Battery Path

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Doody, Timothy F, 1913-1989, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/653
  • Person
  • 26 December 1913-02 March 1989

Born: 26 December 1913, Dundalk, County Louth
Entered: 07 September 1931, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 19 May 1945, Zi-Ka-Wei, Shanghai, China
Final Vows: 02 February 1948, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong
Died: 02 March 1989, Queen Mary Hospital, Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong - Macau-Hong Kong Province (MAC-HK)

Part of the Wah Yan College, Hong Kong community at the time of death

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966

by 1940 in Hong Kong - Regency
by 1943 at Bellarmine, Zi-ka-Wei, near Shanghai, China (FRA) studying

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Death of Father Doody, S.J.
R.I.P.

Father Timothy Francis Doody, SJ, of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, died in Queen Mary Hospital on Thursday, 2 March 1989, after a short final illness, aged 75.

Father Doody was born on 26 December 1913, in Dundalk, Ireland. He received his schooling from the Irish Christian Brothers in Synge Street, Dublin, and joined the Jesuits in 1931. In the noviceship he had as a contemporary Father M. Corbally, who was to die, also as member of the Wah Yan community, on 25 January this year. Father Doody and Corbally lived in the same houses through most of their 57 years as Jesuits, and only five weeks separated their deaths.

Father Doody (then Mr. Doody), having passed through eight years of placidly laborious Jesuit formation, came to Hong Kong in 1939. After two years of malaria-troubled language study, he joined the staff of Wah Yan College in the autumn of 1941. In December of that year, war came to Hong Kong. Placidity was at an end, and amid the labours and perils of the siege, the young Mr. Doody manifested the gifts that were to characterise his apostolate to the end of his life.

He was appointed a Billeting Officer. Soon, as the late Father T.F. Ryan put it in his Jesuits under Fire, “Mr. Doody was proving to be a “religious dowser” of exceptional ability; he had a faculty for discovering Catholics in the most unlikely places and he rarely returned from one of the billeting trips without having a new address for a priest to visit.”

Another passage in this book also describes Mr. Doody busy amid shelling and bombing. During a lull in his billeting work he found a new apostolate. Two priests were sheltered in the M.E.P. Procure on Battery Path. Mr. Doody took up his position outside the Procure and boldly enquired of all who passed if they were Catholics, and, if they were, did they wish to go to confession. The results were almost startling. The most unexpected persons turned out to be Catholics, from bright young things to old China hands, and after the first start of surprise at the question in the open street in staid, pleasure-loving Hong Kong, they generally took the turn indicated by Mr. Doody and found Father Grogan of Father Fitzgerald of Father O’Brien ready to meet them inside.

These far-off memories show the young Mr. Doody as already possessed of a “nose” for apostolic and pastoral opportunities and of complete lack of shyness or diffidence in pastoral and apostolic work. These gifts, along with a deep personal interest in the people he was working for, were to characterise his priestly work to the end of his life.

He went to Shanghai in 1942 for his theological studies and was ordained priest there in 1945. After a year in Ireland for the completion of his Jesuit formation, he returned to Hong Kong in 1947. From then till 1964 he was almost continuously on the staff of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, but he became ever more deeply involved in direct apostolate of individuals, and this remained his all-absorbing interest until the end of his life.

In the late 1950s he was assigned for a time to Singapore to help in building St. Ignatius’ Church there. In what may be described as typically Doodyish fashion, he integrated donation-giving into the devotional life of the parish. This strengthened parish life; moreover it was so effective materially that the church was paid for before construction ceased - perhaps a unique achievement.

From 1964 onward he devoted himself to his individual apostolate in his individual way. He instructed his converts with great care and maintained close personal contact with them ever afterwards, taking a deep interest in their activities, their happiness, their families and all that concerned them. He took no part in organized activities, yet few priests had more numerous or more devoted friends.

In recent years he suffered several light strokes and a light heart attack, and took them all lightly. On Tuesday, 28 February, he collapsed when celebrating Mass. He was conscious, though unable to speak, when receiving the Sacrament of the Sick. He then lapsed into a coma, and died on 2 March without recovering consciousness. He will be much missed by many.

Cardinal John B. Wu led the concelebration of the Mass of the Resurrection in St. Margaret’s Church, Happy Valley, on Monday, 6 March. Archbishop D. Tang, SJ, officiated at the graveside in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Happy Valley
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 10 March 1989

Note from John B Wood Entry
Father Wood began his theological studies in 1942 in Zikawei, Shanghai. He was ordained on 19 May 1945 with Fathers Timothy Doody, Matthew Corbally and Joseph McAsey, all of when spent most of their working lives in Hong Kong.

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
His early education was at Mercy Convent Dundalk, and then at CBS Synge Street before he Entered the Society at Emo.
After First Vows he was sent to Rathfarnham Castle studying at UCD and graduating with a BA in Latin, History and Irish.
1936-1939 he was sent to St Stanislaus College Tullabeg for Philosophy
1939-1941 He was sent for Regency to Hong Kong.
1941-1946 Due to WWII he was sent to Zikawai, Shanghai for Theoloigy with Mattie Corbally, Joe McAsey and John Wood until 1946, and in 1945 they were Ordained by Bishop Cote SJ, a Canadian born Bishop of Suchow.
1946-1947 He returned to Ireland to make Tertianship at Rathfarnham Castle.
1948 He returned to Hong Kong, making Final Vows at Wah Yan College Hong Kong
1948-1958 He was a teacher at Wah Yan College Hong Kong
1958-1960 He was sent to Singapore to help collect funds for a Jesuit Church there and was highly successful.
1960 He was then back in Hong Kong raising funds for what became the Adam Schall Hostel at United College, of The Chinese University of Hong Kong
1964 He began running classes for adult catechumens and he became the first and only Director of the “Catholic Information Service SJ”. is classes saw a continual flow of people coming for instruction in the Catholic faith.
He also regularly gave Retreats up to 1973, and the fruit of this experience resulted in a sizeable book on the Spiritual Exercises called “Iñigo” which he had published privately.

Note from Mattie Corbally Entry
Because of the war he was sent to Shanghai for Theology along with Tim Doody, Joe McAsey and John Wood.

Finneran, Patrick J, 1915-1989, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/659
  • Person
  • 23 January 1915-01 October 1989

Born: 23 January 1915, Boyle, County Roscommon
Entered: 07 September 1934, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained :28 July 1948, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1951, Holy Spirit Seminary, Aberdeen, Hong Kong
Died: 01 October 1989, Wah Yan College, Kowloon, Hong Kong - Macau-Hong Kong Province (MAC-HK)

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Death of Father Patrick Finneran SJ
R.I.P.

Father Patrick Finneran of Wah Yah College, Kowloon, died on 1 October 1989.

Father Finneran, who was still working last week, collapsed suddenly on the evening of Sunday, 1 October. He retained consciousness long enough to receive the Last Sacraments, but died very soon after that, aged 74.

Father Finneran was born in Roscommon, Ireland, on 23 January 1915. He was educated in Mungret College, Co. Limerick, where he showed himself an outstanding games player. He joined the Jesuits in 1934, was ordained priest in 1948 and came to Hong Kong in 1950.

The rest of his life was devoted mainly to his work as teacher and sports master in Wah Yan College, Kowloon. He took a deep interest in this work and in the students he was working for. He was happy to spend long hours training students in sports and showing by example how things should be done. For many years, under his direction, the tennis teams of Wah Yan, Kowloon, played a major part in schools tennis in Hong Kong, to his great satisfaction.

He had a special gift of a virtue much praised by the Apostles, hospitality. Visitors to Wah Yan, Kowloon, were made to feel that he was glad that they had come and that he hoped that they would stay.

His cheerful disposition won him many permanent friends both among Wah Yan students and among the people he met in the course of pastoral work. He will be missed by many.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 1 October 1989

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
His early education was at Mungret College SJ in Limerick. With the encouragement of Michael Murphy he then entered the Novitiate at St Mary’s, Emo under the newly appointed Novice Master John Neary. Michael Murphy followed him to Emo as Spiritual Father, and then onward to Rathfarnham as his Prefect of Studies in the Juniorate. Paddy was then sent to Tullabeg to study Philosophy. He was then sent for Regency to Crescent College Limerick and Belvedere College SJ, Dublin, where he also studied for a H Dip in Education at University College Dublin. Ted Collins was with him in Limerick, and among his students were Ciarán Kane and Frank Doyle in Belvedere.
1945-1949 He was at Milltown Park Dublin studying Theology, and then on to Tertianship at Rathfarnham under George Byrne.

He came to Hong Kong as a young priest with Peter Dunne and 5 Scholastics - Liam Egan, Paddy Cunningham, Matt Brosnan, Tom O’Neill and Tony Farren. He spent two years at the Battery Path Language School learning Cantonese.
1956-1958 He went to Way Yan College Hong Kong as Minister
1958 He went to Wah Yan Kowloon and remained there until his death.

He taught students English and Biblical Knowledge, and every year he baptised some of his students - over 100 in total. He also published some books on the teaching of English. However it is as a Games Master that he will be particularly remembered. He was one of the driving forces behind Wah Yan’s sports. He loved and coached tennis and won many championships.

For many years he also gave monthly talks to the Maryknoll Sisters and was active in other spiritual ministries. he gave Retreats in many Catholic schools in Hong Kong and was also involved in religious activities in Singapore and Malaysia

FitzGerald, Thomas, 1905-1967, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/149
  • Person
  • 08 February 1905-12 July 1967

Born: 08 February 1905, Glin, County Limerick
Entered: 20 September 1922, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1936, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1939, Loyola, Tai Lam Chung, Hong Kong
Died: 12 July 1967, St Francis Xavier, Kingsmead Hall, Singapore - Hong Kongensis Province (HK)

Transcribed : HIB to HK 03/12/1966

by 1938 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) making Tertianship

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Father Thomas FitzGerald, S.J., who worked in Hong Kong from 1938 to 1955 and in Malaysia or Singapore for the past twelve years, died in Singapore on Wednesday, 12 July 1967, aged 62.

Father FitzGerald was born in Ireland on 8 February 1905. He entered the Jesuit novitiate there in 1922 and was ordained priest in 1936.

He came to Hong Kong in 1938. After two years spent studying Cantonese, he went to the Regional Seminary, Aberdeen, where he taught philosophy and later theology. Towards the end of the war he went to Macao to teach in the College of St. Luis Gonzaga. After the war he taught English Literature in Wah Yan College, Hong Kong till 1955. For many years he combined this teaching with a vigorous chaplaincy to the R.A.F.

In 1955 he went to Singapore to lecture in the Teachers’ Training College. In 1958 he moved to Penang as chaplain to a very large complex of educational works run by the Sisters there. In 1964, with seriously impaired health of which he took singularly little notice, he returned to Singapore, still ready for hard work. In the last year of his life he took over the editorship of the Malaysian Catholic News and the wardenship of Kingsmead Hall.

The extraordinary variety of posts filled by Father FitzGerald - lectureship in philosophy and theology, secondary school teaching R.A.F. chaplaincy, convent chaplaincy, administration, editorship - and the success he achieved in them testify to his extraordinary power of concentration on the matter in hand, whatever it might be. In ordinary conversation this concentration amounted to and endearing eccentricity - he would concentrate fully on the subject under discussion if he was distracted from that subject; he was totally distracted and showed no memory of the original subject. In his work this was no eccentricity, but and astonishing power of focusing all his remarkable powers on whatever task lay before him.

Even the onset of very bad health could not rob him of this invaluable gift, He was a sick men, already in his sixties, when he started his highly successful editorship of the Malaysian Catholic News, but he greeted the work with all the enthusiasm with which he had greeted the first work that had fallen to him as a young priest.

A Solemn Requiem Mass for the repose of his soul was celebrated in the chapel of Wah Yan College Hong Kong, on Monday, 17 July, by Father F. Cronin, S.J., Regional Superior.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 21 July 1967

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013.
His early education was at Laurel Hill Convent in Limerick and then he spent 8 years at Crescent College, before he Entered the Society in 1922.

He got a 1st Class Degree from University College Dublin and then a H Dip in Education.. He then studied Philosophy at Milltown Park.
He was sent for three years Regency, 2 at Mungret College SJ in Limerick and 1 at Belvedere College SJ Dublin. He then returned to Milltown Park for Theology and was Ordained there in 1936, followed immediately by Tertianship at St Beuno’s, Wales.

1938-1940 Immediately after Tertianship he came to Hong Kong and spent the first two years at Tai Lam Chung Language School
1940-1943 He was sent to teach Philosophy at the Regional Seminary in Aberdeen.
After WWII he taught briefly at St Luis Gonzaga College in Macau
1946-1955 He was sent to Wah Yan College Hong Kong
1955-1958 He was sent to Singapore as a Lecturer at the Teachers Training College
1958 He was sent to Penang as Chaplain to the HIJ sisters.
1964-1966 He was engaged in Retreat work in Singapore and Malaysia. His final post there was as Editor of the Malaysian Catholic News and as Warden at Kingsmead GHall.

He had a flair for languages - he knew Cantonese, Latin, Greek, Irish, French and Spanish.

Note from Timothy Doody Entry
Another passage in this book also describes Mr. Doody busy amid shelling and bombing. During a lull in his billeting work he found a new apostolate. Two priests were sheltered in the M.E.P. Procure on Battery Path. Mr. Doody took up his position outside the Procure and boldly enquired of all who passed if they were Catholics, and, if they were, did they wish to go to confession. The results were almost startling. The most unexpected persons turned out to be Catholics, from bright young things to old China hands, and after the first start of surprise at the question in the open street in staid, pleasure-loving Hong Kong, they generally took the turn indicated by Mr. Doody and found Father Grogan of Father Fitzgerald of Father O’Brien ready to meet them inside.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 21st Year No 1 1946

Arrivals :
Our three re-patriated missioners from Hong Kong: Frs. T. Fitzgerald, Gallagher and G. Kennedy, arrived in Dublin in November and are rapidly regaining weight and old form. Fr. Gallagher has been assigned to the mission staff and will be residing at St. Mary's, Emo.

Irish Province News 21st Year No 4 1946

Leeson St :
We were very glad to have several members of the Hong Kong inission with us for some time: Frs. P. Joy, T. Fitzgerald, and H. O'Brien, while Fr. George Byrne has joined us as one of the community.

Irish Province News 22nd Year No 1 1947

Departures for Mission Fields in 1946 :
4th January : Frs. P. J. O'Brien and Walsh, to North Rhodesia
25th January: Frs. C. Egan, Foley, Garland, Howatson, Morahan, Sheridan, Turner, to Hong Kong
25th July: Fr. Dermot Donnelly, to Calcutta Mission
5th August: Frs, J. Collins, T. FitzGerald, Gallagher, D. Lawler, Moran, J. O'Mara, Pelly, Toner, to Hong Kong Mid-August (from Cairo, where he was demobilised from the Army): Fr. Cronin, to Hong Kong
6th November: Frs. Harris, Jer. McCarthy, H. O'Brien, to Hong Kong

Irish Province News 42nd Year No 4 1967

Obituary :

Fr Thomas Fitzgerald SJ (1905-1967)

When Fr. Thomas FitzGerald died in Singapore on 12th July 1967, the Hong Kong Viceprovince lost one of its most attractive characters. At his funeral Mass in St. Ignatius Church the presence of an archbishop, a bishop and a large crowd of priests, religious and layfolk gave eloquent testimony to the respect and affection with which he had been regarded. One of the priests, in fact, had travelled 500 miles to attend his funeral.
Fr. FitzGerald had spent the last twenty-nine years in the Far East. After the usual course of studies he went out to Hong Kong as a priest in 1938. His two years in the language school at Taai Lam Chung gave him a knowledge of Cantonese which made him one of our best Chinese scholars. Afterwards, he was to be for several years a member of a government examining board to test the proficiency in Chinese of European police-officers. Throughout his life Fr. FitzGerald was an excellent linguist and had a real interest in languages. Although he never lived in France he became a fluent French speaker - which was later to prove a useful asset in dealing with the French clergy in Malaya - and he learned Spanish just because he liked the language.
From 1940 to 1946 Fr. FitzGerald was on the staff of the Regional Seminary in Hong Kong. Here, at various times, he professed ethics, theology and dogma. These were difficult years, covering as they did three and a half years of the war in the Far East. The main difficulty was the shortage of food. Fr. FitzGerald used afterwards recall how, when he was sent down to Macao towards the end of the war, his brethren there failed to recognise him in his emaciated state.
Immediately after the war he came back to Ireland for a rest. Here he puzzled the doctors with a peculiar fever which turned out to be a recurrence of malaria, already contracted in the Far East. Many years later he used to take pride in the fact that a slide of his blood was still being used in U.C.D. to teach the medical students what malaria looked like!
In 1946 Fr. FitzGerald went to Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, where he spent the next nine years. In addition to his classwork he took a lively interest in the school dramatics and revealed unsuspected talent as a make-up artist. He also, during these years, took on the extra-curricular post of officiating chaplain to the R.A.F. in Hong Kong.
Fr. FitzGerald was sent, in 1955, to the newly-established house in Singapore, to take up an appointment as Lecturer in English at the Teachers Training College. Three years later he suffered the first of a series of heart-attacks. After a spell in hospital he was sent back to Ireland to recuperate. Having spent six months there he was returning to Singapore by ship when he got another attack and had to be taken ashore and hospitalised in Bombay. He finally reached Singapore in January 1959. On the night of his arrival his condition caused concern and the doctor was summoned at 11 p.m. The following evening Fr. Tommy was calmly strolling round a trade exhibition on the other side of Singapore! This was typical of the man and of his attitude to life. For the last nine years of his life Fr. FitzGerald was told by every doctor who examined hiin that he had a heart so badly damaged that it could stop at any moment. His only reply was : “Well, the only thing to do with a heart like mine is forget about it”, and he acted accordingly. Time after time he suffered minor setbacks, but as soon as he felt a little better and he seemed to recover with incredible speed he wanted to be up and about at once.
After a couple of months in Singapore Fr. FitzGerald was sent to Penang where he spent the next four and a half years, living with a French parish priest and acting as chaplain to a large convent school and spiritual director to several religious institutions in the diocese. Although very fruitful in apostolic work these were rather lonely years for a community-man like Fr. Tommy.
He was happy, then, to be recalled to Singapore in 1963 to be Director of Retreats in Singapore and Malaya. During the next few years Fr. FitzGerald toured the peninsula giving retreats to priests, religious and lay-people. This was the sort of thing he liked - to be a member of a community without being tied down for too long to any one place. There was an element of wanderlust in Fr. Tommy.
Last year, at a time when his doctor was surprised that he was still alive, he opened a new chapter of his life by accepting two posts in which he had had no previous experience, Warden of Kingsmead Hall and Editor of the Malaysian Catholic News. It was these posts that he was filling with distinction when he suffered another massive heart-attack and died.
Among the many letters of condolence received from his friends after Fr. FitzGerald's death, there was one from Mr. Frank James - the father of our Fr. Brendan. In it he writes :
“There was so much that was loveable about Fr. Fitz. He had a genius for putting you at your ease and for making friends. My wife and I have known him for many years, and always he was so unruffled, so much at peace with himself and with the world around him”.
This comment aptly describes one of the most notable features of Fr. FitzGerald's character. He was a simple, uncomplicated man. He liked people and they liked him. Totally unselfconscious, he moved through life in an abstracted sort of way, with only an intermittent grasp, one felt, on reality. His phenomenal absent mindedness, his tendency to disrupt a conversation with an apparently utterly irrelevant remark, could at times be mildly exasperating. But exasperation soon gave way to amusement, especially at the look of oblivious innocence on Fr. Tommy's face. Sometimes, particularly in later years, when he realised from the sudden silence that he had stopped the conversation dead, he would try, with an apologetic smile, to trace the wavering line that connected in his mind the former topic with his abrupt intervention. This was always listened to with great interest. The connection was usually quite fantastic.
In view of his disjointed manner of conversation it is perhaps surprising that Fr. FitzGerald was such an excellent teacher. The fact is that when he put his mind to one subject he had a tremendous power of concentration. And he was extremely painstaking about his work. Often, when he was lecturing at the T.T.C. he would write out a whole lecture in full, and it would be a model of clear and interesting exposition. It is no wonder that his students remembered him with gratitude and affection many years after.
And so do we remember him. He was a man of peace, and his influence on any company of which he was a part was to quiet discords and reduce tensions. We may hope, with considerable confidence, that he has received the reward promised to the peace makers, that his childlike eyes now gaze at God.

Murphy, Geoffrey C, 1922-1985, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/264
  • Person
  • 30 September 1922-12 October 1985

Born: 30 September 1922, Bray, County Wicklow
Entered: 07 September 1940, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 29 July 1954, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 22 April 1977
Died: 12 October 1985, St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin - Sinensis Province (CHN)

Part of Loyola community, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia at time of his death.

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966

by 1949 at Hong Kong - Regency

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Death of Father Geoffrey Murphy, S.J.
R.I.P.
Father Geoffrey Murphy, the first Jesuit novice master in Malaysia, died of cancer of the liver in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, Ireland, on 13 October 1985, aged 63. He had gone to Ireland for further diagnosis, but he died within a month of his return.

Father Murphy was born in Ireland in 1922. He worked in Hong Kong as a scholastic form 1949 to 1951 and as a priest from 1956 to 1958 he asked for work in Malaysia and remained there till his last days.

For a long time the Jesuits had very few locally born members in Malaysia. However, when visa restrictions had reduced the expatriate Jesuits to a very small handful the number of local applications began to rise.

Father Murphy, after many years of pastoral and counselling work in Penang, became master of novices for the Jesuit region of Malaysia and Singapore, and moved to Petaling Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur, where the Jesuits have a thriving parish and a hostel for university students.

A steady stream of candidates passed through Father Murphy’s hands: there are now more Malaysian Jesuits in formation than ordained Jesuits - a decidedly unusual situation in these days of scarce vocations.

Father Murphy had given himself whole-heartedly to the work of formation. His last thoughts and his last words were all about the novices.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 8 November 1985

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :

Note from Tommy Byrne Entry
During his term as Provincial (1947-1963) he sent many Jesuits to Hong Kong, and then in 1951 he started the Irish Jesuit Mission to Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). He also saw the needs in Singapore and Malaysia and sent Jesuits to work there - like Kevin O'Dwyer, who built St Ignatius Church in Singapore; Patrick McGovern who built St Francis Xavier Church in Petaling Jaya, and also Liam Egan, Gerard (Geoffrey?) Murphy and Tom Fitzgerald.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 23rd Year No 3 1948
Frs. Casey G., Grogan and Sullivan leave England for Hong Kong on 2nd July on the ‘Canton’. On the following day Fr. Kevin O'Dwyer hopes to sail with Fr. Albert Cooney from San Francisco on the ‘General Gordon’ for the same destination.
The following will be going to Hong Kong in August : Frs. Joseph Mallin and Merritt, Messrs. James Kelly, McGaley, Michael McLoughlin and Geoffrey Murphy.

Irish Province News 61st Year No 1 1986

Obituary

Fr Geoffrey Murphy (1922-1940-1985) (Macau-Hong Kong)

The following appreciations have been borrowed from Macau-Hongkong Province Letter no. 276, with a few adaptations made.

An appreciation from Hong Kong:

Geoff was born on 30th September 1922 in Bray, Co. Wicklow, and educated in Belvedere College, He entered Emo Park as a novice in 1940, under Fr John Neary as novicemaster. There three years (1942-45) in Rathfarnham, followed where Geoff did an Honours degree in Ancient Classics from UCD; and philosophy in Tullabeg (1945-48).
In 1948, together with Hal McLoughlin, Jimmy Kelly and Frank McGaley, he was selected for the China mission. He spent one year (1948-'9) in Canton at our language school. We had classes at the YMCA in the centre of the city. Geoff made a good fist of the language. He also got on very well with the other students, who were of all kinds: protestant missionaries from Sweden, USA and England, businessmen from various countries, and the rest. Many Chinese students used to come to our house, some for games, some for English, some for instruction. Here again Geoff mixed very easily with them. In 1949, because of the communist army's approach to Canton (which was taken in October that year), the scholastics were ordered back to Hong Kong, The Second year of language study was held in Battery Path, then belonging to the MEP (Paris Foreign Missionaries, now the Victoria district court), Geoff then taught for a year (1950-51) in the Wah Yan afternoon school, being very successful and well-liked
Four years (1951-5) of theology in Milltown Park, Dublin followed. Geoff was ordained a priest on 29th July 1954. He spent his tertianship (1955-56) in Rathfarnham.
On his return to Hong Kong he was assigned to Cheung Chau, as minister, for another year of language study. In 1957 he moved to Wah Yan Kowloon and began teaching in Chu Hai post secondary college. This college had been in Canton before the communists took over: Fr Ned Sullivan († 1980) had taught in it there. Geoff also became editor of Tsing Nin Man Yau, a magazine in English and Chinese aimed at Chinese students and originally established some years before by Fr Terry Sheridan († 1970). In 1958 Geoff was posted to Kuala Lumpur, and for the rest of his life was based in Malaysia. There he faced a new challenge: to build St Francis Xavier's church and the university hostel in Petaling Jaya, near “KL”. He had the help of Fr Paddy McGovern († 1984), had arrived in Kuala Lumpur in 1957. The task was accomplished successfully, and the church and hostel opened in 1961. Geoff became parish and superior of the house (1961-65).
In 1965 he was transferred to Penang, where he was stationed until 1980, first at the Cathedral, then, from 1972, in the centre for university students which he founded at Minden Heights. Incidentally, from 1978 to 1982 he was listed as co-ordinator of the apostolate of Ours in Malaysia and Singapore, as well as being delegate for formation (from 1980) for the same area.
In 1980 he returned to Petaling Jaya as minister and bursar, as well as promoter of vocations in Malaysia. His responsibilities for formation and the promotion of vocations paved the way for his appointment in 1982 as novice master and superior of the new noviciate. (The opening of the Malaysian noviciate was described in a letter from Geoffrey himself, published in the Jesuit IPN, October 1982, pp. 264-'5.)
When Geoff was in Hong Kong in August last year on his way back to Ireland, he came to visit the Wah Yan community. We were shocked at his appearance: he had lost so much weight, so different from the Geoff we knew of old. Still, none of us thought that six weeks later Geoff would be dead.
Since 1958 I rarely met Geoff, but during the years we were together I found him an excellent religious and a very pleasant companion. I always found it easy to talk to him, and he was always even-tempered and good humoured. He was an excellent person to go to for advice, paternal in the good of the word. During all the years of formation, he was beadle in every house he lived in, and always did a fine job. As a priest, he was a superior for many years, had a very pastoral outlook and real concern for both his fellow-Jesuits and those for whom and with whom he worked. It is not surprising who that he was a great success as master of novices and as advisor for many years to the priests in Penang.
So the poem of Geoff's life has been priest finished and its last line written. ...

patience and his ability to listen endlessly to anyone in trouble, occasionally encouraging the flow of conversation with his special trade-mark, “Sure, sure. Sure, sure!”
Once a month Geoffrey and I used to meet in Taiping as we both had diocesan meetings to attend, and in the evening we always had dinner together and long conversations about the problems of the world and maybe especially the diocese. I am wondering now how much all of that was due to his qualities as a listener. Certainly Geoffrey's death has meant the loss not just of an excellent and priest but also of a very close friend. I at least used to complain sometimes that we could never be sure he would turn up on time for an appointment - he once kept me waiting for two hours. You could be sure his explanation would be that he had met someone who wanted to weep on his shoulder. He took it for granted that I, as a priest, would understand that in such a case there was no real need for apology. It always took the wind out of my sails. ...
Geoff's notable calm seemed to be ruffled only when he came across cases of injustice, illness, all cases in fact where the weak and defenceless were involved: his heart was then always engaged.
Not only the Jesuits miss him. In the days after his death I was flooded with telephone calls of sympathy from bishops, priests, sisters, brothers and laypeople. The bishops promised public Masses in their cathedrals (and I believe Bishop Selvanayagam is arranging for a requiem Mass for Geoff in Penang cathedral in November when all the priests of the diocese will be present). Sympathetic messages have been too numerous to quote, except perhaps this one:
“Jeff was such a good man, so full heart, especially to our orphans in Penang and elsewhere, and very understanding of the Sisters who came from their ranks. He was very intimately concerned with the sick - Sr Rosario Lee the doctor, and Sr M. Christine were among those who received special spiritual comfort from him; also Mother Monica before she died. He helped these three cancer cases when they really needed him, and I am sure that from heaven they obtained for him the comfort of not suffering too long from the same sickness as they had”.
In view of the above, it was no surprise that Geoffrey was appointed master of Jesuit novices, the first in the region. His interest always lay in the direction of souls, as many Brothers and
Sisters gratefully acknowledge. Perhaps he was not gifted with eloquence, but his he was not gifted with eloquence, but his spiritual direction was valued, and no one ever felt he had not been given sufficient opportunity to express himself properly.
I have heard that when he was first told of his cancer, his first wish was to return to the noviciate in Malaysia, which of course was forbidden by the doctors. Fr Joe Dargan tells us that it was when he was told that Fr Paul Tan knew of the situation and could cope, that he peacefully awaited his death.
A final word from an elderly Sister:
“He was a holy man: he will look after your problems now he is in heaven, and will also draw novices to you”.

News of the death of Fr Geoff Murphy at St Vincent's hospital, Dublin, on the night of 12th October came as a great shock to his colleagues in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. News of the seriousness of his illness had already been a surprise: before leaving Malaysia for Ireland ... he had been seen by a doctor who'd told him he definitely did not have cancer, and his loss of weight at that time was of attributed to the diet he'd been put on. . It was only at the beginning of October that the final diagnosis of liver cancer was made and Fr Geoff told about it by the doctor who thought he might survive two to three months at that stage. But Geoff was already deteriorating quickly, in no pain but very weak. He was peaceful and calm, worried at first about what might happen his novices in Kuala Lumpur, and very edifying to those who visited him. The Irish Provincial, Fr Joe Dargan, was at his bedside when he died. Geoffrey had just passed his 63rd birthday.
Some 30 Jesuits attended the removal of Fr Geoff's remains from the hospital to St Francis Xavier's church, Gardiner street, ... and 54 concelebrated the requiem the following morning (15th October). Fr Paul Andrews (whose sister is married to a brother of Geoff) was the principal celebrant and gave the homily, in the course of which he said:
“In his last days he talked above all of his novices. Since he started the noviceship he had already seen 8 Malaysians through to their first vows as Jesuits, and our special sympathies go out to the three novices whom he left in September, planning to return to them in late November.
St Ignatius urged us to die well. We can only guess what was in Geoffrey's mind when he started for home last month in a sick state. Did he hanker for the proverbial blessing of bás in Éirinn? - to die on his own soil, close to his own large family of sisters and brothers and cousins and relations? He always managed things well, did complicated jobs unobtrusively and efficiently; and it took some planning and effort to route his journey so that he could greet his two brothers and their families in Canada, and his sister Mary with her family in England. When he landed in Dublin, clearly exhausted and ill, he said happily: “I made it”. He had come half-way around the world to say his good byes. That done, he did not hang on to life but died quickly, his eyes still on the future and the wider world”

O'Neill, Thomas Aidan, 1924-2009, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/724
  • Person
  • 30 January 1924-30 July 2009

Born: 30 January 1924, Dungarvan, County Waterford
Entered: 06 September 1941, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 28 July 1955, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1958, Loyola, Tai Lam Chung, Hong Kong
Died: 30 July 2009, Kingsmead Hall, Singapore - Indonesia Province -Malaysia (MAS)

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966; HK to IDO (MAS) : 1991

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1950 at Hong Kong - Regency
by 1958 at Cheung Chau, Hong Kong - Regency studying language

◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/fr-tom-oneill-sj/

Fr Tom O’Neill SJ
Fr Tom O’Neill (centre in photo), who died on 30 July, had spent all his priestly life in the Far East, including ten years in Hong Kong and Manila, and the last forty in Singapore. He was a fine musician, and had specialised in matters liturgical, both in editing and teaching (at the Pastoral Institute, Manila), and then in the pastoral work of the Jesuit parish in Singapore. A correspondent in Hong Kong gathered the reactions to his death of men whom Tom had taught in the 1960s in Wah Yan. They remembered him vividly, and as one of them put it: “That seems to be the way with some Jesuit fathers. They do not realise the full impact of their influence on us.”

We will remember him as our church choir master when we were in P. 6, when my voice changed from soprano to alto. I can still sing many of the hymns, and several voice parts of the Ave Verum, Languen tibus, O Lord I am not worthy, When all moral flesh keeps silence, and of course, Christmas carols and Easter songs. We had special practices for Christmas eves, Holy Saturdays and Easter Sundays, where I had the adrenalin flows, and special treats of tea, cake and sandwich. But my best treat was when the Vienna Choir came to town in 1962 or 1963. They were looking for a special hall for rehearsal, and they picked the hall of Wah Yan Kowloon. As church choir members, Fr. O’Neill invited us to listen to the rehearsal. To this day, I still seem to hear German soprano Elizabeth Schwarzkopf crescendo to the high notes of Voices of Spring that still echo in the auditorium whenever I walked into the hall in my recent visits. Fr. O’Neill became my F2D form-master (1957-1958) during the latter part of the academic year. He was then very young and very energetic. (See attached photos.) He was extremely well-liked by all of our classmates. I remember we invited him on our class picnics and he always went with us. And he was a very fast walker, a lot faster than I. After Form 5, I lost touch with Fr. O’Neill. It was some time after 2002 when I was lucky to get hold of his phone number and home address in Singapore. I phoned him one day and talked to him for almost half an hour. He was very kind-hearted and was concerned about my health and constant muscle pain. He was a great encouragement to me. During the last few years, I always sent him Christmas greeting cards on behalf of the 61 grads. He always sent Christmas cards in return to all of us.I remember Fr O’Neill as a kind and gentle man, universally well-liked and respected. I will always be sensitive of my debt to him and to all my other teachers at WYK, and I hope that they will in some way sense that their efforts and dedication were not entirely in vain. I had great fond memories of Father O’Neill who was my F4B Class-master. He went out to picnic with us a few times. He appreciated my class-work efforts. He was always so gentle, dedicated teacher and priest, handsome, educated, patient, and a great tenor. I wished to have known him better. I’m sure God is with him always. I am sure all of us will miss Fr. O’Neill. Despite his short tenure at WYK, he was especially dear to our class of 1962, having served as the form master of Form 4A (1960-1961). I had planned on a reunion in Singapore so we could see both Fr. Tseng and Fr. O’Neill again. Now that’s not going to happen. Fr. O’Neill was my form-master at 2D. His manner was exceptionally gentle and calm. There was such a peaceful feeling whenever he was around. He was such a inspiring gentleman! I can remember him so well as it was only yesterday! I am sure he has lived a contented and happy life!

Ah, yes. Fr O’Neill was my form master in F. 2D. I believe at that time he just arrived at WYK. I always remember him more than a classroom teacher. He was a musician who played well on the piano. Besides, his mannerism stands out vividly on my mind. He had an air of dignity around him which inspired me a lot. I was struck by his extraordinarily handsome appearance which was matched only by his gentleness. I thought some George Montgomery had decided to join the priesthood. Fr O’Neill was one of the kindest men that I had ever known, although he was frank enough to turn me away from the junior choir on the first practice session, as he told me straight in the face that I could not sing; and he was correct, for I have been told the same thing umpteen times by persons who know me well. My friend Dolly told us that once she offered to buy Fr O’Neill a pair of shoes because she could tell that they were no longer in good condition. He said, “No need. Father Woods is dying and when he dies, I’ll have his shoes.” He was a happy man. One good thing is that he worked until the last moment and went to join the chorus of heaven quietly and comfortably. God must have rewarded him with a peaceful delivery to the other world. You know, the word ‘delivery’ always puts me into deep thought. When we came to this world, we were ‘delivered’ by a doctor or a midwife. When we leave, in what way will God ‘deliver’ us? Has it got anything to do with what we have done? In Fr O’Neill’s case, it was Thursday and he was seen all right in the morning. He was supposed to appear in the place of gathering to rehearse a church wedding to be held on Saturday. He was not there. Nobody suspected anything as they thought he must be tired and resting in his room (silly of them because Fr O’Neill never missed any rehearsal). Dinner came and he was still missing, so they went to his room in the priests’ quarters. There they found him leaving us to join the kingdom of God.

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
He was in Hong Kong 1957-1968 and promoted local Liturgy there.
He lived at the Regional Seminary in Aberdeen and then went to Manila for liturgy studies.
He then went to Singapore for almost 40 years.

Note from Paddy Finneran Entry
He came to Hong Kong as a young priest with Peter Dunne and 5 Scholastics - Liam Egan, Paddy Cunningham, Matt Brosnan, Tom O’Neill and Tony Farren. He spent two years at the Battery Path Language School learning Cantonese.