Wales. This gave him the opportunity to experience at first hand the great support and generosity which Columban missionaries have always received in Britain. In 2010 he was appointed Columban Regional Director for Britain.

Fr. Tom has now stepped down as Regional Director and is now taking a sabbatical.