- IE IJA J/489
- 20 January 1906-01 January 1994
Born: 20 January 1906, Ballinagh, County Cavan
Entered: 21 September 1926, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1936, Milltown Park, Dublin
Professed: 02 February 1943
Died: 01 January 1994, St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin
Part of the Cherryfield Lodge community, Dublin at the time of death.
Early Education at St Patrick’s College Cavan and St Patrick’s College, Maynooth
by 1938 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) making Tertianship
by 1939 at Rome Italy (ROM) studying
Interfuse No 86 : July 1996
Fr Michael Connolly (1906-1994)
20th Jan. 1906: Born Ballinagh, Co. Cavan
Secondary studies: St. Patrick's College, Cavan
Third level studies: St. Patrick's College, Maynooth - H. Dip in Ed
21st Sept. 1926; Entered Society at Tullabeg
28th Sept. 1928: First Vows at Tullabeg
1928 - 1930: Philosophy at Milltown Park
1930 - 1933: Regency in Belvedere College
1933 - 1937: Theology at Milltown Park
31st July 1936: Ordained a Priest in Milltown Park by Bishop Alban Goodier
1937 - 1938: Tertianship, St. Beuno's, Wales
1938 - 1939: Gregorian University, Rome
1940 - 1941: Milltown Park - Studies in Economics
1941 - 1961: Tullabeg - Professor of Ethics and Anthropology,
1947 - 1953: Rector
1953 - 1961: Prefect of Studies
1961 - 1969: Rathfarnham Castle - Tertian Director
1969 - 1993: National College of Industrial Relations - Lecturer in Philosophy of Person, Treasurer, Coordinator of Missions, Retreats and Novenas
1993 – 1994: Cherryfield - Prays for the Church and the Society
1st Jan. 1994: Died at St Vincent's Hospital
Michael Connolly spent the last twenty five years of his life as a member of the Jesuit community at the National College of Industrial Relations (Sandford Lodge). Those of us who knew him in those years remember his strong and faith-filled presence in the community. Michael in these years had left behind the years in Tullabeg as teacher of philosophy and superior of the Jesuit community, and no longer was the tertian instructor. So, we knew him as an energetic and active Jesuit, giving of his best to the community and apostolate in the twenty five years or so that made up this phase of his life. Michael's love for the Society was evident in the way he participated so fully in many community and Province events during these yeras, and discussed the issues of the day with concern and energy. He wasn't slow to argue his point, and would put difficult questions to you when necessary. He found great freedom in these years to rediscover aspects of Ignatian spirituality and Jesuit life. He had great energy for tackling difficult reading material. He always approached the liturgy of the word with a scholarly knowledge of the text, which he wanted to share at a concelebrated liturgy.
Of course we joked, too, about his approach to life. As a bursar, Michael took the financial side of the community very seriously. He lived a very frugal life himself. He would be the one at night to turn out electric lights when others wouldn't be bothered to ask who was going to pay the bill. Even with the community hog, it was recounted that Michael would usually look for a monthly account of masses and stipends, before dispensing with the monthly allowance! Kevin Quinn. a renowned economist, had the theory that all communities needed some kind of a "slush fund" out of an experience at the NCIR of buying Sultan, an expensive dog, and then having to request Michael Connolly for the full amount of the purchase.
In the final years of his life, Michael had a great determination to go on living life to the full, and not be deflected by emergency visits to the hospital nor special nursing at Cherryfield. No sooner had he recovered from one of these set-backs than he was taking steps to be back in his room and resuming duty.
The changes that took place in Michael's long association with the College - from Catholic Workers' College to College of Industrial Relations to National College of Industrial Relations - show how Michael's links with the College spanned the best part of forty years. Michael's serious approach to his topic as a teacher meant that he would be well prepared. He probably lacked the imaginative flair to be a memorable teacher. Yet, his conversation and his ability to meet with students and teachers meant that he played an important role in the vision of the Jesuits at NCIR to be a presence in the world of work at a key phase of the development of an industrial society in the Republic of Ireland.
Michael Connolly was born on the 20th January 1906 in Ballinagh, Co. Cavan. He received his secondary education at St. Patrick's College, Cavan, and then went on to St. Patrick's College, Maynoth for his arts degree and Higher Diploma in Education with a view to ordination in the diocese of Kilmore. However, Michael decided to enter the Society of Jesus, and went to Tullabeg in 1926. He went on to Milltown Park for two years of philosophy, and then did regency at Belvedere College from 1930 to 1933. This time at Belvedere was a time that Michael looked back on with a lot of satisfaction. It gave him the opportunity of learning to be a teacher, and to be involved with the pastoral care of the students, and to be interested in all their activities. He also liked to mention that he was the editor of the Belvederian during those years. Theology at Milltown Park followed, from 1933 to 1937, with ordination at Milltown Park on the 31st of July 1936 by Archbishop Alban Goodier. The ordination retreat given by Alban Goodier made a deep impression on Michael, He often spoke about it in later years when talking about preaching and giving the Spiritual Exercises. Michael went to St. Beuno's in Wales for his tertianship.
The next important event in Michael's life was the Provincial's decision to send him for the biennium in Rome, specializing in moral philosophy. This was a vote of confidence in Michael's abilities at his studies. However, looking back in his later years Michael regretted that he had not been informed earlier in his formation that he was to specialize in this field. He felt that he might have been better able to be competent in these disciplines were he to have worked at them over a longer period. Among his fellow students at the Gregorian was Bernard J.F. Lonergan - the great Canadian philosopher and theologian. His room was beside Michael's. Michael often recounted how with the onset of the signs of war in Italy in 1939, Lonergan spoke about the certainty of the direction events were taking, and of the way war would shape their lives. Michael had to leave Rome after a year's study - again, something he felt made it hard for him to feel competent at teaching in the specialized discipline of moral philosophy.
Michael was sent to Tullabeg to teach philosophy in 1939. This was to be his home until 1961. He taught moral philosophy and was rector of the community from 1947 to 1953. He also gave retreats in the summers. He acted as visiting confessor to some of the religious communities in the mid-lands, going out on his bicycle to visit them.
During the 1950's the Catholic Workers' College was beginning and Michael came to Ranelagh every Thursday - to teach courses in social ethics and on the philosophy of man (or of the person, as it would be called today). During these years Michael was a member of the European Jesuits in the Social Sciences, which met every two years, and which later took on the title of Eurojess. He was glad of the opportunity to meet at these gatherings some of the experts in Catholic Social Teaching: Oswald von Nell-Breuning and Leonard Janssens.
The next major turning point in Michael's life was his appointment as tertian director in 1961. He was to hold this position until 1969 when the tertianship at Rathfarnham was closed. Michael prepared for his post as tertian instructor by visiting Auriesville, New York, and other tertianships in the United States. Tertian Instructor was a demanding job. The whole shift in emphasis in Jesuit formation during those years with the 31st Congregation and the Second Vatican Council meant that Michael found it hard to meet all the expectations of young Jesuits. For those in the Juniorate at Rathfarnham, Michael could also be a bit demanding: Michael had a more orderly life than the Juniors and their late night arrival at Rathfarnham might disturb the quiet of the tertians' corridor. Among the tertians at Rathfarnham was Ignacio Ellacuria, who was one of the Jesuits murdered in El Salvador in November 1989.
Michael was appointed to the Catholic Workers' College in 1969, The Workers' College was later to change to the College of Industrial Relations and more recently to the National College of Industrial Relations. Michael was appointed bursar and also taught courses in the philosophy of the person.
During his years at what is now the NCIR, Michael was also the director of the Jesuit Mission band. He responded to requests for Jesuits to give Missions and retreats. He also gave retreats himself. Right down to his eighty-fourth birthday, Michael continued to give retreats and missions.
Frank Sammon SJ
Albert Cooney remembers Michael and some of his outstanding gifts: In Belvedere during my Regency I first met Michael, a confident, self-assured young man with a quiet sense of humour. He was liked by the boys, and they trusted him and confided in him. Often I remember saying to one of the boys: “Better talk that over with Mr, Connolly”. The Bicycle Club went to Pine Forest and the Glen of the Downs, and Michael found wise and entertaining stories to amuse the boys.
I next met him when I returned from Hong Kong. He was Rector in Tullabeg, courteous and affable - one of the best Rectors I have met in the Society and I have been in many houses all over the world.
When I was in Malaysia I mentioned to our Provincial the possibility of Michael coming to Malaysia where he would find interesting and useful work, and learning a language would not be necessary as in Hong Kong. Michael heard no more of that proposal. That's the Michael I knew. We kept in touch up to the end when he died here. I cannot say that his road of life was paved with friends. But they were many and true. He will remember us all now where there is Peace and Rest in the sunlit uplands of Eternity. His epitaph could be: 'He never spoke an unkind word about anyone'.
Michael was a conscientious and hard-working Jesuit. In his later years he had remarkable will-power to keep going, despite emergency visits to St. Vincent's hospital.
Michael had wide-ranging interests. He was interested in the life of priests and liked to be informed about developments in the places where Jesuits were working. He also had a keen interest in the Missions: his brother was superior-general of the Columbans.
Through his work in social ethics and in Catholic Social Teaching, Michael developed an interest in the co-operative movement. For many years he administered the funds of the Finlay Trust - a small fund established to foster the co-operative movement,
Michael Connolly's life touched each decade of this twentieth century, His faith helped guide his steps through these decades. He often felt himself not quite properly equipped to face the challenges and tasks he was asked to take on as a Jesuit. Nevertheless, in later life he had mellowed, and seemed to be able to smile wryly that life never works out exactly as we would plan it. Yet he would always want to be a man of the “magis” of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. We thank the Lord for having given him to us during these decades as our companion.