11th September 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of the military coup in Chile – an event that was followed by many years of military repression before democracy was finally restored.
On 28th June, two Mill Hill Missionaries – Fr Liam Holohan, who died in September 2002, and Fr Des McGillicuddy – received an award at the Embassy of Chile in Dublin in recognition of their humanitarian assistance to the Chilean people during the period of military rule. The President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins (himself a recipient of the same award in 2016) and the Ambassador of Chile in Ireland, Señor Ricardo Hernández, led the award ceremony.
Fr Brendan Forde OFM (since deceased), also received the award. Family members and colleagues of the three missionaries, as well as several ambassadors and the apostolic nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Montemayor, were in attendance on the night.
Of the three missionaries, President Higgins said in his speech: “What these three men had in common was a profound compassion and solidarity, a deep seated sense of social justice, and a yearning to help and serve the poorest and most vulnerable people in Chile who were experiencing the most appalling poverty and living under fearful conditions of authoritarian military rule.”
“I want to say on behalf of the Holohan family how honoured and grateful we are to the Chilean government to be here to accept this award for Liam. I know Liam along with our parents and sister Anne are looking down here this evening with big smiles on their faces,” said Kay Mulhall (nee Holohan) at the award ceremony.
Fr Des also expressed his gratitude for the award, and spoke of how his experience in Chile profoundly marked the rest of his missionary journey.