“From politics to piety”: Tributes to a counselor who quits to pursue his dream of becoming a priest

Hope was expressed today that outgoing Clare County Council member Mark Nestor (FF) will return to Clare as a priest and officiate at the weddings of councillors’ children.

At Clare County Council’s September meeting, Councilor Ann Norton said she would be ‘delighted and honoured’ if it happened as she praised the Ennis man’s ‘tough decision’, age 30, to leave the council to begin studies for the priesthood.

Cllr Norton (Ind) said Cllr Nestor “has the temper to be a wonderful priest”.

Councilors from all parties paid tribute to the youngest member of the Council and gave him a standing ovation in the Council Chamber after Cllr Nestor confirmed that he had formally notified the Executive of his decision to step down from his seat from Tuesday morning “to begin my formation for the priesthood on Wednesday”.

Cllr Nestor is traveling to Spain this week to begin his priestly studies and Cllr Mary Howard (FG) said he is following his dreams and his heart in pursuing his ambition to become a priest.

Cllr Howard confessed she started crying earlier this year when Cllr Nestor first informed her of his decision.

Cllr Howard said: “My first reaction was to start crying because I was happy for him but sad for us.”

She said: “Today is a sad day for us but a happy day for Mark. You follow your heart and your dreams. Mark is a man of great integrity and truly loves his city and his family.

“Please God in seven years time you could be officiating as a priest at our Mass here in the home for Clare County Council staff…Be very proud that you have made a very, very difficult decision and for having done so.”

Mayor of Clare, Cllr Tony O’Brien (FF) told Cllr Nestor: ‘What you are doing is a very courageous and courageous decision. You are a person and a man to admire and respect.

Clare Council chief executive Pat Dowling said: “It’s been a long journey. It’s a big leap from counselor to priesthood and from politics to godliness at such a young age.

Cllr Nestor told his colleagues: “I am hopeful that the experience I have gained in my political life will help me to follow my new path in life. It has always been and will continue to be my intention to serve the people of County Clare to the best of my abilities and I intend to do so in the future simply in a different capacity.

In an interview on Clare FM’s ‘Morning Focus’ last week explaining his decision, Cllr Nestor remarked: “We often talk about the call of God. It was no longer that God was knocking at the door. It was like he was outside with a megaphone calling.

Cllr Nestor became Clare County Council’s youngest councilor when he was elected to council in the 2019 local elections on his first run for a seat.

Earlier this year the position of Mayor of Ennis was offered to Cllr Nestor earlier this year but Cllr Nestor passed up the chance to be Mayor for the current year as he was focused on starting his studies to become a priest.

At Monday’s meeting, the Mayor of Ennis, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) said: ‘You are a conscientious, serious and contemplative young man… This is the right way to go and you are 100% sure of it. %.

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