Father Dermot Tighe will celebrate the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination on Sunday, June 1. He will be con-celebrating at the 4 p.m. Vespers service at the Prince of Peace at St. Patrick, 4100 Broadway Ave., Great Bend, followed by a reception at the Parish Center, 4200 Broadway.
All clergy, religious, former parishioners, family and friends are invited. There will be a time to share reminisces.
A Kansas Bishop’s call for priests brought six young men from Ireland in the 1950s. On Sunday, one of those men, the Rev. Dermot Tighe, will celebrate the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination during the prayer service at Prince of Peace, St. Patrick Church in Great Bend.
Tighe was born in Strokestown, County Roscommon, Ireland in 1930, the youngest of 10 children. He was ordained in Carlow, Ireland, on June 6, 1954, after completing his seminary education there.
“Bishop Carroll in Wichita offered to pay for our education,” Tighe said. Although the six priests were recruited by the bishop of the Wichita Diocese, by the time they arrived it had split into two regions, with the creation of the Dodge City Diocese. “They put our names in a hat,” he said. He went to the Dodge City Diocese, and his first assignment in the United States was at Liebenthal in Rush County.
After traveling from Ireland in a ship, Father Tighe traveled to Chicago and then flew in an airplane to Wichita. His family had a tiny farm in Ireland — about 100 acres — and he recalls being impressed by the vastness of Kansas, three times the size of Ireland. “Such a big place,” he said in his soft Irsish brogue. A sports fan, he also recalls that the World Series was going on when he arrived. “I asked, ‘What’s that?’”
Father Tighe became a U.S. citizen in 1959, as soon as he was eligible.
Over the years he has served in Dodge City, Jetmore, Seward and Great Bend. He taught at St. Rose Nursing School and was the first chaplain at Central Kansas Medical Center. Then, in 1967, he joined the U.S. Army as a chaplain.
“I thought, there has to be more to life than living in western Kansas,” he said. He was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas, where he ministered to soldiers returning from Vietnam, and to soldiers being sent there.
On Aug. 22, 1968, Father Tighe left for southeast Asia, where he served for one year. After that, is was sent to other states, including Alaska and Virginia.
“I saw a lot of the world,” he said. “Enough of it for me.”
In a 1990 article in the Southwest Kansas Register, Tighe recalled how, during his time in Vietnam, he gave the last rites frequently to dying soldiers in the field, and to the wounded as they came back to evacuation hospitals. When there was time for Mass, it was celebrated in Quonset huts or the back of a Jeep.
Father Tighe left the U.S. Army after 10 years, served in the National Guard for two years and spent the next 12 years in the Kansas National Guard. He retired from the military in 1991 as a “full-bird” colonel, one rank below a brigadier general.
After earning a master’s degree in church administration, Father Tighe was again called to Kansas. His last assignment was as a priest at St. Patrick Church in Great Bend for eight years. He retired in 1998 and still lives in Great Bend.
“You don’t make 60 that often!” Father Tigher said of his 60th Jubilee. In honor of the milestone, Sunday’s prayer service will be attended by priests from around the diocese, as well as Bishop John B. Brungardt and Father Bob Schremmer, vicar general of the diocese.