File 52 - Biographical information on Fr Daniel Roche SJ

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Biographical information on Fr Daniel Roche SJ


  • 1930; 1961 (Creation)

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2 items

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(22 October 1882-13 November 1961)

Biographical history

Born: 22 October 1882, Castleisland, County Kerry
Entered: 07 September 1899, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1915, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final vows: 02 February 1921
Died: 13 November 1961, St John’s Hospital, Limerick

Part of the Crescent College, Limerick community at the time of death

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

First World War chaplain

by 1906 at Stonyhurst England (ANG) studying
by 1912 at Leuven Belgium (BELG) studying
by 1917 Military Chaplain : 96th (CP) Field Ambulance, BEF France
by 1918 Military Chaplain : 18 KLR, BEF France

◆ Jesuits in Ireland :

A sparrow to fall
Damien Burke
A BBC Northern Ireland documentary, Voices 16 – Somme (BBC 1 NI on Wednesday 29th June,
9pm) explores the events of 1916 through the testimony of the people who witnessed it and their families. Documentary makers and relatives of Jesuit chaplain Willie Doyle were shown his letters, postcards and personal possessions kept here at the Irish Jesuit Archives. In the 1920s, Alfred O’Rahilly used some of these letters in his biography of Fr Willie Doyle SJ. Afterwards they were given to Willie’s brother, Charles, and were stored for safekeeping in the basement of St Francis Xavier’s church, Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin in 1949. In 2011, they were accessioned into the archives.
Fr Willie Doyle SJ was one of ten Irish Jesuits who served as chaplains at the battle of the Somme (1 July- 18 November 1916): seven with the British forces; three with the Australian. Their letters, diaries and photographs witness their presence to the horror of war.

Fr Daniel Roche SJ, 97th (C. P.) Field Ambulance (06 July 1916):
I have been in a dug out up at the front line for the last fortnight, during the bombardment and four days of the battle... I have seen some sights for the last few days which I shall not readily forget. It has been a very very hard time which I would not have missed...I am in splendid form, or will be when I have had some sleep. Unfortunately I have been unable to say Mass during that time.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 37th Year No 1 1962
The Sacred Heart Church and College
Father Daniel Roche
On November 13th Fr. Dan Roche had a very happy and most peaceful death quite in keeping with that deep serenity that marked his life. He had a slight heart attack a week previously and since then had been in St. John's hospital, One could see from the reaction to the sad news the extent of the community's esteem and affection for the late Fr. Roche, which affection was so obvious also last spring when he had to go to hospital following an attack of 'flu. In the days which followed his death we fully realised the great blessing that an aged religious like Fr. Roche can bring on a community where he was often spotlighted and made the centre of recreation, recounting for us the stories of the past. Fr. Roche often spoke of the deeds of his long-deceased contemporaries and when he mentioned Fr. John Sullivan (a fellow-novice) he seemed to relive those noviceship days. Indeed it was more than a coincidence that Father Dan went to his Maker on the feast of St. Stanislaus. Fr. Roche is buried in the Mungret cemetery beside Fr. Barragry, Fr. O'Connell and Fr. McWilliams - those stalwarts of the Crescent church, who as confessors and preachers, quite subconsciously won the hearts of Limerick. Indeed only recently a nun from the St. Joseph of Cluny Sisters asked for a mortuary card of Fr. McWilliams, and on receiving it, wrote thus to Fr. Rector: “A thousand thanks indeed for the mortuary card. I cannot tell you how much my mother will appreciate it as Fr. McWilliams was her best friend in Limerick, In fact she prays to him and considers him a great saint as in his lifetime he did wonderful things for her. I can thank him also for the grace of my religious vocation”.

Obituary :
Fr Daniel Roche (1882-1961)
Fr. Dan Roche died in St. John's Hospital, Limerick, on Monday, November 13th, St. Stanislaus' Day, after a brief illness lasting a little over a week.
An examination of the Catalogue in an effort to trace Fr. Roche's career in the Province reveals something which is somewhat out of the ordinary. The chronological list is as follows :
1899 (Sept. 7th): Entered Noviceship at Tullabeg (one year ahead of Fr. John Sullivan.
1901 Junior in Tullabeg.
1902 Teaching Latin and Greek in Galway.
1903 Prefect of Discipline in Clongowes.
1905 Philosopher at Stonyhurst.
1906 Study Prefect at Clongowes (for five years).
1911 Finished Philosophy at Louvain.
1912 Theologian at Milltown
1915 Ordained priest at Milltown.
1916 Chaplain in British Army in World War One. Won Military Cross
1919 Tertian Father at Tullabeg.
1920 Teacher and Games Master at the Crescent.
1923 Teacher at Clongowes.
1924-1933 Member of the Mission Staff.
1933-1961 Operarius at the Crescent.

It is not an easy task to give even a fairly adequate account of Fr. Dan Roche, as he was a very reserved and reticent man, for the most part, and one could live for a long time with him and yet know little about him.
Rarely indeed did he reveal anything of his real self and then, not so much by what he said as by what he did. One has to depend, therefore, upon the few who knew him somewhat more intimately to get some insight into the true character of the man. One who was a fellow-novice writes of him :
“Fr. Dan was a great character. I met him first on September 7th, 1899, at Portarlington on our way to Tullabeg, and we became life long friends. He was a solidly good religious, always ready to give sound reasons for the faith that was in him. He was a good conversationalist, well read, and proficient in all kinds of games and sports and, naturally, he became a kind of a hero to the novices and juniors at Tullabeg. But that never went to his head and he had no use for pretence or ostentation, and hence he could not suffer fools gladly, He was, I always thought, a strong character, or a "he-man" as he used to say when speaking of a third party. He evidently made a good impression in the army, for during many years after the war, he used to get letters from officers and men with whom he had come in contact”.
Few of Fr. Roche's friends heard much about his experiences as an army chaplain in the first World War. He was extremely reticent on the subject. Shortly after his ordination to the priesthood, he volunteered for service with the British Forces and was posted to a Field Ambulance in France. His real active service, however, was with a front-line battalion in the trenches of Flanders, and it was only a fitting tribute to his determination and courage that he was decorated with the coveted Military Cross for distinguished service on the battle-field.
After his tertianship in Tullabeg and four years of teaching at the Crescent and Clongowes, Fr. Roche was appointed to the mission staff where again he had an outlet for the zeal and self-sacrifice so conspicuous in his army career. From time to time, when he was in a more talkative mood, he would recall incidents and relate stories - always extremely well told - of his missionary experiences up and down the country.
In 1933 he returned to the Crescent and for nine years directed the Apostleship of Prayer Association and the Holy Hour. During this time and his remaining years in Limerick-twenty-eight years in all--he endeared himself to the patrons of the Sacred Heart Church. He was particularly noted for his zeal in the confessional and for the practical common sense which he displayed in his approach to the various problems which he solved for his penitents. Quietly and unobtrusively he comforted the sick and the afflicted and those who really got to know him found in him a true and sincere friend.
In community life he was pleasant and good-humoured and for one who was remarkable for a retiring and studious disposition—he was an omnivorous reader he took a kindly and sympathetic interest in the many and varied interests of a busy College.
If ever a Jesuit died in action it was Fr. Roche, He was busily engaged in the church up to the end. He heard Confessions for several hours on the three days prior to the fatal heart attack. In fact, he was in his confessional until 9 p.m. on the previous night. He died as he would have wished-ever ready for the call, giving himself generously to the service of the Lord. For Fr. Roche there was one motto : Give and do not count the cost.

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Biographical information on Fr Daniel Roche SJ from the Catalogus personarum primus and newspaper obituary.

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The Irish Jesuit Archives are open only to bona fide researchers. Access by advance appointment. Further details: [email protected]

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No material may be reproduced without the written permission of the Archivist. Copyright restrictions apply. Photocopying is not available. Digital photography is at the discretion of the Archivist.

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1998; 2020




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