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Cassidy, Dermot, 1933-2017, Jesuit priest
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Dates of existence
01 June 1933-24 April 2017
Born: 01 June 1933, Ballyfoyle, County Laois
Entered: 17 September 1951, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 28 July 1966, Gonzaga College SJ, Dublin
Professed: 17 June 1981, Sacred Heart Church Crescent, Limerick
Died: 24 April 2017, Mater Hospital, Dublin (Highfield Healthcare, Whitehall, Dublin)
Part of the Coláiste Iognáid, Galway community at the time of death.
by 1970 at Mount St London (ANG) working
◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/fr-dermot-cassidy-sj-reflective-voice/
Fr Dermot Cassidy SJ – a reflective voice
Fr Dermot Cassidy SJ passed away peacefully on the night of 24 April at the Mater Hospital in Dublin. Fr Cassidy was 83 years old. Born and raised in County Laois, he entered the Society of Jesus in 1951. During his regency training, he worked as a teacher in Crescent College SJ in Limerick. Upon ordination in 1966, he returned to Limerick where he assisted in the Church of the Sacred Heart and promoted the missions for over thirty years (1975-2006). He spent his last few years between Cherryfield Lodge and Highfield Healthcare in Dublin where he prayed continuously for the Church and the Society.
An interview with Fr Dermot
In an interview with Pat Coyle from Irish Jesuit Communications, Fr Dermot spoke about his Jesuit life. He had a very active pastoral ministry for many years where he loved to talk to ordinary people on the streets, in shops and in pubs. Speaking about meeting people in Limerick, he said, “I was always gentle on them. It wouldn’t mean that you could never have an argument. An argument is often a way of contact too and the next time you would meet then you might discuss things at a more human level.”
Since a child, he had a gift of reflection and could perceive things differently, “That’s my nature you know, and what comes by nature can’t be defeated by artifice and artificiality”.
Fr Dermot saw the spiritual hunger of people as a very positive force. As he saw it, this hunger was a mainstay of Irish life. It showed in the determination of people to learn from the past, to build Irish society with a sense of purpose, and to find new and better ways to do things.
The Jesuit had a special connection with Northern Ireland. “I always had a love for the North and still have. They have changed the world perspective on things. People used to say, ‘You’d never think that Christians could fight’ and the same people have now said, ‘You’d never think that Christians could unite and find a way forward’”. He was a committed nationalist and admired Sinn Féin and the way the party worked to try and bring about a united Ireland by engaging in the peace process. And former Sinn Féin Director of publicity and author Danny Morisson expressed his appreciation to Fr Dermot after the ceasefire with a signed and dedicated book. He always kept that book in his room.
Fr Dermot remembered a spontaneous meeting at a pub in Limerick with a Muslim television journalist who was preparing a production on ‘What is Ireland?’. The Jesuit spoke to him about conflict and peace in Ireland and abroad. He also spoke about the spiritual needs of the world. At the end of the talk, the journalist said: ‘I came in here rather upset, and after our conversation I am at peace’.
Asked if he had any regrets, he said: “Only that I haven’t had more opportunity to say what I want to say and that other people who have nothing to say have every opportunity”. His words were certainly not wasted on the queues of people who often came to see him.
A special friendship
Nissanka (Nicky) Gooneratne was a long-time friend of the late Jesuit. Here, the Sri Lankan pays tribute to and regularly kept in touch through visits to Ireland and via telephone calls across continents. Nicky sought spiritual accompaniment from the late Jesuit right up until the time of his death.
Nicky was a young agnostic engineer when he first met Fr Dermot in London. The Jesuit told him, “London is not a Christian country unlike the USA, Canada and Australia”. After a while, they went for walks in Hyde Park where Dermot spoke about the history of the British empire. Eventually, Dermot returned to Ireland and Nicky visited him on holidays and called him regularly. The Sri Lankan was especially grateful to the Jesuit for helping him to discern his career. For example, his resignation from an engineering job in Scotland brought him great peace.
Nicky returned to Sri Lanka where he got married in the Catholic Church and had five children. From across continents, he often heard of his friend’s love for the sick and poor of Limerick. When Dermot moved to Cherryfield Lodge Nursing Home, they promised to look out for each other to the end. “I used to call almost daily without exaggeration,” says Nicky, “recently, he used to be asleep quite a bit but he was always sharp. He was always gentle and kind. He used to end our conversations with a long Irish blessing. And I was filled with shock and sorrow when I heard he died.”
The Sri Lankan remembers one of his friend’s favourite sayings: “An answer will be given beyond our thinking”. And he recorded one of Fr Dermot’s poems from 1975, written after a young relation died. :
Come, guide the stars Little one
God has held for you heaven’s door a-jar. Ah, boy that died Young man profitable Young man, young You started the origins of life to flow.
The high corn
is green grown now The child is borne
The blessing of summer is heaven in the sky
Ah, heaven high
on earth does grow.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Early Education at CBS Athy, Co Kildare
1953-1956 Rathfarnham - Studying Arts at UCD
1956-1959 Tullabeg - Studying Philosophy
1959-1960 Crescent College SJ - Regency : Teacher
1960-1962 Clongowes Wood College SJ - Regency : Teacher; Studying CWC Cert in Education
1962-1963 Crescent College SJ - Regency : Teacher
1963-1969 Milltown Park - Studying Theology
1967 Assistant Editor of “Messenger”
1969-1974 Mount St, London, UK - Assists in Mount St Church
1974-1975 Tullabeg - Assists in Community work
1975-2006 Crescent Sacred Heart, Limerick- Assisting in Church; Promoting Missions
2006-2017 Coláiste Iognáid SJ - Assisting in Church
2009 Praying for the Church and the Society at Cherryfield Lodge
2013 Praying for the Church and the Society at Highfield Healthcare, Whitehall, Dublin
Functions, occupations and activities
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Identifier of related entity
Category of relationship
Type of relationship
Cassidy, Dermot, 1933-2017, Jesuit priest
Dates of relationship
Description of relationship
Access points area
Subject access points
Place access points
- County Laois (Queen's) » Ballyfoyle
- County Laois (Queen's) » Emo » St Mary's (Emo)
- County Galway » Galway City » Sea Road » Coláiste Iognáid SJ
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Whitehall » Swords Road » Highfield Healthcare
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Eccles Street » Mater Misericordiae Hospital
- England » London » Farm Street » Church of the Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic)
- County Limerick » Limerick City » The Crescent » Sacred Heart College SJ, 1859-1974
- County Limerick » Limerick City » The Crescent » Sacred Heart Church (Roman Catholic)
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Milltown » Cherryfield Lodge
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Rathfarnham » Rathfarnham Castle
- County Dublin » Dublin City » St Stephen's Green (Dublin) » University College, Dublin
- County Offaly (King's) » Ballycowan (Bar.) » Tullabeg » St Stanislaus College
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Sandford Road » Milltown Park
- County Kildare » Clane » Clongowes Wood College SJ
- County Kildare » Athy » Station Road » Christian Brothers School (Athy)
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