Dennett, Francis, 1912-1992, Jesuit priest

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Dennett, Francis, 1912-1992, Jesuit priest

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  • Frank Dennett

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Dates of existence

17 February 1912-15 September 1992

History

Born: 17 February 1912, Shipley, Yorkshire, England
Entered: 25 February 1928, Loyola Greenwich, Australia (HIB)
Ordained: 26 July 1942
Final vows: 02 February 1945
Died: 15 September 1992, St Joseph. Hawthorn, Melbourne, Australia - Australiae Province (ASL)

Transcribed HIB to ASL : 05 April 1931

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280 :
Brother of Charles - RIP 1993

At age seven his family of two brothers and two sisters emigrated from England to Australia. His early education was at Footscray and Ascot Vale, and then at St Patrick’s College, Melbounre, where his father was a music teacher

He joined the Society in 1928 and after First Vows his studies took him to Ireland where he gained a BA at University College Dublin, then Philosophy at Chieri Italy and then England where he was Ordianed. General Ledochowski described Chieri as the most austere house in the Society, and Frank agreed but said it did not upset him as much as some other Australians.

1946-1953 He was sent to teach English, History, Economics and religion at St Ignatius College Riverview, and he was also in charge of debating and the Choir. His keen interest in History resulted in his publishing a textbook “Europe a History” which revealed his conviction that the Church had nothing to fear from a dispassionate examination of the facts of its history.
1954-1965 He taught English at St Patrick’s College Melbourne, and was also Prefect of Studies (1962-1965). He edited the “Patrician”, and his editorials were always full of wisdom, wit and grace.
1966-1967 He was sent teaching at St Ignatius Riverview
1968-1970 He was sent teaching St Ignatius College Athelstone, but his primary mission here was to look after his health.
1971-1973 He was sent to Canisius College Pymble, again paying attention to his health and caring for the grounds.
1974 He was appointed province Archivist and moved to the Provincial Residence in Melbourne

All during his long life he was a very faithful man and at peace with himself and the world round him doing the most humble of tasks. At the same time he was a scholar and well versed in Jesuit Spirituality, and this was demonstrated when he gave the Spiritual Exercises and in his writings, which were always clear, precise and informative. His memory for detail added richness to the narrative. For example, when writing on devotion to the Sacred Heart at a tie when it was becoming neglected he was able to capture it with a modern freshness of style and expression enkindling a greater devotion among younger Jesuits and understanding of this traditional Jesuit devotion. He also wrote “The Spiritual Exercises in Australia”, poems and historical articles. His eye for historical detail was meticulous and his knowledge and memory were prodigious.

He enjoyed the work as a Province Archivist, as it gave scope to his historical scholarship and precision. He was helpful to research scholars. His knowledge of the contents of the archives was also prodigious, as was his memory of the people and events of his own lifetime. With the assistance of Austin Ryan he compiled a short biography of every Jesuit who had lived and worked in Australia. His comments on each man were precise and accurate, frequently dispelling oral myths. His last major task was to catalogue the Archives so that others would be easily able to find material in the future.

It would be difficult to find anyone more regular in his life than Frank Dennett. He worked in the basement of the Provincial Residence seven days a week during three sessions, morning, afternoon and evening, broken only by an irregular outside visit to a bookshop,. He died at his desk.

He was a man with a strong sense of the frailty of the human condition and compassion for people. He bore his long illness with enormous courage and patience. He was a quiet retiring man, whose interests varied from the most serious intellectual subjects to sport. He was close to his family and corresponded fairly regularly with his siblings, especially his Jesuit brother Charles. His tasks as a Jesuit Teacher, Historian and Archivist, Cook and Administrator were accomplished with a great sense of obligation and responsibility, and each was performed as perfectly as possible. In his younger years the scholastics admired the way in which he sung the Easter ceremonies at Newman College Chapel, a task he performed most exactly and with obvious enjoyment. He had a fine singing voice.

He was a man who thought very little of himself and served the Society with great thoroughness.

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

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IE IJA

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hierarchical

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

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Dennett, Francis, 1912-1992, Jesuit priest

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

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IE IJA MSSN/AUST

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hierarchical

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

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Dennett, Francis, 1912-1992, Jesuit priest

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IE IJA J/1180

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