Casey, John B, 1909-1985, Jesuit priest

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Casey, John B, 1909-1985, Jesuit priest

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Dates of existence

03 February 1909-30 January 1985

History

Born: 03 February 1909, Clarence, NSW, Australia
Entered: 04 February 1930, Loyola Greenwich, Australia (HIB)
Ordained: 08 January 1944
Professed: 15 August 1946
Died: 30 January 1985, St Ignatius College, Riverview, Sydney, Australia- Australiae Province (ASL)

Transcribed HIB to ASL : 05 April 1931

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280 :
His early education was modest, enrolling at Sydney Technical School to study analytical chemistry after primary education. His vocation to the Society grew and he was enrolled at St Ignatius College Riverview, with the intention of studying Latin, but he also enjoyed cricket and rowing. He then left school early and helped his father in his business at Hunter’s Hill.

1930-1934 He entered at Loyola Greenwich and remained there for two years Humanities after First Vows.
1934-1937 He was sent to St Aloysius College for three years Regency.
1937-1944 He was one of the first Jesuits to complete all his studies in Australia, and he also spent a year teaching at St Louis School Perth before being Ordained in 1944.
As a scholastic he encouraged other Jesuits to reflect on how they might interpret Jesuit traditions into Australian culture. These men were forming an Australian Jesuit identity. More than any other member of the Province he formulated the basis of Jesuit education.
1946-1948 he went to St Ignatius College Riverview as First Division Prefect and Sportsmaster
1948-1949 He became the first Australian born Jesuit to become a Rector when he was appointed Rector of St Aloysius College, Milsons Point.
1949-1955 He was appointed Rector at St Ignatius College Riverview.
1955-1961 He returned as Rector at St Aloysius College
1961-1966 He was Rector of St Louis School Perth
196691967 He was Rector at Casnisius College Pymble
1967 He returned to St Ignatius Riverview for the rest of his life.

When he first went to Riverview in 1946, he was constantly cheerful and encouraging, prudent and wise in counselling others, a deeply spiritual man, and supportive of the work being done by younger Jesuits, ,caring for their physical and spiritual wellbeing. He also showed an ability for administration in his care for the boarding house and in sporting arrangements. His special concern for the students earned him the nickname “dear John. he had a good relationship with other GPS schools for his friendly relationships with masters and students. In holiday times he gave retreats to religious sisters and brothers.
When Rector of the two Sydney Colleges he published a prayerbook for the students, the “Alter Chrustus”, which was widely used. he wanted each boy to appreciate his own special gifts and use them modelling Christ.
As Rector at Riverview he repaired the chapel, built the “woods” classrooms and refurbished the laundry with new equipment. He planned the new entrance to the college past first field, and he supervised the building of the new boatsheds in honour of Father Thomas Gartlan, the first rowing master and former Rector. He initiated discussions to reclaim the gold links for a Junior School. He had closed the previous Junior School, Campion Hall, Point Piper in 1953. he also put up the new Honour Boards on the staircase of the old building near the refectory for the Old Ignatian Union presidents, Old Boy priests and captains of the school.
As Rector of St Aloysius College his inspirational leadership resulted in many young men joining the Society of Jesus and other religious Orders. The boys called him “honest John” affectionately, appreciating his goodness and his reverence and respect for students.
At St Louis, with uncertain health, he was commissioned to explore the possibility of building a Secondary School at Attadale, the long awaited dream of the Archbishop. Much consultation and deliberations followed, the result being to decline the offer. It was believed that the Society did not have the resources to staff the college, and its position between two Christian Brothers schools was not considered wise.
At Campion College, he and the Scholastics did not agree on many aspects of religious living, Casey reminding all of his understanding of the spirit of the Constitutions and the regular life of a religious. On the other hand, the Scholastics were looking for greater freedom of expression in religious life, in the spirit of Vatican II. This was not a happy time for Casey, as for the first time in his Jesuit life, he lost the strong admiration of many Scholastics. His health was poor at the time.
He was always an unwell man, suffering from bronchitis, diabetes and high blood pressure, and the latter years of his life at Canisius College Pymble and Riverview were difficult times. In his declining years at Riverview he was Spiritual father to the boys, saying Masses and hearing confessions, and on Saturdays would be found watching games, talking to parents and Old Boys.

He was a much loved and respected man for his personal kindness and interest in people. Likewise his colleagues on the Headmasters’ Conference held him in high regard, making him a life member of the Association. Without any academic qualifications, he was proud to be elected Fellow of the Australian College of Education, which stood as a tribute to his respect among educational associates. He served on both Catholic and Independent School committees, such as the Teacher’s Guild, the Bursary Endowment Board and the Wyndham committee that changed secondary education in New South Wales in 1966. He regularly submitted long and detailed reports on many educational and spiritual subjects.

He was a spiritual man, who fostered the piety of his students in a most natural and encouraging manner. He was thoughtful of others, good at delegating authority, and ever watchful that other Jesuits were not overburdened with work. He enjoyed developing ideas; he was a visionary man, an Ignatian idealist, who worked hard to convince others of the righteousness of his cause. The new St Aloysius College bears testimony to this - it was his inspiration.

He was a sensitive man and his health frequently deteriorated when he felt ‘let down’ by adults or boys whom he had trusted.

He was a most pastoral man, writing to those he had married each year on their anniversary, and remembering names so well. Many loved him. His greatest gift was the warmth and friendliness of his personality, respecting the dignity and value of each person. He used his talents to the full : his sound judgement, his careful planning and attention to detail, his consideration of others, his determination to get things done and make hard decisions.

All that he did was with good humour and a readiness to suffer much from the humiliation resulting from poor health. His last sickness was most painful to him and to those who were close to him, as he did not understand the post Vatican II Church and the responses of the younger generation. In all his triumphs and pain he was described at his funeral as a “self-made ad self-surrendering man”.

He was certainly one of the great men of the Australian Province.

◆ Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University onilne :
Casey, John Brendan (1909–1985)
by J. Eddy
J. Eddy, 'Casey, John Brendan (1909–1985)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/casey-john-brendan-12297/text22083, published first in hardcopy 2007

Died : 30 January 1985, Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

John Brendan Casey (1909-1985), Jesuit priest and educationist, was born on 3 February 1909 at Clarence Siding, New South Wales, eldest son of Irish-born parents Maurice John Casey, storekeeper, and his wife Hannah Maria, née Lyne. Educated at St Joseph’s Convent School, Penrith, then by the Marist Brothers at Villa Maria, Hunters Hill, and at St Ignatius’ College, Riverview, Casey worked in the retail grocery business while studying analytical chemistry at Sydney Technical College. He entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in 1930 at Loyola, Greenwich, and took his first vows in 1932. Casey was one of the `new breed’ of Jesuits trained entirely in Australia rather than in Ireland or elsewhere overseas. Following a home juniorate (1932-33) at Greenwich, he was sent to St Aloysius’ College, Milsons Point, to teach science, economics and mathematics (193436). Though intelligent and natively shrewd, he never enjoyed robust health, and he was not encouraged to attend university—a fact that diminished his self-esteem throughout his life.

After studying philosophy at Loyola College, Watsonia, Melbourne, in 1937-38, and at Canisius College, Pymble, Sydney, in 1939, he taught at St Louis’ School, Claremont, Perth, in 1940. He returned to Pymble for theological studies (1941-44), being ordained priest by Archbishop (Cardinal Sir Norman) Gilroy in St Mary’s Cathedral on 8 January 1944. After serving his tertianship at Watsonia during 1945, he worked at Riverview as division prefect and line teacher in 1946-48 and became rector of St Aloysius’ College in April 1948. Next year he returned to Riverview as rector. This rich period of his administration (1949-54) was followed by another term as rector (1955-61) of St Aloysius’. He proved to be both a skilled builder and a far-sighted policy maker, very influential in times of educational reform and systemic change.

After his success in Sydney, Casey spent two quieter years at Campion College, Kew, Melbourne, the residence of Jesuit university students. From there he was sent back to St Louis’, Perth, as rector (1964-66). When he returned to take charge (1967-68) of the house at Kew, his health was failing and he was suffering the effects of poorly controlled diabetes. In 1969 he went back to Pymble to recuperate but picked up sufficiently in spirits to resume living at Riverview in 1974. There he remained until his death, much loved and consulted by a wide variety of friends. A father-figure to many, he continued to perform his pastoral role. He died on 30 January 1985 at Darlinghurst and was buried in the Jesuit lawn cemetery, North Ryde.

In addition to holding high educational posts within the Jesuit Order, Casey was an important and respected figure in such professional bodies as the Australian College of Education (fellow 1961), the Headmasters’ Conference of the Independent Schools of Australia and the National Council of Independent Schools (Australia). He was a strong advocate of per capita public funding for each student and he persistently advocated the political alliance of Catholic and other private schools in defence of the independent principle and in negotiations for a more favourable outcome from both State and Federal governments in the perennial and vexed question of state aid.

Select Bibliography
J. W. Hogg, Our Proper Concerns (1986)
E. Lea-Scarlett, Riverview (1989)
D. Strong, The College by the Harbour (1997)
D. Strong, The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-1998 (1999)
Jesuit Life, Easter 1985, p 16
J. Casey personal file (Society of Jesus, Australian Province Archives, Melbourne).

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830- (1830-)

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-

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Casey, John B, 1909-1985, Jesuit priest

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Australian Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1931- (1931-)

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Australian Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1931-

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Casey, John B, 1909-1985, Jesuit priest

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