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Doherty, Patrick, 1905-1957, Jesuit priest
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Dates of existence
26 November 1905-25 September 1957
Born: 26 November 1905, Manchester, Lancashire, England
Entered: 01 September 1924, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1938, Milltown Park
Final vows: 02 February 1941
Died: 25 September 1957, Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin
Early education at O’Connell’s school Dublin and Mungret College SJ
Tertianship at Rathfarnham
by 1930 in Vals France (TOLO) studying
by 1952 in Australia
◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Patrick Doherty came to Australia in 1951 to give the priests of Melbourne archdiocese their annual retreat, and to use the retreat to introduce them to the Pioneers Total Abstinence Association. Archbishop Mannix seems at that time to have been keen to get the PTAA established. When he first approached Mannix it is reputed that the Archbishop said that the PTAA was a very good idea, and perhaps Doherty should start with his own brethren.
Doherty came to Australia with a considerable reputation as a successful leader of the PTAA, who had renewed and modernised it, and also as a sought-after retreat director. He was an excellent speaker, engaging and witty He seemed to connect well with the diocesan clergy. He was a man of vivacity and charm and was much liked. He lived at Richmond when he wasn't on the retreat circuit. When he was not giving priests' retreats, he spent quite some time travelling around Australia. visiting Jesuit ministries especially - setting up branches of the PTAA.
He spent part of that year giving retreats to other religious orders. By the time Doherty left Australia, the PTAA was established and reasonably well known in quite a few parts of Australia. He handed over the management of the Australian PTAA to Lou Dando, who drew other Jesuits into the task of spreading the word and the organisation.
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 33rd Year No 1 1958
Fr Patrick Doherty
Not long after his ordination, Fr. Doherty confided to a friend: “When I stand at the altar during my Mass I am so overwhelmed by the thought of what is happening that I feel inclined almost to look down and see if my feet are touching the ground!”
This same spirit of faith developed with the years and reached its climax in his last illness. To visit him and pray with him was a spiritual tonic “as good as a retreat”. He was radiantly happy at the thought of the near approach of eternity. “I am interested in nothing only the growth of divine life in my soul. Never think it is hard to die. Often when giving retreats I used to wish I could only do myself what I was telling others to do. At the stage I have now reached God treats you as if you had done it”. Told of a doctor who had some remarkable successes with cancer patients, his comment was : “Thank God he didn't try his treatment on me!”
He described for the writer the plans for his funeral with the same ease as if he was speaking of someone else. Seeing this, I ventured, to hint that I had been asked to do his Obituary. He seized my hand : “Tell them I am the greatest proof of the mercy of God you ever came across”.
He was the edification of doctors and nurses who declared he was dying like a saint. “He is giving the most effective retreat [ ] gave” was the verdict of his Rector. Nor did his sense of humour ever forsake him. After a severe vomiting or a violent spasm of pain he would at once brighten up and show himself eager to continue a conversation. His poor body was wasted away till be weighed only four stone, but his mind was alert right up to the end. When his aged mother came to see him he twitted her : “Mother, what are you fretting for? Sure you'll probably be on the next old bus anyhow, and I'm only going on ahead to open the gate for you!” Later he wrote her a letter of more than three pages, to console her, “in my best handwriting”.
The effort called for something not far from heroism.
Indeed, he “opened the gate” for many a soul. Tributes flowed from all sides to the selfless devotion with which he gave himself to “talks” and the confessional during the many retreats he conducted. He continued this arduous apostolate when those of us who were near him realised that the work was draining every ounce of energy from him. But “he was too concerned for others to be interested in himself” - to quote from his review of The First Jesuit. The words are descriptive, not of our Father Ignatius only, but of this son of his who wrote them. The secret of his success was, in large measure, his gift of sympathy. He really entered into the trials and difficulties of others and suffered them as if they were his own.
That review evoked high encomiums from the censors and a strong recommendation that he should write more. His “Centre Survey” in the Pioneer magazine, where he had a field for poking fun, which never lost sight of the seriousness of his message, ranks with the very popular “Colum's Corner" in another magazine. Had God spared him he could have wielded a doughty pen in the service of souls.
Mention of The Pioneer reminds us that no account would be complete without at least an attempt to tell what he accomplished for the Association. For many years he was Spiritual Director of the Garda Branch. Before me lies a letter from a member, written in 1955, expressing the deep affection he won from the men, and their grief on learning that he had been transferred to other work. He led a group in pilgrimage to Fatima and “we will never forget the thousand and one things he did for us, and, above all, the cheerful manner in which they were done. It was with pardonable pride that we heard his name announced to give the Holy Hour for all the English-speaking pilgrims”.
In 1948 Fr. Doherty represented the Association at Lucerne and it was as a direct result of his presence and influence there that the Pioneer Movement began on the continent. Later he went to Melbourne where he organised the work, and the best comment on his efforts is that today there are eighty centres in Australia. During that year, too, he gave several retreats, including one to the Melbourne priests with many of whom he formed lasting friendships.
Another instance of his mischievous spirit recurs here. A Father had been asked to address his Garda Centre. A week or so before the address, he received a letter from Fr. Doherty, explaining that the men were keenly disappointed to learn that it was not he himself who was coming, and suggesting that perhaps a last-minute switch could be made! For quite a while that Father was completely taken in.
In many ways he always retained in his make-up some elements of the enfant terrible. A picture of him comes to mind in the early days of theology, in which, with many groans of mock grief, he bemoaned the fact that he was like a dog on & chain! He was a great favourite with the older Fathers and would often speak of his affection for them, His youthful ways endeared him to young people inside and outside the Society. No one escaped his sallies at recreation. He was quick at repartee and told a funny story well, obviously enjoying the telling. He had a keen sense of justice and would quickly flare up where he considered wrong was done, nor did he lack eloquence and vigour in defending a difference of opinion.
He would be the last man in the world to wish that these human. traits should be glossed over here.
Fr. Doherty has gone from us, having given “in his whole life and much more in death” an inspiring example of that “living faith and hope and love of those eternal good things which Christ Our Lord has merited and acquired for us”. No one who knew him but will be glad to meet him again. Our consolation is the hope that he is only gone on ahead to open the gate for us.
He was born in Manchester in 1905, went as a boy to O'Connell Schools and to Mungret; entered the Society in 1924 and followed the. usual curriculum University, Philosophy in France, Colleges in Belvedere, and Theology in Milltown. He was ordained by Bishop Wall in 1938; did Tertianship under Fr. Henry Keane at Rathfarnham, after which he taught in Belvedere till 1943 when he was appointed to the Pioneer Association. He died in Dublin on September 25th, 1957. May he rest in peace!
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Patrick Doherty 1905-1957
“Nothing in his life became him like the leaving of it” could be aptly applied to Fr Patrick Doherty. It is no exaggeration to say that for many years past, no Jesuit of this Province died so happy and so edifying a death. One might almost envy him the joy, happiness and peace he radiated, while at the same time he was racked with pain, which even drugs had failed to stem. People came from far and near to see him and have a few last words with him. “Now I realise what I have so often spoken of in Retreats, the great happiness which God has reserved for us”. Of each member of his family, he asked what they most urgently needed from God, and he promised to get their request. Each one got his petition, and one of these certainly was a near miracle.
He was a great talker in the pulpit, at the conference table, on the stage and in the community. This gift he used to great advantage as Assistant Director of the Pioneer Association. At the request of Archbishop Mannix, he went to Australia to found the Pioneer Movement there. He was also a writer of no mean merit, as the columns of the Pioneer Magazine prove.
At the early age of 52, he died of rapid cancer on September 25th 1957.
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Doherty, Patrick, 1905-1957, Jesuit priest
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- England » Greater Manchester » Manchester
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Rathfarnham » Rathfarnham Castle
- France » Occitanie » Vals
- County Offaly (King's) » Ballycowan (Bar.) » Tullabeg » St Stanislaus College
- Australia » Victoria » Melbourne » Albert Street, East » Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne
- Australia » Victoria » Melbourne
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Richmond Street North » O'Connell's Secondary School (Richmond Street North)
- County Limerick » Mungret » Mungret College SJ, 1882-1974
- County Dublin » Dublin City » St Stephen's Green (Dublin) » University College, Dublin
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Sandford Road » Milltown Park
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Great Denmark Street » Belvedere College SJ
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