A large crowd turned out in Broadford last Friday evening for celebrations to mark the Golden Jubilee of the ordination of the retired Parish Priest of Dromcollogher-Broadford, Dr. James Ambrose.

Dr. Ambrose retired last November after 25 years ministering in the parish and he was joined last Friday evening by his family, fellow priests, friends and former parishioners in celebrating 50 years of ministry.

James Ambrose was one of nine children born to Nora and Thomas Ambrose in Dromindeel, Newcastle West. He was baptised, received his First Holy Communion and was confirmed in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Newcastle West. His primary education started in St. Joseph’s Sisters of Mercy and after celebrating his First Holy Communion he went on to the Courtenay Boys’ School. He pursued his secondary education in St. Munchin’s College, Limerick. James studied for the priesthood in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and was ordained in 1962 after which he completed a doctorate. He taught for three years in St. Patrick’s College, Thurles. He ministered in St. John’s Cathedral Parish and in Christ the King Parish in Caherdavin, Limerick. Among other positions held in the Diocese of Limerick he fulfilled the role of Diocesan Secretary to Bishop Murphy for a number of years. Dr. James became Administrator of St. John’s Parish and continued in this role until appointed by Bishop Newman, on the 18th September 1986, to succeed Canon Liston as Parish Priest of Dromcollogher-Broadford. He spent 25 years in the parish of Dromcollogher-Broadford, providing exceptional pastoral care to its people. In this role he was assisted by his curates Rev. Tom Crawford, Rev. Tim Curtin and Rev. Tony Kelleher. He retired from the parish on the 18th November 2011.

Canon Ambrose celebrated Mass in Our Lady of Snows Church on Friday evening assisted by his successor Fr. Frank O’Dea and a former curate Fr. Tim Curtin who delivered the homily.

During the Mass a chalice was presented to Canon Ambrose from the community of Dromcollogher-Broadford. The chalice will be retained in the church. At a reception after Mass, Dr. Ambrose was the recipient of a number of presentations on behalf of the community by David O’Keeffe, President of the local Community Council, local artist Mairéad Pierce and by Breda Hartnett. Among the items presented to the jubilarian were a set of Begley Books and a montage of five churches closely associated with Dr. Ambrose’s life, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Newcastle West, St. Patrick’s, Maynooth, St. John’s Cathedral, Our lady of Snows Church, Broadford, and St. Bartholomew’s Church, Broadford.

Many tributes were paid to Dr. Ambrose on the evening, including one from the chairperson of the local Community Council, Mary Lee-Geary who said, “Hurricane Charlie had just wrought havoc, the year was 1986, the month of September and the date was the 18th when Canon Ambrose joined our parish. There have been many changes since and through all of these changes, we have been truly blessed to have Canon Ambrose by our side. He has calmly supported us and guided us through.”

Continuing, Mrs. Lee-Geary said, “Bryan McMahon wrote that “the true priest has many roles, he is healer, guide and comforter.” I wonder did he have Canon Ambrose in mind when he wrote these words? He is the true embodiment of a ‘true priest’ and represented all that is good in the church. He has shown us, by his own example, what true spirituality looks and acts like. He has never sought to place his every deed on a pedestal. He has celebrated our joy, comforted us in our distress and offered a calm, guiding hand when occasionally the odds against us and our community became overpowering. He has endured all weathers, personal discomfort and distress as well as the many varied cast of characters in our community with humility, good humour and rare nobility. He has too, many times, sacrificed his own comfort and needs for our benefit.”

“His enormous contribution to our parish, our community and our lives will not ever be forgotten. He is now one of ours and will be forever thus.” she concluded.