A deaf Catholic priest confessed in sign language to a shocked congregation that he was the father of a love-child - and then quit the church. Father Peter McDonough dropped the bombshell during Sunday mass, telling fellow worshippers that the service would be his last. It is thought the mother of the child, a four-year-old boy, met Fr McDonough, 54, through his church work. At the end of the service he asked parishioners to sit down before delivering the devastating news.
He stayed behind for two hours after mass to explain his decision. Fr McDonough has been deaf since he was three, and joined St Patrick’s church in Collyhurst, Manchester, to run services for the deaf community. He was also director of St Joseph’s Mission, based in Collyhurst. James Kenny, 85, who has lived near the church for 52 years, said the news would come as a big shock to the entire community. 'He’s let down the Catholic community. People are confessing to him - I’ve confessed to him - and he’s been carrying this big secret. 'What faith can you have in someone like that when it’s not say as I do but do as I say? ‘He’s been here for years and should have done this as soon as he knew about the child.’
One worshipper said: 'I am extremely surprised. He always came across as very pious and very proper and as a very good priest. ‘I thought he was devoted to his religion and devoted to his calling. I am very disappointed.’ But mother-of-three Kathleen Maguire, 40, defended Fr McDonough’s character saying ‘priests are human beings too’. ‘I don’t think it’s right that they’re not allowed to marry and have kids just like the rest of us,’ she said. Monsignor Mark Davies, Salford Roman Catholic Diocese’s vicar general, said: 'It was with great sadness that the deaf community and the whole Catholic community in Collyhurst learned of Fr Peter’s decision on Sunday.
'Following much reflection and many conversations with his bishop, Father Peter McDonough has reached this personal decision. ‘The outstanding work of St Joseph’s Mission to Deaf People to which Father Peter dedicated so many years of his priestly life will continue to be fully supported by the Salford Diocese.’ The vicar general added that Fr McDonough, who had been at St Joseph’s for 27 years, had met with the bishop several times to discuss his future. ‘Fr McDonough has left the church and is now taking time to consider what to do next. He wants to take responsibility for the child and he needs to look for full-time employment,’ he said. ‘It was very much his decision. He finished on Sunday and he is looking at his life.’
Fr McDonough held sign language masses at St Patrick’s Church every Sunday morning, which were were attended by up to 70 deaf people and some hearing parishioners.
He spent a year in Dublin studying a diploma in teaching deaf people, having also studied at Salford College and Sheffield University. He holds an MA in Deaf Studies from Durham University. A spokesman for the diocese said Fr McDonough did not want to comment.