A priest working at Knock shrine who performed the last rites for US President Joe Biden's late son Beau in 2015 while working as a US Army chaplain, has described the chance meeting with the US President this afternoon as a "real reunion".
Mr Biden broke down in tears at Knock Shrine in Co Mayo, after a chance meeting with Fr Frank O'Grady who performed the last rites sacrament on his son Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015.
Fr O'Grady, who is now the chaplain at Knock shrine, spent 12 of his 30 years' service with the US military at Walter Reed Military Hospital in Washington DC and was assigned to the Medical Intensive Care Unit where Beau Biden was for six weeks until he died.
Describing how today’s chance meeting came to be, he said Knock parish priest Fr Richard Gibbons – who did not know the connection between the two until the president spoke of his son’s death after arriving – made a call for a staff member to seek him out.
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Speaking this evening, Fr O’Grady said that he spent a "delightful ten minutes with the president" - who he said he had not seen since his son died – adding that the president invited him to the Oval Office following their chat.
Fr O'Grady said that with Mr Biden's sister, Valerie, and other son, Hunter, present, they had a "real reunion".
"I was very surprised when I got a phone call to say the president wanted to see me. It was a delightful ten minutes with him. I hadn’t seen him really in eight years since Beau died," he said.
"His son Hunter was there too, so we had a real reunion," he added.
He continued: "He certainly misses his son. He has been grieving a lot, but I think the grief is kind of going down a bit. We talked a little bit about how grief can take several years".
Mr Biden told Fr O’Grady that his faith had "sustained him", adding that he was "thrilled to be in Knock, in Ireland, and overwhelmed at the country’s beauty", as well as people’s kindness.
"He certainly was very impressed with Knock. As a man of great faith. It really hit home very hard to him about his son's passing when he comes to Knock, because we talk about mysteries of life and death in a place like Knock, all the time here."
"He is a man of great faith, and it is just a coincidence that I happened to meet him."