‘Leaving will be a sadness that I will carry with me always’

Father Dan Whyte, parish priest at St Bernard's. INNT 43-402-RM
Father Dan Whyte, parish priest at St Bernard's. INNT 43-402-RM

FATHER Dan Whyte presided over his final mass as parish priest of St Mary’s on the Hill on Sunday, October 30.

After over 50 years in the priesthood and 17 years with St Mary’s in Glengormley, Fr Whyte leaves behind a lasting legacy at the parish as he takes up his retirement.

Fr Whyte joined St Mary’s on the Hill as parish priest in 1994 and in that time has seen a huge transformation within the local church.

The three Glengormley churches of St Bernard’s, St MacNissi’s and St Mary’s have changed tremendously though investment and rebuilding - and in the next few weeks a new £1million parish pastoral centre will be dedicated by the Bishop.

But the intervening years have also been a turbulent time for Fr Whyte. In 2001 an arson attack at St Bernard’s left the church in ruins, and in 2003 Father Whyte was himself the target of a death threat from a loyalist grouping after he spoke out condemning a graffiti attack on graves at Carnmoney Cemetery.

He has also had to keep going during the child abuse scandal which has rocked the Catholic Church in recent years and which he freely admits was appalling and made his work in the community difficult.

Speaking about his retirement, Fr Whyte said: “I’m going from a situation where I was involved in and committed to 12 hour days every week, except for my day off, to being able to choose what to do.

“The days of being responsible for a large and busy parish are over and I will miss that, but I am getting tired and it is hard to have the same drive. So it’s time for a younger man.”

Read the full story in this week’s Times...