Priest’s outlook a powerful call to have hope and acceptance

by Gary Ibbotson
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In July 2018, just months after being diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease, Fr Tony Coote organised and took part in Walk While You Can.

The fundraising walk journeyed from Letterkenny, Co Donegal to Ballydehob, Co Cork to raise money for the research into, and awareness of, the disease.

The 550km walk gained national attention with Tony finishing the walk in his wheelchair.

Now, after raising more than €500,000 for the cause and spreading his message of hope and acceptance, Fr Coote has written and released a book, Live While You Can: A Memoir of Faith, Hope and the Power of Acceptance.

For those unfamiliar with the brave priest, Fr Coote is Parish Priest in Mount Merrion and Kilmacud in Dublin and has lived in the area since 2008.

In December 2018, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from UCD (pictured) for outstanding service to the community for his role in the now student-led mental health movement, Please Talk.

Live While You Can is a journey through Fr Coote’s early life, his years as a young priest, his time at UCD, the time surrounding his diagnosis and right up until the current day.

Only 184 pages long including the afterword, the book is peppered with anecdotes of Fr Coote’s life and lessons he has learned along the way.

He opens his memoirs with the story of his diagnosis.

He is honest about the sense of nostalgia he has for his past and admits he often hates the disease that has taken over his body.

However, he never dwells and continuously focuses on the parts that has made his life wholesome and worth living.

Fr Coote often encourages his readers to have hope and faith during dark moments of their life.

He uses his own experience as an example of trying to make every day count while you still can – without preaching or without judging.

Live While You Can is published by Hachette Ireland and is available now from €16.

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