Fr Patrick Joseph (‘Paddy) Smyth was born in Athlone, Co Westmeath in 1929. He was educated at Ballina NS and St Muredach’s College, Ballina, and came to Dalgan in 1947. He was ordained priest on 21 December 1953.
He was appointed to Japan in 1954 but after suffering from a bleeding ulcer in February of that same year he was unable to take up his appointment. His health was never sufficiently robust to enable him to be appointed to mission abroad, yet nobody ever heard him complain of this and he used all his talents in a most fruitful apostolate in Britain and Ireland over the next seventy years.
In 1957, he was appointed to the Columban House in London. Very soon he became well known as a much sought-after retreat master especially for priests and religious. This led to quite a number of persons seeking his help as a spiritual director.
Paddy had a deep but practical spirituality, a gentle non-judgemental attitude, and was blessed with an impish sense of humour.
In 1967 he was appointed to the Columban house in Whitby, Yorkshire and spent four years there. In 1971, he was appointed Spiritual Director to the seminarians in Dalgan Park, Navan. He served in this role for the next ten years until the seminarians moved to Maynooth.
Those were difficult years when for the first time many Columban priests left the ministry and large numbers of seminarians also decided that this way of life was not for them.
Students of that time remember Paddy as an understanding and practical presence in the seminary.
He served as Personnel Counsellor in Dalgan for a number of years after that and he loved to keep in touch with parish pastoral work as witnessed by his commitment to helping out in local parishes and especially in Nobber Parish.
However, his main life’s work consisted of retreats and spiritual accompaniment to priests and religious. He will be missed for his warm smile and his gentle humour even at times when he himself was feeling poorly. He died in on 22 December 2018.
May he rest in peace.