In 1965, Fr Cornelius Sayers was appointed chaplain to the Irish Immigrants of Salford and although not officially a curate, Fr O'Keeffe described him as 'wonderful new year's gift'. The two priests worked well together and despite his full time role, he was a great help in the parish, especially at weekends.
From Ss Peter & Paul's Salford Fortieth Anniversary Magazine 1996
Father Sayers came from Kerry and worked in Dublin. In 1966 we were privileged to have him as a curate with the additional task of working with Catholic Housing and the welfare of Irish families in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester. Father O'Keeffe allowed and encouraged many of us to help him in his work which entailed begging, storing and moving furniture, typing, visiting families regularly, and giving practical aid to parents and children. He and Father O'Keeffe were great friends, once Father Sayers became an 'instant' supporter of Manchester United! He was ovenvhelmed when they won the European Cup, and when organising Father O'Keeffe's Silver Jubilee in the form of a "This is your life," he found himself talking to members of the famous team from Old Trafford. On his return to Ireland, he worked extremely hard and became quite a celebrity on Radio Eire. One week before his own Silver Jubilee, he had a very sudden stroke whilst at a meeting with the Archbishop and other colleagues, but a few months later he was able to celebrate his twenty-five years in the priesthood at the Convent of Mount Sackville. The nuns were wonderful; they prepared a special meal for about two hundred people, and prepared an entertainment for him; they sang a song of their own composition to the tune of "The Mountains of Mourne". Here it is :- (Father was known for his astuteness - he missed nothing!)
"You've heard of the kingdom of Kerry, I'd say!
Don't Kerry men lead us at home and away?
Today we're saluting the best of them all;
This illustrious son from Lach Inch, Annascaul!
The days that his father set out for the fair,
Young Con from Lach Inch, he was sure to be there;
Up over the hills to the town of Tralee,
And the higher he went, sure the more he could seel
And later in life the same pattern recurs:
To higher and higher positions he rose,
Until as the Archbishop's secretary,
There wasn't much doing that he didn't see!
His group now includes not a few VJ.P.s.
Clonville College President isn't the least;
Such posts of distinction they carry with ease,
They have one real live bishop and two parish priests.
He worked long and late, too long and too late,
And God intervened just to alter his fate:
"I'm calling you, Con tog go bog e' awhile!"
And this excellent patient obliged with a smile.
The rest's nearly over, health nearly restored,
And soon, back in action, we'll see him once more;
The daily improvement he's making is such
That he'll soon be well able to give that left punch!
Now thanks very much for this wonderful treat,
Our cook's sitting with us to make it complete,
As we all celebrate for your Jubilee Day,
God bless you and keep you is all we can say.
Father Sayers has been over to England several times since, and on August 27th, 1995, the 'Universe' published memories of four priests - Father Sayers was one of them: "I was only nervous about being a good priest," he said. In difficult times, I say to the Lord:- 'You ordained me; You called me to this life. I want you to be with me now.'
Ordination is a permanent abiding thing with you. It's a big day after seven years' training, a longer preparation than any other professional study. The emphasis in those days was very much on the administration of the sacraments. The community and social side were there in the training, but they were not emphasised. If we are to run parishes properly, there must be an involvement of the laity. The Pope has a council of bishops; the bishop has a council of priests, and the priests must have a council of lay people a pastoral council." He went on to quote the Holy Father:- "We must seek to be as open as possible to light from on high from the Holy Spirit in order to discover the tendencies of contemporary society; recognise the deepest spiritual needs." The years after Vatican II were an exciting · and challenging time for priests and lay people, and Father Sayers believes the years ahead will also be challenging for both priests and people.
In 1969 Fr Sayers was recalled to Ireland however he often came back to visit during the '70's.
Father Cornelius Sayers died peacefully May 15, 2007, at the Mater Hospital. He was the brother of Joan (Quirke) and the late Garrett and Mary (Daly); deeply regretted by his sister, nephews, nieces, grandnephews, grandnieces, his caring and devoted housekeeper Patricia (Devaney), the Archbishop and the priests of the diocese and friends. May he rest in peace. Funeral Mass held May 17, 2017 in St. Canice's Church, Finglas Village followed by removal to Co. Kerry. Requiem Mass May 18, 2017 in the Church of St. Gobnait, Keel, Castlemaine, Co. Kerry followed by burial in adjoining cemetery.
- Ss Peter & Paul parish log
- Ss Peter & Paul's Salford Fortieth Anniversary Magazine 1996
- interview with Sian Molloy of "The Universe.'
- Catholic Lancashire, Past and Present
- Irish Times
Can you help expand this history?
- Photos of Fr Cornelius Sayers
- Does anyone have memories/photos of events around the time of the opening of the church