Fr Terry Smith from The Ward has been elected Superior of the Spiritan (Holy Ghost) Congregation in South Africa.
Fr Smith, who is 62, retains strong family connections in the Dublin/Meath border area where his three sisters live. Both sides of his family had strong connections with the GAA in Meath.
His late father, also Terry, won five senior Leinster championship medals with the Royal County while an uncle, Peter Moran from Dunboyne, was a member of Meath's All-Ireland hurling championship-winning team, at junior level in 1927.
The young Terry Smith's own passion was horses and, prior to beginning his training for the priesthood, he worked as a stable lad in the Dreaper and Rogers stables while his first cousin, Seán Barker, rode a winner at Cheltenham and twice finished third in the Aintree Grand National.
Ordained in 1980, Fr Smith's first appointment as a Spiritan missionary was to West Africa where he would serve until the late 1990s.
This included over a decade in Sierra Leone and Liberia as well as a period of time where he put his fundraising skills to great use in US-based mission appeals on behalf of his congregation.
An eight-year period in Kimmage Manor, Dublin, followed, before he was appointed to South Africa's Free State Province in 2007.
The Spiritan presence in South Africa comprises over two dozen priests, from South Africa and neighbouring countries as well as from North America and Europe. With a presence in the archdioceses of Durban and Johannesburg and two other dioceses, Spiritans are involved in prison ministry, refugee care and marriage and family life ministry.
A number, including Galway-born Fr Seán Mullin, serve as parish priests.
The Spiritan presence in Ireland includes a number of priests from countries such as Cameroon, Nigeria and Tanzania in 'reverse mission' roles including parish work and school/hospital chaplaincy.