Donal was born in the Parish of Drumragh, Omagh, Co Tyrone on 28th October 1932. He was educated at St Mary’s, Killyclogher, and CBS Omagh and entered Dalgan in 1954. He was ordained priest on 21st December 1960.
Donal was appointed to the Philippines and after studies in language and culture was assigned to Zambales where he would spend most of the following 37 years. He worked in Massinloc for three years, before becoming pastor of Castillejos, Iba, followed by the first of two periods as pastor of St Joseph’s, Olongapo City.
From 1982 to 1986 he was assigned to promotion and vocations work in Ireland. Then he returned to Zambales once more until 2000.
During all those years, Donal, who was a splendid host and an adventurous chef, loved to invite his Columban neighbours to join him for Sunday night supper. He gloried in producing rare menu items, and in celebrating any and every occasion.
In 2000, he was invited to return to Ireland to take over as Director of the Nursing Home. To prepare for this task Donal went to the US and studied Gerontology for some months. He enjoyed his time at the Nursing Home: there was always classical music in the background; he organised trips to the theatre and the cinema, trips to the seaside, and barbeques on the lawn in the summer.
In 2005 he offered to minister to Filipino migrants in Northern Ireland. Five bishops responded very positively to his offer, and he enjoyed that ministry until 2014 when he retired to Omagh where he helped the local clergy on weekends and at funerals.
His sight began to trouble him, so he retired to the Dalgan Nursing Home in November 2021. Donal was a joyful, friendly and extrovert person, and a splendid singer. He died on 13th May 2023 in the Dalgan Nursing Home.
May he rest in peace.
Funeral Mass Fr Donal Bennett 16th May 2023