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Byrne, Thomas, 1904-1978, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/82
  • Person
  • 30 November 1904-03 August 1978

Born: 30 November 1904, Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin
Entered: 31 August 1922, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1933, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1941, St Mary’s, Emo, County Laois
Died: 03 August 1978, Coláiste Iognáid, Galway

Older brother of Patrick Byrne - RIP 1968

by 1935 at Aberdeen, Hong Kong - working
Father Provincial of the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 15 August 1947-30 July 1953.
Mission Superior, Hong Kong, 09 May 1957
Father General's English Assistant (Substitute), at Rome Italy (ROM) 1962

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Death of Father Thomas Byrne, S.J.

Father Thomas Byrne, Superior of the Hong Kong Jesuits from 1957 to 1960, died in Ireland on 3 August 1978, aged 73.
Father Byrne was born in Ireland in 1904. He joined the Jesuits in 1922 and was ordained priest in 1933. In 1934, the Irish Jesuit Province lent him to Hong Kong, where he taught Philosophy (1934-1936) and Dogmatic Theology (1936-1939) at the Regional Seminary, Aberdeen. He returned to Ireland in 1939 to complete his Jesuit training.

After a period as Master of Novices, he was appointed provincial Superior of the Irish Jesuit Province.
He returned to Hong Kong as Superior of the Hong Kong Jesuits in 1957. In 1960, he was summoned to Rome to be Assistant to the Jesuit Superior General (1960-1963). In his last years he was assistant priest at St. Ignatius Church, Galway, Ireland.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 11 August 1978

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
Educated at O’Connell’s School Dublin, he Entered the Society in 1922 at Tullabeg. He obtained a BSc and MSc and then did Philosophy at Milltown Park. He then went straight from Philosophy to Theology
In 1936 he was sent to the Regional Seminary at Aberdeen as Professor of Dogmatic Theology.
In 1939 he returned to Ireland to make Tertianship and was then sent to Tullabeg to teach Philosophy.
In 1945 he was appointed Master of Novices
In 1947 he was appointed Provincial of the Irish Province
In 1957 he was appointed Superior of the Hong Kong Mission

During his term as Provincial (1947-1953) 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. He opened the Novitiate in Cheung Chau in 1958, starting with 10 Novices.

In 1960 he was brought the Roman Curia as the English Assistancy Assistant to Father General, and held this role until 1965.
In 1965 he returned to Ireland and teaching Theology at Milltown Park.

He was an intellectual. His social contribution in public committees included the housing Authorities and Discharged Prisoners Society.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 53rd Year No 4 1978

The death of Fr Thomas Byrne on August 3 came as a great shock. He became unwell after dinner on August 2. When the doctor saw him, he ordered him into hospital immediately. His heart condition worsened that evening, and he died on the morning of August 3, R.I.P. The funeral Mass was on August 5. Dr Eamonn Casey, Bishop of Galway, presided. The Provincial, Fr Patrick Doyle, the Rector and Parish Priest, Fr Robert McGoran, and Fr Bernard Murray, were the chief concelebrants. Very many members of the Province travelled to Galway to pay their last respects to Fr Byrne.
Herewith is a tribute by Fr McGoran to Fr Byrne in the September issue of the Parish Newsletter
“Hardly had we recovered from the sense of loss at the death of Fr Jack Kerr, when God took to himself a second member of our Parish team, Fr Tommy Byrne. Although Fr Byrne had had a rather severe operation last February, he appeared to be holding his own in recent months - although everyone noticed that he had slowed down a great deal. However, for a week or two before his death he was visibly failing; yet he remained faithful to his parish duties right up to the eve of his death.
During his eight years here in Galway, Fr Tommy endeared himself to all the parishioners, and many felt his death as the loss of a close friend, and one who felt for them in their cares and difficulties. He was untiring in his visitation of families and utterly devoted in ministering to the sick and the aged. He took a keen personal interest in the families entrusted to this care and had a very special way with children. He was a kindly and encouraging man and seemed able to forget his own ailments in his solicitude for other people”.

Another tribute is paid by Fr Desmond O'Loghlen in the July/August issue of the Jesuits in Zambia News. Sincere thanks to him for it.
“Fr Thomas Byrne did not spend long in Africa, only three months. Nevertheless the occasion of his death calls for grateful remembrance of his lasting contribution of the Jesuit Mission effort in Zambia, To this end we may make use of a report on the Chikuni Mission written in 1967 for the Sociological Survey of the Society. (It should be borne in mind that at that time the Lusaka Mission and the Chikuni Mission had not yet amalgamated to form the Vice Province, but were still separate, attached to the Polish and Irish Provinces respectively).
Fr Thomas Byrne Irish Provincial at the time) arrived to visit Northern Rhodesia (as it then was) in April 1952. He spent about three weeks in Africa, met the Apostolic Administrator (Very Rev Adam Kozlowiecki SJ) and the Regional Superior (Very Rev Marian Folta SJ) and saw all the Irish Jesuits in the country. Fr Byrne was the Provincial, who, in 1950, had taken the generous step of Officially pledging the Irish Province to help the Mission. On his initiative nine new members, (eight priests and one brother) joined the Mission in 1950, and eight more in 1951 (five priests, two scholastics, and one brother) and others followed yearly. From this visit of Fr. Provincial, in consultation with the Apostolic Administrator and the Regional Superior, emerged the main lines of development followed by the Irish Jesuits for the next ten years, through the establishment of the Chikuni Mission in 1956 up to the establishment of the Diocese of Monze in 1962.
Plans were made to continue the pastoral and educational work already built up around Chikuni by Frs Moreau, Zabdyr, Prokoph, and others. Three new stations had been already started at Chivuna, Kasiya, and Fumbo. Plans were also made for pastoral coverage of Mazabuka, Monze, Choma, Kalomo, with an eventual westward thrust to Namwala. Provision was made for Irish Jesuits to work in Lusaka.
Fr Byrne again visited the Mission in 1963, now as Assistant of the English Assistancy, and took deep interest and evident satisfaction in the progress of the work, which owed so much to his earlier initiative. At this time he explored views about the possible union in one Province of the Jesuit Missions in Zambia and Rhodesia. However, this project was halted by the declaration of UDI to the south of us, and subsequent developments.
In December 1969, when the Zambia Vice-Province was established, Fr Thomas Byrne was an honored guest at an informal gathering in Dublin to mark the occasion. We can trust, now that he is in Heaven, his interest and his benign influence will continue to benefit the work in Zambia. May he rest in peace”.

Obituary :

Fr Thomas Byrne (1904-1978)

On August 3rd Father Tom Byrne died at Galway, where for nearly eight years he had been engaged on Parish work. This period in Galway was the peaceful, retired conclusion to an exceptionally active, varied and front-line work as a Jesuit.
Father Tom Byrne was born at Dun Laoire on November 30th 1904. He entered Tullabeg as a novice on August 31st 1922. Having pronounced his First Vows on September 1st 1924 at Tullabeg, he passed through the rest of the scholasticate training in Ireland: from Rathfarnham he studied Science at UCD (1924-1927); 1927 to 1934 were spent studying Philosophy and Theology at Milltown Park, where he was ordained priest on July 31st 1933. He completed his Tertianship at Rathfarnham: 1939-1940.
From the end of his Tertianship in 1940 to his commencement of parish work in Galway in 1970, Father Tom Byrne was a “specialist” in one form or another. He was Lecturer in Sacred Scripture and Dogma in the Regional Seminary, Hong Kong: 1934-1939. He lectured in Philosophy in Tullabeg 1941-1945; 1953-1957. He was Master of Novices in Emo for two years (1945-1947). He was Provincial in Gardiner Street from 1947 to 1953: and it was by his enterprise and decision that the “mission” in what is now part of the Vice-Province of Zambia was begun by the opening of the Irish Mission at Chikuni: eight priests and one brother reached Chikuni from Ireland in August 1950. They began at once to work in the Mission Church at Chikuni, to open “mission stations” further afield, and to staff Canisius College which rapidly developed to become a splendid Secondary School. For many years after our arrival at Chikuni there was only one other Secondary school in “Northern Rhodesia” (now Zambia): the Government Secondary school Munali in Lusaka.
Father Byrne visited us within a few years of 1950 and continued generously to send brothers, scholastics and priests, so that Ireland's commitment in what is now the Vice-Province of Zambia developed rapidly.
After his second period as Lecturer in Tullabeg - after being Provincial - (1953-1957), Father Tom Byrne went to be Superior in the Hong Kong Mission. He remained in this Office until 1960 when he went to Rome for five years as English Assistant, substituting for Father J Swain who was Vicar General (1960-1965).
Father Tom Byrne was Prefect of Studies and Spiritual Father in Milltown Park from 1965 to 1968. There followed two years in Tullabeg as Spiritual Director of the Sisters there (1968 to 1970). In 1970 he moved to take up the parish work in Galway which occupied the last eight years of his work-filled life.

One of his many admirers - Father Harold Naylor, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, writes:
“As a philosopher in Tullabeg I remember being impressed by the vigour of the religious observance of ‘Tommy’ who was then professing Psychology. He was the first at Morning Oblation at 6 am. I met him again in 1977 in Galway and found the same man I had always known, with alert mind and zealous heart. Assistant to the Parish Priest in St Ignatius, he was always ready to hear confessions and take calls at the door to help people. I noticed something else which is not common in Jesuits of over forty - he had great hope in the future of the Church and of the Society. He had well assimilated the thrust of the Second Vatican Council, and made his own the content of the last two General Congregations. He was at home in the new Church, and the modern Society and had no nostalgia for the past. He could appropriate to himself our new life style and see every advantage in it. I sometimes wondered if this was not partly due to what he taught on obedience of the intellect, and to a real self abnegation, seeing the Will of God in everything and having the real spirit of Ignatian indifference ...”
See also the special tributes included in the contributions from Galway, tributes from Galway and Zambia.

Irish Province News 54th Year No 1 1979


Fr Thomas Byrne RIP
We are greatly indebted to an unnamed contributor to the Hong kong Vice-Province Letter/August, 1978, for the following account of Fr Thomas Byrne's life. Sincere thanks to him. The account arrived too late for inclusion in the October issue of the Province News,
Fr Thomas Byrne, Superior of the Hong Kong Mission from 1957 to 1960, died on 3rd August, after a few hours of illness, aged 73. The following account of his life has been contributed by one who knew him well.
Though he is a major figure in the history of the Hong Kong Jesuits, Fr Thomas Byrne spent in all only eight years here. For information about his pre-Jesuit years, his forty-five Jesuit years in Ireland, and his three years in Rome, I have had to rely on vague memories and hearsay. Much must be left vague, and some details may be inaccurate. .
He was born on 30th November 1904, and was educated at O’Connell’s School, Dublin. In 1922, he entered the novitiate at Tullabeg, where he had as contempararies R Harris, C Daly, and G Casey. As a junior, he did a brilliant BSc. He later - during his philosophy at Milltown Park, I think tried for a travelling studentship (in Philosophy?), but was beaten, to the surprise of many, by the Clonliffe student who, as Fr. Boyland, was to leave the Dublin Archdiocese to become a Carthusian.
Mr. Tommy Byrne, already destined for a professorial chair, did no “colleges”, and went straight from philosophy to theology. He came, I think, to regret this gap in his formation, especially when appointment as a major superior made him responsible for the well being of many schools.
He was ordained priest on St Ignatius Day, 1933. In 1934, the Regional Seminary, Aberdeen, found itself critically short of staff. The Irish Provincial, Fr L Kieran, lent Fr Byrne to Hong Kong, on the understanding that, when the Seminary could spare him, he should return to Ireland to do his tertianship and then settle down there as a professor, probably of philosophy. He came to Hong Kong, by ship of course, with Fr H Craig and two scholastics, F Cronin and T Sheridan, and for his first two years taught philosophy in the Seminary.
Since he had not come as a permanent member of the Mission, it was taken for granted that he should not even attempt to learn Cantonese - another gap in his formation that he was to regret in later years.
In 1936, he became professor of dogmatic theology in the Seminary. It was in that year that I first met him. I still feel gratitude for the warmth of the welcome he gave me on my arrival in Hong Kong. By then he had developed to the full his aptitude for giving lengthy analysis of any subject that might turn up - the state of the world, the calling of a bridge-hand, St Jerome’s outlook on bishops, or his own outlook on his duties as minister. This may suggest that he had turned into a bore. The suggestion is false. He was interested in your views as well as in his own, and he was unaffectedly delighted when you knocked him off his perch. This made all the difference.
He went to Ireland for tertianship in 1939, making no secret of his wish to return to Hong Kong if possible. However, when his tertianship ended, the course of World War II had made immediate return impossible. After tertianship, Fr Byrne went to Tullabeg to teach philosophy. In 1945 he was appointed Master of Novices.
He was appointed Provincial of the Irish Province in 1947. By then the world was beginning to settle down after the confusion and frustration of war and its aftermath. The time called for initiative, and Fr Byrne was ready to initiate. In the course of his provincialate the Manresa Retreat house and the Workers' College (now the College of Industrial Relations) were opened, and the Irish Province accepted a new mission in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Not since the legendary days of Fr Sturzo had any Irish Provincial added so much to the work of the province.
I myself left Ireland soon after Fr Byrne's appointment. I therefore know little about his administration or his dealings with individuals. I do remember an aged fountain of ideas. Fr R Devane,
saying rather sadly: “At last there is a Provincial who will listen to me; but I am too old now". There are rumours that scholastics were put off by Fr Byrne's highly characteristic habit of gazing into the middle distance and musing on the nature of things or giving gnomic advice. Presumably they felt inhibited from knocking him off his perch - unfortunate but inevitable.!
At the end of his term as Provincial, Fr Byrne returned to Tullabeg, and seemed likely to spend the rest of his days there. Then in 1957, to the surprise of the most highly skilled forecasters, he was appointed Superior of the Hong Kong Mission. He returned with delight; an eighteen-year-old dream had come true.
Neither Hong Kong nor Singapore was in great need of initiative. In Hong Kong, the two new Wah Yans had been built shortly before, and it would have been difficult to find staff for new works. In Singapore, the plans laid in the earlier 50s were moving towards fulfilment. In Malaysia, however, things were still tentative. The cancellation of a government invitation to undertake a major work faced the Superior with the decision: to go forward or to retreat. Fr Byrne decided to go forward. Perhaps nothing in his superiorship interested him more deeply than the problems of Petaling Jaya. A grasp of the geography of Kuala Lumpur and its environs became necessary for anyone who wanted to understand his conversation.
In Hong King, Fr Byrne’s main task was to encourage the work that was being done by individuals and institutions. For himself, he took up the work of public committees - the Housing Societry, the Discharged Prisoners Aid Society and so on. In Ricci Hall, where he lived, he quickly made many friends among the students. Equally quickly he made himself a welcome guest in all Jesuit houses. When he had to act as Superior he was unmistakably the Superior. At other times, like a famour duke, “he never remembered his rank unless you forgot it”. In spite of recurring bad health - stomach trouble and phlebitis - he enjoyed life, and he wished others to enjoy life. The brilliant frivolity of Fr J B Wood’s speech of farewell at the end of Fr Byrne’s Superiorship was a tribute to the friendliness and personal equality that he had made characteristic of his period of authority here.
He was Superior for only three years. In 1960 he was summoned to Rome as Substitute Assistant for the English Assistancy. Of what happened at that high level I know nothing except that Fr Byrne seemed to enjoy it.
He returned to Ireland after the 31st General Congregation, but his interest in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia never waned, as returning visitors from these parts will testify.
He spent his last years as curate in St. Ignatius' Church, Galway, and it was there that I last met him. He was unchanged - full of interest in the Vice-Province and better informed about it than I was - ready to speculate about the state of the world and of all things in it, and full of philosophical interest in the future of the Jesuit parish in Galway,
No hint had been received here that his health was failing. The news of his death came as a shock, and to many it meant, not “a former Superior has died”, but “a cherished friend is dead”.

Collins, Bernard P, 1910-1987, Jesuit priest and missioner

  • IE IJA J/97
  • Person
  • 24 November 1910-12 August 1987

Born: 24 November 1910, Laragh, Swatragh, County Derry
Entered: 02 September 1929, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 29 July 1943, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final vows: 03 February 1953
Died: 12 August 1987, St Ignatius, Lusaka, Zambia - Zambia Province (ZAM)

Part of the Namwala Catholic Church, Narwal, Zambia community at the time of death

Transcribed : HIB to ZAM 03 December 1969

Early education at St Columb’s College Derry

by 1948 at Rome Italy (ROM) - editing “Memorabilia”
by 1952 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working - fourth wave of Zambian Missioners

Tertianship at Rathfarnham

◆ Companions in Mission 1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Fr Bernard Collins (known to his friends as Barney) was born in the north of Ireland at Laragh, Co Derry. He entered the Society in September 1929. His course of studies was the usual one followed by members of the Irish Province. After the novitiate, a degree at the university in Dublin in humanities and a Higher Diploma in Education, philosophy in Tullabeg, and theology in Milltown Park where he was ordained on 31 July 1943.

At the university he took a classics degree, Latin and Greek, and when he did the Higher Diploma, he got a certificate to enable him to teach through Irish. He went to Rome for a number of years after his tertianship as an assistant secretary to the English Assistant. He added an extra language to his store, namely, Italian.

In 1951 he accompanied the first two scholastics, Bob Kelly and Joe Conway, and Br. Jim Dunne, on their way to the then Northern Rhodesia. The ship's doctor diagnosed heart trouble in Barney so that he spent most of the voyage immobile in the prone position including when going through customs. At the Blue Sisters hospital in Cape Town, he was pronounced healthy and free from any heart ailment. It must have been the sea air that cured him as they were at sea for two weeks!

From 1951 to 1960 he was parish priest in Chikuni. It was here his renowned proficiency in Tonga showed itself. His earlier linguistic studies stood him in good stead as he composed several booklets. In Tonga, he produced 'Lusinizyo', his pamphlet against the Adventists; ‘Zyakucumayila’, 61 Sunday sermons for harried missionaries; a Tonga grammar (now used in schools); a short English/Tonga dictionary; a translation of a pamphlet on the Ugandan Martyrs; and ‘A Kempis' which was written but never published. His knowledge of the villages and people of his time is legendary and he was always willing to give of his time to any willing ear that might wish to know the Chikuni people and their relationships. Towards the end of this period in Chikuni, he founded the first Pioneer Total Abstinence Centre.

From 1960 to 1966, he worked in Chivuna as parish priest and Superior and also taught the language to the scholastics, who delighted in relating stories of far off days when they struggled to master the prehodiernal past.

Barney moved to Namwala parish from 1968 to 1973 with Fr Clarke as his companion in the community to be joined later by Fr Eddie O’Connor (and his horse). From 1973 to 1977 he was parish priest at Chilalantambo and returned to Chikuni in 1977 to be assistant in the parish to Fr Jim Carroll. He went back to Namwala as superior and parish priest with Fr Piekut as his assistant. The scene changed in 1984 when Fr Frank 0'Neill became superior and Barney was the assistant in the parish. This was his status at the time of his death
It was during lunch at St Ignatius, Lusaka, on Wednesday 12th August that Barney began to show signs of not being well. By five that evening he had gone to his reward. The funeral took place at Chikuni with 29 priests concelebrating. Fr Dominic Nchete, the principal celebrant, paid tribute to the long years that Fr Collins had mingled closely with the Tonga people. Bishop Mpezele in both English and Tonga re-echoed the sentiments of Fr Nchete.

Fr Collins, a very unassuming man, had a deep knowledge of the Tonga people and was truly an incarnation of becoming all things to all people. With his fluency in Tonga, it was a delight to listen to him preach which he did in the grand manner. He had a sympathy and understanding of the mentality and customs of the Tonga that few from overseas have achieved. Here are the concluding remarks of the funeral oration: "We pray that Fr Barney may have eternal rest where we are sure he will be able to sit and speak with so many from Tongaland that he had sent on before him"

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 62nd Year No 4 1987


Fr Bernard Patrick Collins (1910-1929-1987) (Zambia)

The following obituary notice has been adapted from the one printed in the newsletter of the Zambian province, Jesuits in Zambia.

Fr Bernard Collins, born on 24th November 1910 in northern Ireland, entered the Society on 2nd September 1929. His course of studies was the usual one followed by members of the Irish province: noviciate (at Tullabeg and Emo, 1929-31), juniorate (at Rathfarnham, 1931-34) with university degree in classics, philosophy in Tullabeg (1934-37), regency in Belvedere (and Higher Diploma in Education: 1937-40), theology in Milltown Park (1940-44, with priestly ordination on 29th July 1943), and tertianship in Rathfarnham (1944-45). After two more years' teaching in Belvedere (1945-47) he was sent to the General Curia in Rome, where he worked as substitute secretary for the English assistancy (1947-51). There he also edited the Latin news-periodical, “Memorabilia Societatis Iesu”, which was a forerunner of the present-day “SJ news and features”.
In 1951 he accompanied the first two scholastics, Bob Kelly and Joe Conway, and Br Jim Dunne on their way to Northern Rhodesia (as Zambia was then called). En route the ship's doctor checked Barney's medical condition and diagnosed heart trouble, so that for most of the voyage and the passage through customs he lay flat and immobile. At the Blue Sisters hospital in Cape Town he was pronounced healthy and free from any heart ailment.
From 1951 to 1960 Barney was parish priest of Chikuni, and it was here that he developed his renowned proficiency in Tonga and wrote his Grammar, also “Lusinizyo”, his pamphlet against the Adventists. His knowledge of the villages and people of the Chikuni area were legendary, and he was always ready to give of his time to any hearer wishing to learn about the Chikuni people and their interrelationships. It was in April 1958, towards the end of his first time in Chikuni, that he founded the first Pioneer Total Abstinence centre.
From 1960 to 1966 he worked in Chivuna parish and was vice-superior of the community. He also taught the language to newly-arrived scholastics, who still entertain us with stories of those happy far-off days when they struggled to master the intricacies of the pre hodiernal past. During this time he was also a mission consultor.
From 1969 to 1974 Barney worked in Namwala parish with Frs Arthur Clarke and Edward O'Connor as his companions in the community. In 1975 for a short time Barney was parish priest at Chilalantambo. In 1976 he returned to Chikuni to be parish assistant to Fr Jim Carroll. During this his second spell in Chikuni, he had for some time Frs Joe McDonald and T O'Meara as collaborators. In 1983 he went to Namwala as superior and parish priest with Fr Antoni Piekut as his assistant. In 1984 the scene changed, with Fr Frank O'Neill becoming superior and Barney becoming parish assistant: this was his status at the time of his death.
It was during lunch at St Ignatius (Lusaka) on Wednesday, 12th August, that Barney began to show signs of illness. By five o'clock that evening he had gone to his reward. His funeral took place on the Friday (14th), with 29 priests concelebrating Mass. Fr Nchete as principal celebrant paid tribute to Fr Collins for mingling so closely with the Tonga people for long years. Bishop Mpezele in both English and Tonga re-echoed Fr Nchete's sentiments.
Fr Collins, a very unassuming man, had a deep knowledge of the Tonga people, and was truly an incarnation of the Pauline ideal of being all things to all people. He had a sympathy and understanding of Tonga mentality and customs that few from overseas have achieved. We pray that Fr Barney may have eternal rest where, we are sure, he will be able to sit and speak with the many from Tongaland that he had sent on before him.

Coyne, John J, 1889-1978, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/42
  • Person
  • 28 April 1889-17 March 1978

Born: 28 April 1889, Dunmore, County Galway
Entered: 07 September 1906, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 15 August 1922, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1926, Chies del Gesù, Rome, Italy
Died: 17 March 1978, Milltown Park, Dublin - Zambiae Province (ZAM)

Transcribed : HIB to ZAM 03 December 1969

Unlce of Jimmy McPolin - RIP 2005

Early education at Christian Brothers College Cork and Clongowes Wood College SJ
Studied for an MA in Classics at UCD and awarded a Studentship in 1912-1913

by 1914 at Innsbruck Austria (ASR-HUN) studying
by 1919 at Nowy Sącz Collège, Poland (GALI) studying
by 1925 at Baexem, Limburg, Netherlands (GER I) making Tertianship
by 1927 at Rome Italy (ROM) Socius English Assistant (Substitute English Assistant)
by 1966 at Loyola Lusaka (POL Mi) Diocesan Archivist

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Fr John Coyne was born in Dromore, Co Galway, Ireland on 28th April 1889, where both his father and mother were teachers. Within a couple of years, his father became an inspector of schools and as a young inspector he was kept on the move: after a period in Dublin he was posted to Tralee, then to Cavan and then on to Cork in 1902. After three years with the Christian Brothers in Cork, John came to Clongowes in 1905.

He entered the Society in Tullabeg on the 7th September 1906. After vows, he attended the university taking a classics degree, also taking an M.A. in 1912. He won a traveling scholarship and was posted to Innsbruck in Austria. Later he moved to Vienna as the First World War had broken out. Then he went on to Poland for a year to Nowy Sacz to prepare for his final philosophical examination. Returning to Ireland, he completed his studies and was ordained priest on 15 August 1922.

Assigned to Rome after tertianship, he became substitute secretary to the English Assistant from 1925 to 1929. Fr Wladimir Ledochowski, the General of the Jesuits, told him that he had learned as much in the Curia as he was likely to learn and that he was sending him back to Ireland to become rector of Belvedere College in Dublin.

He was master of novices from 1931 to 1934. One of his novices said of him later, "I think it would not be unfair to describe Fr John as a Christian stoic rather than as a Christian humanist".

Then came a long period of 24 years (1935 to 1959) as socius to the provincial, not just to one Provincial but to four of them – Frs L Kieran, J R Mac Mahon, T Byrne and L O’Grady (who for reasons of health and temperament 'left Province decisions rest far too much on his socius, Fr John'). He worked for a few years in Gardiner Street Church after being socius.

In 1964 at the age of 75, he accepted an invitation of the Polish Archbishop Kozlowiecki of Lusaka to come and set the diocesan archives in order. Though his provincial suggested a stay of six months, Fr John spent about 8 years in Zambia.

Returning to Ireland, he spent a lot of time translating works of German into English. He was prevailed upon to write his memoirs. 'Memoirs of a Jesuit priest 1906 to 1977: Grafted on the Olive Tree’. He died a year after this on 17 March 1978 in Dublin.

Of Fr Coyne’s time in Zambia, Fr Max Prokoph writes:
‘In spite of his age, he tried to make himself useful in every way possible. For a man who had a finger in every pie in his home province for so many years, it was quite remarkable that he never tried to interfere in the province of his adoption, but spent his time in all sorts of projects for which a younger person would neither have the time nor the inclination. Having put the archives of the Lusaka Archdiocese in order and separated what belonged to the newly erected diocese of Monze (1962). He got down to gathering material for a history of the mission in the days of the Zambesi Mission. Since there was only one full-time priest available for the parish of St Ignatius (Fr Des 0’Loghlen) he gave a hand wherever he could, in the confessional, extra Masses, keeping the parish registers and not least by regular systematic parish visiting, house by house, as far as he could get on foot, perhaps the most systematic visiting the neighbourhood ever had. Quite a few were brought back to the church’.

Fr Michael Moloney writes:
‘Fr Coyne took a very keen interest in what Jesuits had done in Zambia since the coming of Frs Moreau and Torrend for whom he had a deep admiration. Admiration for people who did "great things for Christ" was a permanent attitude of his. His standard for a Jesuit was that he should be "a saint, a scholar and a gentleman" and he clearly tried to exemplify that in his own life. He was a kindly man yet at the same time a puzzle to many. Many wondered what "the real John Coyne was like" because externally he seemed to be set in a conventional spiritual mould and to be rather formal in much of his behaviour, so much so that one cannot escape the conclusion that he was a man with a conflict between his personality traits and what he considered Jesuit spirituality demanded of him. In Zambia he was faithful to his afternoon stroll during which he would meet people and through which he made some friends whose hospitality he was pleased to accept".

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 6th Year No 1 1931
Brussels Congress :
Fr. Rector (John Coyne) and Fr. J. O'Meara (Louvain) represented the College at the First International Gongress of Catholic Secondary Education, held at Brussels July 28 . August 2. Fr, O'Meara read a paper on State Aid in Irish Secondary Education. Our Irish Jesuit Colleges were well represented in the Exhibition organised by Fr. Corcoran S. J.

Irish Province News 34th Year No 4 1959

On 17th June Very Reverend Fr. General appointed Fr. Brendan Barry as Socius to Fr. Provincial in succession to Father John Coyne. Thus came to an end a term of office which had lasted for nearly a quarter of a century. This surely must be an easy record. Many members of the Province had known no other Socius and some of the younger generation might not have been able to name any of Fr. Coyne's predecessors. Provincials might come and go but Fr. Coyne remained, an abiding element in a changing world. In all, he worked under four Provincials; Fr. Kieran, during whose period of office he became Socius (22nd February, 1935), Fr. J. R. MacMahon, Fr. T. Byrne and Fr. M. O’Grady. On more than one occasion he deputised as Vice-Provincial. He had come to be regarded as an almost indispensable appendage of government, and then in June the appointment of a new Fr. Socius came as a reminder that even Socii are, after all, subject to the law of mutability.
At the celebration of his golden jubilee in 1956, Fr. Coyne said that his career in the Society had been a series of false starts and changes of direction. But these seemingly false starts, his interrupted classical studies, his years as Substitute to the English Assistant, as Rector of Belvedere and as Master of Novices were preparing him for what was to be the great work of his life. These experiences gave him an understanding of the day-to-day business of the government of the Society and of individual houses, and, of course, his impeccable Latin prose and mastery of curial style. At the same jubilee celebrations the Provincial for the time being and two former Provincials paid tribute to his skill in the dispatch of business, his loyalty, generosity and other personal qualities. To these the Province may add: his courtesy, tact, sympathy and good sense. The timid or diffident who considered a personal interview with Fr. Provincial too formidable found in Fr. Coyne the perfect intermediary. To all who had permissions to ask or MSS. for censorship or other small business to transact he was always approachable and gracious. The province takes this opportunity of thanking him and of expressing its admiration, Not to say amazement, at the cheerfulness with which year after year he went about the infinity of his important but monotonous tasks. It also extends a warm welcome to Fr. Barry in his new work.

Irish Province News 53rd Year No 3 1978

Obituary :

Fr John Coyne (1889-1978)

Father John Coyne was born in Dunmore, Co. Galway on 28 April 1889 where both his father and mother were teaching. Within a couple of years his father became an inspector of schools, and as a young inspector he was kept on the move: after a brief spell in Dublin he was posted to Tralee, then Cavan and then in 1902 to Cork. After three years with the Christian Brothers on Patrick’s Hill, John came to Clongowes in 1905. He used to say that he felt the first feeble stirrings of vocation while in St Patrick’s College, Cavan, but that the call was peremptory one night in his cubicle in Clongowes when he felt “visited” by an overpowering grace of God: “a wave of deep peace and brightest light flooded my soul to its deepest”.
Two aspects of his youth will surprise those of us who came to know him only after his curial training in Rome: his mother whose parents were English found her favourite reading in John Mitchell's “Jail Journal”; secondly one of the greatest disappointments of his youth was in losing the Junior Munster Final, in which he played as a forward, to Presentation College when at the last moment a sturdy Presentation full-back dropped a goal from half-way which soared between the posts. That he took exhibitions, medals and prizes in his stride is what one expects; his father used to con a chapter of St Luke’s Greek with him every Sunday.
Though only one year in Clongowes he was much in luck to find among his masters four scholastics: Tim Corcoran, Charlie Mulcahy, Patrick Connolly and William O’Keeffe. Among his classmates in that year’s Rhetoric were Paddy McGilligan, Tom Arkins, Tom O'Malley and J B O'Connell, later to become an authority on matters liturgical. Paddy McGilliagan beat him by 25 marks for a medal in Latin.
When he decided to offer himself to the Society the then Provincial, Father John S Conmee, began his chat in this way: “Well John, what makes you want to join the ‘crafties’: that is how Dublin priest speak of us?” Later Father Conmee visited I Rhetoric during Latin class, and John was asked to construe “O fons Bandusiae”.
In the following September eight novices turned up in Tullabeg: among them Hugh Kelly from Westport, John Deevy from Waterford, Henry Johnson from Belfast, Michael Meeney from Limerick, Denis Nerney and John from Cork. In Tullabeg for a year and a half Father James Murphy was his novice master: John liked to tell how Father Murphy, like an Old Testament Prophet, summoned all his novices round his bed, recalling for the last time the great principles of Ignatian spirituality by which his novices were to live. Father Murphy died on 28th March 1908, and his Socius, Fr Tighe took over until Father Michael Browne was appointed in August,
After his first vows on 8 September 1908, he and his fellows moved to another table and wore their birettas. For his first two years he was coached by Fr John Keane and Mr Dan Finn in Tullabeg, going to Dublin only to sit for the Royal University exams. In his third year 86 St Stephen's Green had become the Dublin College of the new National University, so the Juniors moved up to Milltown. His Greek Professor was Father Henry Browne and for Latin Paddy Semple.
He took his MA In 1912: his thesis dealt with Hellenism as a force in Eastern life and thought; he spent most of this year in Trinity Library as facilities in 86 were understandably limited. He spent the Christmas term teaching English and Latin in Belvedere, but early in the new year Father T V Nolan, recently appointed Provincial, sent him back to Milltown to prepare himself for the travelling studentship in Classics coming up in the following September.
John won the studentship and was posted to Innsbruck. By a stroke of luck he met on the Holyhead boat the extern examiner for his thesis and his oral, Professor J S Reid, a notable Ciceronian scholar; generously the Professor gave him a letter of introduction to Professor Rudolf von Scala in Innsbruck, chief expert on Polybius, the Greek historian of Rome. Scala gave him a warm welcome, the run of his library and welcome to his lectures. With disappointment on John’s part he suggested as the subject of his Bodenpreise (Ground Rents). As sources for his thesis in Innsbruck were thin, John moved to Munich after Christmas where there was a flourishing centre for the study of papyri under the direction of an Austrian named Wenger. Occasionally Wenger invited small groups to his home for a beer evening where his wife proved a charming hostess. Here he used to meet from time to time Hermann Grisar, then the authority on Luther, and Peter Lippart.
Summer vacation drew him back to Innsbruck; fortunately he had a fortnight's villa before the war broke out. The Jesuits undertook care of the wounded, beginning to trickle back from the Serbian front. With a crash course from a Viennese doctor, they took over a large building to serve as a hospital. In May 1915 British subjects had to get out of Innsbruck as Italy had entered the war and was planning to force the Brenner Pass. Three Irish Jesuits Fr Tim Halpin, recently ordained, John and Dan Finn made their way to Vienna.
John was drafted to Kalksburg, where he spent three years as a spare tyre: “parratus ad omnia” as he loved to quote to us, novices. One year on returning from Christmas holidays Prince Liechtenstein brought the mumps with him; spreading through the school rapidly some 150 boys were affected. As the Brothers had all been called to the colours, John spent from January to May as a nurse: more serious were one case of scarlatina, one of typhoid, and the most critically ill of all was the Archduke Godfrey of Salsburg down with serious pneumonia. Trying enough as the nursing with its broken nights was, John preferred it to being gallery prefect, sitting in a glass box, regulating traffic, ringing bells or covering a sick or weary prefect’s beat. Sanctions were difficult: no corporal punishment to deter slackers or offenders-only detention or, for the younger boys, putting them in the booby corner. One Pole, called the Black Prince because of his dark features, had been recalled from an English public school and found Kalksburg considerably more to his liking,
His next move was to Poland to finish his philosophy at Nowy Sacz (now Sardac), a town two hours journey south of Cracow. His main task was to prepare for his “de universa”, and in keeping with Jesuit custom, to learn the language of the house of studies in which he lived: this time a Slav language.
On returning from Poland he taught in Clongowes for the year 1919-20, and liked to tell that one of his boys later broke his gavel in a vain attempt to stem Kruschev’s eloquence at UNO in New York - and subsequently became the first Catholic Chancellor of Trinity.
In the Autumn of 1920 he went to Milltown for theology: by a war-time privilege he was ordained at the end of his second year on 15 August 1922. After two more years in theology he went to Exaten in eastern Holland to do his tertianship in a German community (1924-5).
On the status of 1925 he was assigned to study Scripture in Rome but at the last moment he was asked to fill a gap by becoming substitute secretary to the English Assistant, Fr Joseph Welsby, previously Tertian instructor in Tullabeg. For his first year and a half he lived in the German College while the new curia on the Borgo Santo Spirito was being built. He quickly learned the “stylus Curiae” and after three years Fr Wladimir Ledochowski, the General, told him that he had learned as much in the Curia as he was likely to learn and that he was sending him back to Ireland to become Rector of Belvedere.
Fr Martin Maher, a long-time novice master, was beginning to fail and John was appointed to replace him in the Spring of 1931. The present writer entered the novicehsip the following September; we were the only group to have him alone for our master. He was a dedicated Ledochowski man, as indeed was his then Provincial, Fr Larry Kieran, whose contact with Fr General was 99% epistolatry. Fr John had an outstanding devotion to Our Lord, at times over emotional in its expression; eager to tell us that we had not real Ignatian indifference unless we kept one foot in the air; insistent on the 'magis' of the Exercises which meant his novices must be grounded in “agere contra”, and, at least, have a desire to live in the third degree. I think it would not be unfair to describe him as a Christian stoic rather than as a Christian humanist. His war-time experiences had taken a great deal out of him and one sensed the strain. Many of us found it difficult to feel relaxed in our regular visits to him: we waited for an opening as he gazed out the window at Dairy hill and played rather nervously with a paper knife. He found “priming the pump” difficult.
Not that he was inhuman but he didn't believe in showing that side to his novices. He did to his Provincial when he wrote to say that, for days on end, apart form the Community, all he ever saw was the postman and, occasionally, a stray dog. A few months break from Emo towards the end of 1933 didn't help to reduce the tension under which he was living; he was simple and humble enough to ask his Provincial to accept his resignation.
If his first three appointments were each three years long, his next one was to last almost twenty-five years: February 1935 until mid June 1959. Over that span he served as Socius to four Provincials. I think he would like to be described as “idus Achates”; but a Socius in the Society is much more than a secretary; ex officio he is one of the four Province consultors. In Fr Kieran’s reign both he and his Socius were too like-minded. Though Fr Kieran met Fr Ledochowski only once in the General Congregation of 1938, from his appointment as Provincial in 1931 he was an all-out Ledochowski man: “actio in distans non repugnat”. His successor in the difficult war years, Fr John R MacMahon, knew his own mind as did his successor Fr Tommy Byrne who founded three houses and took on commitments in Northern Rhodesia - the Zambia of today. Father Louis O’Grady, for reasons of health and temperament, left Province decisions rest far too much on his Socius, Father John.
On retiring from his unselfish devotion to a typewriter for twenty five years, from letters and forms to Rome, from Collecting informations for fitness for Hong kong or Zambia, for suitability for ordinations, and for government, and, perhaps, most tedious of all, bringing out the annual “Catalogus”, he was posted to Gardiner Street as operarius. Even as Socius pastoral work appealed to him: for years he guided two praesidia of the Legion of Mary, his first experience of it being in Rome when an ecumenical praesidium was formed in the mid-twenties: it didn't last long as the non-Catholics couldn't stomach the rigidity of the Handbook. He struck up a real friendship with Paddy Reynolds, Lord Wicklow's astute partner in Clonmore and Reynolds. Though Paddy had a heart of gold, in language he’d outdo any trooper. As a result John translated a number of German books which, to his delight, Reynolds managed to sell- despite the fact that John had a taste fot the “turgid” German.
Five years later (1964) carrying out what he had taught us in Emo, the “magis” of the Exercises, he accepted the invitation of the Polish Archbishop of Lusaka to set the Mission Archives in order. Though his Provincial, Fr Charlie O'Connor, suggested a stay of six months, John, apart from one furlough, spent almost ten years in Zambia where he wished to leave his bones.
By 1966 a new presbytery had been built adjoining the modern Church of St Ignatius. With his work on the archives completed he joined the Irish parish community, taking on the duties of a curate at the age of 77: baptisms, marriages, pre-marriage courses, keeping the parish registers. As most of the community was working outside the house, he acted as porter, answered the phone, dealt with callers. One of the Community - no great admirer of John in his Socius days - prevailed on him to take a glass of grog every night, and so he learned to relax.
Returning to Zambia in 1969 after a break in Ireland, he was able to spend four days in Greece - from the human point of view the highlight of his life. Less than three years later he had to return to Ireland on stringent medical advice, but he refused to hang up his boots. Between bouts in hospital he continued translation work, was no “laudator temporis acti” but had a warm welcome, a keen interest in the theologians whose régime was so different to what he had experienced when Fr Peter Finlay and Matt Devitt were the stars in his student days (1920-1924).
May the Lord reward him for his enthusiasm and generosity; may he win for his two Jesuit nephews of whom he was so proud, for his three sisters and all the family, abundant grace.
PS. For most of the facts in this notice I have drawn from a sixty-one page typescript which Father John was prevailed upon to write in his last year in Milltown (1977): It is, in the main, Province history with little personal comment and remarkably restrained in passing judgments “discreta caritas”. (RBS).

Dargan, Herbert, 1918-1993, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/500
  • Person
  • 20 April 1918-22 June 1993

Born: 20 April 1918, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1937, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1951, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1955, Loyola, Tai Lam Chung, Hong Kong
Died: 22 June 1993, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Peter Faber community, Belfast, County Antrim at the time of death.

Transcribed : HIB to HK; 03/12/1966; MAC-HK to HIB 19/11/1991

Youngest brother of Bill - RIP 1983; Dan - RIP 2007

Great grandnephew of Daniel Murray, 1768-1852, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

Superior of the Irish Jesuit Mission to Hong Kong Mission: 21 June 1960-1965
Father General's Assistant for East Asia: 1966
Tertian Instructor, Tullabeg: 1978

Transcribed HIB to HK: 03 December 1966; MAC-HK to HIB: 19 November 1991

by 1956 at Ricci Hall Hong Kong - working
Mission Superior Hong Kong 21 June 1960
by 1966 at Rome, Italy (ROM) Assistant for East Asia
by 1977 at Regis, Toronto ONT, Canada (CAN S) Spiritual year
by 1978 Tertian Instructor

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :

Note from Daniel MacDonald Entry
At the Chapel of Ricci Hall, Catholic Hostel at the University of Hong Kong, a solemn Requiem Mass was offered last Thursday by Father Herbert Dargan, S.J. the present Warden of Ricci Hall, for the repose of the soul of one of his predecessors, Father Daniel McDonald, S.J., whose death occurred in Ireland on 14 May 1957.

◆ 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 born into the family of a prominent Dublin doctor. Following his education at Clongowes he was a pre-medical student before joining the Society in 1937. His elder brother Bill was already a Jesuit who was for many years procurator of the Irish Province, and his younger brother Dan also became a Jesuit and was head of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association for many years. Yet another brother was a magistrate in Hong Kong.

He did his Regency at Belvedere College SJ and a HDip in Education, and then he was ordained at Milltown Park i 1951. After Tertianship he was assigned to Hong Kong. he began studying Chinese at Cheung Chau and was then appointed Warden at Rici Hall.. Later he was Rector of Wah Yan Hong Kong (1955-1957).
In 1960 he was appointed Mission Superior in Hong Kong (1960-1965).

He was appointed to the Board of Education which produced a white paper “Reorganization of Primary & Secondary Education”. He was Chair of the “Catholic Grant Schools Council”. He freed Fr John Collins for fulltime social work, set up “Concilium” with Frs Ted Collins, John Foley and Walter Hogan. he also set up CMAC in 1963. He sent Fr John F Jones for special training in Marriage Life. He also sent Fr John Russell to Rome for training in Canon Law. he was involved with rehabilitation of discharged prisoners and he visited prisons.
He was also involve din the Executive Committee of the Hong Kong Housing Society, serving on four of its sub-committees.
He was also involved in religious broadcasting and began regular internal Jesuit communication with the “Hong Kong Newsletter”.

At his Golden Jubilee with Fr Séamus Doris, he was contrasted as being “mobile”, whereas Séamus, who had never missed a class in teaching (1954-1982) was said to be “stable”. He served in Rome as Fr General’s East Asian Assistant (1965-1975), was then Tertian Instructor in Tullabeg (1977-1986), and then went to Belfast to work as a spiritual director of priests

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 82 : September 1995


Fr Herbert Dargan (1918-1993)

20th April 1918: Born, Dublin
Early Education: Clongowes Wood College, and pre-medical year at University College Dublin
7th Sept. 1937: Entered the Society at Emo.
1939-1942: Juniorate: Rathfarnham - UCD Degree
1942 - 1945: Tullabeg - studying Philosophy
1945 - 1947: Regency: Crescent College, Limerick
1947 - 1948: Regency: Belvedere College (H. Dip. Ed.)
1948 - 1952: Milltown Park - Studying Theology
31st July 1951; Ordained, Milltown Park
1952-1953: Tertianship
1953 - 1955: Cheung Chau - Studying Chinese language
1955 - 1957: Ricci Hall - Superior and Warden
1957 - 1960: Wah Yan College - Rector and Principal
1960 - 1965: Superior, Hong Kong Mission
1965 - 1976; Jesuit Curia, Rome, Regional Assistant for Eastern Asia
1976 - 1977; Sabbatical, Toronto Tullabeg:
1977 - 1986: Tertian Instructor (Superior: 1983-86)
1986 - 1987: Milltown Park - Giving the Spiritual Exercises
1987 - 1989: Manresa - Giving the Spiritual Exercises and Director of NCPI
1989 - 1993: Belfast - Giving the Spiritual Exercises
22nd June 1993: Died in Cherryfield Lodge.

It was in Herbert's last year in Belfast that I arrived there. As a member of the British Province I was soon made to feel at home in Brookvale and this was very much due to his presence. Herbert was first and foremost a member not of the Irish Province but of the world-wide Society of Jesus. It showed in the way that he welcomed Jesuits from any part of the world. His interests too were far from provincial.

During the cricket season he would ask to share my “Guardian”; he would be glued to the TV during the snooker matches, and loved to forecast the next shot. He was at his best when, with a glass of Bushmills in his hand and a cigarette in his mouth, he was telling stories about his friend and hero Pedro Arrupe or encouraging Paddy Doyle in his more extra-terrestrial flights of philosophic fancy.

My most vivid memory of him is at the British Province Assembly the Easter before his death, We invited him to Leeds knowing that it was probably the last time he would be able to visit his many British Province friends. He spoke about his life in Belfast and said that Brookvale was the happiest community he had lived in. He spoke straight from the heart of how the community members prayed with each other and tried to support each other in ministry. It was his best experience of community life. By the many who attended that meeting, his words will long be remembered.

Herbert Dargan was a very warm and loving person. The enlarged photograph that we have hanging in the community room at Brookvale captures something of the freedom and warmth of the man. It was a privilege for me to have lived with him in his last days.

Ron Darwen

Working with Herbert and with Paddy Doyle on his Armagh Priests Survey, I came to appreciate his enormous wisdom. He could listen attentively to a point of view and eventually, without ever claiming to speak from mere authority, he gave his opinion firmly and confidently but without arrogance. His long association with NCPI courses for priests had given him an insight into the lives of diocesan priests as well as a sympathy and understanding which they deeply appreciated.

Over a period of a year we visited nearly every priest in the 60 parishes of the diocese. We met regularly as a threesome and also with the sponsoring committee and it was Herbert who eventually wrote the section on the personal life of the priest. In the light of Pastores dabo vobis and subsequent Roman instructions, Herbert's understandings and insights can be seen to be prophetic. His was a demand for an incarnate spirituality based on a formation and support structure which were firmly based in reality.

All his life experience was drawn on - in Hong Kong and Malaysia, the Far East, Rome and as Tertian Instructor, This reflection went on to the very end.

He drove from Belfast to Milltown Park for the Province Assembly when he was clearly a dying man. The journey back had to be taken in easy stages, but it was a journey he wanted to make. He fulfilled his ambition

Senan Timoney

Donnelly, Daniel, 1898-1975, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/126
  • Person
  • 18 October 1898-12 June 1975

Born: 18 October 1898, Dublin
Entered: 30 September 1919, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1929, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1936, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong
Died: 12 June 1975, Vinayalaya Novitiate, Mumbai, India

Part of the Campion School, Mumbai, Marharashtra, India community at the time of death

Older brother of D Leo Donnelly - RIP 1999

by 1922 at Valkenburg, Netherlands (GER I) studying
by 1927 at Innsbruck, Austria (ASR-HUN) studying
by 1932 at St Beuno’s, Wales (ANG) making Tertianship
by 1933 at Hong Kong
by 1934 at Catholic Mission, Ngau-Pei-Lan, Shiuhing (Zhaoqing), Guandong, China (LUS) - Language
by 1935 at Aberdeen, Hong Kong - working
by 1946 at St Mary’s, Kurseong, Darjeeling & Himalaya Railway (DH Ry), Darjeeling, West Bengal, India - teaching
by 1944 at Xavier, Park St, Kolkata, West Bengal, India (BEL M)
by 1951 at St Stanislaus, Bandra, Mumbai, India (TARR) teaching
by 1957 at St Xavier’s Mumbai, India (BOM) teaching
by 1963 at St Mary’s High School, Mumbai, India (BOM) teaching
by 1964 at De Nobili Pune (PUN) teaching
by 1968 at St Xavier’s, Mumbai, India (BOM) teaching
by 1973 at Campion School Mumbai, India (BOM)

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :

Note from Joseph TaiYu-kuk Entry
He was a teenager in Hong Kong when the Japanese invaded in December 1941. He had joined a group of a dozen Catholics who, it was hoped, might one day become priests, under the charge of Father Dan Donnelly SJ.

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
In his early years he had a brilliant academic career in the Sciences, and he produced a theory in ballistics which engineer’s used refer to as “Donnelly’s Theory”. he later lost interest in Science, but he did retain a fantastic memory for the pedigree of horses, and in India he became a national expert in field hockey.

Always unpredictable, he was remembered with affection by many in the Province for his engaging - if at time exasperating - eccentricities. He originally came to Hong Kong in 1932 as one of the early pioneers of the Irish Province’s new Mission, having already spent a year in Rome as sub-Secretary for Missions. After two years in Shiuhing studying Chinese and doing some teaching there, he was sent to Wah Yan College Hong Kong in 1935, and he was Prefect of Studies there until 1939. In 1940 he began a small Jesuit Apostolic School at Tai Lam Chung which was intended to encourage vocations to the Society.

He spent 12 years in Hong Kong before heading to India on a mission of mercy with 12 Chinese boys towards the end of WWII in late 1944. He enjoyed India and they liked him there, so after a short return to Canton and Hong Kong after the war, he went to Mumbai in 1949 and spent the rest of his life there.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 10th Year No 3 1935
Works by Father Donal Donnelly SJ :

  1. “A Prisoner of Japan” - (Sheed & Ward).
  2. “Life of B. Charles Spinola, S.J.”
  3. “A Nobleman of Italy” - Sands & Co.
  4. “Life of St. AIoysius”
  5. “A Gallant Conquistador” - Browne & Nolan
  6. “Life ofB. Rudolf Acquaviva and Companions” - MS

Irish Province News 21st Year No 2 1946


India :
Fr. D. Donnelly gave a series of Lenten Conferences to the men's sodality there on The Authority of the State, Obedience to Law. The Catholic in the Municipality, The Catholic in the State.

Fr. Donnelly to Province News, 20-3-46 :
“A batch of Chinese Navy men passed through Bombay on the way to England for training in December-January last. The Naval Chaplain brought me along to hunt up the Catholics among them. There proved to be very few Catholics, but two of the pagans were old Wah Yan boys, and they gave me a tremendous welcome. I got a big batch to Midnight Mass at Christmas. I also had one of the Wah Yan boys and three others under instruction, but they left for England before I could finish. However, I gave them a letter to the nearest Parish Priest in England.

Irish Province News 37th Year No 2 1962

Fr. Daniel Donnelly, St. Mary's High School, Bombay 10, writes :
I am at present in practically sole charge (one Brother to collect fees, one Father to teach Hindi) of a grand school of 1,100 boys, more than half of them Catholics. We get quite a few vocations every year; this year I am praying for half-a-dozen. The boys are mostly Goans, grand people. The non-Catholic boys are Parsees, Moslems and Hindus; and while very, very few are ever converted, they are wonderfully responsive to moral instruction, easily the most consoling classes which I teach. These young Indians are like no other boys whom I have taught in this : that once they take to you they give you their heart and are astonishingly loyal and friendly.
Retiring age over here is 65, so I have only another year to run as Principal. Then I hope to get away to “real” mission work in the districts. I'd have to learn Marathi, of course, but I learn languages easily, T.G.
We shall see.

Irish Province News 50th Year No 3 and 4 1975

Obituary :

Fr Don Donnelly (1896-1975)

In his letters to various Jesuits in Ireland and Bombay, Don's brother, Fr Leo SJ, St Albert's College, Ranchi, wrote as follows:
“You will have been informed by cable of my brother’s death. He suffered a severe stroke in March and was paralysed on his left side. He became progressively weaker as he was unable to retain solid food. I was with him during the summer holidays, but started back on 10th June. After my return here I received a telegram announcing his death on 12th June, It was, in fact, a merciful release, as it was painful to see so active a man reduced to helplessness. Still, it makes me feel rather lonely.
Donal (latinised in the Society to Daniel) had a very full and happy life. For his early life I can supply a few details. He had an exceptionally brilliant academic record. Under the old ‘Intermediate’ system he won a 1st Class Exhibition in each Grade, and at least one Gold Medal (first place in all Ireland in a given subject) each year (details in the Belvederian). At UCD his record is still, I think, unsurpassed. He took seven subjects in his first year, doing First Arts and First Science simultaneously, and got 1st Honours in all seven and 1st place in five, plus the Delaney Scholarship (this could be checked by reference to the files in UCD). He scored very high marks in the BSc, and MSc (equivalent to a PhD today as it involved research) He produced a theory of ballistics which engineers used to refer to as ‘Donnelly's Theory’. He was also enrolled as a student in Trinity College (his father's university) and won some prizes there - in particular a Foundation Scholarship. He entered the Society still under 21.
He inherited his love of and knowledge of horses from his father, who was an excellent judge. Don had a fantastic memory for the pedigree of horses. I think he carried the whole Stud Book in his head, and knew the breeding of every horse running at that time. When he entered the Society he put all that completely aside, never 'talking horses'. It was only in 1963, when age compelled his retirement from headmastership and he was sent as Minister to our scholasticate in Pune (Poona), that he took it up again. There he discovered a number of stud farms in the neighbourhood, and seemed to take it as a hint from the Lord that it was permissible to use his talent in this field of apostolate. If you really know horses, you are accepted in the horsey confraternity, and so he moved with ease in that circle. At least he saw apostolic opportunities in meeting managers, owners and jockeys on their own ground. He liked to meet Irish jockeys who came to Bombay to ride, and he did them good. Ask Johnny Roe about that.
Don spent so little time in Ireland that he is not well known in the Province - now probably only by those whom he taught in Clongowes from 1923 to 26. But I know that he remained somewhat in touch with the Brutons of Kildare.
It would be difficult to discover the number of priestly vocations he fostered wherever he happened to be. During all his extremely successful career as Prefect of Studies he was above all interested in boys, rather than studies as such. The way he took up hockey in Bombay is an indication of that. It gave him a beneficial influence over a very large number of young people.
Naturally I am a bit prejudiced. All my life he has been an immense inspiration to me, and I still can't quite realise that he is gone. One would like to think that his influence will continue to do good, at least through his publications.
In spite of the amazing amount of work he managed to fit into the day, he always said two rosaries in addition to his Divine Office. Here is a quotation from a letter from a Hindu friend of his: ‘I was very grieved to learn that your dear brother, my good friend, passed away on 12th June. For the past many years we used to meet in Bombay during the annual bloodstock sales, and I used to look forward to the pleasure of seating him by my side and inviting comments on my lots for sale. In the process I learnt a great deal and valued his advice which was always unbiassed. I shall miss him sadly’.
From a letter of one of the boys Don brought from China to India, who entered the novitiate but was advised to leave on account of scruples (apparently Don and he corresponded for 25 years): ‘He was, I think, my ideal man. As a small boy, I was afraid of him, and then I grew to have an extraordinary respect for him both as a priest and for his intelligence; and all the time I had a sincere affection for him. My wife often says I have two fathers, my own and Father Donnelly. Now I certainly know that is true’. (The writer is now an artist and schoolmaster in England).
In case you have not got it otherwise, a short account of Don’s coming to India. In 1939, with no more scholastics coming from Ireland, the Language School in Hong Kong was turned into an Apostolic School. Don and Ned Sullivan were in charge of about 30 boys. When the Japanese invaded Hong Kong, the School had to be abandoned. Don and some other Fathers made their way into Free China. Don went to an Apostolic School run by the Maryknoll Fathers, where twelve of his boys joined him. In 1943 the Japs made a drive to eliminate some air-fields used by the Americans, so Don, his boys and some Fathers had to move west. They ended up in Kunming in the south-west corner of China, nearest India. Eventually they were air-lifted to India ‘over the hump’ by RAF planes returning to India after having brought military supplies to China. In Calcutta he met Fr Conget, Superior of Bombay, who advised him to bring the boys to Bandra, the only boys' school which has an almost entirely Catholic pupil intake. Don remained there even after the end of the war to let the senior boys finish their matric exam. Then in 1947 he returned by sea to Hong Kong. The authorities there were not so keen on a large number of Chinese candidates, so most of the boys were ‘brushed off’. Only three were accepted, One left in the novitiate (scruples), one left in philosophy (lack of grey matter), one has been ordained - Fr Joseph Tai SJ.
Don went up to Canton, where he took charge of the Sacred Heart School (formerly run by the de la Salle Brothers for the Archbishop). When the Commies came in he was pushed out, and asked to return to India rather than remain in Hong Kong.
While learning Chinese in 1932, after some months with a teacher in Shiuhing, Don went to a village on the West river to to get practice by acting as assistant priest. Returning to the presbytery one day, he found a man chained to the railing of the church. The man was a leper, caught stealing and condemned to death. He was to be shot the following morning. Entering into conversation, Don discovered that the unfortunate man's mother had been a Catholic, though of course unable to practise her - religion once she had been engulfed in her husband's 'extended family'. Helped by the PP, Don instructed the man, gave him some food, and went back to supper, On an impulse the PP decided to baptise the man that evening - very fortunately, as the man was shot so early in the morning that they had no opportunity to speak to him again. The man was christened ‘Dismas?’

In Bombay, 1944-1975 (from the Bombay Province newsletter Samachar, July 1975):
Father Daniel Donnelly, after having laboured in Hong Kong and China for 12 years, came to Bombay on a mission of mercy with 15 Chinese boys. He liked us and we liked him, and after safely depositing his boys in their native land, he returned to Bombay for good and worked like a Trojan here for the next 25 years and more until he was struck by partial paralysis.
During these years he had time to work in most of our Bombay City houses, generally in the capacity of Rector and/or Principal and/or Minister and/or Parish Priest. He was never at the Institute of Education, Sodality House or Diocesan Seminary. At Vinayalaya he was only for some weeks as a sick man. De Nobili College, Poona, too had him for a couple of years as Minister and treasurer, and his last community was the one of the Christian Brothers in Bassein.
Barring the last three months, which he spent at the Holy Spirit Hospital or in the novitiate infirmary, he had always been in excellent health. He believed in brisk walking, light meals, early rising and hard quick work. Since childhood he loved horses, and from the day he landed in India he loved hockey.
His hobbies were solving a daily cross-word puzzle (for a time he composed one daily), an occasional game of patience, reading novels and also other more serious stuff (including science magazines - he was an MSc); and writing articles (by the dozen, and keeping two or three series abreast) for the Messenger and other papers. Many an author did not know (?) who had censored his book; Fr Donnelly knew at least one of the censors. Organizing school hockey leagues and tournaments and watching the games he considered not a hobby but part and parcel of his work in the all-round education of the boys.
As Rector and School Principal he could not be accused of curtailing the freedom of his subordinates or unduly interfering in their spheres of action. He expected every Jesuit, teacher or boy to do his duty. Even in the days of greater regimentation in schools, he could not pass as a disciplinarian.
He trusted boys, even when he knew some would take advantage of his kindness and liberality. Few did more than he did, chiefly in Bandra days, to foster vocations to the Society (for Bombay, Hazaribagh, Jamshedpur). Yet it was well known that in his optimism he was inclined to count his candidates before they were hatched. Yet, in later years, he could count quite a few Jesuits whom he had encouraged to break the egg-shell. Some will remember the vocational booklets he wrote and the Bombay Vocation Exhibition (for the Seminary and for religious orders of men and women) he organized in Bandra.
He loved the Society and found it hard to reconcile his loyalty to the Jesuit spirit with some of the changes introduced in the last decade. In his lovable frankness and literary wit he showed what he thought of some modern trends in his devastating piece of satire - which he called parable or vision - whereby he regaled(?) the ears of scores of fellow Jesuits assembled on the terrace of St Xavier's High School one evening in 1969 to celebrate his 50 years in the Society.
Although his speech in ordinary conversation was at times difficult to follow there were some stories too about the legibility of his handwriting even when in block capitals), hardly anyone could miss a word when he spoke in public, which he did often. For a couple of years he was entrusted with the monthly domestic exhortation (you may recall that ancient custom) at St Xavier’s High School. He was always original, even if not to everybody's taste. Many a Catholic in Bandra, St Mary's and St Xavier's made it a point to attend Fr Donnelly's Sunday Mass to hear his sermons. You could never predict the subject of the homily, but most people found it interesting and profitable. On a certain Sunday he spoke on some changes in the Liturgy. The following Sunday he read out from the ambo two letters on the subject he had received from the pews during the week.
His last months in a sick bed must have been a severe trial. Fortunately he had most of the time his younger brother Leo from Ranchi with him. Many others of the Vinayalaya community helped him in his hour of need. He mellowed during those last 100 days. Illness bridged for him the generation gap that had opened before him.
Unshorn novices in mufti watched over him day and night. He was grateful to them. For him they were a concrete token of the motherly love of the Society he had joined in far-away Ireland when the century (though no longer he) was in its teens.
After a Eucharistic concelebration at St Peter’s, Bandra, he was buried on June 13, in the porch of the church and beside the school that had been his first centre of apostolate in India.
Fr Don Donnelly’s curriculum vitae shows the man's adaptability to varying circumstances: 1898 - born in Dublin; 1919 - Jesuit novitiate in Tullabeg; 1925 - philosophy in Valkenburg; 1927 - theology in Innsbruck; 1929 - ordained in Dublin; 1930 - Subsecr, of Missions, Rome; 1931 - tertianship; 1932 - arrival in China, teaching in Shiuhing; 1933 - studying Chinese language; 1934 - Wah Yan, Hong Kong, teaching in Regional Seminary; 1935 - Prefect of Studies, Wah Yan; 1936 - final vows; 1940 - director of Minor Seminary, Hong Kong; 1944 - arrival in Bandra (India) with Chinese boys, teaching; 1947 · back to Canton (China), teaching; 1949 - back in India, studying Hindi in Ranchi; 1950 - Rector of St Stanislaus High School, Bandra; 1956 - Minister, St Xavier's College; 1957 - Principal and Minister, St Mary's High School; 1963 · de Nobili College, Minister and Treasurer; 1965 - Minister and Treasurer, St Xavier's College; 1972 - Principal and Superior, Campion School, Bhopal; 1974 - chaplain to Christian Brothers, Bassein road; 1975 - death at Vinayalaya, 12th June; burial in Bandra, 13th.

Obituary :

Fr Don Donnelly (1896-1975)

More about Fr Don Donnelly († 12th June 1975)

When the last number of the Province News had gone to press, the editor discovered fifteen pages of notepaper which Fr Fergus Cronin, Rector of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, had filled with this account of Fr Don:
For one who was so well known in the countries in which he worked, Fr Daniel Donnelly, who died last June in Bombay, was relatively little known in Ireland. This was largely due to the fact that apart from his noviceship and his period in the Colleges, all his life in the Society was spent abroad,
He came from a Dublin family. His father was a doctor practising in Parnell square, and he went to school at Belvedere.
He entered the Society in 1919, having already obtained a Master of Science degree. My recollection may be at fault, but I think I remember him telling me that he had got a scholarship to Trinity College, Dublin, and that he attended lectures there, in order to fulfil the conditions of the cash grant, and also studied for a degree at University College, Dublin.
Having finished his novitiate, he studied philosophy in Valkenburg, came back for his Colleges to Clongowes and then did his theology in Innsbruck.
After tertianship he spent a year in the Curia in Rome as assistant to the Secretary of the Missions, and from there he went to work in the Missions - in Hong Kong.
He studied Chinese (Cantonese) in the Portuguese Mission at Shiuhing and then came to teach in Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, which had just been given to the Society by its founders. Again my memory may be at fault, but I believe I heard that while the negotiations regarding our taking over the College were in progress, Fr Donnelly dropped several Miraculous Medals into the grounds!
After a few years he was made Prefect of Studies in Wah Yan College and was in this position until just before the beginning of World War II. He was extremely well known in Hong Kong because of his position in the world of education. He had very positive ideas on most subjects, and in education he believed in being very firm, but he was also very approachable. A recently published book by Fr P O'Connor of the Columban Fathers, under the title Buddhists find Christ, gives a number of accounts, written by the persons themselves, of their conversion to Christianity. One of these was Dr Lert Srichandra, a Thai doctor educated in Wah Yan College and later in UCD. The book recounts many very amusing conversations, often held late at night in Wah Yan, between Dr Lert and Fr Donnelly. In his account, Dr Lert gives a great deal of credit for his finding the answers to his problems to the very direct, frank and friendly handling by Fr Donnelly of a young student's fumbling approaches to the mysteries of our faith. Dr Lert has many pages of such interchange, all very revealing of the mentality of both of these men.
Just before World War II struck Hong Kong, Fr Donnelly had collected a group of teenagers, who had shown some signs of a possible vocation to the priesthood or to the Society. These were known to all of Ours in Hong Kong by Don's name for them, “the little lads”. They were in his care in the Language School in Tai Lam Chung, and when the war came, Don succeeded, first in getting these lads out of Hong Kong to the port of Kwang Chow Wan, and then to the part of South China not occupied by the Japanese. Finally he got them flown over “The Hump” from Kunming in Yunnan province to Calcutta in India. From Calcutta he brought them by train across India to Bombay and finally was able to house them in St Stanislaus College in Bandra, just outside Bombay. Many years later, Don was to be Rector of this college.
After World War II, Don brought the group of young men back safely to Hong Kong. Of them Fr Joseph Tai is the only one in the Society, but many of the others grew into pillars of the Church and of the community in other walks of life.
Returning after this tremendous odyssey to Hong Kong, Don was able to arrange the future of these young men, and then was himself assigned to Canton. There he was a teacher in the Sacred Heart School, but was also concerned with the planning of a Jesuit secondary school which was to be built there. Fr Thomas Ryan was the Superior of the Hong Kong Mission, and his idea of a Jesuit college was one which would in every way make its own impression on all, not only for its standards of excellence in teaching, but also as being a building such as to do us credit. Don was always a man whose idealism was to be realised in a very practical form, and at one time he brought a brick down from Canton to show Fr Ryan what a suitable material it could be from which to build the proposed college. Fr Ryan’s reaction, it is believed, was to throw it back to him in disgust!
Don was in Canton until the communists came to take over South China. He was fairly sure that they would also take over Hong Kong, and in any case, since for the foreseeable future we had no work in Canton, he in his practical way wanted to go elsewhere. To Fr Ryan, leaving China at such a time was not to be thought of - it betrayed a lack of faith in the future of our work in China, a thing he refused even to think of. To Don, it was just being practical to find some other field in which to labour. Fr Ryan rather hurt Don by the manner in which he viewed Don’s desire to go to India, where he was assured he would be very welcome and much needed. But Don was never a man to be discouraged or even much affected by what others thought of him or his actions, so, about 1950, off he went to start a new life in India.
In India he later became Rector (as mentioned above) and Principal of St Stanislaus, Bandra. He was also Principal in several other Jesuit colleges, ending his teaching career as Superior and Principal of Campion High School in Bombay.
During these long years he developed many new interests. Most of those who knew him remember him, apart from his great ability in the scholastic field, as the man who produced the standard book on hockey (for which, I have been told, he was decorated by the Indian government). He is remembered also as an incessant writer of verse. Every school annual of the colleges where he was Principal (or Superior, or both) contains many poems, some as short as sonnets, some quite long narrative poems on current or on spiritual themes.
When finally he retired as a teacher he went to St Augustine’s High School, Bassein, a school run by the Christian Brothers (to quote his own words from one of his last letters) ‘where I act as chaplain, teach a little, and make myself generally useful’.
He enjoyed really good health until April 1975, when he suffered a severe stroke which left him paralysed on the left side. He was moved to the Jesuit novitiate of Vinayalaya, Andheri, Bombay, where he was cared for until a second stroke caused his death.
His death leaves the Society the poorer by the loss of one of its most loyal sons. In his later years, by all accounts, he had become rather critical of many of the changes taking place in the Society, particularly in the life-style of its members, but this was largely due to the high standards he had set himself, and which he believed he should see everywhere.
His love of the Society is seen in all of his writings. He was a man who studied the theory of anything in which he was concerned. This is seen in his writing his book on hockey. He saw everything as the carrying into reality of the theory which he had formulated about that particular subject. This too is seen in his writings about Society subjects, eg, his pamphlet on the Spiritual Exercises and his short Life of Blessed Charles Spinola. This latter was an adaptation of an Italian life which had attracted his attention. This tendency to take over the work of others is seen when later he produced a catechism in Chinese and English which was largely based on My Catholic faith by Bishop Morrow. Don was always practical, and if someone else had written something that he thought well expressed what he wanted to say, he felt free to use this material in a way that some of his fellow Jesuits felt was a little too close to the original without sufficient acknowledgement.
He was a man of tremendous energy, who faced without any self-consciousness any situation which arose. He was a man of great and strong convictions. Above all, he was a really observant religious whose love for the Society came through in everything he did or wrote. He had thousands of friends and admirers, and I think it is true that of this great number of men of all kinds who admired him for one or other of his many gifts, all saw him first and foremost as a man of God

Irish Province News 52nd Year No 2 1977

Calcutta Province

Extract from a letter from a Jesuit of Calcutta Province, Darjeeling Region (Fr. Edward Hayden, St. Joseph's College, North Point, Darjeeling, Western Bengal)

I was one of the old “Intermediate” boys of the Christian Brothers, Carlow. I left off in 1910, 67 years ago, at the end of June. Yes, we learnt the Gaeilge. The Brothers - or some I met, one in particular, a Brother Doyle, was very keen on it. The others didn't teach it as it was only in the “Academy” that they began with languages: French, Gaeilge, Algebra, Euclid and of course English. (5th Book - Senior Elementary Class - was followed by the “Academy”). The Brothers had dropped Latin just before I joined the “Academy”. We were living at a distance of 5 Irish miles from Carlow, and I was delicate, so I often fell a victim of 'flu, which didn't help me to make progress in studies - made it very hard: but at that time the rule was “do or die”. There was only one excuse for not having home work done – you were dead! That was the training we had: it stood me in good stead through life; it is the one thing I am grateful for.
We had a number of Irishmen here, a handful: Fr Jos Shiel, Mayo, died in Patna. Fr James Comerford, Queen's County, died in Bihar. I met the Donnelly brothers, they were Dubliners. The one who died (Don) was Editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger. Many of his stories were about horse-racing - he must have read plenty of Nat Gould when he was a boy! (Nat wrote a number of horse-racing stories supposed to have been in Australia). There are three Irishmen in Ranchi: Frs Donnelly, Phelan and Lawlor. Fr Phelan has spent nearly his whole life in India. As a boy he was in North Point, and after his Senior Cambridge he joined the Society. At that time there was only the Missio Maior Bengalensis of the Belgian Province. The Mission took in half or more of north-east India - Patna, Ranchi and south of it, Assam, Bhutan and Sikkim - an area four or five times that of Ireland! Needless to say, there were parts of it which had no SJ within a hundred miles ...Down here in the Terai where I am “hibernating” out of the cold of Darjeeling, some forty-five years ago there was no priest. One or two of the professors of theology from Kurseong, some 40 miles away, used to visit this district at Christmas and Easter. It was very malarious. Catholics from Ranchi came here to work on the tea plantations. Then a Jesuit was sent to reside in it. Now the district has schools and Jesuits galore, also non-Jesuits. Great progress has been made. The Salesians took up Assam, the American SJs took over Patna. The Northern Belgians took over Ranchi and the Southern Belgians took Calcutta. (The Belgian Province grew till its numbers reached 1400. Then, about 1935, Belgian separated into Flemings - North - and Walloons - South). Ranchi was given to the North and Calcutta to the South. On the 15th August last year (1976) Calcutta was raised from being a Vice Province to be a full-blown Province. 100% of those joining the SJ now are sons of India. Madura in the south has been a Province for years. Nearly all the Europeans are dead: no more are allowed to come permanently unless for a very, very special reason, India has begun to send her sons to East Africa in recent years.
Fr Lawlor is Irish-born but somehow joined the Australian Province about the time it started a half-century or so ago.
Brother Carl Kruil is at present in charge of an ashram: a place for destitutes, in Siliguri. Silguri is a city which grew up in the last forty years around the terminus of the broad gauge railway and the narrow (two-foot) toy railway joining the plains with Darjeeling - one of the most wonderful lines in the world, rising from 300 feet above sea-level, 7,200 feet in about 50 miles and then dropping down to about 5,500 feet in another ten. Three times it loops the loop and three times climbs up by zig-zags. I seem to remember having met Fr Conor Naughton during the war. Quite a number of wartime chaplains came to Darjeeling. The mention of Siliguri set me off rambling. Br Krull remembers his visit to Limerick. (He stayed at the Crescent, 11th 13th June, 1969). He is a born mechanic. Anything in the line of machinery captivates him. He has to repair all the motors and oil engines – some places like this have small diesel generators which have to be seen to from time to time and all other kinds of machinery: cameras, typewriters etc. At present he comes here to do spot welding (electric welding of iron instead of bolts and nuts.
The PP, here is replacing an old simple shed with a corrugated iron roof by a very fine one with brick walls and asbestos-cement roof. Two years ago or so, the roof was lifted by a sudden whirlwind clean off the wooden pillars on which it rested. Since then he has been saying the Sunday Masses on the veranda of a primary school. In this school 235 children receive daily lessons and a small mid-day meal. The Sisters are those of St. Joseph of Cluny – all from South India. They are really heroines: no work is too difficult for them. They do all their own work and cook for us. Their Vice-Provincial is from somewhere in the centre of the “Emerald Gem”. They are growing in numbers and do great work, running a dispensary amongst other things. The church is very broad, approximately 90 by 60 feet. As no benches are used - people sit on the floor - it will hold nearly 450 people at a time. The altar is in one corner. :
Fr Robert Phelan (Ranchi Province) had a visit one night from dacoits (armed robbers), but with help managed to beat them off.
Ranchi had several of these raids last year. In nearly every case the dacoits managed to get some cash.
One night about two weeks ago a rogue elephant (one that is wild and roaming away from the herd) came to a small group of houses close by. A man heard the noise and came out. The elephant caught him by the leg and threw him on to a corn stack - fortunately. The corn stack of rice waiting to be thrashed was quite broad and flat on top! He was very little the worse for the experience. And that is the end of the news.
One more item: please ask the new Editor of the Irish Province News to let me have copies as (?) and send them by overland (surface mail). Even if they are three months coming, they will be news. God bless you and reward you handsomely.
Yours in our Lord,
Edward Hayden, SJ (born 15th October 1893, entered S.J. Ist February 1925, ordained 21st November 1933, took final vows on 2nd February 1936. Now conf. dom. et alumn. and script. hist. dom. at the above address).

Fleury, Dermot, 1918-2001, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/599
  • Person
  • 09 September 1918-04 October 2001

Born: 09 September 1918, Penang, Malaysia
Entered: 07 September 1936, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1949, Fourvière, Lyon, France
Final Vows: 02 February 1954, Chiesa del Gesù, Rome, Italy
Died: 04 October 2001, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Coláiste Iognáid, Galway community at the time of death.

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1948 Lyon, France (LUGD) studying
by 1952 at Rome, Italy (ROM) Substitute English Assistancy Secretary

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 112 : Special Edition 2002


Fr Dermot Fleury (1918-2001)

9th Sept. 1918: Born in Penang, Malaya
Early education in Dominican Convent, Wicklow, and Clongowes Wood College
7th Sept. 1936: Entered the Society at Emo
8th Sept. 1938: First Vows at Emo
1938 - 1841: Rathfarnham - Studied Arts at UCD
1941 - 1944: Tullabeg - Studied Philosophy
1944 - 1946: Clongowes - Regency; Teacher; Certificate in Education
1946 - 1947: Milltown Park - Studied Theology
1947 - 1950: Fourviere, France - Studied Theology
31st July 1949: Ordained at Lyons
1950 - 1951: Tertianship at Rathfarnham
1951 - 1954: Curia, Rome - Sub-Secretary to English speaking Assistancy
2nd Feb. 1954: Final Vows at Gesu, Rome
1954 - 1960: Belvedere - Teacher
1960 - 1962: Clongowes - Teacher
1962 - 1968: Emo - Teacher of Latin/Greek to Novices
1968 - 1988: Milltown Park - Institute Librarian; Community Librarian; Librarianship Diploma at UCD
1988 - 1991: Tullabeg - Prefect of People's Church
1991 - 2001: St. Ignatius, Galway
1991 - 1996: Parish Curate
1996 - 2001: Assisted in Church, Guestmaster.

Fr. Fleury was admitted to Cherryfield on August 3rd, 2001. His balance was poor, and there was a marked weakness on his left side. Following a brain scan he was found to have a brain tumour. He attended Dr Moriarty, and had a short course of radiotherapy. His condition continued to deteriorate, and he died peacefully in Cherryfield on Thursday, 4th October, at 3.45 a.m.

Eddie Fitzgerald writes....
When I was asked to write Dermot's obituary I consented with some misgivings. We were exact contemporaries and lived together in Clongowes, in Emo, in Rathfarnham and Tullabeg. We were patients together in Cherryfield during Dermot's final illness. So I suppose it was natural that I should be asked to write the obituary. But my misgivings began in the last weeks of his life. It was then that I fully realized that I was not really among his circle of friends - those few Jesuits, but many lay men and women, who really knew Dermot in the intimacy of friendship. I knew the facts of his life, but I did not really know Dermot himself as true friends know one another.

In CWC, he and I had Father John Sullivan teaching us Latin and R.K., and we were present with Dick Brenan and Bob Thompson at his requiem Mass and burial on that winter's day in February, 1933. I am sure Father John's prayers (even more than his example) turned our thoughts and our steps towards Emo. Dermot was among the brightest in the Rhetoric class of "36, competing against Eoin O'Malley and Harry Counihan for first place in our weekly exams. He was a fine athlete, playing as hooker in the Senior Cup team and also having a place on the cricket eleven. I could not claim to have been a friend of his. My attitude to Dermot would have been admiration streaked with green-eye.

I have no memories of Dermot in the noviceship. In fact, I think the noviceship training set the lasting pattern of a cautious approach to friendship between us scholastics. While we tried to come to an intimate interior knowledge of Christ, we were cautioned against the danger of particular friendships. We could be friends in the Lord without being attached to any particular novice friends.

In Rathfarnham I studied classics with Dermot and Tony Baggot. The class was very small, the three of us with about four Spiritans. Strange to say the two years of shared classes and courses did not draw us any closer. Thinking of the text of Scripture, “A brother helped by a brother is like a strong city”, I am surprised today that we never turned to one another for help and support. He went to Tullabeg in 1941, I followed him a year later. If the shared study of classics in Rathfarnham did not draw us closer together, the two years in Tullabeg only confirmed us in our mutual respect and reserve. When he went to Clongowes in 1944, we would not live together again until 1973 when I returned to Milltown after seven years in Mungret, finding Dermot had been in the community since '68.

Dermot's three years of theology in Fourviere (47 to '50) and his three years in the Curia in Rome as sub-secretary to the English-speaking Assistancy (51 to '54) tended to confirm him in his character as a loner in the Province. He was strengthened in his firm loyalty to Father General and the Pope. The concept of a loyal opposition was totally anathema to him. If Vatican II showed signs of the Rhine flowing into the Tiber, Dermot was not sure that the confluence was good for the Roman stream. When he came to Milltown as Librarian in the Milltown Institute he would have shared many of Sean Hyde's misgivings about some of the developments in theology since Vatican II. He did not share the widespread enthusiasm for Rahner and Lonergan but, with John Paul II and Sean Hyde, considered Von Balthasar the greatest contemporary theologian. I was teaching some courses for the Shorts' from '73 to '83 but Dermot and I never discussed theology. I was convinced he was out of sympathy with what he and Seán Hyde saw as the new style of supermarket theology.

But if he was a silent critic of the Institute's aggiornamento in the teaching of theology and philosophy, his work as Librarian made him a major contributor to the work of the Institute. With his characteristic courage and dedication, he undertook the total renewal of the library register. To equip himself for this task he obtained a diploma in librarianship in UCD. Then with help from Michael Ryan he set about re classifying all the theology and philosophy books according to the system of the Library of Congress. His relentless work over many years laid the foundation for the computerized register now operated by the librarian and her two assistants. But he was not content to devote long hours every day to the tedious task of re-classifying the books. Come Saturday, he would spend hours sweeping the library and even duşting the books shelf by shelf. Thursday was his shopping day for the library. He would get an early bus in to town. Among the shops he would visit, Greene's in Clare Street was specially favoured. He became a firm and lasting friend of Mr Pembrey and his sons.

While Dermot was held in the highest esteem and respect by all in the Jesuit community, few if any could claim him as a close friend. And yet, as later in Tullabeg and Galway, he had a large circle of men and women friends. He had friends among the hardy group of all-year-round swimmers at the Forty Foot. Through his work as Librarian he made many friends - Mr Pembrey and his sons, a former lady librarian in UCD, German friends, made while attending courses in the Goethe Institute. One of our longest serving telephonists remained closer to Dermot than to anyone else in the community. He had a charism for friendship. His circle of friends embraced old and young, men and, perhaps even more, women and children.

I feel sure he found his change to the church in Tullabeg a sacrifice. Contact with many friends made during his twenty years in Milltown was made more difficult. Before he left Milltown he asked me to visit a widow in Cherryfield Avenue that he had supported by regular visits since the death of her husband. Having no local contacts at all, I was glad to enter into his good work. When she died some years later, he came up from Galway for the requiem Mass in Beechwood Church. We concelebrated the Mass and I was in admiration of his homily full of warm human sympathy and the firm hope of the Resurrection. Not long before his last illness, he came up from Galway again to celebrate the requiem of Mr Pembrey, whom he had often visited during the last months in a nursing home.

In the short three years as prefect of the people's church in Tullabeg, he made another circle of friends and he used to visit them from Galway on his days off. Among his parishioner friends he was very devoted to the family who ran the Post Office in Rahan. Dermot's last ten years were spent working in the church in Galway. I only met him in the summer when he came to spend his villa in Milltown or in Belvedere, visiting his large circle of friends from the Milltown years. I attended his requiem Mass in October '01, and John Humphreys' homily, together with the colorful reminiscences of the community, made me fully aware of Dermot's charism for friendship. Of course he had many friends from the parish but his circle of friends extended far beyond the parish boundaries. Unlike the Forty Foot, which was a male preserve when Dermot was in Milltown, Blackrock in Galway was not so exclusive and among his swimming friends was an “exotic mermaid from Russia”.

I was recovering from a prostate operation in Cherryfield when Dermot paid me a visit on August 2nd. He was coming to spend his villa in Milltown visiting his family and his many friends from the old days. He admitted being very tired from work in the church and attending to summer visitors. The very next day he was admitted to Cherryfield suffering from serious loss of balance - the first signs of the brain tumour that was to lead to his death two months later.

I treasure two memories of my last meetings with Dermot. I offered to get him any books he wanted. He said he was happy with his A Kempis, but asked me to get him a copy of the Morning and Evening prayer of the church. He could no longer say the full office to which he was devoted. He confided to me that no book had meant more to him than the autobiography of Edith Stein, written when she had become a Carmelite - Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. I had read it some years before, but read it again since Dermot died. Looking back on her own life Edith Stein expressed the thought: “What was not included in my plans lay in God's plan”. Those words are marked in pencil in the margin. Dermot was scrupulous in his care of books, but those pencil marks could well be his. He was able to see that his last fatal illness was part of God's plan for him. Like Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, he was able to help others to bear their burdens because he drew his strength from the Passion of Christ. His younger brother Kevin suffered a serious accident in Canada, where he was working in an insurance company. He was brought back to Ireland, but he never recovered from his injuries. He was bed ridden at home and Dermot faithfully supported him and his young wife till his early death. One of Dermot's sisters was a life-long victim of depression, and, again, he was a faithful visitor to her in hospital or at home. If Dermot enjoyed rude health till his final illness, his devotion to the cross helped him to live Saint Paul's words: “Bear one another's burden and you will fulfil the law of Christ”.

This is another treasured memory from those last months. I was saying Mass in Cherryfield one day when I was told that it was Dermot's birthday. He was 83. I said I was offering the Mass for him and referred to our faith journey together since the days in Clongowes. After Mass the nurses had the usual party and birthday cake for him. I think, with all his selfless modesty, he realized how much he was loved by the nurses and all his fellow patients. That simple celebration was a small symbol of the celebration Dermot was soon to share with his many friends, when the Good Shepherd had led him into his Father's house.


Dermot Fluery came to Galway when Tullabeg closed in 1991. He spent the last years of his life working in the Parish, an apostolate in which he had been engaged in Tullabeg. I had not lived with him since our teaching days in Belvedere in the 1960's, and my first impression was that he had changed. He took to his pastoral work with real vigour and I could see that his stint in Tullabeg had benefited him.

Formerly he had been somewhat distant and reserved, but now he was anxious to get to know the parishioners and their families, and he took a great interest in all their affairs. He was very devoted to the sick and housebound, and visited them regularly with Holy Communion. He had a gift in remembering names in families and could recite all the names from grandparents to grandchildren.

The custom in the Galway Diocese is to bring the Blessed Sacrament to the sick on the First Friday of every month, but, when we were constituted a parish, he was among those who thought it should be every week. This practice continues to the present day.

He was very keen on physical exercise both in the winter and summer. He regularly took a good walk and a swim in ocean every Sunday and Wednesday. He never learnt to drive .a car but he had a reliable bicycle, which he used almost up to his final days. The people of the parish held him in very high regard and at his funeral remarks like, “He was a lovely priest always ready to help people”, could be heard. He will certainly get a rich reward for his devoted service in the priesthood.

Fottrell, James, 1852-1918, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1329
  • Person
  • 23 July 1852-03 January 1918

Born: 23 July 1852, Dublin
Entered: 31 October 1869, Milltown Park, Dublin
Ordained: 1886
Final Vows: 03 February 1890, St Francis Xavier, Gardiner Street, Dublin
Died: 03 January 1918, Ms Quinn’s Hospital, Mounty Square, Dublin

Part of the St Francis Xavier's, Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin community at the time of death

by 1872 at Roehampton London (ANG) Studying
by 1873 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) studying
by 1876 at Stonyhurst England (ANG) studying
by 1884 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) studying
by 1891 at Borgo Santo Spirito Rome, Italy - Firenze (ROM) Subst Secretary

◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
Early education was at Belvedere.

After his Noviceship he made studies at Stonyhurst, and then spent a period of Regency teaching in Galway and Tullabeg.
He was then sent to St Beuno’s for Theology.
After Ordination he came back to Ireland and was sent to Limerick and Milltown.
He was then sent to Rome as an Assistant Secretary to the General Anton Anderley until his death in 1892. He was at the General Curia in Fiesole, as the Jesuits had been expelled from Rome. Returning to Ireland, he joined the Mission Staff, eventually taking charge of this group.
1905 He was sent to Gardiner St where he worked until a few days before his last illness. He was the Director of the Immaculate Conception Sodality along with other Church duties. He managed to find time to devote himself to the “Vigilance Committee” (set up by the Dominicans to prevent the spread of bad and unsavoury literature) and his work was felt across the city. He also took a keen interest in the CYMS in Nth Frederick St, and was an active President there for over seven years. He also succeeded James Walshe as Manager of the Penny Dinners. he organised a “Coal Fund” and was an ardent Temperance advocate. He was generally a ready speaker with a great sense of humour.
He died at Ms Quinn’s Hospital after a very short illness, 03 January 1918. he had been doing “Extraordinary Confessor” work and he caught a cold which developed into pneumonia.

Letter from Cardinal Michael Logue to Mother Josephine, James Fottrell’s sister :
“My dear Mother Josephine, I was deeply grieved to see by the papers the death of your saintly brother, Father Fottrell. I most sincerely sympathise with you and your sister, Mother Bernardine, in your sad bereavement.
Tough you and Mother Bernardine will feel the loss of poor Father Fottrell most of all, everyone who knew him will feel his death as a personal loss. He will be sadly missed by the whole country, for there is no good work which could contribute to God’s glory and the welfare of the people, spiritual and temporal, into which he was not prepared to throw himself with earnestness and success. Indeed his whole life was consecrated to every good work which came his way. I am sure he has now received the reward of that life, entirely devoted to God’s work. By his zeal and unswerving labours, he has laid up for himself a great store of merit and now possesses, through God’s goodness, a crown corresponding to his merit. This must be the chief consolation to you, your sister and all who grieve his death.
Wishing you and Mother Bernardine every blessing............. Michael Cardinal Logue”.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father James Fottrell 1852-1918
Fr James Fottrell was born in Dublin on 23rd July 1852, was education at Belvedere College.

Entering the Society at Milltown Park in 1869, he did his philosophy at Stonyhurst, and Theology at St Beuno’s, North Wales. On his return to Ireland he was attached forst to Limerick, then to Milltown. For some years he occupied the post of Assistant Secretary to Fr General Anderledy, and Fiesole, Italy.

Then he joined the Mission Staff, on which he did very useful work, eventually becoming its head. In 1905 he took up residence at Gardiner Street, and he worked there up to a few days before his death in 1918. He was kept busy as Director of the Immaculate Conception Sodality, however he found time for some other apostolic activities. He took an active part in the Vigilance Committee, and the effect of his work was felt in the city. He also took a keen interest in the CYMS North Frederick Street, of which he was an active President for over seven years. He succeeded Fr James Walshe as Director of the Penny Dinners, ad he was a pioneer in organising a Coal Fund. A keen advocate of temperance, he was a man of varied attainments, and a ready speaker with a great sense of humour.

While acting as extraordinary confessor, he caught a cold which developed into pneumonia, and he died resigned and happy at Ms Quinn’s Hospital, Mountjoy Square on January 3rd 1918.

Guiney, John, 1928-2019, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/856
  • Person
  • 25 January 1928-17 November 2019

Born: 25 January 1928, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1946, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1959, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 17 June 1976, Loyola House, Eglinton Road, Dublin
Died: 17 November 2019, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Milltown Park, Dublin community at the time of death.

by 1994 at Rome Italy (ROM) Assistant to General Treasurer

◆ Jesuits in Ireland :

John Guiney SJ – a man of ‘unfailing courtesy’
Fr John Guiney SJ died peacefully at Cherryfield Lodge, Milltown Park, Dublin 6, on Sunday 17 November 2019. His funeral Mass took place at Gonzaga College Chapel on Wednesday 20 November followed by burial in Glasnevin Cemetery.
Fr Guiney was born in Dublin on 25 January 1928. He attended Belvedere College SJ and entered the Society of Jesus at St Mary’s, Emo, County Laois, in 1946. His Jesuit training included studying Arts in UCD, philosophy in Tullabeg, regency in Mungret College SJ and theology in Milltown Park before being ordained in 1959.
He discovered his metier early in life. His brilliant head for figures and his shrewd judgement made him a ‘natural’ for financial matters. This led to a thirty-one years posting as Revisor, and later Irish Province Treasurer, followed by a six years stint on the Roman Curia’s Financial team.
In his later years, he served as Minister in Milltown Park and was Financial Director in Cherryfield Lodge. He prayed for the Church and the Society at Cherryfield Lodge before passing away aged 91 years.
Fr Guiney is predeceased by his brothers Tom and Eddie and his sister-in-law Sheila. He is fondly remembered by his nephews Edward and Michael, niece Carina and their partners, Aoife, Carrie and Darren, grandnephew Senan and grandnieces Beth and Ruby, and his Jesuit Community in Milltown Park.
Bill Toner SJ, current Irish Province Treasurer, gave the homily at the funeral Mass (Click here to read full homily).
Fr Toner began by thanking God for the life and work of Fr Guiney, to pray for his happy repose, and to offer condolences to his relatives, especially Edward, Michael and Carina, and their families.
Fr Toner referred to John as a “very shrewd investor” but noted that his business acumen did not interfere with his ability to relate to others. “John himself was a man who took great care to preserve good relationships with everyone he came into contact with in the course of a day’s work. This included in the first place his fellow Jesuits, and lay colleagues, but also bank officials, investment managers, estate agents, insurance brokers, solicitors and so on.”
Remarking that when he himself left the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice to become Province Treasurer he turned from a socialist to a capitalist overnight he went on to joke, “I never saw it written down anywhere, but I am sometimes told that Jesuits at large are supposed to pray for their Province Treasurers, that is, for their eternal salvation, not for their investing skills”.
He continued in humorous vein recalling that John often said to him that “I never fell out with anybody about money. On hearing this one Jesuit said to me, well, he didn’t fall out with anyone over money because everyone was afraid to ask him for money.”
According to Bill, John is remembered with great fondness by older Jesuits who encountered him when he worked in the finance office in the Head House, or Curia, in Rome. He brought a “joie de vivre” to the community life there through “introducing novel practices such as Friday night films and golf outings, and evening excursions to enjoy gelato”.
In his concluding remarks, Fr Toner said: “John could have done many different things in his Jesuit life. He was extremely well-read and was very good at languages... But I think that John recognised that his work enabled many other Jesuits to work, to keep close to God, to stay healthy, and to grow old gracefully... May he rest in the Lord’s peace.”
Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilís.

Early Education at Belvedere College SJ

1948-1950 Rathfarnham - Studying Arts at UCD
1950-1953 Tullabeg - Studying Philosophy
1953-1956 Mungret College SJ - Regency : Teacher
1956-1960 Milltown Park - Studying Theology
1960-1961 Rathfarnham - Tertianship
1961-1962 Milltown Park - Treasurer; Sub-Minister; in charge of New Building Construction
1962-1993 Loyola House - Revisor of Temporal Administration of Houses; Revisor of Province Funds
1966 Minister; Assistant Provincial Treasurer
1974 Superior; Province Treasurer; Revisor of Temporal Administration of Houses
1988 Sabbatical - (Sep 88 to Jan 89 & Sep 89 to Dec 89)
1993-1999 Borgo Santo Spirito, Rome, Italy - Assistant to General Treasurer; Revisor of Temporal Administration of Roman Curia
1999-2019 Milltown Park - Minister
2000 Cherryfield Lodge Consultant
2002 Vice-Rector; Treasurer; Financial Director in Cherryfield Lodge
2004 Treasurer; Financial Director in Cherryfield Lodge
2018 Prays for the Church and the Society at Cherryfield Lodge

Hannon, John J, 1884-1947, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/176
  • Person
  • 24 May 1884-18 July 1947

Born: 24 May 1884, Limerick City
Entered: 07 September 1900, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1915, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1918, St Mary’s, Ore Place, Hastings, Sussex, England
Died: 18 July 1947, Curia Generalizia Compagnia di Gesù, Borgo Santo Spirito, Rome, Italy

Father General's English Assistant - 1946

by 1904 at Kasteel Gemert, Netherlands (TOLO) studying
Came to Australia for Regency 1906
by 1913 at Innsbruck, Austria (ASR-HUN) studying
by 1918 at Hastings, Sussex, England (LUGD) studying
by 1947 at Rome, Italy (ROM) English Assistant

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
]ohn Hannon entered the Society as a highly talented sixteen year old, and after novitiate and one year juniorate, studied philosophy at Gemert in 1903. At the end of 1906 he was sent to Australia, and spent part of 1906 and 1907 teaching at St Aloysius' College. For the remainder of 1907 until 1912 he taught at Riverview, and in a reflection of his ability he was senior rowing master, 1911-12.
He returned to Milltown Park for theology and after ordination and tertianship he took final vows at the start of 1918 and began teaching theology, which was his basic life's work. He was rector of the theologate at Milltown Park, and in the late 1930s was apostolic visitor for the Irish Christian Brothers throughout the world. He became the English assistant in Rome and he died in office in 1947.

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - English Assistant 23 September 1946

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 21st Year No 4 1946
Milltown Park :
On hearing of Fr. Hannon's appointment as Assistant, Fr. Rector sent a telegram of congratulation on behalf of Milltown Park. Fr, Hannon has been stationed here for a great many years. He was Professor of Philosophy and Theology and was Rector from 1924 to 1930.

Sacred Heart, Crescent, Limerick :
Fr. Rector sent a telegram of congratulation to Fr. Hannon, a past pupil of the Crescent College, on his appointment as Assistant.
Irish Province News 22nd Year No 3 1947

The sudden death of V. Rev. Fr. John J. Hannon, Assistant, on the morning of July 18th as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage came as a great shock to the Province, R.I.P. An account of his career appears below. Fr. Provincial sent immediately a message of sympathy to his Paternity in the name of the Irish Province. .
In his telegram announcing Fr. Hannon's death, Fr. General re called to Rome Fr. Van den Brempt, the Substitute Secretary for the English Assistancy, who came to Dublin on July 14th to perfect his English, and went on the Juniors' Villa at Balbriggan the following day. Fr. Van den Brempt left Dunlaoghaire for Holyhead on the night of Sunday, July 20th.

Obituary :
Fr. John Hannon (1884-1900-1947)
Fr. John J. Hannon, English Assistant, died suddenly in Rome, in the early hours of 18th July, as a result of an attack of cerebral hemorrhage. He failed to appear for his Mass at 6.30 a.m. that morning, and was also missed at breakfast. On entering his room shortly after 7 o'clock, Fr. Henry Nolan found him dead in bed, death having supervened some hours previously. The Superior of the Curia, Fr. Martin, the Italian Assistant administered conditional Extreme Unction. Fr. Hannon had been his usual self the evening previously, and had attended to various items of business, including the purchase of a ticket to Malta where he was due to give retreats in early September. He had been, it is true, under medical care for his heart, and was on a diet for some months previously, but few realised the end was so near, though he himself had given various hints that he did not expect to live long. The funeral obsequies took place on Saturday, 19th July after Mass in the chapel of the Curia, which was offered by His Paternity, who also said the last prayers in the Cemetery at Agro Verano, where Fr. Hannon's mortal remains await the resurrection.
Fr. Hannon was born in Limerick on 24th May, 1884 and went to school to the Christian Brothers and later to our College, the Crescent. He entered Tullabeg as a novice on 7th September, 1900, where he also studied rhetoric for a year as a Junior before being sent to Gemert in Holland for his philosophy. It was here that he began to show that special aptitude for scholastic studies to which many years of his later life were to be dedicated. He shone in a class of brilliant students, in the French house, which included men of the stamp of D'Herbigny.
The six years of his magisterium in the Colleges he spent in Australia, at St. Aloysius' and St. Ignatius', Riverview, and was for the final year Prefect of studies at Riverview. He returned to Ireland in 1912 and was sent to Innsbruck in the Austrian Tyrol for his theological studies, which he completed at Milltown Park, Dublin, where he was ordained on 31st July, 1915 by Dr. Browne, Bishop of Cloyne. He made his tertianship during the year 1916-7 under Fr. Ignatius Gartlan at Tullabeg, and was then chosen for a biennium in preparation for a chair in dogmatic Theology in Milltown, going to Ore Place, Hastings in the autumn of 1917. He was professed of the four Vows there on 2nd February, 1918. His biennium had to be interrupted when the new Philosophate was opened at Milltown, to accommodate our scholastics who had, owing to the threat of conscription, to be withdrawn from Jersey and Stonyhurst. Fr. Hannon was one of the professors, and continued teaching philosophy for the next six years. During Fr. Peter Finlay's absence in Rome as one of the Province delegates at the 27th General Congregation in 1923, Fr. Hannon had his first opportunity as a professor of theology, and those who attended these first classes will retain a pleasurable memory of his gift of clear exposition, his youthful enthusiasm for the subject treated, his delightful fluency in Latin. In 1924 he joined the permanent staff of theological professors and was also appointed Rector of Milltown, whose destinies he guided till 1930. During this period he did much to improve the status of the studies and the material development of the House. The Chapel was the object of his special predilection, thanks to the generosity of benefactors he was able to carry out a scheme of decoration which transformed its appearance and to install a new tabernacle set in priceless jewels. Fr. Hannon succeeded Fr. Peter Finlay in the public chair of dogmatic Theology in the National University in 1924, a post he held for ten years. Once a Week during each term of the academic year he lectured to an over flowing and enthusiastic audience, chiefly from the student body of University College, Dublin, for whom he worked exceedingly hard in making available to them in the columns of “The Irish Catholic”, the weekly lecture in full. A new feature of this professorship consisted in written examinations in the matter treated each year, with the offering of substantial money prizes for successful candidates. To an enquiry as to the attendance which these lectures attracted, the College porter once replied: “Why, it's like a Mission”!
Fr. Hannon was. Consultor of the Province from 1931 to 1938, when he was appointed to a post which made it impossible for him to continue in that capacity, we refer to the task confided to him by the Holy See as Apostolic Visitor to the Congregation of Irish Christian Brothers, shortly after the termination of the 28th General Congregation, at which he again represented the Province. In the discharge of his new responsibilities he bad to visit practically every land of the English speaking world. From these extensive travels he gleaned, incidentally, an immense experience of men and things, and first-hand information on questions of Catholic interest, especially the extent and influence of Irish Catholic penetration abroad which impressed him profoundly and was the frequent theme of his conversation and of the eloquent public lectures he delivered later to so many different audiences.
During the war Fr. Hannon bad occasion to visit Rome in connection with visitation matters. During his stay he was entrusted by the Holy Father with the task of visiting prisoners-of-war camps in Italy and giving retreats to Catholic officers and men from various English-speaking countries detained there. We can imagine the comfort which the genial presence of this special representative of the Holy Father brought the prisoners, not a few of whom he had already met when in Australia as a scholastic or whose people were personally known to him. Fr. Hannon went again to Rome as Province elector at the 29th General Congregation which chose Fr. Janssens as General. He himself was elected Assistant to the English Assistancy on 22nd September, 1946, the second in the history of our Province to be chosen to that post of responsibility, the first being Fr. John Ffrench, a Co. Galway man, who died in the Professed House, Rome, in 1873.
Fr. Hannon was scarcely 10 months Assistant, and of these ten months he spent about two outside Rome, on the occasion of his short visit to the Irish and English Provinces in January and February of the present year. A stranger hitherto to the latter Province he made a deep impression on its members by his affability, his wide experience and dexterity in the management of affairs. They and we were looking forward to the possession for many years to come, of such a kindly and influential ‘friend at court’, a wise and prudent counsellor, but God decided otherwise, and called him away suddenly in the midst of his unselfish labours.
The late Assistant was a man of deep unobtrusive piety, of a simplicity and naturalness which were the key to the ascendancy which he so readily won over hearts. He had, to help him, that precious talent of remembering names and faces and could, it may be said without exaggeration, resume again, after the lapse of years, threads of conversation where they had broken off, so retentive a memory he had for people's individual interests, those little joys and sorrows of others which never failed to find a sympathetic echo in his own affectionate heart. Homo sum - humani nihil a me alienum puto could truly, and in the best sense of the phrase of Terence be said of him.
His exceptionally clear analytic mind was paired with ripeness of judgment and practical common sense, gifts these which rendered him such an invaluable counsellor in Curia circles. But, for those who knew Fr. Hannon best, the outstanding gift to him from Heaven was that conspicuous splendor caritatis with which his least word or action was instinct, in whose genial glow hearts were fired, or the mists of prejudice and misunderstanding melted away. R.I.P.

Letter from Fr. J. A. MacSeumais, Air Force Chaplain, 25-7-47 :
“I learned only to-day from the English Province Chaplains' Weekly of the death of Fr. Hannon. R.I.P. I was deeply shocked to hear of it. I saw him for the last time on Tuesday, July 8th, when I said good bye to him as I was leaving Rome that night. . I met Fr. Hannon within a short time of my arrival in Rome on July 3rd. He had written to me previously and informed me of the very full arrangements he had made for me if I came down for the canonisation ceremonies of SS. John de Britto and Bernardino Realino. When I met him on arrival he was most kind and put me in the hands of Fr. Henry Nolan. I saw him every day during my stay at the Curia. He was always enquiring about how I was getting on, suggesting I should see such a place, and he went to great trouble to get me a seat in the tribune for the canonisation for Saints Elizabeth des Anges and Michael Garicoits on July 6th. He was finding the intense heat very trying. He took recreation with Fr. O'Donnell, the American Substitute, and myself on the roof several nights, but be used to retire early, because, he said, he could not sleep in the mornings and had to try to make up some sleep at night. I think he was very glad to see somebody from the Province. His Italian was not perfect, and he probably welcomed a chance of speaking to one of his fellow countrymen. May he rest in peace”.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
John Hannon 1884-1947
Fr John Hannon was one of the best known members of the Province in Ireland and abroad among both laymen and clerics, and was the second Irishman to hold the responsible post of Assistant to the General.

He was a Limerick man born in that city on May 24th 1884. Educated at the Crescent, he entered the Society in 1900. After his ordination in 1915, he became Professor of Theology at Milltown Park and lectured also in Theology at University College Dublin. After being Rector of Milltown Park for six years he was appointed by the Holy See as Apostolic Visitor to the Irish Christian Brothers throughout the world in 1938.

In 1946 he attended the 29th General Congregation as a delegate of the Irish province. There he was chosen as English Assistant. His term of office was, alas, only too short, for he died suddenly in Rome the following year on July 18th 1947.

He was a man of very handsome appearance, of great charm of manner, accompanied by great gifts of mind, an unusual combination which he used for the glory of God and the advancement of religion. He was much in demand for priests retreats and had a very fruitful apostolate among the sick in hospitals. To him we owe the present beautiful chapel at Milltown Park.

Joy, Francis, 1903-1977, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/193
  • Person
  • 23 March 1903-13 December 1977

Born: 23 March 1903. Killorglin, County Kerry
Entered: 31 August 1920, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1934, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1938, Chiesa de Gesù, Rome, Italy
Died: 13 December 1977, Jervis Street Hospital, Dublin

Part of the Belvedere College SJ, Dublin community at the time of death

Youngest brother of John C - RIP 1950, Patrick - RIP 1970

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ; Studied for BA in Classics at UCD

Father General's Assistant English Assistant

by 1936 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) making Tertianship
by 1937 at Rome, Italy (ROM) working with Propaganda for Faith Secretariat and then Substitute English Assistant
by 1938 at Rome Italy (ROM) Sub English Assistant

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 53rd Year No 2 1978
Obituary :
Fr Francis Joy (1903-1977)
On December 13th, 1977, Father Frank Joy died in Jervis Street Hospital. He had been brought there after collapsing in Dorset Street.
Born in Killorglin, Co, Kerry, on March 23rd 1903, he entered the Noviceship in Tullabeg on August 31st 1920. After the normal course of studies he was ordained priest in Milltown Park on July 31st 1934. His Tertianship was at St Beunos (1935-1936), and he pronounced his Final Vows in Rome, in the Church of the Holy Name, on February 2nd, 1938. They were received by the Vicar General.
Father Joy spent the years 1936-1946 in Rome in the varied works assigned to him. On his return to Ireland in 1946, after some time in Gardiner Street, and Belvedere, he was appointed Rector in Mungret College, in which office he remained from 1950 to 1956. After four years Superior in Manresa Retreat House, he was Rector in the Crescent, Limerick from 1960 to 1965, and then Rector in Clongowes from 1965 to 1968. father Joy spent some years at Retreat work in Leeson Street (1968-1970) and Milltown Park.
Father Joy went to Belvedere in 1971 and remained there in the Office of Bursar and Assistant Bursar until his death in 1976.
Father Frank Joy was very well known and liked in the Province, a thing which emphasises the friendliness and religious spirit that belonged to him. This is significant, for the successive works that were assigned to him were such as would - for the most part, - have drawn little attention to him from his fellow Jesuits in Ireland. Thus his early years in Rome were taken up with jobs that brought no attention to himself: e.g., he was, for a time, Editor of 'Lettres de Rome'. He was successively Rector or Superior of various houses over many years: and then as now a Rector of a College tended to be better known by parents and friends of the students than to other members of the Province outside his own Community. And it was, very fittingly, - in the rather hidden though important work of Bursar that he spent his last quiet years in Belvedere.

Leonard, John P, 1925-2006, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/628
  • Person
  • 13 July 1925-08 November 2006

Born: 13 July 1925, North Circular Road, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1943, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1957, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 01 December 1977, Chiesa del Gesù, Rome Italy
Died: 08 November 2006, Hospital Central Samaritano, Asunción - Paraguayensis province (PAR)

Part of the Novitiate, San Roque González, Asunción, Paraguay community at the time of death

Transcribed HIB to PAR : 22 January 2003

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1959 at Gandía, Valencia, Spain (TARR) making Tertianship
by 1977 at Rome, Italy (DIR) Sec to English Assistant; and 1978 for Roman Houses
by 1993 at Asunción, Paraguay (PAR) working

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 133 : Special Issue September 2007


Fr John P Leonard (1924-2007) : Paraguay Province

17th October 1924: Born in Dublin
Early education in Cabra and Clongowes
7th September 1943: Entered the Society at Emo
1945 - 1948: Rathfarnham - Studied Arts at UCD
12th March 1946: First Vows at Emo
1948 - 1951: Tullabeg -Studied Philosophy
1951 - 1953: Crescent - Regency
1953 - 1954: Clongowes
1954 - 1958: Milltown Park - Studied Theology
31st July 1957: Ordained at Milltown Park
1958 - 1959: Tertianship in Gandia, Valencia, Spain
1959 - 1964: Mungret - Spiritual Father to lay students
1964 - 1969: Belvedere – Teacher
1969 - 1976: Clongowes – Teacher
1976 - 1990: Rome (Curia) - Secretary of English Assistancy
1st December 1977: Final Vows at Curia, Rome
1990 - 1991: Paraguay
1991 - 1993: John Austin House, NCR - Directs Sp. Exercises
1993 - 1994: Paraguay - Directs Spiritual Exercises
1994 - 1996: Parish Curate
1996 - 1998: Assistant in Parish, Novitiate, Retreat House
1998 - 2007: Teacher to Novices, Directs Sp. Exercises
January 23rd 2003: Transcribed to Paraguay Province
November 8th, 2006: Died in Samaritan Hospital, Assuncion.

Paul Andrews writes:
When you mention Johnny Leonard to Jesuits who have known him, they smile. He is a happy, interesting memory. People liked to have him around. He was a Dubliner, born on the North Circular Road. Through his father he was a cousin of two highly visible and assertive Jesuits, Jack and Paul Leonard; and through his mother he was related to another Jesuit, Paddy Meagher. John was still a young boy when his mother died. His father married again, to Kitty who, as stepmother, became an important figure in John's life. She was a lively and emotional person who had taught music in Loreto on the Green.

The Leonard brothers ran a solid grocery business and were able to send their boys to Clongowes. The shock of this home leaving was mitigated by a new friendship. Paddy Crowe had gone to Clongowes a year before John, but they were in the same year, though in different streams, all the way up the school, They went together to Emo, Rathfarnham, Tullabeg, Crescent and Clongowes for Regency, and theology in Milltown (John went to Gandia, Spain, for tertianship, and his fluency in Spanish stood to him in the last mission of his life). As schoolboys they were small of stature, not particularly athletic, and instead they enjoyed the cycling club – less physical, more talkative than rugby - in the company of Fr Gerry O'Beirne.

John could also enjoy the oddities of his elders. The prefect of the small study was a Jesuit nicknamed Bananaskin, because his head displayed a tightly plastered covering of yellow hair. He was known too for an ostentatious piety – he would say his beads in full display as he walked up and down the study. John spent some idle moments sketching him – he drew with a sharp eye and sensitive hand - and wrote underneath Saint Bananaskin. Unfortunately it was spotted by the Prefect of Studies, Bill Dargan, who probably enjoyed the picture, but felt it his duty to explode in simulated fury.

In their last summer in Clongowes Paddy Crowe and John discovered that they both were thinking of joining the Jesuits. On 6th September 1943 John drove to Paddy's home in Edenderry with his father, stepmother Kitty, and half-sister Anne. They had a party that night. Kitty played the piano and sang the Vera Lynn song We'll meet again till she broke down in tears. Mr Leonard felt this was over the top - not his style. He hired a taxi to take Paddy and John to Emo next day, and so began the long, clearly demarcated journey of Jesuit formation. There was one unexplained hiccup. John did not take first vows at the end of his noviciate. In September he went up to Rathfarnham with the rest, and at Christmas he returned to Emo for his first profession. Why the postponement? Novice-master John Neary is no longer with us to tell the tale. Perhaps John was still thinking of the Cistercians, a way of religious life that had attracted him as a boy.

His health was never robust. While in Mungret he contracted brucellosis, which was not diagnosed for a long time. He languished in hospital, but one night, at 2 a.m., he woke up feeling his health had returned. He rang for the nurse: I feel an appetite for the first time in months. “Could you get me scrambled egg on toast, please?” God bless her, she obliged. Next morning John put it to his consultant: I am better now, Doctor; but what was wrong with me? John loved to imitate the Dublin 4 response of the doctor: Well, Fr. Leonard, you had this mysterious complaint, and we hit it with everything we had. Whatever we did worked so well that we had you cured before we could find out what was wrong with you!

John was an intelligent student, and did a good degree in History and Latin at UCD, He took neat, well-articulated notes which were prized by all who could lay hands on them. He became an exceptionally gifted teacher of history and geography and spent seventeen years in the classrooms of Mungret, Belvedere and Clongowes; his historical sense informed his later work in Rome.

In 1976 John was called to Rome as Regional Secretary of the English-speaking Assistancy. His thirteen years there suited himn in all sorts of ways. He liked the sense of being near the hub of decision-making, and scanning and summarising letters and other documents, He enjoyed both the gossip of headquarters and its style of bureaucratic discretion - Of course I couldn't possibly comment on that - as Nigel Hawthorn would say in Yes, Minister. He lived through stirring times in Rome. He saw Fr Iparraguirre falling to his death from the roof of the Curia. And after that sad summer when Father Arrupe was felled by a stroke, and the Pope unseated Vincent O'Keefe as Vicar General, John joined the group holidaying in Cahirdaniel, Kerry, and held us enthralled with his insider stories and his quirky, mischievous humour. He would generally return to Ireland to avoid the Roman summer, and for a month or two would join the retreat team in Manresa, which valued him both as a director and as congenial company.

When his term in Rome was over, John found a new and demanding mission. In 1990, at the age of 64, he went to Paraguay, and worked there – apart from a two-year stint in Austin House, giving retreats - till his death. What sort of work? Teaching history to the novices, with the same conscientious preparation he had always shown as a teacher, spiritual direction with a range of people, and parish work. He remained curious and creative, continued to read widely, loved new books on spirituality, and translated a book on the Paraguay Reductions.

He decided that he was not going to cross the Atlantic again, and settled in to the final furlong with a generally high heart, though like most of us he was sometimes afflicted by down moods. He would start the day with a big breakfast, the most important meal of the day for him. Like Jesus, he also loved parties, which were sometimes just a 'cuppa' with a friend. He relished his golden moments with Barry's tea, which Henry Grant used to send him from Ireland. As he felt the end approaching, he invited his friends to join him in the Infirmary for a farewell party which was compared to the famous banquet in Babette's Feast. How many of us would have the nerve, or the energy, to throw a party like that? As with the old Dean in Babette's Feast, you could say of John:

The only things we take with us from our life on earth are those which we have given away. He had given up his family, fatherland, language and many friends, and given richly to those he worked for. May the Lord reward him

Mangan, Denis, 1927-1988, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1670
  • Person
  • 12 March 1927-08 August 1988

Born: 12 March 1927, Enfield, London, England
Entered: 07 September 1943, Roehampton London - Angliae Province (ANG)
Ordained: 31 July 1957
Final vows: 02 February 1960
Died: 08 August 1988, Chinhoyi (Sinoia), Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe Province (ZIM)

by 1964 came to St Ignatius Lusaka N Rhodesia (HIB) working

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Denis Mangan was born in Enfield, Middlesex, England 12 March 1927. He was educated at St. Ignatius College, Stamford Hill and St. Peter’s, Southbourne. He entered the novitiate at St. Beuno’s in 1943 but his course was interrupted due to military service and so he took his first vows only in October 1948 at Roehampton. He had a year’s teaching at St. John, Beaumont and then he went for philosophy to Heythrop from 1950-53. He taught at Stonyhurst for a year before going on to theology in Heythrop again in 1954. He was ordained in 1957. He did his tertianship at Gandia from 1958 to 1959.

His first assignment was to work for the Apostleship of Prayer in the central curia in Rome from 1963-64. He was responsible for the AoP for English speaking Africa. When he arrived in Rhodesia in 1965 he was in charge of the AoP as well as the Sodality of our Blessed Lady. He did a short spell in Zambia doing this work in 1963-64. He operated from Prestage House from 1965-68 and from Campion House from 1968-69.

He then moved into vocation promotion (1969-84) and was responsible for the pre-novitiate. He was parish priest at Umvuk. He was in the Cathedral parish at Campion House and was superior and parish priest from 1977-84. He always kept his attention on the needs of the youth. He was available for the Study Group at St. Peter’s, Mbare and in his time at Chinhoyi started up a study group there. He was the prime mover of “Ministers Fraternal”. Originally this was to have been a group of Catholics who were senior people in Government and in business, to discuss subjects concerning the ministers present, including the then Prime Minister, Cde Mugabe and later Dr Bernard Chidzero, the Minister of Finance.

He worked with Fr Paul Crane, S.J. at Claver House in London for a short while from 1984-85. When he came back to Zimbabwe he was parish priest at Corpus Christi, Chinhoyi and local superior. He died from a weak heart at the relatively early age of 61 in 1988.

The funeral Mass was in the Cathedral which was packed by a congregation that was made up of a good cross-section of the Catholic community: clergy, brothers, sisters, lay people of all ways of life, very many chita women, a busload of parishioners from Chinhoyi, with 75 priests concelebrating (Jesuit, Franciscan, Carmelite and diocesan). The cathedral rarely sees a funeral Mass like this. The way people made the effort to be present was a great tribute to Fr Mangan’s touch with people.

McAuley, John, 1923-2012, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/787
  • Person
  • 17 June 1923-02 January 2012

Born: 17 June 1923, Bargeddie, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Entered: 07 September 1946, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 25 May 1986, Rome, Italy
Final Vows: 10 May 1995
Died: 02 January 2012, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin - Zambia-Malawi Province (ZAM)

Part of the Milltown Park, Dublin community at the time of death.

Transcribed HIB to ZAM : 03 December 1969

by 1952 at Rome Italy (ROM) working

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 147 : Spring 2012


Fr John McAuley (1923-2011) : Zambia Malawi Province

17 June 1923: Born in Glasgow, Scotland
7 September 1946: Entered Society in Emo Park, Ireland
25 May1986: Ordained in Rome by Pope John Paul II
2 February 1957: Final Vows at the Gesu, Rome
2 January 2012: Died in Dublin

Apostolic Life
1948 - 1951: Ireland. Rector's secretary
1951 - 1969: Rome, General Curia , receptionist
1969 - 1970: Chikuni. Learning Tonga
1972 - 1973: Chikuni, Canisius, teaching
1974 - 1981: Namwala, teaching at Namwala Sec. Sch
1981 - 2002: Kabwe, Bwacha
1981 - 1992: Lecturer, chaplain, Nkrumah Teacher Training College
1992 - 1996: Chaplain, Nkrumah, lecturing at Mpima Seminary
1985 - 1986: Rome, Bellarmino, Studies for priesthood
1996 - 2002: Chaplaincy work, formation of young Religious
2002 - 2004: Dublin, Milltown Park, recovering health
2004 - 2006: Kabwe, Bwacha, assisting in parish
2006 - 2007: Dublin, Milltown Park, recovering health Dublin,
2007 - 2011: Cherryfield Lodge, praying for Church and Society

Obituary : Michael J Kelly
John McAuley spent 66 of his 89 years in the Society: as a novice and brother from 1946 to 1986 and as a priest from 1986 to his death on 2nd January 2012. He was a true Jesuit in whom there was no guile. Integrity, determination to pursue a spiritual life as he understood it, and zeal for the apostolate characterized him all through life. No obstacle or difficulty could deter him from making these qualities manifest in his life. At times his strength of purpose seemed daunting, but to John this was his way of finding God and showing how much God loves us. A small incident in the novitiate brings this out. When standing for grace after dinner one day, John shook his leg as if something was itching him but continued with the grace. Afterwards he told his companions that when he was sitting at the table a mouse had run up the leg of his trousers, but he thought it was his duty as a novice not to make any fuss but to wait until he could dispose of his visitor in the least perceptible way. No one but John could have been so calm, collected and yet very funny about such an experience.

John took his first vows on 8th September 1948. Ever afterwards he remained very loyal to those who had taken vows with him, making sure that each of them had the “vow photo” of the thirteen men who took vows on that day, taken by the internationally acclaimed photographer, Father Frank Browne, S.J. Like his fellow vow-men, John did his novitiate under two novice-masters, Father Tommy Byrne and Donal O'Sullivan, and like his colleagues he benefitted from the richness that came from two different approaches to the spiritual life and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. But John was a man of few words who did not speak easily about things personal to himself. Before entering the novitiate he had completed two years of a science degree at Glasgow University. But he never revealed this to his fellow-novices, most of whom were several years his junior and far behind him in academic attainments. Even less did he speak about his own spiritual life. He was a private man, one who enjoyed companionship but did not depend on it.

After a few years as refectorian in Tullabeg and secretary to the Rector in Clongowes, John moved to Rome where he spent several years as receptionist for the Curia. Because of his reticence in speaking about himself we do not know much about John's life during this period. But the few things we do know are very striking. He was outstanding for the generosity of his hospitality to Irish Jesuits who happened to be passing through Rome, going out of his way to ensure that they were able to visit church and historical sites. The fact that he took Final Vows in 1957, just eleven years after he had entered the Society, speaks volumes for the dedicated religious life he lived when in Rome. And during this period, John succeeded in doing what Hitler had been unable to do- he stopped General Montgomery in his tracks.

What happened was this. One day, when John was receptionist at the Curia, a tall man came in and said he wanted to see the General. John asked to see his ID, but the visitor said he was not carrying one. John retorted that in that case he could not admit him, to which the visitor replied that he had an appointment with the General. John looked at the day's documents detailing appointments and said he had no information on that, but the man insisted. So John asked him his name and then rang the General to tell him that a man called Montgomery was at the desk, saying he had an appointment - “send him in at once" was the reply, “I am waiting for him, he is also a General”.

But stopping high-ranking generals and the humdrum duties of receptionist at the Curia did not give John sufficient outlet for his apostolic zeal. Like every good Jesuit, he sought the Magis, he wanted to do more. And so it was that he undertook part-time studies at the Gregorian University, a move that would accelerate his transition to the priesthood in later life. The same zeal led to his being assigned in 1969 to the newly established Zambian Province where, after some time spent in learning a local language, he served as a secondary school teacher, first at Canisius, the Jesuit school, and then for several years at the government school in Namwala. In addition to his teaching duties, John also served as chaplain at Namwala School, a ministry that gave him much scope for his apostolic zeal.

From Namwala, John transferred for a short period to the Jesuit Teacher Training College, Charles Lwanga, and from there to the Government training college for secondary teachers, Nkrumah College in Kabwe, where he lectured in religious studies and served as chaplain. It was while he was in Kabwe that John's desire to be ordained as a priest came very strongly to the fore, leading to studies at the Bellarmino in Rome in 1985 and 1986 and ordination in June 1986 by Blessed John Paul II. On his return to Zambia John was again posted to Kabwe, where he served in the parish and lectured and was chaplain at Nkrumah College. As if these responsibilities were not enough, he also took on a heavy load of formation work for young religious. For a time he lectured at the national seminary in Mpima, but is probably better remembered for his catechetical work with postulants and novices for the Sisters of Charity and for the Little Servants of Mary.

Although physically very wiry, John always suffered from bad sight, attributable in great measure to his being an albino. This prevented him from ever driving a car on any of his apostolic journeys. Instead he undertook these on a Honda 110 motor-cycle. The image of John endures, sitting very straight-backed on his Honda, looking straight ahead and “put-putting” along miles of tarred and dirt roads. But the Honda eventually became John's undoing, leading to serious accidents as he hit unseen potholes or had brushes with passing cars. One of these accidents necessitated his return to Ireland in 2002 to recover from his injuries. When he retumed to Zambia two years later, the Provincial felt obliged to refuse his request that he could ride his Honda again and advised him that he would have to rely on the mistresses of novices in the various congregations to get him to and from his work with postulants and novices.

Nothing daunted, John set about this but the injuries he had previously sustained had weakened him so badly that it was again necessary for him to return to Ireland, this time in 2006. At first he was assigned to Milltown Park, but a year later it became necessary for him to transfer to the Jesuit Nursing Home, Cherryfield Lodge. He settled in well and was content. He greatly enjoyed visits from members of his family who came from Scotland a few times each year to spend some time with him. But his condition steadily deteriorated; he was confined to a wheelchair; his eyesight failed almost completely; and his hearing became quite poor. But he always remained patient and now seemed more than ever concentrated on his new apostolate, to pray for the Church and the Society. Every morning, on being wheeled in for Mass, he would say “Put me near the altar”. In many ways this sums up his life, to be near the altar - “nearer my God to thee, even though it be a cross that raiseth me”. In this spirit, John died peacefully on 2nd January 2012.

The prayers of commendation, before John's body was taken from Cherryfield to Milltown Park for his funeral Mass, included the reflection: “Rather than his body, we are left with the name of John which we speak now with reverence and affection, and pray: Lord God, remember this namewhich he was given by his parents, and by which he is known even though he is dead; the namethat you have written on the palm of your hand”. In the Society, in Ireland and in Zambia, he was known as John. But his family always called him “Jackie”. In keeping with his much-loved privacy, John preferred that this name be reserved for family use only and could be offended if it was used by any non-family member. But whether “Jackie” or “John”, we speak his name with reverence and affection because he was a sign of God's living presence with us, because he strained himself always to do more for the coming of God's kingdom among us, and because we are certain that his name - be it Jackie or John - is written on the palm of God's hand.

McGarry, Cecil, 1929-2009, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/788
  • Person
  • 01 January 1929-24 October 2009

Born: 01 January 1929, Galway, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1946, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 28 July 1960, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1964, Chiesa de Gesù, Rome, Italy
Died: 24 October 2009, Arrupe, Mwangaza, Jesuit Spirituality Centre, Lang’ata, Nairobi, Kenya - Africa Orientalis Province (AOR)

Father Provincial of the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus : 25 July 1968-8 March 1975
Father General's General Assistant: 1977-1984

Transcribed HIB to AOR: 25 April 1989

by 1963 at Rome Italy (ROM) studying
by 1985 at Nairobi, Kenya (AOR) teaching - Hekima

◆ Jesuits in Ireland :
The Irish Jesuits under Cecil McGarry SJ
Cecil McGarry was Irish Provincial at a very difficult juncture in the history of the Society. In other words, it was upon his shoulders that the implementation of the renewal of religious life in accordance with the Second Vatican Council was placed. This took more specific form in the
32nd Jesuit General Congregation. Under Fr Arrupe’s leadership it called Jesuits to a faith that does justice: it was with this message that Cecil inspired his Province. The photo is of Cecil and Fr Arrupe conversing during one of the latter’s visits to Ireland.
From Chapter 7 of To the Greater Glory: A History of the Irish Jesuits by Louis McRedmond (Gill and Macmillan, Dublin, 1991) :
The Provincial on whom the burden primarily fell of bringing the Irish Jesuits safely through the aftermath of Vatican II was Father Cecil McGarry, who came to office in 1968. To guide him he had the emphasis of the documents approved in 1965 and 1966 by the 31st General Congregation of the Society, which had elected Father Arrupe, as well as the exhortations which very quickly came from the new General himself. The Congregation chose two themes to stress, both of them conciliar. The first was an insistence on returning to the Society’s origins, which meant developing a heightened awareness of its Founder’s intentions. The second theme was the need to adapt the Society’s organisation and activities to enable it better to cope with the intellectual, social and spiritual problems of the age. From the outset of his generalate Father Arrupe urged the Society to press on with this process of modernising itself in the spirit of Saint Ignatius (which involved inter alia Ignatian ideas of mobility and flexibility), in order that Jesuits might be able more easily to move into new areas of apostolic opportunity and need. And so ’Jesuits throughout the world began the task of integrating the decisions of the Congregation with their personal endeavours for renewal. As General, Father Arrupe indicated that he expected action. He said, “I do not want to defend any mistakes Jesuits might have made, but the greatest mistake would be to stand in such fear of making error that we would simply stop acting.” (1) Father McGarry acted promptly, to the great benefit of the Society in Ireland and to the admiration of Jesuits from other Provinces (2) which were slower to move.
It cannot have been easy. The Provincial discharged his unenviable task with courage, conviction and, it may reasonably be supposed, a degree of pain known to himself alone. While there were Jesuits in every age group who rejoiced to see the Congregation decisions implemented, what the Provincial had to do caused unhappiness to a number of older Fathers settled in their ways and harbouring no doubts concerning the work undertaken by the Irish Province in their lifetime. Also distressed were some younger men who had thrown themselves with enthusiasm into tasks given them in the recent past. If the Province was to adapt to new priorities some of the established activities would have to be curtailed, not least because of the fall in numbers which all orders began to suffer in the 1960s: eight Irish scholastics left the Jesuits in the year that Father McGarry took office, (3) which meant the intake of novices – averaging seven a year (4) – did nothing to balance the natural losses through death and retirement. This imbalance was unlikely to improve. The Provincial did not act arbitrarily: he initiated internal discussions in each house to establish what the community was doing, and what it felt it should be doing. It would be no more than a small exaggeration to say that there were as many opinions as there were Jesuits. (5) But only the Provincial could make the ultimate decisions, and these involved abandoning some cherished commitments.
Perhaps his most distasteful duty was deciding where manpower could be saved. Suppression of a boarding-school was likely to bring maximum results, if only because it took so many men to provide supervision and administration as well as teaching. If a school had to go, Mungret was more vulnerable than Clongowes. (6) In the first place, there would still be a substantial Jesuit presence in Limerick between the community serving the public church and those attached to the Crescent (now the Crescent Comprehensive). Secondly, Mungret had already lost its apostolic school, which was half the reason for its existence. The Vatican Council had been the remote cause of this happening. The Council seemed to require philosophy and theology to be integrated in seminaries. Father Redmond Roche, Superior of the Apostolic School, could not see how this was to be guaranteed for the future, given the vocations crisis and an already evident shortage of competent lecturers. The vocations crisis also meant that institutions doing similar work, such as All Hallows in Dublin, were adequate to the need. The Apostolic School was accordingly suspended in 1967. The lay school, by contrast, was reaping the benefits of Father Kerr’s rectorship. Demand for places constantly exceeded those available and the disappearance of the Apostolic School actually helped by removing an ambiguity from the overall purpose of Mungret. How far Clongowes was protected by its venerability as the first house of the restored Society in Ireland, or by its fame and continuing prestige, or (as was hinted sotto voce) by the fierce loyalty of its past pupils who would have made a far greater clamour if suppression were mooted than came from those of Mungret, must remain matter for speculation. One thing is certain. Father McGarry was not a man to flinch from any decision, however unpopular, if he believed it to be right. When he chose Mungret rather than Clongowes for suppression, it can be taken for granted that he did what he had prayerfully concluded to be his duty. Of course, there were many to say he was wrong: their arguments ranged from nostalgia to the new-found status of the lay school at Mungret and its long-established fecundity in vocations. But the critics who spoke thus were spared the responsibility of making the decision.
There were positive decisions also. In 1966 the State had proposed a scheme of ’free’ – i.e. fully State- supported secondary education. Although it involved a reduction of 20 per cent in their income, (7) Coláiste Iognáid in Galway and the Crescent in Limerick entered the scheme. Now came the further proposal that the Crescent should become the keystone of a large comprehensive school of the kind outlined above in the account of developments at Gonzaga. At Dooradoyle in Limerick, under the inspired guidance of the Jesuit historian and Limerickman, Father Thomas J. Morrissey, this experiment in Irish education took off with dynamic vigour as a non-feepaying co-educational school to meet ’the diverse needs of the bright and the dull, the affluent and the deprived’. (8) Personal initiatives received much encouragement, such as Father Michael Sweetman’s protests against inadequate housing for the poor of Dublin: (9) a stand which inspired more than one young Jesuit to become involved in activity for social reform and in time would result in the services provided by Jesuits today to the socially deprived in the suburban housing estates and the high- rise flats of the modern capital. The teachings of the Vatican Council were promoted by public lectures at Milltown Park which attracted overflow audiences in the late 1960s and early 1970s. (10)
In the context of service to the Church, it may be that no single development of recent years will turn out to have been as significant as the generous support given by Father McGarry to the Irish School of Ecumenics founded by Father Michael Hurley of the Milltown community in 1970. (11) This small but vitally important postgraduate institute offers university degrees, nowadays from the University of Dublin and formerly from the University of Hull, to students from various Christian Churches and from Third World as well as European countries who study theology together, gain firsthand experience of one another’s pastoral routine and return to their duties in their own communions as informed witnesses to the hope and possibility of Christian Unity. The School functions under the patronage of senior representatives of the Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches. The facilities of Milltown Park have been made available to the School from the outset and its international character was confirmed by the attendance of then General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Dr Eugene Carson Blake, at its formal inauguration in Milltown, where he delivered the opening address. International Consultations on such topics as Mixed Marriages and Human Rights have confirmed its repute. It has developed a Centre for Peace Studies which underlines its significance not only for the ecumenical movement in contemporary Christendom but also for an Ireland still disrupted by violence and tensions in the North which have deep roots in the religious division of the past.
The emergence under Jesuit auspices of this independent educational body, together with the attainment by the Milltown Institute of pontifical university status, can stand for the quality of Cecil McGarry’s leadership of the Irish Province. But it may well be that his ultimate memorial will be the option for the poor exercised today by Father Peter McVerry and other Jesuit champions of the homeless and deprived. Much of this began only after Father McGarry’s term as Provincial ended in 1974 but it was his determination to give the Province a new direction, in obedience to the General Congregation and to Father Arrupe, that made possible an Irish Jesuit emphasis reminiscent of the old Mission dedicated to the poor of the Liberties and the dispossessed of the penal towns and countryside.
Tributes to Cecil McGarry SJ
A number of tributes to Cecil McGarry SJ have come in in recent days. They are all fired by deep warmth towards the man who did so much, as Provincial from 1969-1975, to
steer the Irish Province in the heady years after the Second Vatican Council, and who rose to equally large challenges in Rome and in Kenya until his death on 24 November last. An excerpt from Louis McRedmond’s history of the Irish Jesuits, To the Greater Glory, provides valuable context for understanding Cecil’s contribution to the Irish Province. And below you can read Michael Hurley’s personal recollections of Cecil, acknowledging the immense debt he owed him for his commitment to ecumenism. Also a short note by Paul Andrews, recognising Cecil’s iconic status in the 1970s.

When in 1964 Cecil McGarry returned from Rome to Milltown Park to teach theology, the faculty and the community were still recovering from a major crisis. Kevin Smyth who taught apologetics had on 9 April that year left the Society because of faith difficulties. Paddy Barry who taught canon law had done the same and for similar reasons on 26 January 1961. And in 1962 on 11 October Des Coyle who taught dogmatics had died; his colleague, Ned Hannigan who taught moral had predeceased him, dying on 15 February 1960. So in the space of four years four members of staff had gone, two still in their 40’s, the other two in their early 50’s and, most disturbingly, two of them for faith reasons. In 1964 as faculty and community we needed new courage, new confidence. Cecil’s arrival was providential, a godsend.
That very academic year Cecil’s name appears as one of the speakers in the Spring 1965 session of the Milltown Park Public Lectures. These had begun in January 1960 on ‘theological subjects of topical interest’ and, with literally hundreds coming to attend on the Wednesday evenings in Winter and Spring, they were helping to boost our spirits. Cecil’s subject, ‘collegiality’, could hardly have been more topical and indeed controversial. Vatican II’s document on the Church had just been approved, on 21 November 1964 but the Council’s discussions on primacy and collegiality had been tense.
In June of that same year, 1965, Cecil gave a paper on ‘The Eucharistic Celebration as the True Manifestation of the Church’ at the Glenstal Ecumenical Conference which was residential and interdenominational. . This was just the second such Conference and Cecil was giving some of the fruits of his doctoral research. The topic he had chosen for his thesis had been ‘The Catholic Character of Anglican Ecclesiology, 1945-1963’.
During the rest of his time in Ireland and indeed for the rest of his life Cecil maintained his interest in ecumenism and encouraged others to do likewise. Two notable examples took place during his time as Provincial (1968-1975). The first was the interdenominational service in Gonzaga chapel on 15 April 1970 on the occasion of the presentation to the Church of Ireland, in the person of its Primate, Archbishop George Simms, of a volume of essays to mark the centenary of its disestablishment. Cecil identified himself fully with the event by agreeing to preside and preach and he succeeded in securing the acquiescence (sic) of Archbishop McQuaid who was known to have serious misgivings about ecumenism..
The second example was the formal inauguration of the Irish School of Ecumenics at Milltown Park in that same year, on 9 November 1970, as an interdenominational third –level institute of research and teaching. Cecil had agreed to be the Catholic Patron. In advance he had advised Archbishop Conway of Armagh and had obtained the acquiescence of Archbishop McQuaid. Louis McRedmond, in his A History of the Irish Jesuits,(p.310), suggests that, in the context of service to the Church, no other single development of recent years may turn out to be as significant as this.
And the very last engagement of Cecil’s Dublin years was also ecumenical: in April 1975 he preached in St Patrick’s Cathedral with ‘Vatican II: Ten Years After’ as his theme; he was whisked from the pulpit to the airport to fly to Rome to begin his term of office at the Jesuit GHQ as one of Fr Pedro Arrupe’s Assistants.
I have sometimes found myself thinking that ‘without Cecil McGarry there would be no Michael Hurley’. His support for ecumenism in the teeth of episcopal discouragement if not opposition was really crucial: for some bishops an individual priest or religious was an ecclesiastical nobody. And in that internationally traumatic year of revolts, 1968, Archbishop McQuaid had requested that a forthcoming Milltown Park Public Lecture of mine on Original Sin be cancelled and that I be removed from the diocese. The Provincial was ready to acquiesce but Cecil as my Rector intervened and reached a compromise: my lecture would not take place but I would stay on in the Dublin diocese.
May Cecil rest in peace.

Paul Andrews SJ
For Irish Jesuits who lived through the tumultuous years round 1970, Cecil McGarry was an iconic figure, determined, courageous, a harbinger of change and not expecting everybody to love him for it. Becoming a Jesuit was not easy for him: suspected TB interrupted his noviciate, and after nearly a year in Cappagh he had to restart the process. He was not enthused at being sent to study theology in Rome, but he landed there with the fathers of the Vatican Council, which swept him off his feet with the vision of a renewed church.
The students whom he lectured on return to Milltown loved the fresh air he breathed into its fusty atmosphere, and were dismayed when Rome interrupted Brendan Barry’s reign after three years and made Cecil Provincial. It was not easy to instil the Province with the vision of Vatican II, especially when the incumbent archbishop, landing in Dublin after the Council, had announced “No change”.
Cecil used Encounter Groups to loosen up relationships between Jesuits. He set up a Secretariate to facilitate change in a Province unused to it and appointed some young rectors.
Cecil made mistakes, and was heavily criticised, but he so learned from his failures that he was able to lead the Province through six stormy years, and hand over a shaken-up and partly rejuvenated group to enjoy the calmer waters of Fr Paddy Doyle’s Provincialate.

Funeral of Cecil McGarry SJ
Over 500 people gathered in St. John the Evangelist Church in Nairobi to bid farewell to Cecil McGarry SJ on Saturday, November 28th 2010. The Chapel in Mwangaza Spirituality
centre where Cecil worked, lived and died was too small for the numbers expected. The funeral service was moved to the neighbouring parish Church. Religious sisters formed the majority of the congregation and over 30 concelebrants participated. Fr. Provincial of Eastern Africa, Fr. Orobator Agbonkhianmeghe presided and Hekima College Choir led the singing. Cecil’s sister Doreen, his nephew Andrew and wife Trish were present and John K. Guney SJ represented the Irish Provincial at the ceremony and gave the homily. Cecil was buried in the Jesuit cemetery in Mwangaza retreat centre where another Irish Jesuit, Fr. Sean O’Connnor is at rest. Cecil got a great send-off, and the crowds present at the Mass and at the burial service were an indication of the impact he made in Eastern Africa over the past 25 years.

Homily given by Fr. John K. Guiney SJ at Cecil McGarry’s funeral Mass St. John Evangelist Church, Nairobi, Kenya
28 Nov. 2009
Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-9 Psalm 5: 6-8
1 Cor. 9: 16-19
Mt. 5:1-12a
We come together today to mourn, to thank God and to celebrate the life of a very special man.
Cecil McGarry was born in Ireland in 1929. He was a man who loved God, loved the Church and loved the Society of Jesus with all his heart. He was a companion of Jesus for 63 years. He served Christ’s mission in the spirit of the readings we have just heard; he served with all his heart, no half measures and with a passion, perseverance, determination and love that gave outstanding witness to all around him even to those who disagreed with him or opposed him. Words like visionary, courageous, prophetic with a wonderful gift of discernment, wise, manager of change, stubborn and controversial, are descriptions of Cecil by his friends and many others.
An African companion who knew Cecil well wrote me after his death a wonderful testimony to Cecil and his way of living:
“John, a giant has gone to the Father. He was of such stature, spiritual and intellectual that it was difficult to take him for granted. He evoked strong feelings of admiration or even of opposition. He did not care much what people thought of him. Once he was sure a decision was for the Kingdom, he never flinched or wavered. It had to be accomplished effectively and completely. He was of such inner strength. I found out that I could only admire him but could hardly imitate him. He was highly gifted intellectually; he was energetic and dynamic, so much so that he could hardly accept himself, when, in the last couple of years, he was reduced to an almost passive life. And yet, he held on serving to the last: what he could do he did. Whenever I found time, it was to him that I used to go to ‘talk’. We thank God for the great gift of Cecil, to the Society and to the Church, especially to the Church in Kenya and to so many persons who sought his ‘hekima’ (wisdom).”
What were the benchmarks of Cecil’s journey that made him the man he was?. He made a huge impact not only in his Province but also in the universal Society, as Assistant for formation to Fr. General from 1975-84 and in his adopted Province of Eastern Africa.
Cecil joined the Society in 1946 in the midlands of Ireland. One year later, he was asked to leave because of ill health. His dream was shattered; the event was a real dark night of the soul. It was to be the first of many major formative experiences of being tested and called to trust always in Divine Providence. After months of treatment for spinal T.B. he re-applied to the Society and was readmitted.
His peers recall that right through his formation Cecil was Beadle, that is to say, the leader of the scholastics/students. He was perceived somewhat like the prophet Jeremiah who, as we heard today, was gifted with leadership and an ability to discern and articulate God’s ways with people and events in a courageous manner.
In the early 1960s – an era of tremendous change, questioning and upheaval in the world – he was sent to Rome for his postgraduate studies in Theology. The experience of being in Rome during the time of Pope John XX111, Vatican 11, winds of change and renewal blowing through the corridors of the Catholic Church, and the election of the prophetic Pedro Arrupe as General of the Society in 1965, were all crucial formation events for Cecil.
These events and persons were to mark Cecil’s life journey and mission for the rest of his days. He returned to Ireland to teach theology and was soon appointed a very young Rector of the Milltown school of Philosophy and Theology. Immediately he began to work on renewing the formation of the theologian student community. He established small communities of scholastics with emphasis on sharing of life, personal responsibility, accountability and the development of internal structures of guidance and religious values, rather than mere conformity to external institutional rules.
He moved the Institute from a stand-alone Jesuit institute of studies to become a consortium of religious orders where all religious, including women religious and lay men and women, were allowed to pursue their academic and spiritual formation.
He promoted the school of Ecumenics, Peace and Reconciliation, which played a critical role during the growing conflict in Northern Ireland and continues to do so through healing processes for the whole of the island.
At the age of 39, he was appointed as Provincial, one of the youngest men ever to hold the role in the Irish Province. Inspired by the spirit of Vatican 11 and of the 31st Jesuit General Congregation, he moved immediately to update the communities and structures of Jesuit life in Ireland, which had developed shades of monasticism and introspection. He encouraged Jesuit life in Ireland to return to the spirit of its Ignatian sources. He explored with others the explicitly defined mission of the Society of Jesus after the 31st General Congregation as the service of faith of which the promotion of justice is an absolute requirement. This twinning of faith and justice was the source of tremendous zeal, energy and controversy in the Province and indeed in the whole Society. He set up commissions to reflect on different sectors of Jesuit works and invited lay partners, who were experts in planning, change and management, to work with Jesuits to bring about renewal through reading the signs of the times in accordance with the founding charism. Each year, Provincial renewal programs brought in men and women like the American Jesuit psychologist, Jim Gill, to help people to talk to one another but above all to give Jesuits skills to listen to one another, grow in self awareness and build unity of minds and hearts.
The decisions from this process were many – for example, moving the novitiate from the country to the city, an emphasis on the human and social sciences in studies for scholastics and young priests, the closure of some schools, the immersion of some communities among the poor and a more participative and consultative management style of the Province. He encouraged and facilitated British and Irish Province collaboration and cooperation around formation programs. This was groundbreaking given the historical political and cultural conflicts over the years and the outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland at that time. Cecil believed that in conflict situations the people who must first reach out to join hands across the divide are companions of Jesus.
The responses and reactions to Cecil leadership were manifold. Many of you here today in leadership know that making decisions is not easy but dealing with the reactions can be even more difficult to manage. Some of the reactions were earthshaking and memories (both positive and negative) of his term of office live on in the Irish Province to this very day. The majority, especially, the younger generation, had great appreciation, believing that Cecil enabled the Society of Jesus to enter the 20th.Century and prepare for the 21st. They felt affirmed, trusted and were given responsibility at a young age. Some others were highly critical.
Amidst all this Cecil persevered, convinced that renewal according to the spirit of Vatican 11 and to the spirit of Jesuit Congregations was absolutely essential to apostolic efficaciousness of the Company in Ireland. He lived in a real way the beatitude we read today ‘’blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’’. Thank God the Province had a man of courage to live this beatitude, because it is still being blessed by his vision, discernment, planning and courageous decisions.
Following his six-year term as Provincial, he was sent to Rome to become Assistant for formation in the universal Society. He worked with the same dynamism, zeal and decisiveness in a diversity of contexts, cultures and even creeds of formation. His goal was always the renewal of the Society according to Vatican.11, the Jesuit congregations and in accordance with the spirit and charism of the founder. The formation of ‘men for others’ was the mantra and the end product was always to have men with an inner freedom ready for apostolic service anywhere in the world. His work as always evoked great support and also controversy.
Two of his most painful moments were:

  1. The assassination of the Companions in El Salvador which we commemorated in November on the 20th. anniversary. He had been with that Jesuit community immediately before the killings as a special delegate of Fr. Arrupe and they were deciding whether it was safe to send scholastics for regency to El Salvador. 2. Perhaps his most painful moment was the Papal intervention in the Governance of the Society after Fr. Arrupe suffered a stroke. In the true spirit of St. Ignatius he took this with a gracious obedience and holy silence.
    Then God beckoned him for service in Africa.
    I do not dare to say much of this period of his life because each one of you here today has your own homily on Cecil in your heart. I have a number of memories after reuniting with him in Eastern Africa after he and I left Ireland. I remember him on his bicycle as he negotiated the matatus (buses) on Ngong Rd. and I was fearing for his life. I remember him going to the Pallotines in Galapo, Tanzania, to get completely immersed in learning the rich Kiswahili of that country. I remember his excitement about working with Sr. Maura and the Emmanuel Sisters. I remember sharing survival notes with him during his recovery from his brain haemorrhage at Marjorie’s place.
    But what I can say is this; in Africa Cecil found his real spiritual home. Yes, he was a resource person to Congregations and Bishops Conferences; he was teacher, dean, rector, but above all he wanted to be and was a Pastor- a shepherd of souls. IN Eastern Africa, he lived the quintessence of Ignatian and Celtic Spirituality -he became an ANAM CHARA as we say in Gaelic, a Soul Friend to numerous people and communities. He enabled so many people to discover and follow the will of God and to find peace. The presence of so many women here today is evidence of the way he enabled and empowered women to seek and find God’s will.
    In finding his real spiritual home in Eastern Africa he wanted to be buried among the people he loved so much. We pay tribute to his family, Doreen, Andrew and Trish, who are with us today to represent all his family, for supporting and loving him in mission and setting him free to serve the God he loved so much and allowing him to be buried in his adopted country and Province.
    I invite you all to join in the old Irish blessing for those who have passed on before us – “Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis” (may Cecil’s faithful soul be at God’s right hand). AMEN.

◆ Irish Jesuit Missions :
As in “Jesuits in Ireland “ :

Irish born Jesuit, Fr.Cecil McGarry, died in Nairobi on November 24th.2009. John K. Guiney attended his funeral and gave the homily at the Requiem Mass.
Cecil served Christ’s mission with all his heart, no half measures, and with a passion, perseverance, determination and love that gave outstanding witness to all around him, even to those who disagreed with him or opposed him.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 142 : Spring 2010


Fr Cecil McGarry (1929-2009) : East African Province

Paul Andrews writes:
Why was it that, from the Juniorate on, we saw Cecil as a future Provincial? It is a clear memory, this agreement among the brethren that here was a man made for leadership. It was not just that whisper of a miracle which enabled him to resume his novitiate, interrupted when the doctors initially told him: “With a tubercular abscess on the spine you will not be able for the Jesuit life”. In his revealing memoir Seduced (in Call and Response, Frances Makower's collection of vocation stories), Cecil recalls his conversion experience:

“The heart of my novitiate vision had been a companionship that required a radical availability to God and his will. Reluctantly I came to see that God could be calling me to live that availability to him as a layman and possibly with impaired health for the rest of my life. It was one thing to understand that this was the real meaning of what I had committed myself to during the Spiritual Exercises, quite another to accept it now in quite changed circumstances. I could never forget the moment I did so, during a sleepless night in Cappagh Hospital. It was a moment of great pain but profound consolation, in which I accepted that my life was God's gift to me and that it was for him to determine its course; my part was to be available to his will”.

Whatever the reason - the blessing of John Sullivan's crucifix or a faulty diagnosis – repeated X-rays showed no sign of the tubercular abscess, and Cecil returned to Emo to start his novitiate all over again. The experience left him visibly stronger. He was his own man among us overgrown schoolboys. His background was not untypical: middle child of a civil servant father and a mother of deep but unobtrusive faith; impressed by his glimpse of Jesuit teachers in his three years in Belvedere; intelligent but not academically ambitious; a good companion - even to old age when, on leave from Kenya, he would join a Jesuit group in Kerry. God had touched him in some special way. The fact that in all the houses of study he was appointed beadle of the scholastics - a sort of tribune between the authorities and the plebs – reflected the confidence in him felt by both parties; responsible, perceptive, strong, not a yes-man. Even his formal relationships were softened by his genuine charm, thoughtfulness and sense of humour: in any discussion of the Jews' disdain for tax-collectors, he liked to remind us that his father was the head of all Ireland's taxmen.

Yet his path was not a smooth one, even after the health crisis in Emo. At the end of his studies he was happy to be fingered as a future master of novices, and destined for a course in Rome in ascetical and mystical theology. But the shakers and movers in Milltown wanted a canonist, and Cecil's destiny was changed to a doctorate in Canon Law, a devastating blow: “Canon or Church law held no interest for me, and the last thing in the world I wanted was to spend my life teaching in a seminary”. When Visitor John McMahon changed this to a Roman course in systematic theology, the relief at escaping from legal studies was tempered by the prospect of becoming a seminary professor at a time when the divine science in Milltown was at its nadir. Cecil could not have realised that windows were being opened in Rome, and the fathers of the Vatican Council were coming together, bringing a vision of a renewed church, a vision which swept Cecil off his feet.

The students whom he lectured on return to Milltown loved the fresh air he breathed into its fusty atmosphere, and were dismayed when Rome interrupted Brendan Barry's reign after three years and made Cecil Provincial. It was not easy to instil the Province with the vision of Vatican II, especially when the incumbent archbishop, landing in Dublin after the Council, had announced "No change". Cecil listed the hard questions that he faced: “Were we not doing good things in the Irish Province? Undeniably. But were they the better things? Were they the most needed in Ireland at the time? Were they serving the more universal good? Were they the works that others were not doing? Fidelity to our own Constitutions, and to Pope John's signs of the times, required that we ask such questions. Pedro Arrupe's convictions and vision had become mine”.

But they were, initially at least, in conflict with many existing attitudes in the Province. This resistance surfaced most painfully at the 1970 Provincial Congregation, which overwhelmed Cecil with deep desolation, discouragement and doubts as to whether he could continue trying to lead people where they did not want to go.

Instead he sought another way forward: to facilitate new spiritual experiences in the Province, that would free men from fear and help them to communicate at a deeper and more personal level. So he used Encounter Groups to loosen up relationships between Jesuits. He sought help from other provinces to introduce individually directed Spiritual Exercises, and to encourage greater familiarity with our Constitutions. He received huge help from Eoin McCarthy, the consultant who visited every house in the Province, listened to almost every Jesuit in residence, and wrote a perceptive report which is still worth reading. Cecil set up a Secretariat to facilitate change in a Province unused to it. He gave enthusiastic support to the Irish School of Ecumenics during its difficult early years. As chairman of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors of men, he reached a new level of communion with other Religious, which bore visible fruit in the Milltown Institute, financed and managed by a partnership of about ten congregations. He appointed some young rectors, three of whom left the Society shortly afterwards. Cecil made mistakes, and was heavily criticised, but he so learned from his failures that he was able to lead the Province through six stormy years, and hand over a shaken-up and partly rejuvenated group to enjoy the calmer waters of Fr Paddy Doyle's Provincialate.

The 32nd General Congregation in 1974 gave Cecil a new direction, when it elected him one of the General's four Assistants ad providentiam, Fr Arrupe's counsellor and companion in government.

That companionship was sorely needed at a time when Pope Paul VI reprimanded the Congregation for discussing the question of Grades in the Society, and openly wondered whether he could continue to trust us as before. It became clear that the Society did not enjoy the confidence of the central authorities of the Church during the remaining years of Fr Arrupe's generalate. Our commitment to a service of faith that does justice was alien to some Jesuits, who had the ear of high Vatican officials. This came to a head when Pope John Paul II, after refusing Arrupe's resignation and seeing him, in consequence, disabled by a stroke, dismissed his Vicar General, suspended the Constitutions, and appointed Fathers Dezza and Pittau to do their best as an interregnum. All that Arrupe and Cecil had worked for seemed to be ashes.

Three years later, after the election of Fr Kolvenbach as General, Cecil was asked to help in the establishment of Hekima, the East African theologate in Nairobi. He was Hekima's first dean of studies and professor of Systematic Theology from 1984-1994. Then he became its rector from 1995 to 1998. He was frequently called upon to assist the Kenyan bishops and to advise them as a resource person in many important seminars and conferences. In 1994 he played an important role in the first African Synod in Rome (he shared in the pain that the synod would not be held in the continent), where he was a member of the synod's secretariat. Cecil was also involved in the development of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, as consultant as well as a professor of theology.

After a sabbatical, Cecil moved to Mwangaza retreat house near Nairobi, where he directed the Exercises from 1999 until a few weeks before his death. A brain haemorrhage in 2001 had brought him to death's door, but he fought his way back to full ministry. He gave spiritual direction to numerous lay people, Religious, priests and bishops, and assisted many religious congregations in their efforts towards renewal and growth.

The flame we saw as Juniors still burned strongly, uncomfortably. “How”, he asked, “does one continue to feel with the Church, and to love it - such integral aspects of the Jesuit way of life - when the Spirit of Jesus seems to have been arrested and confined, as Jesus himself was in his time? My response can only be: I love Christ in this Church because I cannot love him apart from his Church. He lives in this body, in which I too am a sinful part”.

Cecil has left us an agenda (Seduced, page 77): “Many of the most burning issues in the Church community are resolutely excluded from the agendas even of synods of bishops by papai authority. Are the bishops not to be trusted? What is the true meaning of collegiality? Should we not search for truth, wherever it leads, confident that it will set us free? Truth about such issues as the place and role of women in the Church, sexual morality, obligatory celibacy of the clergy in the Church of the West, the demands and limits of collegiality and inculturation. Is there no danger that we are forgetting the stricture of Jesus: You load on people burdens that are unendurable, burdens that you yourselves do not move a finger to lift (Luke 11,46)? Is open dialogue, so treasured in the early Church and by Vatican II, to be entirely abandoned? Why do we not believe any more in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but only in that of central authority? Is this the way to foster loyalty, participation and love within the Church? Is this the way the Church of Rome should preside over the whole community?”

The legacy of this remarkable man, this great lover of the Society, is not merely in his massive accomplishments, but in his passion for a renewed Church and a renewed Society, in his unrealised dreams, and the work in progress, waiting for us to carry on.

From a letter of the Provincial of Eastern Africa (Nov. 24, 2009) to the Province of Eastern Africa (to which Cecil belonged):

Brothers: Greetings of Peace!
I have just received the sad news of the death of Fr Cecil McGarry at Pedro Arrupe Community, where he lived and worked for over 10 years. As you know, Cecil's condition had deteriorated rapidly due to a relapse of his prostate cancer, which compromised his kidneys.......

Cecil came to the Eastern Africa Province in 1984, as part of the team chosen by Fr Arrupe himself to found Hekima College, the first theologate of the African Assistancy. He was Hekima's first dean of studies and professor of Systematic Theology from 1984-1994. Then, he became its rector from 1995 to 1998.

Cecil's availability to serve the Church and the Society of Jesus in Africa took him beyond his full-time job at Hekima College. For many years he was frequently called upon by both AMECEA (Association of Members of the Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa) and the Kenyan Episcopal Conference to assist the bishops and to advise them as a resource person in many important seminars and conferences. He played a very important role in the first African Synod in Rome in 1994, where he was a member of the synod's secretariat. Cecil was also involved in the development of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), as consultant as well as a professor of theology. Moreover, at our province level, Cecil assisted our provincials with the governance of the newly established Eastern Africa Province, as well as with his availability to listen and give good advice to many companions,

After a well-deserved sabbatical, Cecil was assigned to continue his apostolic mission in retreat ministry at Mwangaza. He devoted his entire life to this ministry from 1999 until a few weeks before his death. All this time, Cecil guided the retreats of many people, gave spiritual direction to numerous bishops, priests, religious and lay people. and assisted many religious congregations in their efforts towards renewal and growth.

Cecil lived an exemplary life, fully devoted to the Society's mission, the formation of Ours and the apostolates, Not infrequently, he was likened to Pedro Arrupe, for the depth of his courage and the breadth of his vision as a Jesuit. The fruits of his presence among us will last a long time. The occasion of his death is a time to give thanks to God for a life well lived. As we say goodbye to Cecil, our companion, the example of his life inspires us to recommit ourselves more deeply to our Jesuit religious life as servants of Christ's mission.

I would like to take this opportunity to express our deep appreciation to the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, for the presence of Cecil among us for so many fruitful years. In the person of Cecil they shared with us one of the best Jesuit companions they had. We are deeply grateful to the Irish Province for sending us fine Jesuit companions who have witnessed to the universal mission of the Society and for giving their constant support to our province's apostolic initiatives all these years. We pray in a special way for the Irish Province, so that the Lord may reward their generosity and steadfast commitment to the universal mission of the Society.

I would also like to thank the superior, members, nursing staff and support staff of Pedro Arrupe Community, and the collaborators and staff of Mwangaza, who cared for Cecil with so much love and affection during the time of his illness. Their care and love for Cecil with so much love and affection during the time of his illness will remain a blessing to the Society of Jesus in Eastern Africa....

A. E. Orobator, S.J., Provincial of Eastern Africa

Monahan, John, 1920-1993, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/676
  • Person
  • 08 May 1920-08 December 1993

Born: 08 May 1920, Dublin
Entered 07 September 1939, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 04 January 1956, Sydney, Australia
Final Vows: 03 December 1977
Died: 08 December 1993, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin - Australiae Province (ASL)

Part of the St Joseph’s, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Australia community at the time of death.

Transcribed HIB to ASL : 05 April 1951

by 1948 at Australia (ASL) - Regency

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Seán Monahan's family attended St Francis Xavier's Church, Gardiner Street, and he received his secondary education at Belvedere College nearby. On 7 September 1939 he entered the Irish noviciate at St Mary's, Portarlington, and then did juniorate studies in arts, studying English, French, Latin and Irish, at the Irish National University, while living at Rathfarnham. He developed tuberculosis during this time and never completed the course. For the next three years he was an invalid, and the decision was made for him to go to Australia.
At the beginning of 1948 Monahan arrived in Australia and began the three year philosophy course at Loyola College, Watsonia. He was a wonderful companion with his sense of humour, his gift for mimicry and his talent for friendship. He enjoyed participating in the scholastic dramatic performances, particularly the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. He produced Iolanthe.
For regency he spent some time at St Louis School, Perth, teaching and working in the boarding house, but he found the heat did not benefit his health, so in 1953 he began theology
studies at Canisius College, Pymble. After ordination in 1956, Monahan became a member of the Australian province. Tertianship followed in 1957 at Sevenhill, SA, under Henry Johnston, his theology rector.
His first priestly appointment was to Corpus Christi College, Werribee, where he was minister, bursar, prefect of liturgy and librarian. In 1958, there were 189 diocesan students; 42 in the first year. Monahan was a good administrator, shrewd, diplomatic, and with a care for detail. His special eye for individuals was much appreciated. He soon became involved in spiritual direction and the students found him a most warm and understanding confessor. He kept contact with many of these men in later years, either as priests or laymen. He was probably one of the best known Jesuits among the Melbourne diocesan priests.
Monahan's special talent for spiritual direction became well known, so he was sent to Loyola College, Watsonia, in 1960, first as socius to the master of novices and later as master of novices. In his first year as master there were 36 novices. Monahan was a most successful and highly acclaimed novice master. Despite his obvious garishness, he understood Australian young people and the contemporary needs of the Church and Society, and initiated many sensible changes into the life of the Jesuit novice. In many ways, he was a significant turning point in the formation of Jesuits in the Australian province, and the last of the Irish novice masters. At the time of his death, 42 of his novices were still members of the Society.
Monahan spent 1971 as spiritual father to Jesuit University scholastics at the Dominican house of studies in Canberra. In 1972 he was recalled to Victoria to become rector of Corpus Christi College, Werribee. It was the last year of the college at that place, the Society handing over its administration to the diocesan clergy.
For the next two years Monahan was spiritual director to the ]suit scholastics at Campion College, and in 1976 he was appointed socius to the provincial and lived at the provincial residence, Hawthorn. Having made his mark as socius, he was given the job, in 1977, of secretary to the South East Asian assistant in Rome, Robert Rush. However, the Roman climate affected his health, and he had difficulty learning Italian, so Paul Gardiner replaced him. He returned to Australia in 1978. At this time the archbishop of Melbourne, Frank Little, asked for him as vicar for religious in the archdiocese.
On his return he took up residence at the provincial house, and was superior from 1979-85, secretary of the province, giving wise advice to the provincial, while continuing his work as spiritual director to many in Melbourne. He was a most hospitable man, and Jesuits enjoyed being invited to Power Street for some Jesuit celebration. During this time his health continued to deteriorate.
In 1993 his health improved a little and Monahan was keen to revisit Ireland. He went and stayed at Cherryfield Lodge, Milltown Park, Dublin, where he received many visitors. He related by mail that he was very happy to be in Dublin. However, his health further declined, his return to Australia was postponed, and he finally died there in December.
Monahan was much loved in the Australian province for his personal humanity and charm, his loving care of others, his encouragement and cheeriness, his sense of fun and wit. He was one of the great storytellers and was a good companion. He loved news, enjoyed being consulted and gave wise advice. Above all he engendered love of, and confidence in, the Society.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 23rd Year No 1 1948

Fr. Peyton left for Australia on the “Mauretania” on 31st October in company with Fr. Conway, a member of the Viceprovince. Fr. Kevin Carroll, also a member of the Viceprovince, left Shannon Airport on 3rd November for New York, bound for San Francisco and Sydney. Mr. Monahan left Southampton on the “Queen Mary” on 20th November for New York; he took boat at San Francisco on 12th December for Sydney which he reached on 4th January. He will be doing his first year's philosophy at Loyola, Watsonia in the coming year.

Irish Province News 48th Year No 1 1973

A recent letter from Fr Seán Monahan, Corpus Christi College, Werribee, conveys the new that the Seminary is being replaced; “After just 50 years in Jesuit hands; the diocesan authorities have to find a buyer for a property a bit like Emo. A new Seminary is a building and though scheduled to be ready for the opening of this year on February 26th it will not in fact be ready in time. We have handed over the administration to the diocese but there will be Jesuits on the staff of the new establishment as academic and spiritual directors. It is in this latter capacity that I go there together with the present spiritual director here, Fr Paul Keenan. Altogether there will be five of us working with the same number of diocesan priests for 161 students following an 8 year course”.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 77 : Summer 1994 & Interfuse No 82 : September 1995


John (Seán) Monahan (1920-1993)

During the six decades of my life, an unbelievable number of people have crossed my path, some friends, others mere acquaintances.

Out of this vast galaxy of people, some have shone like stars to light my way, a select few have been guiding lights that have helped me to believe in myself and to keep on course when I was in danger of losing my way or of being overwhelmed by what confronted me. These latter luminaries have exerted a colossal impact on my life, and I am ever conscious of my debt to them.

On this occasion I want to talk about one that I treasure very specially, one who died on the 8th of December last year after a life of extraordinary dedication to God and to people who needed him. He was John (Seán) Monahan, and I met him first in my last year in the seminary 1958. He had been born in Dublin, Ireland, on 8th May 1920, and had entered the Society of Jesus just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, on 7th September 1939.

Interestingly enough, he had been ordained a priest only two years before our own group, on 6th January 1956. Because of health reasons he was sent to work in Australia where he spent over thirty years; ironically enough, for the latter part of this period he was contending quietly and courageously with a debilitating illness.

I was thinking back, as I was putting these thoughts together, about how we first met, and I can't quite recollect exactly how that meeting took place. What I do recall, however, is the fact that during the space of a few short months we established a bond that was to link us in friendship every since that time.

As I indicated earlier, I saw him as one of those luminaries who exerted a colossal impact on my life. Whether our contacts were frequent or separated by long intervals, those points at which our lives touched each other, either by letter or in person, exerted a considerable influence on me, both as a man and as a priest. All this was so profound and leaves me so indebted to him that I would like to tell you about at least a few of the riches that I derived from my friendship with Father John Monahan.

My first comment might well sound extraordinary, but I believe it to be the truth; in John Monahan I met Jesus. He was a person in whom I perceived, particularly at a time I needed it, that he really cared about me. He was unhurried as he walked with me on my journey.

There was an extraordinary warmth in him. He had a graciousness, a charm that was not artificial but from the heart. It wasn't a performance designed to impress, it was a natural outflow from his personality. Quite obviously, I wasn't the only one to have experienced this Monahan touch. From the testimonies of others ! know that he endeared himself to an incredible number of people, who were, like myself, influenced and enriched by his part in their life.

As I said, he really embodied Jesus for me, and I mean that if I were to meet Jesus, he would act towards me as John did. Related to this Christlikeness, he breathed an extraordinary inner peace. Any contact that transpired between us was characterised by this quality. There was this relaxing, disarming approach that he adopted, and it said to you in unmistakable terms, “Just be at home while you're with me”.

Had I been aware that he was going home to Ireland for a final farewell to his relatives, friends and fellow religious, I would have grasped the opportunity of saying my own good byes. Therefore, regret that I failed to say goodbye to him and to thank him for everything.

In a way, this tribute to him is a public goodbye and thanks to John for all he was for me and did to me. That is not to suggest that I have finished what I want to say about him, because there is one other comment that completes the picture, and it is this.

The most indelible and most lasting impression that I will always carry with me is that he was a great affirmer. How often, when important events occurred in my life and I let him know about them, and sometimes when I omitted to do so, through the mail would come, written in his neat and thorough way, a letter that complimented me on what I had achieved, or encouraged and supported me in what I was about to undertake.

So often in regard to this very programme he was a source of endorsement and positive comment which encouraged me to give of my best. He wouldn't hesitate to provide a suggestion, too, of how this or that might be improved, but there was always a sensi tivity and enthusiasm that urged me on.

His was a caring ministry and I know from comments of other priests and people how widespread and powerful was the influence for good in their lives. Which means that the greatest kindness would be for us to emulate him and his Christlike behaviour in our daily lives. That is no easy prospect, to absorb all these great qualities of a genuine loving priest, but it would be worth the effort.

I already miss John very much; I was always aware that he was there, selflessly supporting me in the background through his suf fering and by his prayer.

I thank our heavenly Father that in his providence our lives did touch each other and that I am so much the richer for that as I share these thoughts with you now.

So, to fittingly conclude these thoughts about the man who was for me my Christlike Character for 1993, I share with you a text of Scripture that John referred to often and which presumably affected his personal and priestly ministry and sustained it.

It was found highlighted in his Bible, following his death. It comes from Paul's Letter to the Colossians, chapter one, verses twenty-six to twenty-nine. As I read it, I can perceive John really reaching into the very depths of his being, and opening himself to the power of the Spirit, seeking to be a true priest - a bridge between us and the Father, in and with our Brother, Jesus.

These are the words that animated and challenged John Monahan, Priest and Member of the Society of Jesus, to be Christlike in character:
“...the mystery is Christ among you, your hope of glory. This is the Christ we proclaim, this is the wisdom in which we thoroughly train everyone and instruct everyone to make them all perfect in Christ. It is for this I struggle wearily on, helped only by his power driving me irresistibly”.

Christopher Gleeson, Riverview Australia

Murray, Christopher, 1912-2008, Jesuit brother

  • IE IJA J/782
  • Person
  • 29 February 1912-09 January 2008

Born: 29 February 1912, Aughrim Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin
Entered: 26 May 1937, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Final Vows: 15 August 1947, Sacred Heart College SJ, Limerick
Died: 09 January 2008, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the St Francis Xavier, Gardiner St, Dublin community at the time of death.

Transcribed HIB to ZAM: 30 July 1970; ZAM to HIB : 31 July 1982

by 1941 at Rome Italy (ROM) working at Curia

29th February 1912 Born in Dublin
Early education at CBS, St. Mary’s Place and Bolton Street Technical College
1929-1936 Worked at French Polishing
26th March 1937 Entered the Society at Emo
1st April 1939 First Vows at Emo
1939-1940 Milltown Park – Book binding and French Polishing
1940-1946 Roman Curia – Secretary
1946-1958 Crescent College, Limerick – sub-sacristan; in charge of staff and Infirmarian 15th August 1947 Final Vows at Crescent College
1958-1960 Loyola House – Provincial’s secretary
1960-1961 Manresa House – Secretary to Editor of Madonna
1961-1963 Curia Rome – Mission Secretariat
1963-1970 Zambia – Assistant Secretary : Bishop of Monze
1970 Transcribed to Zambia Province
1970-1979 Bursar – Canisius College & Community, Chikuni
1979-1984 Milltown Park – ‘Messenger’ Office administration
1982 Transcribed to Irish Province
1984-2008 St. Francis Xavier’s, Gardiner Street –
1984-1993 Bursar
1993-1995 Assistant Treasurer; House Chapel Sacristan.
1995-2002 House Chapel Sacristan
2002-2008 Cherryfield Lodge – Prayed for the Church and the Society
9th January 2008 Died at Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin.

◆ Companions in Mission 1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Brother Christopher Murray, known to his fellow Jesuits as Christy, but always to his family as Kit, was born on 29 February 1912. He was always ready for a joke or wisecrack about the fact that he had a birthday only once every four years and so was still only in his 23rd year when he went to Cherryfield at the age of 90!. During that long life he was to live in close proximity to some of the great drama of the 20th century both in Ireland and in Europe. He was born about six weeks before the Titanic foundered in the Atlantic, and two years before World War 1 broke out. He was too young to join his elder brothers and sisters who walked a mile down North Circular Road from their Aughrim Street home to say the Rosary outside Mountjoy Jail as Kevin Barry was being hanged. As a boy he saw Michael Collins walk past the Christian Brothers' School beside the Black Church at the head of the funeral cortege of Arthur Griffith. A short week later he saw Collins' own funeral pass the same spot on its way to Glasnevin Cemetery.

He did his early schooling at the Christian Brothers School in St. Mary’s Place and got a two year scholarship to Bolton St. College of Technology but only stayed for one year. He worked for seven years apprenticed to a French polisher of furniture. He was an official in the Trade Unions. Those who knew him will not be surprised to know that he led at least two strikes! At the age of 27 he entered the novitiate (1937) having made what he said was a ‘mature decision’. Later his mother said she was surprised at the decision but he saw no problem once he made his mind up.

Shortly after he ended his novitiate, he was posted to Rome in 1940. While en route he had barely passed through Paris when it fell to the Germans. The day he arrived in Rome was the time Mussolini declared war. As long as he stayed in the house he was technically in the Vatican but if he walked out the front door he was in Italy! It was a difficult time since on arrival he was asked to type a letter in Latin. He had no idea of Latin and never typed in his life. However he soon mastered the necessary skills with his usual intelligence and determination. While he was in Rome the food shortages became desperately severe. The situation took such a toll on his health that he was on a milk diet for a whole year after the war ended. One thing that upset him very much afterwards was the suggestion that Pope Pius XII had abandoned the Jews to their fate during the war. He himself had run messages on behalf of the Holy Father to Jewish families in hiding around the city, bringing them food and other supplies. He rarely traveled twice by the same route lest he was under surveillance. Christy worked with Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, the legendary "Vatican Pimpernel" who did so much for the Jews and whose life was portrayed by Gregory Peck in a major feature film. He did two stints at Rome 1940-46 in the secretariat of the English Assistant and 1961-63 at the Mission Secretariat.

Back in Ireland he did various jobs in the Crescent both in the Church and the community from 1946 to 1958, before being appointed secretary to the Provincial from 1958 to 1960. He also worked as secretary to the editor of The Madonna from Manresa House in 1960/61.

While in Rome he volunteered for the Zambian mission and for seven years (1963-70) he was secretary to Bishop Corboy, whom he had known as a novice. These were the heady years of post-independence. At the end of his life it was these years with Bishop Corboy that always came to his mind. He then was bursar at Canisius Secondary School from 1970 to 1979.

He returned to Ireland in 1979 and worked from Milltown Park in the Messenger Office up to 1984 from where he went to Gardiner Street where he spent his remaining years (1984-2002) before he went to the Nursing Unit of Cherryfield. His work always included looking after the finances and the sacristy.

Christy was gifted with a high IQ as was evident in his ease in dealing with figures and accounts. He was widely read and well informed. This led to his holding a very definite position on a variety of matters. In any discussion it was not long before this was made clear with the words ‘the facts of the matter are’. Naturally this ensured lively and occasionally heated discussions on a variety of topics. An inveterate walker, he must have known every street in Dublin. Until he was into his 90s he did a four mile walk every Wednesday up and down the North Circular Road to visit Stephanie, his youngest sister, still living in the family home. She herself categorized him as a "man of will". We, in John Austin House, noticed his pace slacken towards the end until at last he had to give it up.

◆ Jesuits in Ireland :

Christy Murray RIP
Please pray for Rev. Brother Christopher Murray, S.J. who died at Cherryfield Lodge on 9 January 2008, aged 95 years. May he rest in peace.

From French Polisher to Roman Secretary
An interview with Christy Murray on Nov, 10, 2005
First published in Interfuse
Interfuse: I was amazed when I found out that you were born in 1912 – on February 29! You are one of those special people.
Christy Murray: Yes. A birthday only every four years.
That’s why you have lived so long, probably! Sure you’re only 23 years old! 1912 – that was before the First World War. Have you any interesting memories from those early days?
I can’t really say I have. I didn’t start school until I was nine.
Was the school in Dublin?
Yes. I didn’t go to Junior School. I went to a med Miss Ryan on the Berkeley Road, and only spent a year there. Otherwise I got taught until I was nine at home. And then I went to the Christian Brothers in St. Mary’s Place near the Black Church.
How many years were you there?
All my school life – until I was 14 or 15. I did the exam for Bolton Street Tech and got a scholarship there. So I was there for a couple of years, catching up on some of the things I was short on in my education. I got a scholarship for two years, but I didn’t stay the two years. I went as an apprentice to a trade. I was a French polisher.
A French polisher! That’s very interesting.
I worked for seven or eight years at French polishing before I entered the Society.
So you were a late vocation?
Yes. I was 27 when I entered. One of the things I decided was that I must qualify in something before I enter religious life. It was a planned thing, you know, and then I was interviewed in Gardiner Street by the Provincial there. When I went to Emo I wanted to feel that, if I didn’t like what I met with there, I could go back to the trade. As well as being a qualified tradesman I was an official in the trade union.
Was Gardiner Street your church, or how did you come into contact with the Jesuits?
No, Berkeley Road was my parish church. But I went down to Gardiner Street to have an interview. Since I was thinking of entering the religious order there, I had to be interviewed by a Jesuit, so that’s what brought me to Gardiner Street.
And you met the Provincial. Who was the Provincial then?
I don’t remember. I thought at that time that it was the Superior of Gardiner Street who interviewed me.
You went to Emo in 1936, and finished your novitiate about 1939. What was your first assignment?
My first assignment was to Rome. I was sent directly to our head house in Rome. I was secretary to the Assistant General – the English assistant.
So, instead of polishing wood you were writing letters.
I had to learn to use a typewriter there. When I was sent out I hadn’t any experience of doing secretarial work. So in Rome they had to give me time to learn how to use a typewriter, and so on. I remember that well because I felt very awkward then, arriving. And, you see, I couldn’t come back from Rome because I arrived in Italy the day that country entered the war alongside Germany, so there was no question of coming back.
So you spent all the war years there. And when you went there the General was Fr. Ledochowski. He died during the war.
Yes. He died the second year I was there.
I see. And then you had Father Janssens.
That’s right.
It must have been interesting knowing both of those men. Any memories of those times?
Well, I can’t say I can remember clearly now, but the fact was that I found them both very encouraging. I was doing a type of work I had never done before and they were giving me time to get used to doing it. There were fifteen assistants – general assistants. When I arrived I didn’t know anything about typing or anything like that and they gave me time to learn it. It was a Canadian brother who taught me.
You were there till the end of the war. And then in 1946 you came back to Ireland. Had you been away all seven years without coming back?
There was no question of coming back. I was locked in Italy. I was one of the enemy, so I couldn’t travel. And, of course, there wasn’t any question of Mussolini giving permission to anybody but himself. It was a hard time, because we hadn’t enough to eat. We were living on Vatican territory. The Curia of the Jesuits was on Vatican land. When we stepped outside of the house we were in Italy, but when we were in the house we were in the Vatican. And therefore, the police couldn’t come into the house to arrest anyone. Once you stepped outside the hall door you were officially in Italy, but once you remained in the house you were a Vatican citizen.
What kind of work did you do in Ireland when you came back at the end of the war? Were you in Gardiner Street?
Yes. I was in Gardiner Street. Brother Priest was the sacristan there and I was his assistant.
Brother Priest?
That’s right. A funny name, but I found him very good. He helped me along.
You were assistant there. And did you stay in Gardiner Street for many years?
To tell you the truth, I forget.
You didn’t go to any other place? Were you in Gardiner Street for the rest of your days?
I forget the sequence, but I know I volunteered to go to Zambia.
Oh, so you went to Zambia?
Yes. It was the time that Father Corboy was made bishop. I knew him in his noviceship. Later he became Bishop Corboy. I volunteered to go because I had secretarial experience.
So you volunteered to work as secretary to Bishop Corboy.
That’s right. I spent fifteen years in Zambia with him.
And that was secretarial work, too.
Yes. I was in Rome at the time I volunteered to go to Zambia. I had a chat with the General at the time that Bishop Corboy was created bishop, and I had a chat with the General about going and joining him. He invited me to go and do the same kind of work as I had been doing.
You went back to Rome on a visit and when you were there you talked to the General about going with Bishop Corboy?
Yes. I was appointed to Rome at the time. I had been in Rome a number of years. It was my second time in Rome.
Oh, you went back a second time, after the war?
Yes. I was invited back.
That was after time as assistant sacristan in Gardiner Street?
That’s right.
That was a good few years afterwards because Bishop Corboy didn’t go until well into the 50s. You had quite a few years then in Zambia, did you?
I had fifteen years there. I got leave every five years – this is how I know. I just got leave once in five years…
Back to Dublin?
I was on my third leave back to Dublin when someone else was placed in my job.
I see. And were you then back in Gardiner Street again? You didn’t have any other assignment?
No, not that I remember.
So you’ve had a very varied career – Rome and Zambia and Ireland. And of course you came here to Cherryfield from Gardiner Street, so that was your last assignment there. And how do you find it here in Cherryfield?
The fact of the matter is that I was over 90 when I came here. Actually it was my 90th birthday the day I came in here. The 29th of February. I’ve been here over a year. I’m close to two years here.
And are you comfortable here?
In fact I’m surprised I’m so comfortable, because I had some experience of being in hospital, in care, before. I was in a ward with five or six others. Then I come here and I have my own room. This place is a great idea, I think. We’re really blessed to have this place. We’re one of the few Orders that has a good organised house for the aged.
The changes that have taken place in your time in the Society are tremendous. Especially, there were a lot more brothers when you entered.
Yes. Hadn’t got the same chances, you might say.
They had larger communities of brothers in the society.
Yes. There were a bigger number of brothers then than now. The brothers did a lot of work taking care of the houses and the farms. There were far more vocations then. In fact, it was nearly a fight to get into the Society then. Personally, I think I had an exceptionally happy time in all my years in the Society and in all the different jobs I was doing, and I got a fair amount of travel done.
Would you have a word of advice or a special message you’d like to give to the Province as you celebrate nearly 94 years?
I would like to say that they should keep the Brothers’ vocations in Ireland. They shouldn’t be sent to England. And even if they are few, they’ve a better chance of increasing their number by keeping them at home. I think that parents get preoccupied if they can’t visit them. I remember the impression I got from the first visit from my family in the novitiate in Emo. When I got talking to my mother – six people came to see me – she said that she expected to be bringing me back home, that I really wasn’t a person who was a likely Religious, and she thought she’d be taking me back home. She told me afterwards, “I didn’t expect you to be so happy; I thought you’d be coming back home, that you’d made a mistake”.
But you hadn’t made a mistake.
That’s the thing. I was thinking the opposite – that I was old enough to decide at that point in my life what my future was going to be, because I had already served my time at French polishing and as a trade union official.
You never felt like giving up. You were happy in your vocation.
I thought I was deciding when I was mature enough to decide. I felt that I had made it quite clear that I wasn’t making a mistake. I was surprised when she told me that.
That satisfaction with your vocation seems to have continued over the years.
Yes. When I was working in Rome, for example, everything went so well that I couldn’t believe it.
It’s great to be able to say in your nineties that you have no regrets about the way you chose.

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - Polisher before entry
Quite the reverse.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 15th Year No 2 1940

Milltown Park :
Rev. Fr. Assistant (P. A. Dugré) reached Dublin 21 December 1939, and stayed with until 30 January, when he left for Scotland via Belfast. He counted on reaching Rome on 1 March. He was accompanied from London by our Brother Christopher Murray who has taken up the duties of amanuensis in the Curia at 5 Borgo Santo Spirito.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 135 : Spring 2008


Br Christopher (Christy) Murray (1912-2007)

Homily preached by Barney McGuckian at the Funeral Mass at St. Francis Xavier's, Gardiner St., on Jan. 11th, 2008
On a headstone in one of the catacombs of Rome, where Brother Christopher Murray spent a number of challenging years, there is an inscription which reads “He has completed his baptism”. This short statement reveals something of how the early Christians understood Baptism. For them it was not a simple rite of passage or a brief passing ceremony. It was the first step in a process that would only end with death. Just as in show business it takes a life-time to become an over-night success, so it takes a whole life time to become a fully baptized Christian. This completion came for our Brother Christy two days ago in the Nursing Home at Cherryfield Lodge. He was holding the hand of Rachel McNeill, and, evidently, was quite conscious right up until the end. I, exceptionally, was among the concelebrants at Mass in the chapel across the corridor. As we had been told that Christy was very low, we commended his soul to the Lord. We do so again today strengthened by the encouraging text from the book of Maccabees that it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead, including even those “who make a pious end” that they may be released from their sins. cf II Maccabees 12:43-45.

Jesus Himself was baptised in the River Jordan at the beginning of his public life as we will hear at Mass on Sunday next. But this was only the first of many Baptisms that he would undergo. When Jesus referred to Baptism he seemed to become tense. “There is a baptism I must receive, and what a constraint I am under until it is completed” (Luke, 12:50). His complete Baptism came on Calvary when he finally gave up the ghost, after taking the vinegar, surely symbolic of everything distasteful in life and bowing his head in acceptance. (Cf John 19, 29-30). As his followers, who have been baptized into Christ Jesus, as St Paul puts it, we are all called to follow a similar path.

If Brother Christopher, known to his fellow Jesuits as Christy, but always to his family as Kit, had lived until February 296 of this year he would have been 96. He was always ready for a joke or wisecrack about the fact that he was still only in his 23 year while in Cherryfield. During that long life he was to live in close proximity to some of the great drama of the 20th century both in Ireland and in Europe. He was born about six weeks before the Titanic foundered in the Atlantic, and two years before World War 1 broke out. He was too young to join his elder brothers and sisters who walked a mile down North Circular Road from their Aughrim Street home to say the Rosary outside Mountjoy Jail as Kevin Barry was being hanged. As a boy he saw Michael Collins walk past the Christian Brothers' School beside the Black Church at the head of the funeral cortege of Arthur Griffith. A short week later he saw Collins' own funeral pass the same spot on its way to Glasnevin Cemetery. Shortly after he ended his novitiate, he was posted to Rome in 1940. While en route he had barely passed through Paris when it fell to the Germans. On arrival, he was in time to see Mussolini declare war. However, when in 1963 he went to join Bishop Corboy in the Diocese of Monze in Zambia, it was to the relative stability of the newly-won independence of the country. While there he was a most conscientious worker. As assistant secretary for education at Canisius Secondary School in Chikuni, he is still remembered as someone dedicated to his work, carrying it out meticulously to the last detail.

Christy won a scholarship to Bolton Street College of Technology on leaving primary school and became a French Polisher. Many of us still remember the beautiful finish of the doors in the Chapel at Emo, a testimony to the quality of his workmanship. Before entering the Jesuits he was active in the Trade Unions. Those who knew him will not be surprised to know that he led at least two strikes! After working for seven years at his trade he decided to embrace religious life. He may have been influenced in this by the example of two of his elder sisters who had joined the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, and headed off for Australia and New Zealand respectively. One of them, Sister Lua is still alive at 98 in New Zealand.

Christy took his first vows on April 1st, 1939 at Emo. Realizing that he had “turned pro" that day he took the implications of what he had done with the utmost seriousness for the rest of his life. His commitment, particularly his obedience, was sorely tried very shortly afterwards. He had only arrived a few days in Rome when he was told to type an important letter in Latin. Not only did he not know the basics of Latin, he had never ever typed a word in any language in his life! The kindness of Fr, General Ledochowski, one of his great heroes, helped him survive this and other trials. While he was in Rome the food shortages became desperate. The situation took such a toll on his health that he was on a milk diet for a whole year after the war ended.

One thing that upset him very much afterwards was the suggestion that Pope Pius XII had abandoned the Jews to their fate during the war. He himself had run messages on behalf of the Holy Father to Jewish families in hiding around the city, bringing them food and other supplies. He rarely travelled twice by the same route lest he was under surveillance. Christy worked with Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, the legendary “Vatican Pimpernel” who did so much for the Jews and whose life was portrayed by Gregory Peck in a major feature film. Another of his friends was Mrs Thomas Kiernan, wife of the Irish Ambassador to the Holy See, better known for her renderings of "If I were a blackbird" and “The three lovely lassies from Banyon" as Delia Murphy. Her relationship with non-Nazi German officers through the Irish Embassy, the only English-speaking Embassy in Rome after the U.S. entered the war, proved a life-saver for many endangered young Italians. Christy remembered her arriving at the Borgo Santo Spirito with the gift for the starving community of a much appreciated pig in the boot of the ambassadorial car,

Christy was gifted with a high IQ. This was evident in his ease in dealing with figures and accounts. He was widely read and well informed. This led to his holding a very definite position on a variety of matters. In any discussion it was not long before this was made clear with the pronouncement “the facts of the matter are”. Naturally, this ensured lively and occasionally heated discussions on a variety of topics. However once he entered the chapel he moved into a different mode. His recollection and silence here was very evident. Most of his life in religion was spent either in finances or in the sacristy of our churches. He is still remembered with great affection in Limerick, where he was sacristan for 12 years from 1946-58.

An inveterate walker, he must have known every street in Dublin. Until he was into his 90s he did a four mile walk every Wednesday up and down the North Circular Road to visit Stephanie, his youngest sister, still living in the family home. She herself categorized him as a “man of will”. We, in John Austin House, noticed his pace slacken towards the end until he had to give it up. Shortly afterwards, we heard that he had moved to Cherryfield. He was remarkably regular in both his religious observance and his physical exercise right up until he was confined to a wheel-chair in Cherryfield.

As a disciple of Ignatius of Loyola, Christy would have learned to begin his daily prayer with the same formula; that all my intentions, actions and operations may be directed solely to the service and praise of the divine majesty. This is a prayer for holiness and one that is only fully answered at the hour of death. Indeed it could be described as a prayer for the fullness of baptism into Christ Jesus. We hope that it was fully answered for our brother Christy when the time came. Like Ignatius he was a man small in stature and, indeed, in death his features reminded me very much of the death-mask of our Holy Founder that has come down to us. As we pray today for the repose of Christy's soul there is nothing to prevent us also praying to him.

O'Connell, Daniel Joseph, 1896-1982, Jesuit priest, astronomer and seismologist

  • IE IJA J/319
  • Person
  • 25 July 1896-14 October 1982

Born: 25 July 1896, Rugby, Warwickshire, England
Entered: 08 September 1913, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1928, Milltown Park, Dublin
Professed: 15 August 1932
Died: 14 October 1982, Borgo Santo Spirito, Rome, Italy

Transcribed : HIB to ASL 05/04/1931

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1921 at Valkenburg Netherlands (GER) studying
by 1924 in Australia - Regency

◆ Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University online :
O'Connell, Daniel Joseph Kelly (1896–1982)
by Nick Lomb
Nick Lomb, 'O'Connell, Daniel Joseph Kelly (1896–1982)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012

astronomer; Catholic priest; seismologist

Died : 14 October 1982, Rome, Italy

Daniel Joseph Kelly O’Connell (1896-1982), Jesuit priest, astronomer and seismologist, was born on 25 July 1896 at Rugby, England, one of four children of Irish-born Daniel O’Connell (d.1905), Inland Revenue officer, and his English wife Rosa Susannah Helena, née Kelly (d.1907). Soon after the death of his mother, Daniel was sent to Clongowes Wood College, Dublin. At 17 he joined the Society of Jesus at Tullabeg and in 1915 entered his juniorate at Rathfarnham Castle. He majored in experimental physics and mathematics at University College, Dublin (B.Sc., 1919; M.Sc., 1920; D.Sc., 1949, National University of Ireland). Subsequently he studied philosophy at St Ignatius’ College, Valkenburg, the Netherlands, where he began watching variable stars, especially eclipsing binaries that were to become the main focus of his astronomical research.

O’Connell planned to attend the University of Cambridge but, due to a lung condition, he was advised to leave Britain. In 1922 he arrived at St Ignatius’ College, Riverview, Sydney; he did his regency, taught physics and the next year became assistant-director at the college’s observatory. He returned to Ireland in 1926 to complete his theological studies at Milltown Park, Dublin. Ordained on 31 July 1928, he undertook his tertianship at St Bueno’s College, Wales. In 1931 he travelled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America, to study at the Harvard College Observatory with Harlow Shapley.

Back at Riverview Observatory in 1933, O’Connell became director in 1938. At the observatory his research included seismology and the measurement of time with various kinds of clocks, as well as astronomy in the field of variable stars using the newly developed technique of photographic photometry. In 1935 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a member of the Royal Society of New South Wales; he served on the RSNSW council (1946-49) and as vice-president (1950-52), and became an honorary member in 1953. He was chairman from 1946 of the board of visitors of Sydney Observatory. One of the friendships he established while in Australia was with (Sir) Richard Woolley, director of Mount Stromlo Observatory. O’Connell presented radio talks, including a series of three titled ‘According to Hoyle’ on the Australian Broadcasting Commission station 2BL-2NC in March and April 1952.

That year O’Connell was called to Rome as director of the Vatican Observatory. On 26 July he left Australia, arriving in time for the Rome meeting of the International Astronomical Union. He continued his work on eclipsing binary stars, again using photoelectric photometry. A leading expert in the field, he was president (1955-61) of the commission on photometric double stars of the IAU. He published The Green Flash and Other Low Sun Phenomena (1958), which included colour photographs proving that the phenomenon, sometimes seen at sunrise or sunset, was real and not subjective.

At the Vatican Observatory O’Connell built up the staff and installed a 60/90-cm Schmidt telescope that became the observatory’s largest instrument. As objective prisms were available, the telescope was used for spectroscopy. With leading scientists he organised two study weeks—one on stellar populations in 1957 and another on nuclei of galaxies in 1970—and published the proceedings. He had personal friendships with three popes, especially Pope Pius XII. In 1970 he retired from his observatory post but continued as president (1968-72) of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

O’Connell died on 14 October 1982 at the headquarters of the Society of Jesus in Rome. He is remembered mainly for his work on eclipsing binary stars and the ‘O’Connell effect’ that relates to the rotation of the major axis of the elliptical orbit of a double star.

Select Bibliography
D. Strong, The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-1998 (1999)
Irish Astronomical Journal, vol 15, no 4, 1982, p 347
D. O’Connell personal file (Society of Jesus, Australian Province Archives, Melbourne)

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Daniel O'Connell's secondary education was at Clongowes College, Dublin. He entered the Society at Tullabeg, Ireland, 8 September 1913, and juniorate followed at Rathfarnham, 1915-20. He received his diploma in experimental physics and a Master of Science in mathematics at the University of Dublin, and later a doctorate in science from the Irish National University At this time he came under the influence of William O'Leary, the Irish Jesuit astronomer and seismologist, who at that time was director of Rathfarnham Castle Observatory in Dublin.
O’Connell then studied philosophy at Valkenburg, 1920-22, and did further tertiary studies in science, gaining first class honours in most subjects. It was while in Holland that he also pursued spare time astronomical studies under world famous Jesuit scientists like Michael Esch, expert on variable stars, Xavier Kugler, world authority on Assyriology and Babylonian astronomy; and Theodor Wulf world ranking physicist.
Regency followed as assistant director of the Riverview observatory, 1922-26, as well as physics master and second division prefect. At this time he undertook to advance the local study of solar radiation.
He went to theology at Milltown Park, Dublin 1926-29, and to tertianship at St Beuno's, Wales.
O'Connell studied from 1931-33 at Harvard College Observatory, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was subsequently to have studied with the famous Sir Arthur Eddington. However, because of a lung condition, he returned to Australia, and then worked first as assistant director and later as director of the Riverview observatory 1933-52. Then he was appointed moderator of the Vatican Observatory at Castel Gandolfo, Rome, 1953-70. He lived in the Jesuit Curia, Rome, and from 1974 was due president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
During the years that O'Connell was at Harvard, the observatory was at the centre of major developments in astronomical research and especially those that were to lead within
the next few decades to the notion of the expanding universe of galaxies. He was thus associated with such eminent astronomers as Harlow Shapley, Cecilia Payne Gaposhkin, and others. His principal occupation at Harvard, and a pursuit which continued for the rest of his life, was the study of variable stars; but he also became known as a keen card player, especially bridge.
On his way back to Australia he visited Mount Wilson and Lick observatories in California, and then went to Japan, China, Java and the Philippines, where he visited leading observatories and advanced his practical studies.
While at the Riverview Observatory, working under William O'Leary, and in addition to his study of variable stars, he developed a keen interest in seismology and in the measurement of time with various types of clocks. This latter focus led him into a lifelong interest in the calendar and calendar reform, a study that served him well in later decades since he was asked to advise popes on both calendar reform and the cycle of ecclesiastical feasts.
In 1935 he initiated the “Riverview Observatory Publications” which enjoyed international reputation. Later, he founded the “Reprint Series” and the “Geophysical Papers” that became also well known. In the field of astronomy, O'Connell worked on eclipsing stars and Cepheid variables For the latter he used photo-electric equipment. About 15 ,000 plates on variable stars were on file at the observatory.
In the field of seismology the observatory's programme included the regional study of earthquake waves and the relationship between earthquake waves and the interior of the earth
During World War II, O'Connell collaborated with the United States government in the location of earthquakes in the Pacific zone in relation to war strategy. This work continued after the war. Each week a cabled report was sent to the United States from Riverview. The Imperial War Graves Commission also consulted him concerning possible earthquake damage to war cemetery sites in the Pacific area.
In his role as director of the Vatican Observatory, he began a career of unique service to the Church that spanned the reign of three popes, and saw immense developments in astronomical research from the initial concept of various stellar populations to an expanding universe containing active galactic nuclei and quasars. On a few occasions he organised study weeks of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, at which these subjects were discussed, e.g. Stellar Populations in 1957, and Nuclei of Galaxies in 1970. As a result of these study weeks, two books were published, both edited by O'Connell, and they became classics of astronomical literature. From 1955-61 he was president of the Commission on Double Stars of the International Astronomical Union.
Of his many contacts with popes he served, his relationship with Pius XII was especially close. He frequently advised the Pope, himself a very keen and diligent student of the natural sciences, on topics of current scientific research. In was under Pius XII that the major modern research tool of the Vatican Observatory, the Schmidt telescope, planned under his predecessors but completed under O'Connell, was inaugurated and blessed. Pius XII often visited the observatory, and on one occasion viewed the launching of the Russian Sputnik.
Paul VI viewed the landing of the first man on the Moon with O'Connell over a specially installed television, and he advised the Pope on the technical details of the mission.
In the pursuit of his scientific research, O'Connell became a close friend and collaborator of an international community of astronomers. As director of the Riverview Observatory he went to Europe in 1948 to attend the first post-war meeting of the International Astronomical Union held at Zurich, and on that occasion visited many European observatories. His visit to Utrecht was noteworthy, for there he established a lifelong friendship with Professor Marcel Minnaert who later encouraged him to issue the now famous book on the Green Flash, which, published in collaboration with Brother Karl Trench SJ, provides excellent documentation on optical effects that occur in the Earth's atmosphere when the sun is rising or setting.
However, O'Connell was best known in the international community of astronomers for his research on double stars. He discovered an effect, since known as the “O'Connell Effect”,
concerning the rotation of the line of the apsides (the major aids of the double star's ellipticalorbit). The discovery of this effect was typical of the scientific work of O'Connell. lt required a long period of painstaking observations and careful analyses over many years.
In addition to his membership in the academies and institutes already mentioned, O’Connell was a member of the National Research Council of Australia, and an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy He was also a member of the Royal Society of New South Wales, publishing three papers on earthquakes and the Galitzin seismograph. He served on council, 1946-49, and was vice-president, 1950-52. He became an honorary member of the Society in 1953.
O'Connell retired as director of the Vatican Observatory in 1970. He was president of the Pontifical Academy of Science, 1968-72. While he was an indefatigable worker and consequently very jealous of his time, he still treasured his friends immensely, and was always nurturing new friendships. Even during his last years, when he was largely bedridden, he developed new friendships among old and young alike. The students at Riverview remembered him for showing groups of boys the Moon, planets and the stars on clear nights and for his unfailing gracious word and cheery smile for staff and students.
Many were the nights that, under the then clear skies over Castel Gandolfo. O'Connell climbed the stairs to the telescope atop the papal palace passing die plaque inscribed “Deum Creatorurn Venite Adoremus. He was very intelligent, hardworking and always a gentleman genuine international Jesuit.

Note from Noel Burke-Gaffney entry
1950 He was appointed Director of the Observatory at Riverview after Daniel O’Connell was appointed to the Vatican Observatory

Note from William O’Leary Entry
He remained at Riverview until his death in 1939, directing the observatory until 1937 when Daniel O'Connell became director

Note from Edward Pigot Entry
His extremely high standards of scientific accuracy and integrity made it difficult for him to find an assistant he could work with, or who could work with him. George Downey, Robert McCarthy, and Wilfred Ryan, all failed to satisfy. However, when he met the young scholastic Daniel O'Connell he found a man after his own heart. When he found death approaching he was afraid, not of death, but because O’Connell was still only a theologian and not ready to take over the observatory. Happily, the Irish province was willing to release his other great friend, William O'Leary to fill the gap.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 23rd Year No 4 1948
Fr. Daniel O'Connell of the Vice-province visited Ireland after an absence of many years, early in September: He has had a very busy time since he left Australia : he did some astronomical work at Leyden before going to the Vatican Observatory where he spent 6 weeks ; he attended a Meeting at Zurich of the International Astronomical Union and then went on to Oslo for the Congress of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics. He has been invited to lecture to the Irish Astronomical Society at Armagh and to be the guest of Dr. Lindsay, Director of the Armagh Observatory, who is a good friend of his since the Harvard days when they spent two years together at that Observatory. Fr. O'Connell is due to sail for the United States from Southampton on 6th November and will spend some months at Harvard Observatory before returning to Australia.

Irish Province News 24th Year No 1 1949

On 6th November Fr. Daniel O'Connell, of the Vice-province, who during his stay in Ireland gave evidence in Fr. Sullivan's cause, left Southampton for U.S.A. on 6th November.

Irish Province News 58th Year No 1 1983


Fr Daniel O’Connell (1896-1913-1982) (Australia)

I met Dan O'Connell for the first time when I went to the noviciate, then in Tullabeg. I found him a quiet novice but a very pleasant companion. We both went to Rathfarnham and were together in our First Arts year (1916-17). He was a brilliant and highly intelligent man. He took a keen interest in Fr William O’Leary's seismograph, which stood in Rathfarnham grounds, and frequently inspected it with him.
We parted company in 1920, when he went to Valkenburg for philosophy while I followed the subject in Milltown. Two years later we were both posted to Australia. We did not travel there together but met in Riverview College, Sydney, where we spent our regency. In Riverview was the Irish Jesuit, Fr Edward Pigot, who had an astronomical observatory, in which Dan became keenly interested, Fr Pigot himself had erected this observatory and fitted it out with a strong telescope for watching the various stars at night. He was also an accomplished pianist and taught Dan the piano.
In 1926 Dan followed me to Milltown for theology. Together we were ordained there by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Edward J. Byrne. Later, whenever Fr Dan came back to Dublin, he stayed with Dr Byrne's successor, Dr John Charles McQuaid, who was a great friend of his, as they had been classmates in Clongowes. Twenty or so years after Fr Dan's return to Riverview, he was called to Rome to take charge of the Vatican observatory, and ended his days in Rome.

The summary notice, taken from L'Osservatore Romano (16th October 1982) and transmitted by Frs Joseph Costelloe and John P. Leonard of the General Curia, fills in some of the external details of Fr O’Connell’s life:
"Yesterday evening, Thursday, 14th October, Fr Daniel O’Connell, former Director of the Vatican Observatory and ex-President Emeritus of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, died after a long illness in the infirmary of the Jesuit General Curia in Rome.
Born in Rugby, Great Britain, in 1896, he had entered the Society of Jesus in Ireland in 1913. After completing his studies in physics and mathematics at the University College, Dublin, he spent two years of special studies at the Harvard College Observatory in Cam bridge, Massachusetts, between 1931 and 1933.
He then became Director of the Riverview College Observatory in Australia, where he remained until 1952, when he was appointed Director of the Vatican Observatory, which he directed until 1970. From 1968 until 1972, he was, by the appointment of Paul VI, President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Known for his scientific labours, especially for his researches on double stars - an area in which he discovered a particular effect named after him - Fr O'Connell was a member of many international societies, including The National Research Council of Australia, The Royal Academy of Ireland, and The Royal Society of New South Wales”

Frs George V Coyne and Martin F McCarthy SJ, of the Vatican Observatory brought out a glossy four-page printed leaflet (of A4-size page) as a memorial to their fellow-astronomer and fellow-Jesuit. Five of the photographs therein show Fr O’Connell greeting in turn four recent Popes, including the present one. An interesting account is also given of his astronomical work. The editor of IPN has at his disposal at least one photocopy of this leaflet, which he will gladly send to any contemporary of Fr Dan’s or to any other interested person who might like to have it.
Fr Dan O’Connell contributed two articles to the New Catholic Encyclopedia: “Calendar reform” and “Vatican Observatory”. He featured in past numbers of The Clongownian: 1953, pp. 9-12, “Astronomer and seismologist”; 1968, pp. 42-3; 1974, p. 33 (copy of an autographed letter to him from Paul VI).

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 86 : July 1996


Fr Daniel O’Connell (1896-1982)

Like William Keane, Daniel O'Connell was a brilliant student who devoted his life to the Lord's work in the Society. He was born at Rugby, England, on 25th July to an Irish father and English mother, At the age of 12 when his parents died, he went to Ireland and completed his secondary education at Clongowes College; in view of his examination results, I presume that he was Dux of his class, as William Keane had been. One of his masters was Henry Johnston, and one of his fellow students was John Charles McQuaid, later a famous Archbishop of Dublin. At the age of 17, he entered the novitiate of the Irish Province at Tullabeg on August 8th, 1913. A fellow novice described him as 'quiet but a very pleasant companion', qualities noted in him throughout his later life which were to win him many friends.

It may be remarked, incidentally, that although he was related to the Liberator' he was called Daniel after another member of the family.

University Studies
University studies were at the National University of Ireland where he did a brilliant scientific course with first class honours in experimental physics and mathematics, ending with a Master of Science. With other scholastics he would have commuted to the University from Rathfarnham Castle, Juniorate residence and later retreat house. In its grounds was a seismograph, erected by Fr. William O'Leary, who was later to take over from Fr. Pigot as Director of the Riverview Observatory. Daniel took a keen interest in this, a fact which was not lost on Fr. O'Leary who was later to choose him as their designate'. For Philosophy, Daniel was sent to Valkenburg in Holland where the German Provinces had their house of studies, having been driven out of Germany by Bismarck's Kulturkampf. Here he pursued part-time studies in astronomy under important German Jesuit scientists. Arrangements had been made for him to enter Cambridge University to study relativity under Sir Arthur Eddington but he experienced a breakdown in health, had lung trouble, and was sent to Australia to recuperate and do Regency. He taught at the observatory in 1923 under Fr. Pigot. The latter was also a fine pianist and taught Daniel the piano.

In 1926 Daniel returned to Ireland for theology, studied at Milltown Park and was ordained on July 31st, 1928 by the then Archbishop of Dublin. Tertianship was at St. Beuno's, Wales(1930-1931).

Further Studies
Destined now to become a professional astronomer, Daniel returned to Australia and the Observatory but the following year went to Harvard for further studies and research at its Observatory, then a great centre of research under Howard Sharpley and others. His principal occupation there was the study of variable stars which he continued throughout life and through which he made his name as an astronomer. In 1948 he was awarded a doctorate in science from the National University of Ireland for outstanding services to astronomy, but he also became interested in seismology and the measurement of time with various types of clocks. (These and other scientific details are taken from a brief memorial bulletin published by the Vatican Observatory after Daniel's death in 1982.)

Riverview Observatory (1933-1952)
After visiting other observatories, he returned to Riverview as Assistant Director of the Observatory, taking over from Fr. O'Leary in 1938 when the latter died on the Riverview golf course. (Fr. O'Leary is remembered at Riverview as the inventor of a Free Pendulum clock of superb accuracy which used to stand in the corridor outside the Rector's room in the old building.)

The Observatory received a small grant (£450 in 1939) from the Australian government. When Daniel took over and for a number of years afterwards it had the only fully equipped seismological station in Australia and its reports appeared in the local papers whenever a major earthquake occurred. Its astronomical work consisted mainly in the photographing of variable stars, a work which Daniel carried out himself in the hours of darkness when others were asleep. The increasing illumination of the skies above Sydney rendered this more and more difficult but he managed to make 20,000 plates over the years.

During his years at the Observatory Daniel became a highly respected figure in astronomical circles in Australia and elsewhere, becoming, for instance, a Fellow of the Royal astronomical Society among other memberships. But he was no remote scholar. He had a gift for popularizing science when this was needed and he was called on occasionally by the ABC for broadcasts. When Fred Hoyle (of Steady State fame) delivered a number of lectures on the BBC on “The Nature of the Universe” Daniel was asked to give three lectures on the ABC on the same topic. He called his lectures “According to Hoyle” and made it very clear that his distinguished counterpart was wrong in dismissing the Creator from the origin of things. Hoyle, who must be a very old man now, is said to be now more in favour of creation, impressed by the 'fine tuning' of the universe.

While Daniel did not teach, he was an object lesson to the boys that science and religion could be reconciled. He was also a familiar and friendly priest, whose sermons they listened to in the chapel with more than usual attention. He could get down to their level. There were occasional guided tours of the Observatory - I had some myself when I was at Riverview as a scholastic 1947-1949. He was also a 'good community man'. The only thing that annoyed him was noise, and most particularly the lowing of Brother O'Brien's cows which disturbed his sleep by day after a night of observation. But he did not have recourse to the 'ultimate deterrent' of shooting one or two. He bore it cheerfully enough as he did the loneliness of much of his work. I think of him as a very dedicated, kindly person.

Vatican Observatory
In 1952 news came that Daniel had been appointed Director of the Vatican Observatory located at the papal summer residence at Castelgandolfo in the hills 16 miles from Rome. His appointment was a 'most strict secret', which he observed most faithfully, but it was leaked out over in Rome so he was embarrassed by people asking him if it were true. Due to illness and the necessity of taking up the appointment quickly, he had little time to say goodbye to his many friends in Australia. He left by ship on July 26th, 1952, bringing to an end almost a quarter of a century at Riverview and its Observatory, both of which remained very dear to him.

From 1952 until his retirement in 1970 he was Director at the Vatican Observatory. He was President of the Pontifical Academy of Science from 1968 to 1972. He served three Popes and had close personal relations with them. Over the years he published a number of books (e.g. The Green Flash, Stellar Populations, Nuclear Galaxies) and many papers. The Vatican Observatory gave him much greater scope than he would have had at Riverview. He could do better work and was in contact with a wider group of scientists. There were times when he lamented that he had never given a retreat, but his was a full-time ministry.

Retirement (1970 - 1982)
His health, never very robust, gave him increasing problems so he had ultimately to retire from the Observatory and come to live in Rome at our Curia. The Pope wanted him to stay in Rome and keep in touch with the Pontifical Academy. In August 1973 he was allowed to make a trip to Australia to attend a conference and make contact. Of course, he had always kept in touch and delighted to meet Australian Jesuits studying in Rome. I have very happy memories of meeting with him during the 32nd General Congregation. He had a great memory for the Australian brethren and even for the boys he had known at Riverview.

His health became worse and worse so that for the last two years he was practically bed-ridden. He died in the infirmary at the Curia on October 13th, 1982. The notice in the Osservatore Romano mentioned that he had bore his long illness with marvellous serenity and was comforted by the special blessing of the Holy Father, John Paul II. One can only say that the papal blessing was richly deserved - Daniel O'Connell had been a very faithful servant of the Church in the difficult field of science.

With similar talents and in different ways, William Keane and Daniel O'Connell made very significant contributions to the work of the Province and the Society. As they were men who shared their wisdom with others we may trust that they will shine like stars for all eternity (Book of Daniel, 12:3)

John Begley
Australian Province Taken from “Jesuit Life” Newsletter

Osborne, Joseph, 1928-2011, Jesuit brother

  • IE IJA J/789
  • Person
  • 25 April 1928-26 December 2011

Born: 25 April 1928, Kildare Town, County Kildare
Entered: 24/ March 1952, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Final Vows: 02 February 1963, St Francis Xavier, Gardiner Street, Dublin
Died: 26 December 2011, St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin

Part of the St Ignatius, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin community at the time of death.

by 1958 at Rome, Italy (ROM) working
by 1963 at Tullabeg making Tertianship

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 147 : Spring 2012


Br Joseph (Joe) Osborne (1928-2011)

25 April 1928: Born in Co. Kildare.
Early education in CBS, Naas and Blackrock College, Dublin
1946 - 1952: Worked as jockey and horse trainer
28 March 1952: Entered the Society at Emo
29 March 1954: First Vows at Emo
1954 - 1957: Milltown Park - in charge of house and staff
1957 - 1958: Rome SJ Curia - Secretarial work
1958 - 1961: Crescent College, Limerick - Sacristan
1961 - 1966: SFX, Gardiner Street - In charge of staff
During 1962: Tullabeg - Tertianship
3rd February 1963: Final Vows St. Ignatius, Leeson Street
1966 - 1967: Galway - In charge of staff, Sacristan
1967 - 1968: Clongowes - In charge of staff
1968 - 1970: Manresa - In charge of staff; Sacristan
1970 - 1974: Crescent College, Limerick - In charge of staff: Infirmarian
1974 - 1980: John Austin House - Minister
1980 - 1982: St. Ignatius, Galway - Sacristan; Infirmarian
1982 - 1983: Belvedere College - CLC
1983 - 2011: Leeson Street - CLC
1991 - 2003: Subminister; Sacristan; CLC
2003 - 2010: Sacristan
2010 - 2011: Residing in Cherryfield
26 December 2011: Died Cherryfield

Br Osborne went to Cherryfield in 2010 when his health began to fail. He settled down well but broke his hip in a fall shortly before Christmas. He returned to Cherryfield for Christmas but got pneumonia and died on December 26th 2011, aged 83 years, in St Vincent's Hospital. May he rest in the Peace of Christ

Obituary : Paul Andrews
More than most Jesuits, Joe Osborne had to be seen in the context of his birthplace, Craddoxtown in County Kildare, where the rich soil builds the bones of great race-horses, especially hunters. Joe's father, also Joe, was a well-known and successful trainer who had won at Cheltenham, Punchestown, Naas, Leopardstown and elsewhere. As Gerry Cullen, Joe's brother-in-law put it, Joe Senior (schooled in Clongowes) was the one who must be obeyed. Joe's mother, Helen Cunningham, was a delightful lady whose brother, Professor John F. Cunningham, was a prominent gynaecologist. There were priests in her family. Joe's sister Vera married Liam Cosgrave, a former Taoiseach and good horseman.

Joe moved from primary and secondary school in Naas to Blackrock College for a couple of years, then returned to the horses. Bonnie Flanagan dedicated her book Stillorgan Again but Different to Joe. One photo shows him leading the field at Leopardstown. I quote from the “Any list of famous jockeys who rode in Leopardstown would be incomplete without the name of Joe Osborne, son of the trainer of that name, of Craddoxtown House, Co Kildare. Friend and colleague of such legendary figures as Pat Taaffe and Martin Moloney, Joe astonished the Jockey Club by his decision in 1951 to embark upon the religious life. He never rode again. Pat Taaffe said of him: 'Joe had more wins than I, but he gave it all up to enter the Jesuit Order”.

He joined the SJs at 24, having consulted his brother Paddy on the matter of what he felt was his vocation. He had made a brilliant success of his first career, but felt there was more to life than steering horses over the jumps in Punchestown. He told Paddy he was not content with his present life, and that he felt this deep call to something else. Paddy diplomatically wished him well in whichever career he chose. There were family connections with Jesuits and CWC, so the Jesuits were his choice.

He could have been a priest but preferred to become a brother. On his 70th birthday his friends put together an album on his life: “From Saddle to Sanctuary” which delighted Joe, and spoke eloquently of the affection in which he was held. You could see there the handsome young horseman, with a taste also for tennis, swimming, dancing and cards (he only played if money, not matches, were involved). In the Jesuits he gave up the saddle, but not dancing. Light-footed, with endless energy and a strong sense of rhythm, he was a superb ballroom dancer, and indulged this talent whenever the opportunity arose.

He worked in ten Jesuit Houses in Ireland, and for a short spell at our Generalate in Rome. His ministry included: Secretarial work, Charge of Staff, Infirmarian, Minister, Sacristan, CLC office work for 20 yrs. All ordinary jobs, and all done with great grace.

Brian Grogan, Joe's superior at the end, has his own treasured memories:

Visiting him in Cherryfield, I found a man lying on his back, with the TV on, rosary in his hands. I finally asked him would he like us to fix the Telly to the ceiling. What occupied his mind in his waking hours he did not say, Memories? There are the Secret Scriptures of each of us. I asked him once was he looking ahead to better things. “Begobs, yes, that's what matters!” “Joe, you'll be 7 lengths clear!” “That'll be great!” That was the beginning and end of our discussion on matters eternal! Later I discovered that Joe rarely if ever spoke about God; he lived his relationship with God, and felt that was enough.

His smile: It is there in the earliest photos, and shone out at the end. His habitually worried look would yield immediately to a great welcoming smile when you met him. There was a twinkle in his eyes. Perhaps there was little conversation but he communicated gratitude and joy that you had come along.

“He was the best of the best” – so said one of the Cherryfield staff. By which she meant his endless courtesy and appreciation of whatever was done for him. He was never demanding. Never a harsh word. 'A man of low maintenance was my term for him and he enjoyed it. As the nurse said: he did not have the illusion that he was living in the Four Seasons Hotel, he was grateful for whatever could be done for him. Now Ignatius considered ingratitude the greatest sin of all. Not to be grateful, he felt, was to miss the point of life completely. Why? Because life is a gift: people are gifts; all that is done for me is gift. Joe got full marks here, and I'm sure Ignatius must have embraced him with joy. No doubt Joe bad learnt this courtesy at home first!

Once Joe opened the door for a visitor and brought him to the parlour. The visitor remarked to the Jesuit whom he had come to see: “I have never been so graciously received as by that man! Who is he?' He had a deep sense of respect for others. He thought of them as better than himself. He saw around him “The image of God, multiplied but not monotonous” as GKC said of Francis of Assisi.

Joe would wish to apologise for any way in which he offended anyone. In tum we ask his forgiveness for any way in which we offended him. He was a loving and sensitive man. It appears that a well-intentioned but insensitive interaction with a Superior a number of years ago hurt him and diminished the joy of his later years. I know personally that Joe was a forgiving man. When he was in Vincent's, recuperating from his hip surgery two weeks ago, a nurse rang me to say that he would neither eat nor drink, nor do his physiotherapy. I went in and spoke to him on the merits of exercise if he was to get on his feet again. I obviously went on a trifle too strongly, as I discovered only later. The night before he died I asked his forgiveness for pushing him. “There's no need to worry about that now he said -- they were the last words I had with him."

His last years in Cherryfield were uneventful until a week before he died, when he broke a hip. He was discharged from hospital just before Christmas, developed pneumonia on the morning of 26h and became unconscious. He died peacefully on the evening of St Stephen's Day. A friend remembers: “I never heard him speak critically of anyone. His life seemed to be one of faith and hope and charity. He never discussed religion; he lived it. Joe, you have truly won the race that matters.'

Sutton, James, 1933-2010, Jesuit brother

  • IE IJA J/798
  • Person
  • 09 February 1933-26 July 2010

Born: 09 February 1933, Gardiner Street / Glasnevin, Dublin / Donnycarney, Dublin
Entered: 22 October 1955, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Final Vows: 15 August 1966, Milltown Park, Dublin
Died: 26 July 2010, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Gonzaga College, Dublin community at the time of death.

by 1959 at Rome, Italy - Sec to President of CC. M.M.

◆ Jesuits in Ireland :

Versatile Jim
With the death of Brother Jim Sutton last week, the Irish Jesuits lost a quiet man of multiple talents. Born in Glasnevin, and schooled by the Christian Brothers in Scoil Mhuire,
Marino, he was bright enough to win a scholarship into the ESB. Having trained as an electrician he entered the Society at 22. That was his most familiar role in the Province: he wired, rewired, fixed and constructed and maintained plant in most of our houses, leaving a precious legacy behind him. His other talents were less well known. He ran with Donore Harriers, played brilliant hurling with St Vincent’s Club, and could bring a party to life with his banjo. In this last year he pulled himself back from a life-threatening sickness to brighten the surrounds of Cherryfield with its brilliant flower beds. He is remembered with great affection.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 143 : Autumn 2010


Br Jim Sutton (1926-2009)

9th February 1933: Born in Co. Dublin
Early education in Scoil Mhuire, Marino; Ringsend Technical College;
ESB apprentice; Qualified electrician.
22nd October 1955: Entered the Society at Emo
12th January 1958: First Vows at Emo
1958 - 1959: Curia Rome - Secretary
1959 - 1970: Milltown Park Community - Electrician, Plant maintenance
1965 - 1966: Tullabeg - Tertianship
15th August 1966: Final Vows
1970 - 1983: Manresa House - Electrician, Plant maintenance
1983 - 1997: Gonzaga Community - Consultant Electrician and Painter (Province Communities and Apostolates)
1997 - 2010: Gonzaga Community - Assisting the sick and elderly
14th October 2009: Admitted to Cherryfield Lodge
26th July 2010: Died in Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Myles O'Reilly writes:
It was very striking when Jim Sutton died how much he was grieved for, not only by family and friends but by the Cherryfield staff itself. A bright, intelligent, cheerful man, sparkling with life, was gone out of their lives. They had witnessed the ordeal he went through the previous 6 months with one doctor insisting that he continue to be plied with heavy doses of antibiotics to keep his knees from becoming re-infected again; and the other, his heart specialist, equally adamant that his heart and body could sustain no more antibiotics. He was between a rock and a hard place and it was only a matter of time before one would prevail over the other. During those months he was a defiant figure and a comic sight to see in a wheel chair, being pushed by Brendan Hyland and Tom-Tom around the grounds of Cherryfield, giving the orders and they digging holes and planting flowers where he wanted them planted according to his master plan! They grew the flowers from seed in Gonzaga garden and transferred them to Cherryfield when the time was right. When you go into Cherryfield grounds now, you cannot but be struck by the beauty of the flowers which are a tribute to Jim's dream garden.

Jim was born in Gardiner St., but early in his childhood his parents moved to Donnycarney, where he and his 3 elder sisters were raised. He went to Colaiste Scoil Mhuire Marino and Ringsend Tech. In his growing up years he played the banjo and sang with the “Black and White Minstrel Show” a group founded by his uncle. He loved the GAA and played in goal with the St Vincent's hurling team. He was a passionate follower of the Dublin footballers all his life and blamed their demise in recent years to their picking too many players from south of the Liffey! His father was a foreman in the docks, which gave rise to Jim wanting to be a tug-boat pilot guiding ships up the Liffey from the sea. Providentially he did not get the job on health grounds, and came to be one of two who was picked out by ESB from Ringsend Tech to become ESB apprentice electricians. This exposed him to doing a retreat in Rathfarnham Castle which in turn led to his wanting to become a Jesuit brother. He finished his training as an electrician and joined the Jesuits in 1955.

He finished his novitiate late due to a stint in hospital from a hurling injury to his knee which he acquired in the novitiate. After novitiate he was sent to Rome to be a secretary to some sodality - without any Italian, and without having ever put a page in a typewriter! A few American Jesuits there kept him sane for two difficult years. From there he was sent back to Milltown Park to be plant manager and electrician. Over the eleven years he spent there, he and Jimmy Lavin must have painted every corridor and room in the house as well as doing all the necessary electrical work. You could often hear them laughing in their practical world at us students living in our intellectual world of books scurrying to classes, puffing ourselves up with knowledge - but most of us could hardly change a plug! Next Jim was sent to Manresa for 3 years and developed the role of being electrician and painter for the whole province. This meant buying a car and hiring some lay people to do the job with him. He continued in this work throughout his Gonzaga years up to 1997 until he was forced to retire from his bad knees and other health complications.

All through all those years, Jim developed a great love of nature. He could name every tree, flower and bird. Mary Oliver's short poem said it all. “Be Attentive, Be astonished, And tell of it”. He loved to grow flowers from seed and beautify the grounds of Gonzaga and Cherryfield from the full grown flowers.

Through Br Peter Doyle, he got a great interest in fishing. Br Brendan Hyland tells a story how he and Jim went for a weekend to somewhere in the ring of Kerry to fish. They armed themselves with all the latest fishing tackle and lovely new rods, and lay them carefully out on the rocks with their packed lunches to take stock of where to first cast their rods. All of a sudden a big wave came in, swept over them and took all their gear off out to sea. Brendan shocked, looked at Jim for his reaction to their dilemma. To his surprise Jim just sat down and broke his sides laughing! He was never far from seeing the funny side of things.

Jim was inclined to quickly like or dislike people. One person he intensely disliked was Senator Norris. He and Br Hyland took a weekend off once and stayed in a B & B. To his horror, Senator Norris was staying there too. But Senator Norris's charming, witty and intelligent conversation won him over! It showed up another side to Jim; he loved a good intelligent conversation, loved people who were well informed and well-read, which he tended to be himself. Those who spent time with him outside the Society tell me that he never missed daily mass, liked to say the rosary in the car and loved to stop and pray in little well-kept country churches.

Jim loved a good joke. Even in his last 5 years, when life was just one operation after another, he kept his humour and his zest for life. Up to 4 days before he died, he was still planning how to improve the garden in Cherryfield. Most of his last 4 days were spent in a semi coma. There was one brief moment where he came out of the coma. He was awakened by the voice of Linda, the cook from Gonzaga. He opened his eyes and with a big smile gave Linda and Mary McGreer and others who were there a big hug. After that he never regained consciousness and died peacefully 2 days later. May he rest in peace.

Whitty, Robert, 1817-1895, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/443
  • Person
  • 07 January 1817-01 September 1895

Born: 07 January 1817, Pouldarrig, County Wexford
Entered: 08 April 1857, Verona, Italy (VEM for ANG)
Ordained - pre Entry
Final Vows: 02 February 1868
Died: 01 September 1895, St Beuno’s, St Asaph, Denbighshire, Wales - Angliae Province (ANG)

Fr General's English Assistant : 1886-1892
Tertian Instructor 1881-1886 (Manresa, Roehampton, London)