Tribute to a Faithful Priest: Fr Larry McDonnell SDB

by Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini
Prime Minister of Eswatini

So often we hear of scandals and bad examples within the priesthood. In reality, these priests constitute but a small percentage of the priesthood. Rarely do we hear about one of God’s faithful servants who (like the large majority of priests) day in and day out fulfills his ministry in quiet fidelity and love. In this issue of the Crusade for Priests we want to bring to your attention the life of one such faithful priest. The following are remarks to be shared in a memorial service of Fr. Larry – Inyoni (as he was fondly called by most of us who were his students) who faithfully fulfilled his ministry up until the last few months of his life, when ill-health finally overcame him. He was well known and loved by us students and the entire Eswatini nation. Father Larry was an extra ordinary person. His accomplishments and impact in the country will be felt by many generations to come. Fr. Larry was not the sort of a priest who gave brilliant homilies from the pulpit. Nevertheless, he gave an inspiring witness of his love for God and self-sacrificing service in his priestly ministry.

It is the union with Christ that guided and shaped the life of Father Larry. In his case this was so much so that it would be difficult to define his personality, even to conceive of his life, apart from the priesthood. Always dignified, courteous, humble and kind, he seemed to inhabit a different world from ours—certainly different from the godless one that inspires ambition, greed, lust and all the capital vices to which so many—priests included—have succumbed in our day. Father Larry stood out from the backdrop of the corruption of the times and seems to have passed his days among us as a visitor of a bygone time when civility and holiness were more the rule than the exception. Yet we know so well that virtues such as these are not native to any of our fallen race; they are rather the fruit of self-discipline and prayer, exercises with which Father Larry was well acquainted.

I find it remarkable that this man—who was rather known by many, one who did not call attention to himself or accomplish feats that would be regarded as great by the world—was, notwithstanding, so deeply appreciated and loved by so many. Father Larry spoke to people through his priestly life. And here, I would say, is where the greatness of this man shone forth. There are some instances of this that I think appropriate to mention, not to eulogize him—that’s for the Lord to do—but to goad us on to attain a higher degree of sanctity.

The thing that stands out in my own mind about Father Larry was his commitment to social responsibility and charity.
If I may also mention it, Father was hardly a person much attached to worldly possessions. He had little and seemed to need little. But he was generous.

I wish to thank Father Larry, belatedly, for his life as a dedicated priest and as a steadfast Christian. And I want to thank you, Salesian’s , for the manifest love you have shown to Father and for your prayers for him. I especially wish to single out Mr Elias Masilela who wrote a book about the life of Father Larry. This will endure his legacy lives forever.

We will all miss Father Larry, but we will rely on his continued help from the next life. We yet have much to learn and are given a certain time yet to live as Christians-in-the-making. In the meantime, we will remember Father Larry in our prayers, never presuming upon his merits, imploring the good Lord soon to grant him fellowship with the saints, and unbounded happiness and everlasting union with Jesus and his beloved “Blessed Mary Virgin”.

May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini
Prime Minister of Eswatini

Larry McDonnell

Clicking on the photo above will take you to “” where you will find photographs taken at Fr Larry’s funeral