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In Memory

A tribute to Fr Enda McDonagh

Trócaire was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Fr Enda McDonagh, former Professor of Moral Theology at St Patricks College Maynooth and a dear friend and collaborator to many of us.

His incredible intellect and scholarly acumen were matched by his humanity, his compassion and his warmth. A constant advocate for the poor and marginalised in society, Enda’s was an outspoken and empathetic voice for the rights of people living with HIV and for groups that were stigmatised and discriminated against on many grounds including poverty, gender, sexuality, and HIV status.

To mark Trócaire’s 25th anniversary, he served as the series editor of Christian Perspectives on Development Issues, a joint Trócaire/CAFOD/SCIAF initiative which sought to reflect and restate the Christian commitment to solidarity and the oneness of the human family.

In the first of the series on human rights, land and famine, Enda spoke of how without Christian enlightenment and renewal, the vision and work of our agencies could become narrow and frustrating. His steadfast belief in living the gospel and applying it to the social problems of our time was applied as editor, ensuring that “the studies made clear how much theology has to learn from work in the field, how much theory has to gain from praxis.

The last in the series, the Reality of HIV/AIDS, which he co-authored with Dr Ann Smith from CAFOD shaped our policy and practice over many years.

His writings on HIV were influenced by the reality of people who were struggling with complex lives and multiple vulnerabilities and informed by working visits to Asia and Africa with Ann Smith and Sr Maura O’Donoghue, a Medical Missionary of Mary who led the HIV response in CAFOD from the late 1980’s.

He credited Maura with engaging him on HIV, of which he remarked, in his usual self-deprecating way, that he knew little. He applied his considerable intellect and compassion to the topic, writing on the subject and acting as the theological adviser to the Catholic HIV & AIDS Network headed by Msgr. Bob Vitillo of Caritas Internationalis.

He enriched those meetings immensely, giving careful consideration to the scientific updates by Dr Jon Fuller and the policy and programme realities of Catholic agencies around the table.

Contemplative and wise, Enda’s reflections guided our work and ensured that it embraced the oneness of the human family in all its fullness. He was a wonderful travelling companion; engaging, gracious, good humoured and charming. On one occasion he used that charm and his impressive German skills to overcome airport bureaucracy when misplaced travel documents could have prevented him from flying home from Dusseldorf to Ireland.

Fr Enda’s last official engagement with Trócaire was in 2013 when he addressed a World AIDS Day audience on Supporting Women in the face of HIV with his long-time collaborator and friend Sr Maura, a woman he admired greatly and who shared his courage and tenacity.

He continued to advise Trócaire and engage as a friend and much trusted source of inspiration and wisdom on a variety of issues on an informal basis. He was an exceptional man with a huge generosity of spirit, full of humanity and humility and whom we loved dearly.

Leaba i measc na naomh go raibh aige


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