The priest who RTÉ defamed by accusing him of raping a woman and fathering her child has told his parishioners that the broadcaster's apology freed him from lies, false allegations and baseless accusations.

Fr Kevin Reynolds was speaking at a mass to mark his reinstatement as Parish Priest of Ahascragh, Co Galway, at which he received a number of standing ovations.

Fr Reynolds is a Mill Hill Missionary and the false allegations against him that were broadcast last May on the Prime Time Investigates programme related to his time as a missionary in Kenya.

Last week, RTÉ fully and unreservedly apologised to him for the defamation saying he was entirely innocent of the allegations.

The priest stood aside as parish priest of Ahascragh, pending investigations, and left his home there.

At this morning's mass, the chief celebrant, Bishop Christopher Jones of Elphin, said that all 600 people present were truly delighted to welcome Fr Reynolds back home and that he had responded to the attack on his integrity with great courage, strength and resilience during the most dreadful experience in his life.

The Superior General of the Mill Hill Missionaries, Fr Anthony Chantry, said his reinstatement was the beginning of a long journey of healing and reconciliation.

Fr Reynolds said no earthly treasure could possibly buy or replace the great feeling it was to be with his parishioners again and that he knew now that bearing false witness against one's neighbour does so much damage that it may never be repaired.