Fr John Smyth was born in Wood Cottage Straide, Foxford, Co. Mayo on 15th September 1938.
He attended Straide National School and subsequently De La Salle Secondary School in Castlebar, making the 25-mile return journey on his bicycle daily.
He entered St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, Navan in pursuit of his dream of missionary priesthood. He was ordained on 21st December 1962 and left for Korea and took up studies in language and Korean culture for two semesters. Appointments to the Cathedral in Chunchon Diocese and with placements in Wonju, Mukho and Kang Neung followed.
During these early year he had to deal with the grief and loss of both parents with no immediate communication at the time.
Following further language studies at Yonsei University, he was appointed parish priest of Yang De Kwang in Chunchon Diocese where he completed his first term on mission before returning for his vacation in Ireland at the end of the seven-year period.
On his return to Korea he was appointed to the Archdiocese of Seoul where he served in Thung Chun Dong on the western edge of the city and next to Mok Dong where with the help of the community he built a beautiful church there.
Following that he was assigned to a new parish of Tobong dong in the northern suburbs. While under construction he lived on site in the basement, a feat remarked on by Cardinal Kim at the Blessing and opening. A remarkable witness of commitment and devotion for which the cardinal gave him a special citation.
Following a holiday in Ireland he was appointed to the Korean Community in Chicago where he served with great kindness and commitment for 23years. He celebrated his Golden Jubilee during his time with the community there.
He next moved to Los Angeles near Westminister for the next eight years before returning home in June 2022. He had completed 60 years of uninterrupted missionary service, shared without self-interest and embracing communities without reserve.
He died on 10th December 2022 and is laid to rest at St Peter’s and Paul’s Church in his native Straide.
May he rest in peace.