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Barry, Brendan, 1920-1972, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/60
  • Person
  • 09 May 1920-30 January 1972

Born: 09 May 1920, Limerick City
Entered: 07 September 1937, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1950, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final vows: 02 February 1955
Died: 30 January 1972, St Ignatius, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin

Father Provincial of the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 5 August 1965-24 July 1968.

◆ Irish Province News

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 47th Year No 2 1972
Obituary :
Fr Brendan Barry SJ (1920-1972)
Father Brendan Barry was born in St John's Parish, Limerick, on May 9th, 1920. He was an only child. His early schooling was at the Christian Brothers in Roxboro Road. At the age of twelve, he was sent to the Augustinian College, Dungarvan, as a boarder. However, after two years absence, he continued his secondary education with the Christian Brothers, Limerick. While there, he made a Retreat under the direction of Fr Ernest Mackey and one result of this was that he entered the novitiate at St. Mary's, Emo, on 7th September. There were in all nineteen novices in his year, of whom fourteen were subsequently ordained priests. He took his first vows on September 8th, 1939, a few days after World War II had erupted. For the next six years he lived in communities of scholastics who varied in number between forty-four and fifty-one. The years 1939-42 were spent at Rathfarnham where after three years study he took his BA degree with honours in English and and Latin. The next three years were spent at Tullabeg where he studied Philosophy.
Those who knew him in these early years remember him as a quiet, reserved, cheerful and occasionally gay young man who, like everyone else, accepted philosophically the small privations and restrictions which World War II made inevitable. During these years, his intellectual gifts were slowly revealed and his zeal was manifested in his work for the Men's Sodality, then attached to the People's Church. Two years of Regency, 1945-47, followed. These two years at Belvedere were years that lived in his memory. In later times, he often spoke of them with real affection. The value of Regency in bringing a scholastic to full maturity was manifest in his case. From now on it became increasingly difficult for him to hide his gifts. What was hitherto known to a few, now became common knowledge; he was a religious of regular observance, of unostentatious piety, of dedicated attention to the work he was given to do: teaching, prefecting or refereeing rugby football. He did all these things well, and, while he particularly enjoyed the company of his fellow scholastics, he became and always remained a good “community man”.
Such was the reputation he brought with him to Milltown Park in the Autumn of 1947; and meeting him there for the first time, I came to appreciate his quiet strength of character, his invariably cheerful disposition and his dedication to the work in hand. One of his Professors at that time described him as “a gifted student” and he passed his Ad Gradum examination in 1961 after 4 years of consistent application to his studies. As he had little interest in organised games, he found his relaxation in walking and swimming; and from this period dates his long association with the “Forty Foot” Swimming Club. His administrative gifts became apparent at this time and his appointment as Beadle of the Theologians caused no surprise. On July 31st, 1950, he was ordained priest by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. John Charles McQuaid, of whose policies and plans Fr Brendan was, in future years, to be such a stout defender and champion. His relationship with the Archbishop, which was at first necessarily indefinite, became in time confidential and and intimate. It was founded on the same virtue of Faith which in later years made him, what he sometimes jokingly called, “a Pope's man”.
Now this aspect of Fr Brendan's outlook was derived from his understanding of the mind of St Ignatius in founding the Society and in placing it at the service of the Church and of the Pope. In a letter to the Province in 1967, he wrote: “It is obvious our ministries will not be renewed without internal renewal, without a deep knowledge of the Ignatian idea of our vocation ... To develop (this) in ourselves we need to study the person and writings of St. Ignatius - in his autobiography and his letters, in the Constitutions and in the Spiritual Exercises ... This will ensure great co-operation among ourselves, with the diocesan clergy and the hierarchy, with other religious and with the laity ...” This letter, so full of high ideals and sane ideas, mirrors, as do few other things he wrote, the spirit of faith in the Church and in the Society which was so characteristic of him. He never saw the Society, which he loved dearly, as an end in itself, only as a means; never as master, but always as a servant at the disposal of the Pope and the Bishops and of the People of God. His faith in the Pope and the Bishops as successors of Peter and his fellow Apostles and as divinely ordained teachers and rulers of the Church, never wavered. And he saw the role of the Society in the Church to-day as being loyally and fully supportive of papal teaching and policy, in every field and in every detail, in every place and at all times. Much prayer and study, much discernment and self-discipline led him to lay aside all private judgment and “to obey in all things the true spouse of Christ our Lord, the Hierarchical Church”.
During 1952-53, he made his Tertianship under his former Master of Novices, Fr John Neary. He welcomed this opportunity to deepen his understanding of the Institute of the Society and of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. This understanding was to serve him well when he was elected as a delegate to the General Congregation in 1965. He attended both sessions of this Congregation, during the first of which, he was appointed Provincial of the Irish Province, an appointment which was announced on August 5th, 1965. To this office he brought the fruits of thirteen years of varied administrative experience, a year as Minister in Galway, followed by four years as Minister in Milltown Park. In 1952, he was appointed Superior and Bursar of the Apostolic School at Mungret College. In the early summer of 1959, his appointment as Socius to : Fr Michael O'Grady was announced. He continued on as Socius to Fr Charles O'Conor on his becoming Provincial in July, 1959. Fr O'Conor recalls those days: “Although Fr Barry had already been a member of the Province for over twenty years, it was not until 1959 that our paths first crossed, One afternoon towards the end of May of that year, we found ourselves leaving Eglinton Road together armed with the knowledge that we were to be Provincial and Socius in the near future. We were both wondering, no doubt, how this hitherto unforeseen alliance would work out. In the sequel it fared very well. Once the initial stages had been passed, we found ourselves firm friends and remained so ever since”.
In ordinary circumstances, it could have been expected that he would remain as Socius for a longer term. Apart from this being a tradition in the Province, Fr Brendan brought to this Office a knowledge and love of the Institute and an administrative capacity and experience of a high order. But it was not to be. Indeed, as subsequent events will show, the fragmentary nature of his apostolate was to continue throughout his entire career. In the summer of 1962, he was appointed Rector of Milltown Park in succession to Fr James Corboy. Thus, after an absence of four years, he returned to a house where almost a third of his religious life in fact was spent, In August 1965, his “apprenticeship” being completed, he crossed over the Milltown Road to take up residence in 85 Eglinton Road as Provincial. During his three years in this office he was responsible for many initiatives. In his anxiety to get the best advice on many, difficult problems, he set up the following : the Commission for Studies and Training of Ours; the Commission on Ministries, the Social Survey; the Man-Power Planning Commission; the Commission on our Brothers; the Advisory Committee on Comprehensive Schools. He saw clearly that, in regard to our apostolic works and the manner in which we conducted them, it was vital that we recognise that we were living in a world of rapid and profound changes and that we be ready to adapt our ministries and methods to meet these changes. In this connection, too, he stressed the value of community discussions on all our problems, local and provincial, for he saw that it was necessary not only to arrive at the correct solutions, but also to enlighten one another about the reasons for consequent changes. He knew that such discussions involved “self-denial in working together at a common task” but he also knew that they were, today, recommended to us all both by the Church and by the Society. His, too, was the final decision to build a new Retreat House with a Circular Chapel at Manresa, Dollymount. During his years as Provincial, he visited our Mission in Zambia and concluded a friendly pact with the newly independent Vice-Province of Hong Kong. Among the many assessments of his work in the Province up to this point, the following by his former Provincial and life-long friend, Fr John R MacMahon, summarizes what many members of the Province should like to say: “In a way I knew him well. As my Minister in Milltown, as my Rector there and as Provincial, he impressed me as being a loyal and efficient assistant, a prudent and kindly Superior and as a courageous and faithful ruler. I refrain from using superlatives, though they are richly deserved. If I wanted an ‘Imago optimi Superioris’, I would find it in him”.
Now, looking back over his life, I am of the opinion that if he was drawn to one Jesuit ministry more than another, it was to the giving of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius to priests, religious and to the People of God. As Minister and Rector of Milltown, he gave many a week-end Retreat. As Provincial he encouraged the holding of Seminars and other meetings for those engaged in this ministry. In his letter of September 1967, he urged Retreat-Directors not to spare themselves in trying to think themselves into the minds of retreatants, giving what is most suitable to young and old alike. It was fitting, then, when he was relieved of the responsibility for the whole Province, that he should, after a brief period as Minister and Bursar in the College of Industrial Relations, spend what were in fact to be his last years as a director of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. In this miniştry, he excelled, and he ran by faith to this work of bringing Christian life and hope to dead and despairing men and women, Between July 1969, and January 1972, a period of two and a half years, he directed three Retreats of 30 days-two to students at Clonliffe and one to the Religious of Jesus and Mary, Gortnor Abbey..seventeen eight-day retreats, seven six-day retreats, twenty tridua, several days of recollection, and one Novena of Grace. Right up to the end his one anxiety was that he would not have enough to do. His programme for 1972 already included six retreats in succession, between June and July, followed by a 30 day retreat in August and another in September October. He was booked, also, to give a third 30 day retreat to Loreto Nuns in Johannesburg, South Africa in December next. In all this, he felt confidently prepared; and how well prepared he was, is attested by tributes from religious in all parts of the country and of England.
The following will suffice as being typical of all: “I know that many of our sisters valued his personal direction and advice. I have been very much struck by the fact that he is so much regretted by
people of such different age-groups and of widely different views. He, undoubtedly, understood the young and was greatly trusted by them. They valued his honesty and appreciated especially his wide knowledge of Council documents. But, I think that he will be best remembered in our Irish Province for his retreats. In particular, I have heard many sisters mention a Superior's retreat which he directed, based on the Gospel of St. John, and, as he changed his retreat so often, this may not be the one you know. Every Sister I met who made that retreat has spoken of it as an exceptional spiritual experience”.
Before concluding this notice, it will be of interest to have a record of some of the judgments passed on his life and work by ours and by others for whom he worked. The following are typical examples : “Brendan was by disposition undemonstrative and retiring but he was incisive in his assessments of people and situations. He was most conscientious in regard to his work and very loyal to his friends. He could be sensitive in some matters and wonderfully resilient in others”. “He was somewhat reserved and he did not wear his heart upon his sleeve. But, there was no doubt about the depth of his sincerity and I looked on him as a true friend on whose sympathy and solid help I could rely. This may seem too formal, even frigid. It may give a false impression. Perhaps, I, too, don't wear my heart on my sleeve”. “I was always impressed by his great sincerity, by his balanced judgment, by his generous and completely detached spirit of service, by his simplicity, his kindly tolerance and his sense of humour”. “His was a sane and balanced approach, in his own homely style, he flavoured his talks with his own dry humour, e.g. ‘the modem superior can't be remote. If he is remote, they write him off! If he is not remote, his personal faults stand out - the boys know!’” “We have lost in Fr Barry a dedicated friend, an enlightened spiritual guide, whose humility and limpid sincerity were notable characteristics of his personality”.
For myself, in the quarter of a century that I have known him, I had come to see his fine physical stature as a living symbol of the greatness of his mind and heart. He had a mind that could go to the heart of any question and his judgments of men and affairs were rarely wrong. While he did not suffer fools gladly, he did feel and sympathised with the failures and follies of his fellow men. He was less interested in condemning a man than in seeking a practical solution to his problems. He was loyal to commitments and to persons. He was not a respecter of persons and friendship for him never degenerated into favouritism. He was, in truth, detached even from his friends. Though like most men, he had need of friends, in whose company he could relax and come out of himself and relieve the inner loneliness that dwells in the heart of every man. This loneliness is said to be more keenly felt by those whose ministry separates them from community life. In the last few years, Fr Brendan was always happy to return from his frequent ‘missionary expeditions to the Community at “35”, where he found a homely welcome and congenial company. The knowledge of this was not the least of this Community's consolations at the time of his sudden death at the comparatively early age of 52. The Irish Province has lost one of its really great men; his spiritual children have lost a sympathetic guide and his friends everywhere a man whose judgment and companionship were a source of encouragement and strength. May he rest in peace.

An appreciation by Most Reverend Dr. Joseph A. Carroll, President of Holy Cross College, Clonliffe
It is no easy tasks nowadays to give the Thirty Days Retreat. The classic material has to be adapted to the new mentality and up dated in accordance with the new insights in Sacred Scripture and Theology. It is as true as ever that the success of the Retreat de pends to a large extent, under God, on the qualities of the Director. Young people to-day are not particularly impressed with a man's erudition nor even with his eloquence. What they look for and are quick to recognise is his sincerity. Father Brendan was both erudite and eloquent but his outstanding quality, as we saw him, was hs sincerity. It was patent to all. When one adds to this an immense patience and capacity for listening, a complete dedication to the task, a large fund of common sense and a keen sense of humour, one begins to understand how the Thirty Days Retreat that could so easily be a burden was not simply tolerable but decidedly acceptable to our Second Year students. I have a distinct recollection of meeting one of them during the Retreat last year and asking him how things were going. “Father Barry”, he said “is terrific”. The fact that they asked him to return on more than one occasion to give a Day of Recollection is a measure of their appreciation. He will be greatly missed in the College. With his unassuming manner and the twinkling bashful smile he had won the affection of the Staff. We always welcomed him as an amiable companion during the Thirty Days he spent with us each year. May he rest in peace.

NB - Members of the Province may not have known that Father Brendan was on the staff of the Mater Dei Institute of Education, He gave occasional lectures to the students there on the spiritual life. Right up to his death, he frequently offered Mass in the Oratory of the Institute and preached a homily. The Director of the Institute, Father Patrick Wallace in the course of a recent letter writes: “To the students of the Mater Dei Institute Father Brendan Barry, SJ, was a man of God. He spoke so convincingly of the need for prayer, he treated every problem so calmly, he showed such respect for everyone who met him that one had to conclude that here was a man who had a deep experience of God in his own prayer life, who had received God's guidance in tackling the problems life had posed for him, who had reached the heights of appreciating the dignity of every man as a brother in Christ. In the homily delivered at the Requiem Mass in the Institute the celebrant spoke for us all when he said 'while we mourn the loss of Father Barry we rejoice that through him the Spirit of Christ was visibly active among us for so long'. The above sentiments are genuinely the sentiments of the students and the staff”.

Brennan, Joseph, 1929-2018, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/809
  • Person
  • 13 November 1929-08 January 2018

Born: 13 November 1929, Dalkey, County Dublin
Entered: 15 September 1948, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1962, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final vows: 02 February 1981, Gozaga College SJ, Dublin
Died: 08 January 2018, St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin

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

by 1966 at Brussels Belgium (BEL M) studying

◆ Irish Jesuit Missions : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/he-was-a-good-man/

‘He was a good man’
Jesuits, family, friends and colleagues of Joe Brennan SJ, packed the Church of the Holy Name in Beechwood Avenue to bid him a fond farewell at his funeral Mass, on Friday 12 January, 11am. They were joined by the staff and students of Gonzaga College. John O’Keeffe SJ presided at the Mass, and Myles O’Reilly SJ, a former superior of the Gonzaga Community that Joe was a member of for 43 years, gave the homily. Joe had taken ill in late December and was moved to St Vincent’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with a respiratory illness. He died peacefully on the morning of January 8th 2018, aged 88.
Fr Joe was born and raised in Dublin, and he joined the Jesuits in 1948 at the age of 18. He was a keen sportsman, playing inter-provincial rugby for Leinster. He was also an accomplished musician, particularly on the piano, so he would have appreciated the singing of the Gonzaga student choir at his funeral Mass.
Most of his Jesuit life was spent as a teacher of religion and philosophy. He taught in Mungret, Clongowes, Belvedere, and finally Gonzaga. Brian Flannery, Education Delegate, said Joe had been fully engaged with Gonzaga in one way or another right up to the time of his illness in late December. “He was known for always encouraging students to think for themselves,” said Brian; “Also for instilling values. ‘If you don’t stand for something,’ he loved to say, ‘you will fall for anything.'”
Fr Joe had a few such sayings that he was famous for repeating, and the school had them printed on the back of his funeral Mass booklet. “Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved”, he would say. Or, “Good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgement.” And he would remind the students, “Faith is not against reason, it’s beyond it.”
In his homily, Fr Myles O’Reilly referred to the first reading from Isaiah and the banquet the Lord prepares for His trusted servants. He spoke of the many years of faithful service Joe had given as a follower of Jesus. He had served his fellow Jesuits, his students and his family, all with great generosity and wisdom. It was his turn now to be served and take part in the banquet prepared for him, as promised by the prophet Isaiah, said Myles.
Joe’s many nieces and nephews also attended the Mass. One of them, Ross Brennan, paid a warm tribute to their uncle at the end of the service. He spoke of how loved Joe was by his extended family, of the kindness he always showed, and of the help he always gave to them.
The funeral Mass preceded that of his fellow-Jesuit Kennedy O’Brien, also a teacher in Gonzaga, who had died suddenly, earlier that week. The principal of Gonzaga, Damon McCaul said that it had been a very difficult week for the staff and students in the school. He said that Fr Joe had made such an impact on his students that older past pupils still remembered him with deep regard and gratitude. “And it’s the same with Kennedy for a new generation of pupils and past pupils. Both men were outstanding teachers and educators.”
The final word on Fr Joe was a simple line in the funeral Mass booklet, underneath a photo of him saying Mass in Gonzaga: ‘He was a good man’.

Early Education at Sacred Heart, Leeson St, Dublin, Ring College, Waterford & Belvedere College SJ, Dublin
1950-1953 Rathfarnham - Studying Arts at UCD
1953-1956 Tullabeg - Studying Philosophy
1956-1959 Mungret College SJ - Regency : Teacher
1959-1963 Milltown Park - Studying Theology
1963-1964 Rathfarnham - Tertianship
1964-1965 Trier, Germany - Liturgy Studies at Benediktiner Abtei St Mathias
1965-1966 Brussels, Belgium - Catechetics Studies at Lumen Vitae
1966-1968 Clongowes Wood College SJ - Teacher; Prefect; Lecturer in Catechetics at Milltown Park
1968-1969 Belvedere College SJ - Teacher; Musical Director; Lecturer in Catechetics at Milltown Park
1969-1974 Mungret College SJ - Teacher; Gamesmaster
1974-2018 Gonzaga College SJ - Teacher; Lecturer in Catechetics at Milltown Park
1983 Rector; Director of Pastoral Care
2010 Chaplain at Marlay Nursing Home, Dublin; Assistant Treasurer; Teacher of Religion
2014 Ceased Teaching

Dunne, John A, 1944-2008, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/773
  • Person
  • 15 May 1944-27 December 2008

Born: 15 May 1944, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1962, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 21 June 1974, Gonzaga College SJ, Dublin
Final vows: 31 May 1979, Crescent College Comprehensive, Dooradoyle, Limerick
Died: 27 December 2008, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Loyola, Sandford Road, Dublin community at the time of death

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ


John Dunne SJ RIP
Fr John Dunne SJ died peacefully at 10:30 am on the morning of 27 December 2008, the Feast of John the Evangelist. He was commended to the Lord by the prayers of his sister, Anne, Jesuit colleagues and nursing staff.

John Dunne SJ
15 May 1944 – 27 December 2008
John’s early education was in Trim and Coláiste na Rinne, Dungarvan. After secondary school in Clongowes Wood College he entered the Society of Jesus on 7 September 1962 at Emo. After First Vows, John went to Rathfarnham and studied Arts at ucd and later Philosophy at Milltown Park. He taught at the Sacred Heart College in Limerick before returning to Milltown in 1971 to study theology.

After ordination on 21 June 1974, he studied guidance counselling at Mater Dei and went as teacher and guidance counsellor to Crescent College Comprehensive where he remained until 1981. During this time he made Tertianship in Tullabeg and took his Final Vows on 31 May 1979. While in Limerick he studied computing and continued this interest, later beginning LayJay bulletin, forerunner to today’s AMDG.ie. He served in Galway from 1981 to 1987 as Rector, teacher, guidance counsellor and chair of the board of management. In 1987 John was appointed to Gonzaga where he was to spend the next fourteen years in roles as various as pastoral co-ordinator, guidance counsellor, teacher, librarian and Rector.

Following a year’s sabbatical, during which John spent some time at the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, California, and travelling in Asia and Africa, he moved to Loyola House in 2002 where he became Superior and Socius (Assistant Provincial).

John was admitted to Cherryfield Lodge on 19 December following a short illness which was diagnosed at the beginning of October. He died peacefully on the morning of Saturday 27 December, feast of Saint John the Evangelist.
May he rest in the peace of Christ


John Dunne SJ: funeral homily

The death of Fr John Dunne has drawn condolences from near and far, including, from Zambia-Malawi, Declan Murray SJ and Provincial Peter Bwanali. Also, there have been
numerous requests for the text of the homily which Brian Grogan SJ gave at the funeral mass in Gonzaga Chapel. Brian spoke warmly of John’s life and character, concentrating on three areas – the “three E’s”: the Enterprise of John’s life, his Endurance, and his Everlasting joy. Read the full homily below :

It’s impossible to capture a person’s life fully and I shall not try. But John loved photography: he lost 18 volumes of snapshots in the fire on Good Friday 2007! So I too shall be content with snapshots. I also note that at the Vigil we held for him last evening, friend after friend came up to the microphone and each gave us a distinct snapshot of how John had impacted on their lives. And the stories will go on and on. So I shall focus just on three areas:

The Enterprise of John’s life – this is the longer bit! His Endurance. His Everlasting joy. Three “Es” so you will know when I’m coming in to land!

  1. The Enterprise of John’s Life
    We celebrate a good man. Now that may seem obvious: but I believe that one should try to write a homily with the bible in one hand and the Irish Times in the other – which makes it hard to do any writing, but there you are! Now there are two things to note about today’s Irish Times: first, those of you who are worried about your stocks and shares should take my advice and not invest in Pringles (= a form of potato crisps), because the value of these shares has plummeted since John lost his appetite!

Next, the paper is full, as always, of the wrongdoings of many people: violence, deception, murder, rape, domination – the unsavoury side of humankind. Measure John’s life against that picture. True, his life was ordinary: he taught for 25 years, but many of you have taught for much longer. He was a Superior for 18 years, but that was nothing special. We had a famous man, a scripture scholar, who was once asked if he’d like to be a Superior. ‘No’, he said finally, ‘but I’d like to live like one!’ But in fact it’s an ordinary job of service, just as being the assistant to the Provincial is. An ordinary man: John was not an academic; he liked the quip: ‘You can tell an intellectual but you can’t tell him much!’

An ordinary man. A good man. 46 yrs of service as a Jesuit. His story is ours. We can relate to him: I speak to the ordinary among you – please remain seated! The others can stand!
There’s a book of short stories by Flannery O’Connor: A Good man is Hard to Find. Good people are hard to find, and would that our world had more of them. Don’t take the faithful servant for granted! God doesn’t: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’

About 50 years ago John made a decision as an adolescent: not to do his own thing, not to win public approval or to make lots of money. He chose a life of love and service. He would serve the world! ‘In all things to love and serve’ is an Ignatian phrase. It sounds fine, but he took it seriously and lived it out, year after plodding year, until Dec 19 of this year to be exact, after the end- of -year office lunch. He then went home and spruced up for a Christmas meal given by Anne, his sister. That evening he gave in and went to Cherryfield. Two days earlier he had summoned up enough energy to go to Dundrum and do his Christmas shopping. Many of the gifts have yet to be given out.

To serve the world, through the Jesuit Order. This was his enterprise, and he fulfilled it. It wasn’t easy. He loved the Society & the Province & the community, and he loved his family and friends. A loyal servant, he was ‘Ready for everything’ – It’s an Ignatian phrase, and he lived it. He did all that was asked of him, especially when made Assistant to the Provincial 6 yrs ago. Punctual, organised. He was out to work by 08.00, home for 6 p.m. day after day, not knowing what demands each day would bring.

In mid-Oct the doctors told him he could go home – ‘But no work!’ We were so amazed at his going back to work after hospital in mid-Oct that we thought he hadn’t understood that he was terminally ill. Only accidentally did I learn that on his discharge he had told the hospital chaplain that he ‘was going home to die.’

A Good Man is hard to find. Good people – ordinary good folk – change the world. This world of ours has been the better for John’s presence, for his carrying out his freely chosen enterprise.

As the second reading emphasised, our enterprises must be loving ones. Perhaps each of us is asked by God to reflect to the world a particular facet of the divine? So God asks one person to reflect energy, another justice, a third compassion, a fourth good administration and so on. I suggest John’s task was to reflect lovableness! That’s what I’ve heard most emphasised over these days. He loved his family and his friends and his Jesuit brethren, and in return he was well loved.

He was amazed at the outpouring of concern, care, prayer, compassion, love, for himself when sick. He couldn’t see why this should be. He was humble. He never knew over the last days that many of the Jesuits in Cherryfield had said that they would cheerfully have taken his place – they were retired and ill, whereas he had still so much potential. That’s a nice tribute, to find others willing to lay down their lives for you! Check it out!! Don’t get me wrong: his loving was of the unique Dunne brand! He could be gruff; he could get mad with you! But the squall passed and blue skies returned.

John was uniquely present to reality. If he was eating, that’s what he was engaged in. If he was sorting out a mess created by someone, that’s what he was doing. He got to appreciate Buddhism during his sabbatical in 2001. He had Buddhist qualities: that of being full present to reality. He could also, like Buddha, enjoy life to the full, whether it was TV, DVDS, recliners, holidays, good company....In Jewish folklore, the single question that God will ask as we approach the pearly gates is: Did you enjoy my creation? ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ must have been John’s answer the other morning! Most obviously at table: the feast of flowing wine etc... – And the pouring cream! John enjoyed it all. I sometimes fantasised, as he put on more weight and several chairs gave way, that perhaps he was becoming a reincarnation of the Buddha...
It was hard to stay mad with him for long. In our little community of four we divide time into BC – before the conflagration – and AD, after the disaster. Well, when we got into our new house after much work on John’s part, we found that there were two en-suite and two plain bedrooms. I proposed in best Ignatian fashion that we should do a discernment in order to choose who got what. ‘Fine’, said John as he ambled up the stairs, ‘I’ll take the en-suite on the left and you boys can discern about the other three!’ But the same man would give his time and ability endlessly to sort out my computer problems after a long day in the office.
It was because he was so massively present that his death creates a massive loss. Others of us are more peripherally present to what we do. For John, his Yes was Yes, and his No was No! He could be devastatingly honest. I felt he used to contradict me a lot, and I said one day: ‘There isn’t a single statement that one could make in this house that won’t be contradicted.’ Immediately John shot back: ‘That’s not true!’
It’s time to move on.

  1. His Endurance
    Chardin wrote a book about the divinising of our activities and of our passivities. He divided life thus into two: what we do and what happens to us. For him, what happens to us is about 80% of our life experience, and his concern was how we respond.

We’re talking about the things that happen to us and how we respond. We’re talking about the sanctification of the ordinary, about the tradition in Christian spirituality that unavoidable suffering, patiently endured, is graced. We’re talking about the simple Morning Offering.

For John, as for all of us, there were the times he lived in: Post-war world. Dev’s Ireland. Economic development. Vatican 2. GC 31 – the Jesuit effort at genuine renewal. Subsequent turmoil in the Church and in the Society. Assassination of JFK and MLK. Communism and its fall. Northern Ireland Conflict. Rwanda. Palestine. Kosovo. Decline in vocations. The loss of many things cherished. The Celtic Tiger and its demise. Scandals and tribunals. Child Sexual Abuse.... The list continues. We can ignore it, get depressed at it, become cynical about it, or we can entrust our battered world to God and pray and do what we can about our troubled times. Ignatius speaks of ‘courage in difficult enterprises’ and John had that.

Moving along in this area of the things endured: Close to his heart was the death of his sister Margot. Last year there was the fire and the loss of everything. This year: His knee replacement; End of use of motorbike. It was hard for him but no complaining. Then his incipient deafness humbly acknowledged.

Then in October, his final illness. He was so massively practical about it: ‘The news is bad!’ ‘I’m going home to die!’ ‘This is how it is. We’ll see.’ He had in consequence to let go of his trip to the Holy Land in October, though he sneaked a trip to Fatima in early December!

You know the novel by P J Kavanagh: The Perfect Stranger? Well, over the past three months, John was the perfect patient. One morning at breakfast recently I said to him: ‘ You’re very patient.’ He replied: ‘What else can one do?’ ‘Well’ I said, ferreting around in my own feelings, ‘you could choose depression or rage or self-pity? ‘I’d hate that’ he said.’ Days before his death a visitor asked him how he was feeling? ‘Smashing!’ was the reply.

Sickness is no less a gift than health – so said Ignatius rather tersely. Perhaps I’m beginning to see the meaning of that. There’s so much to be learnt from him on how to face sickness. And I have been struck by all the good that has come out of this mess, this mess of sickness and of dying, which is not the way God intends things to be; I mean the love and care from others, in Cherryfield and right across the world. I think I believe more than before that God brings good out of evil, and that’s a blessing.

  1. His Everlasting Joy
    So much for the outer side of his life. But as the fox said to the Little Prince, ‘The things that are essential are invisible to the eye.’ At the end of all his letters as Assistant to the Provincial, John had: Working for God on earth may not pay much, but the retirement plan is out of this world! It took some faith to write that!
    What’s the Retirement Plan? For those of us who see our pension schemes fall apart, it would be good to know that there is one that won’t fail! Another John Donne, 1572 – 1631, (died at 59) to help us catch the mystery of how it is with him now: it’s from the Holy Sonnets, since not all his sonnets were such!

Death, be not proud: though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so...
For those whom thou thinkst thou dost overthrow Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
And soonest our best men with thee do go...
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more: death, thou shalt die.

So what do we wake to? Firstly, there’s God, a God who is pleased with him and loves him. There’s the welcome and congratulations as he staggered over the line on the 27th, the feast, of course, of St John the Evangelist! The loveableness he was entrusted with is now perfected. The Lover gives all to the beloved! So says Ignatius at his mystic best... What is that like? Multiple overwhelmings... Later in this Mass we acknowledge: ‘We shall become like him, for we shall see him as he is.’

Next, I can imagine John looking around to see where the banquet is set! Then there’s the unalloyed joy of great companionship. Then agility of body. John’s body was worn out at the end: now Hopkins line comes into play: “This jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood/Immortal diamond/Is immortal diamond.” Then insights into the mysteries of God: his imagination caught.

Then a commissioning ceremony: asked by God to be caring still: to be a solid presence to the rest of us until we meet him again. ‘Placed over many things!’
John loved celebrations: he is now celebrating what we celebrate here: that Jesus Christ by dying destroys our death, and by rising restores our life. He is all Joy. This is how Jesus expresses it in St John’s gospel: ‘I will see you again and Your hearts will rejoice, And no one will take your joy from you’ (16:22).
May it be so for us all. Amen.


Losing John Dunne
In the consciousness of Irish Jesuits, the dominant mood this Epiphany is of loss. It is just a week since we buried John Dunne, who had been Socius (companion, secretary,
counsellor, support) to the last two Provincials, a cheerful, competent, selfless presence at the heart of the administration. Conscious of his terminal state with galloping cancer, he worked until he dropped, a good model of Winnicott’s prayer: ‘May I be alive when I die’. He had served Galway, Gonzaga, Eglinton Road and Sandford Road as superior; and the Institute of Guidance Counsellors as their president for many years. A crowd of friends, from all the chapters of his life, packed Gonzaga chapel to overflowing in a memorable funeral Mass, and responded warmly to Brian Grogan’s affectionate homily. It was a good send-off, one which John would relish. But the loss is heavy, most of all for his sister Anne.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 139 : Easter 2009


Fr John A Dunne (1944-2008)

15th May 1944: Born in Dublin
Early education at Mercy Convent and CBS, Trim; Ring College, Dungarvan; Clongowes Wood College
7th September 1962: Entered the Society at Emo
8th September 1964: First Vows at Emo
1964 - 1967: Rathfarnham - Studied Arts
1967 - 1969: Studied Philosophy at Milltown Institute
1969 - 1971: Dooradoyle - Teacher at Crescent Comprehensive
1971 - 1974: Milltown Park - Studied Theology
21st June 1974: Ordained at Gonzaga College Chapel
1974 - 1975: John Austin House - Studied Guidance and Counselling at Mater Dei Institute, Dublin
1975 - 1981: Teacher, Guidance Counsellor
1977 - 1980: University of Limerick - Computer Studies
1977 - 1978: Tertianship at Tullabeg
31st May 1979: Final Vows at Crescent College Comprehensive, Dooradoyle
1981 - 1987: Galway - Rector; Teacher; Guidance Counsellor, Chair, Board of Management
1987 - 2001: Gonzaga -
1987 - 1993: Pastoral Care Co-ordinator; Teacher, Guidance Counsellor
1993 - 1998: Rector
1996 - 1998: Guidance Counsellor; Teacher
1998 - 2001: Information Technology Co-ordinator; College Librarian; Assistant Pastoral Counsellor; Teacher of Computer Studies
2000 - 2001: Minister; ECDL Course
2001 - 2002: Sabbatical
2002 - 2008: Loyola House - Socius, Superior; Province Consultor; Provincial's Admonitor; Provincial Team
27th December 2008: Died in Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Brian Grogan writes:

An Ordinary Man
John was born in Dublin, but the family lived in Summerhill, near Trim in Co. Meath, so he received his early education at the local Mercy Convent, and then at the CBS. His father was an army man, and he had two older sisters, Anne and Margot. He spent some time in Colaiste na Rinne, Dungarvan, and then went to Clongowes. He entered the Society at Emo in 1962, immediately after school, then studied arts, including archaeology, at UCD, 1964-1967. He studied philosophy at Milltown 1967-1969, when the Institute was just beginning. Following two years teaching at Crescent College Comprehensive, and three years of Theology again at Milltown, he was ordained on 21 June 1974, and spent the following year at Mater Dei, studying Guidance Counselling, which became a lifelong interest: he was later President of the Association of Guidance Counsellors in Ireland. He taught again in Limerick for the next six years, and took up a part-time course in Computer Studies in 1977: computers were to fascinate him for the remainder of his life. He was Rector in Galway from 1981-1987, and in Gonzaga 1993-1998 where he spent fourteen years in all: he was Superior in Loyola and Socius to the Provincial from 2002-2008.

All told, he taught for twenty-eight years and was a Superior for seventeen. He enjoyed a well-earned sabbatical in Berkeley, Thailand and Nepal in 2001-2002, where he developed an interest in Buddhism. He left behind several photos titled “The Buddha and I', and his gastronomic exploits made one wonder if he might become a reincarnation of the Buddha. His hobbies were photography and computers; he read no newspapers or serious novels, but was well informed on current affairs, and had a sharp mind and a good memory, as well as a sound knowledge of the Irish Province. He liked TV and DVDs, and his preferred mode of travel was the motorbike, which he relinquished only after a knee operation in May 2008.

After forty-six years of Jesuit service, he died at sixty-four, having been diagnosed with cancer in early October 2008. He spent a little over a week in Cherryfield, and was the first to die in the new building. He died, appropriately, on the Feast of St John the Evangelist, after whom he was named. He saw himself as an ordinary man: he was not an academic, and liked the quip: "You can tell an intellectual, but you can't tell him much!' But about fifty years ago he had made a decision: not to do his own thing, not to win public approval or to make lots of money. He chose a life of love and service: he would serve the world through the Jesuit Order. This was his enterprise, and he fulfilled it in the demanding times in which he lived.

A Good Man
There's a book of short stories by Flannery O'Connor: A Good man is Hard to Find. As the media make clear in giving us our daily dose of bad news, good people do seem hard to find, and God doesn't take them for granted. The gospel text for his requiem was: 'Well done, good and faithful servant!' People who spoke at the Vigil in Gonzaga Chapel the night before his funeral said over and over: He was a good man! Ordinary good people change the world, and many testified that their world was so much the better for John's presence, for his carrying out his freely chosen enterprise.

John came across as a good man because of his love. He loved family and friends, but especially he loved the Society and more concretely the members of the Irish Province. Being a Jesuit was a fulltime reality for him, and it came across. A loyal servant, he was “ready for everything” as Ignatius would have wished. He did all that was asked of him, especially when made Assistant to the Provincial six years ago. Punctual and organised, he was at his desk early and working his way through the myriad mundane tasks that fall to a Socius - fifty per day, according to a survey! When the curia moved to Sandyford after the fire, he prepared his lunch daily from the leftovers of the previous evening meal and set off before 8 am, and was a genial Office Manager, with an inimitable style. “Carry on the good work!” was his usual phrase to encourage the staff in their labours.

When his diagnosis was confirmed in mid-October the doctors told him he could go home - “But no work!” In the community we were so amazed at his going back to work immediately that we thought he hadn't understood that he was terminally ill. Only accidentally did we learn that on his discharge he had told the hospital chaplain that “he was going home to die”. But instead he went home to serve out the remaining weeks of his life to the full. “In all things to love and serve” is an Ignatian phrase which sounds fine, but he took it seriously year after plodding year, until December 2008 - to be exact. After the end-of-year office lunch in the IMI he went home to spruce up for a Christmas meal given by his sister Anne. That evening he gave in and went to Cherryfield. Two days earlier he had summoned up enough energy to go to Dundrum Shopping Centre to do his Christmas shopping. He never had the joy of distributing most of the gifts, which were found after his death. Many of us, I suggest, if we were told at his age that we had three months to live would leaf through A Thousand Places to See Before You Die and ask for an open credit card. Nothing wrong there, but John's loyalty and tenacity brought him in another direction.

Living to the Full
John enjoyed living. He was welcoming and hospitable, believing that enjoyment was to be shared. He engaged fully in whatever he was doing, whether it was a good meal, a sabbatical, a glass of brandy, an administrative issue, a DVD, a discussion, a computer problem, a rugby match on TV, a holiday with his sister Anne. It is said that part of Jewish belief is that eternal judgement will consist in a single question from God: 'Did you enjoy my creation?' To this John would have given a resounding Yes! This quality of complete engagement gave him a certain magnificent simplicity. His Yes was Yes, and his No was a definite No: he had little space for indecision, and would engage in robust discussion to bring things to conclusions. At his funeral Mass the Provincial, John Dardis, told of times when he himself would return enthusiastically from Rome with a bright idea on how to move Province affairs forward, If John didn't like it he'd bark out: “That's ridiculous! Won't work!” Yet he was open to persuasion and then embrace the project wholeheartedly.

Clearing his plate meant not only enjoying good food to the last bite: it also meant that he liked to delegate. When commissioned to get something done his strategy was to delegate rather than to do the job alone. So in early October last when Fr Jack Donovan died in London, John, who was in hospital at the time, was assigned to see to arrangements, and I got a call: “Will you take this over?” - after which John presumably moved on to the next task. He enjoyed this style of management, somewhat more, perhaps, than those at the receiving end of his phone calls! But it was hard to stay mad with him for long. When after the fire we got into our new house - due to much work on John's part, we found that there were two en-suite and two plain bedrooms. It was proposed in best Ignatian fashion that we should do a discernment to choose who got what. “Fine”, said John as he ambled up the stairs, “I'll take the en-suite on the left and you boys can discern about the other three!” But the same man would give his time and ability endlessly to sort out someone's computer problems after a long day in the office.

It was because he was so massively present to whatever he was doing, whether looking after others or discussing or relaxing, that his death creates such a massive sense of absence. Others of us are more peripherally present to what we do. Not for him the soft-footed approach: he could be devastatingly honest. I used feel that he used the contradictory mode perhaps a shade too much, and said one day:
“There's not a single statement that one could make in this house that won't be contradicted”. Immediately John shot back: “That's not true!” He could be gruff, “like an angry bear” as someone said “but a teddy-bear beneath it all”. He could get mad with “eejits” but the squall passed and blue skies returned. He travelled unencumbered by the baggage of resentment or self-pity.

Enduring to the End
John not only enjoyed the good things of life: he also endured its painful side patiently. For him there was the post-war Irish scene: firstly de Valera's Ireland, succeeded by economic development, then difficult times, then the Celtic Tiger and its demise. Add into the mix the Northern Ireland conflict, political and financial scandals and endless tribunals. In the religious dimension there was the hope and promise of Vatican Two, and in the Society and the Province the hard-won renewal set in motion by GCs31 and GC32; all of this to be followed by turmoil in the Church and in the Society, and in our relationship with the Vatican, leading to the resignation of Arrupe and its aftermath. Locally there was the spectre of Child Sexual Abuse. The list could continue endlessly. How did John respond to these situations which were not of his making, not part of the plan?

In the seventies a commentator on religious life observed that the contemporary religious would suffer the loss of many things cherished: colleagues, vocations, institutions, thriving apostolic works etc. So it has been, and John's stance was to face the difficulties and diminishments within the Province and the Church honestly, without growing cynical or indifferent. Ignatius speaks of “courage in difficult enterprises” and John had that. He worked energetically against the corporate depression which can accompany diminishing numbers and their consequences. Long before GC35 he promoted the renewal of the Province with a project titled “Sparks Light Fires” and no one who attended Province events over the past decade will have failed to notice John's recurring bidding prayer for an increase in vocations.

Closer to home was the untimely death of his sister Margot. Then on Good Friday 2007 there was the Loyola fire and the loss of everything, including for him eighteen treasured volumes of photos of family, friends, Irish Jesuits etc. (cf the interview he gave to Paul Andrews, shortly after the fire, but not published until one year later - Summer 2008, Interfuse #136) It was his mammoth task with Bill Toner, John Maguire and others, to deal with the curial aftermath of the fire, to find new premises for the community, and to help each member to find appropriate ways of coping. This he did by gathering us regularly for a Revision de vie, followed by a Eucharist and a meal, together with some sessions in post-traumatic stress. He dealt with all of this in a healthy matter-of-fact way, though he used to refer to the fire as the elephant in the corner - something he had not yet fully integrated, despite his dedicated efforts at (retail therapy' on that Good Friday afternoon.

The Perfect Patient
In May 2008 he had a knee replacement; this meant the end of motorcycling, hard for him but there were no complaints. In August his incipient deafness was noticed and humbly acknowledged. In October, out of the blue, began his final illness. He was massively practical about it: “The news is bad!” “I'm going home to die!” “This is how it is. We'll see”. He had to let go of a planned trip to the Holy Land, though he sneaked a “pilgrimage” with his sister to Fatima in early December, and regaled us afterward with tales of the delights of a Lisbon hotel.

John was the perfect patient. One morning at breakfast, weeks before he died, I said to him: “You're very patient”. He replied: “What else can one do?” “Well”, I said, ferreting around in my own feelings and drawing on my Kubler-Ross theories about stages of dying, “you could choose depression or rage or self-pity?” “I'd hate that”, he said. Days before his death, when his breathing had become difficult, a visitor asked him how he was feeling. “Smashing!” was the one-word reply.

Sickness is no less a gift than health: so said Ignatius rather tersely. Perhaps those who were close to him saw something of the meaning of that. “Let them give no less edification in sickness than in health” for there was much to be learnt from him on how to face sickness. And good things came out of this tragedy of his sickness and dying. He was amazed at the outpouring of concern, prayer and compassion for himself. he couldn't see why this should be. But people found him lovable, presumably because they experienced that he loved them. He never knew that in his last days many of the Jesuits in Cherryfield had said that they would cheerfully have taken his place – they were retired and ill, whereas he had still so much potential.

So much for the outer side of his life. What about the inside? At the end of all his letters as Assistant to the Provincial, John had the slogan: Working for God on earth may not pay much, but the retirement plan is out of this world! John never got to elaborate on the Retirement Plan, for he was not an eschatological speculator, but perhaps he would have agreed with the earlier John Donne, 1572 - 1631, who wrote:

Death, be not proud: though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so...
And soonest our best men with thee do go...
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more: death, thou shalt die.

So what did he wake to? To the welcome and congratulations of those gone before him, Jesuits and family and friends, as he staggered over the line on December 27th. Then the multiple overwhelming by God: “the Lover gives all to the beloved” as Ignatius says at his mystic and cryptic best. Next, one can imagine John sniffing the air for hints as to where the great banquet might be set! Then there's the unalloyed joy of great companionship, the excitement of the vastness of the world of God, agility of body and so on. Then a commissioning - placed over many things and asked by God to be a caring presence to the rest of us until we meet him again. John loved celebrations: he is now celebrating endlessly on the inside what we celebrate fitfully and in hope. He is all Joy.

Here is another farewell, different, spoken by Jim O'Higgins at John's Month's Mind, and copied as it was forwarded:

Fifty years ago the face of welcome
In his solid frame, from John the delegate
To call my name and he greeted me
To that large Kildare domain
The prefect later on, that John
sent out again to ease the tense
the taut and restrain the mini gangs

John the true disciple of Loyola
Guidance counselled young hope
from west to east and once again
he's called to mediate between
the grief of parents of the suicided child
Or the dumbfounded ire of the mother
of a manslaughtered son and the why
the what of that God of his
and his own priestly purpose
Or ask in whose image we are made
or where was The Virgin in the keep
at Lourdes on that drowning day

John, called to jollify and feast with
with friends, a Friar Tuck, called
Bonzo, Buster or, with bourgeois respectability, Fr. Bun
The love of Table talk in his so communitaire
of duties in an S.J. house or sitting
in a kitchen ,one leg on the bench
and, not quite a keg ,upon the table
Or in the deep affection of his
nieces and proud nephew in Dublin
six, fourteen, or four of Tullamore
And for the many pieces de resistance
He could rely on his beloved Anne to
see him well ensconced in some
exotic Resto or Hotel Excelsior
Or in sweet Silverdale
Or Long Island Sound

John gifted with the rooted gem
of insight in himself so he could discern
what he could do within
what was beyond his reach
he humbled hubris and defaced its mask
in a paradox of earthy tongue
relating us and our mere creaturehood
To Immanence and Who it was we served
Chuckling his falstaffian way
to his next set of minutes or report

John called to be the techie in I.T.
The Socius systems, Sounder out
The teller of the truth without the frills
And yet again being sent on far flung
Flights with postcards from the edge
in misspelt greetings from some land
remembering and reminding us
in that unsure hand of what we are to him
and we know now what he is to us

John who could be nothing but a goodly man
You leave us for a while on the day of your
own feast of John loved Disciple.

Another appreciation, different in style, from Michael Hurley:
The thoughtfulness of the following letter from John is deeply moving; the circumstances make it more so, and the strained light heartedness at the beginning and end makes it still more moving.

Dear Michael,
May we bury the hatchet for the moment in exchange for prayers for my tryst with the medicos, hopefully from tomorrow. Learnt this morning of liver trouble and bile duct blockage — yellow as a canary, I am. This is by way of communicating!
John A. Dunne, SJ (September 25, 2008 4.51 pm)

The bone of contention between John and myself was my continuing emphasis on communication in the Province, or, rather (as I experienced it), the lack of such communication: in particular between M and the rest of us. I had suggested a Curia Newsletter and sent him a draft of a letter about the matter - which I thought of sending to a Delegate - and later a draft of a few words I might possibly say at a Delegates Friday lunch. He didn't like my drafts, especially a suggestion that if we knew what was happening at IMI we might be less worried about whether our (sic) money was being used responsibly.

Preparations for the visit of the Assistant halted these discussions. What happened next was that Kevin O'Rourke, our Rector, sharing some of my concern, made arrangements for a visit here of three of the delegates; he did so independently but with the knowledge and encouragement of John. This turned out to be a very happy, successful, community event at which I took the liberty of broaching the idea of a Curia Newsletter.

John and I were not at daggers drawn, far from it, but his letter, so remarkably thoughtful, so magnanimous, did enable us, in the time he had left, to communicate not only amicably but affectionately. Which I trust will continue.

FitzGerald, Michael, 1694-1781, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1293
  • Person
  • 02 July 1694-17 January 1781

Born: 02 July 1694, Dungarvan, County Waterford
Entered: 12 September 1716, Toulouse, France - Tolosanae Province (TOLO)
Ordained: 1726
Final Vows: 07 May 1732
Died: 17 January 1781, Waterford Residence

There had been a dispute regarding his date of death 1781 or 1791. This was resolved by the “Account Book” of Fr Fullam indicating that his tombstone at St Patrick’s Waterford says 17 January 1781

Superior of Irish Mission 29 October 1750-1759

1727 Came home (CAT of 1761 says returned in 1721)
1729-1738 In Ireland (TOLO CAT) - Head of Irish Mission 1732 & 1735
1738-1745 Rector of Irish College Poitiers
1743 Had been 10 years on Mission - Fr General proposed to make him Superior of Mission
1745-1749 Rector of Irish College Rome
1760 Was at Waterford

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
Had taught Humanities

1727 Sent to Ireland
1732 & 1735 head of Irish Mission
1737-1745 Rector of Irish College Poitiers
1745-1749 Rector of Irish College Rome
1776 he was in Waterford

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Had previously studied Philosophy before Ent 12 September 1716 Toulouse

After First Vows he was sent for Regency at Perpignan, then completed his Philosophy at Rodez, and was sent again on Regency to Albi.
1723-1727 Studied Theology at Tournon and was ordained there 1726
1727 Sent to Ireland and studied Mission procedures under Ignatius Kelly at Waterford
1729-1738 Sent to Galway to re-open the Galway Residence in response to repeated petitions from locals.
1738-1746 Rector of Irish College Poitiers
1746-1750 Rector of Irish College Rome 12/02/1746
1750 Appointed Superior of Irish Mission 29/10/1750. During the nine years of Office he normally lived at Waterford.
Little is known of his life after 1760 except that he was at Waterford until his death 17 January 1781.

He was buried in St. Patrick's churchyard with his brother, Patrick, parish priest of Trinity parish in that city.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ The Irish Jesuits Vol 1 1962
Michael FitzGerald (1750-1759)

Michael FitzGerald, was born at Dungarvan, in the diocese of Lismore, on or about 2nd July, 1694. After studying philosophy for two years he entered the Novititate of the Society at Toulouse on 12th September, 1716. Having taught grammar at Perpignan for two years, studied metaphysics at Rhodez and taught humanities at Alby, he studied theology at Tournon (1723-27), where he was ordained priest in 1726. He returned to Ireland in December, 1727, and after passing eighteen months in a kind of probation under the eye of Fr Ignatius Roche at Waterford, he was sent in the summer of 1729 to re-open the Residence of Galway, in answer to repeated petitions of the citizens. He made his solemn profession of four vows in Galway on 7th May, 1732, and remained there till 1738, when he was appointed Rector of the Irish College of Poitiers, He was summoned to Rome in 1745, left Poitiers on 8th October of that year, and became Rector of the Irish College of Rome on 12th February, 1746. After four and a half years in that office he was appointed Superior of the Irish Mission on 29th October, 1750. During his nine years of government he resided usually at Waterford. There, too, he continued to work after his Superiorship came to an end, until the suppression of the Society. This event he survived for many years, and died a very old man at Waterford in 1791.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Michael Fitzgerald 1694-1791
Fr Michael Fitzgerald was born in Waterford on or aboiut July 2nd 1694. He entered the Society at Toulouse in 1716 and returned to ireland a priest in 1727.

Having passed eighteen months at Waterford in a kind of tertianship under Fr Ignatius Roche, he was sent to Galway to reopen the Residence there at the request of some citizens in 1729.

There he remained until 1738, when he was made rector of our College at Poitiers. In 1746 he became Rector of the irish College in Rome. He was recalled to ireland to become Superior of the Mission, a post he held 1750-1759. During this period he resided normally in Waterford.

On the Suppression of the Society he continued to work among the people of Waterford and died there in 1791 at the age of 97.

◆ MacErlean Cat Miss HIB SJ 1670-1770
Loose Note :
Michael Fitzgerald
Those marked with * were working in Dublin when on 07/02/1774 they subscribed their submission to the Brief of Suppression
John Ward was unavoidably absent and subscribed later
Michael Fitzgerald, John St Leger and Paul Power were stationed at Waterford
Nicholas Barron and Joseph Morony were stationed at Cork
Edward Keating was then PP in Wexford

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
FITZGERALD, MICHAEL, was born in Minister on the 2nd of July, 1694, and united himself to the Society at Thoulouse, 12th of September, 1716. He returned to Ireland as a Missionary in 1727, and was admitted to the Profession of the Four Vows on the 7th of May, 1732. After serving the Mission ten years, he was ordered to the Seminary at Poitiers, which he governed for nearly eight years, and then proceeded to Rome, where he was Rector of the Irish College for more than four years. He was Superior of his brethren in Ireland in 1755 : but when he died I know not.

◆ Fr Joseph McDonnell SJ Past and Present Notes :
16th February 1811 At the advance ages of 73, Father Betagh, PP of the St Michael Rosemary Lane Parish Dublin, Vicar General of the Dublin Archdiocese died. His death was looked upon as almost a national calamity. Shops and businesses were closed on the day of his funeral. His name and qualities were on the lips of everyone. He was an ex-Jesuit, the link between the Old and New Society in Ireland.

Among his many works was the foundation of two schools for boys : one a Classical school in Sall’s Court, the other a Night School in Skinner’s Row. One pupil received particular care - Peter Kenney - as he believed there might be great things to come from him in the future. “I have not long to be with you, but never fear, I’m rearing up a cock that will crow louder and sweeter for yopu than I ever did” he told his parishioners. Peter Kenney was to be “founder” of the restored Society in Ireland.

There were seventeen Jesuits in Ireland at the Suppression : John Ward, Clement Kelly, Edward Keating, John St Leger, Nicholas Barron, John Austin, Peter Berrill, James Moroney, Michael Cawood, Michael Fitzgerald, John Fullam, Paul Power, John Barron, Joseph O’Halloran, James Mulcaile, Richard O’Callaghan and Thomas Betagh. These men believed in the future restoration, and they husbanded their resources and succeeded in handing down to their successors a considerable sum of money, which had been saved by them.

A letter from the Acting General Father Thaddeus Brezozowski, dated St Petersburg 14/06/1806 was addressed to the only two survivors, Betagh and O’Callaghan. He thanked them for their work and their union with those in Russia, and suggested that the restoration was close at hand.

A letter from Nicholas Sewell, dated Stonyhurst 07/07/1809 to Betagh gives details of Irishmen being sent to Sicily for studies : Bartholomew Esmonde, Paul Ferley, Charles Aylmer, Robert St Leger, Edmund Cogan and James Butler. Peter Kenney and Matthew Gahan had preceded them. These were the foundation stones of the Restored Society.

Returning to Ireland, Kenney, Gahan and John Ryan took residence at No3 George’s Hill. Two years later, with the monies saved for them, Kenney bought Clongowes as a College for boys and a House of Studies for Jesuits. From a diary fragment of Aylmer, we learn that Kenney was Superior of the Irish Mission and Prefect of Studies, Aylmer was Minister, Claude Jautard, a survivor of the old Society in France was Spiritual Father, Butler was Professor of Moral and Dogmatic Theology, Ferley was professor of Logic and Metaphysics, Esmonde was Superior of Scholastics and they were joined by St Leger and William Dinan. Gahan was described as a Missioner at Francis St Dublin and Confessor to the Poor Clares and irish Sisters of Charity at Harold’s Cross and Summerhill. Ryan was a Missioner in St Paul’s, Arran Quay, Dublin. Among the Scholastics, Brothers and Masters were : Brothers Fraser, Levins, Connor, Bracken, Sherlock, Moran, Mullen and McGlade.

Trouble was not long coming. Protestants were upset that the Jesuits were in Ireland and sent a petition was sent to Parliament, suggesting that the Vow of Obedience to the Pope meant they could not have an Oath of Allegiance to the King. In addition, the expulsion of Jesuits from all of Europe had been a good thing. Kenney’s influence and diplomatic skills resulted in gaining support from Protestants in the locality of Clongowes, and a counter petition was presented by the Duke of Leinster on behalf of the Jesuits. This moment passed, but anto Jesuit feelings were mounting, such as in the Orange faction, and they managed to get an enquiry into the Jesuits and Peter Kenney and they appeared before the Irish Chief Secretary and Provy Council. Peter Kenney’s persuasive and oratorical skills won the day and the enquiry group said they were satisfied and impressed.

Over the years the Mission grew into a Province with Joseph Lentaigne as first Provincial in 1860. In 1885 the first outward undertaking was the setting up of an Irish Mission to Australia by Lentaigne and William Kelly, and this Mission grew exponentially from very humble beginnings.

Later the performance of the Jesuits in managing UCD with little or no money, and then outperforming what were known as the “Queen’s Colleges” forced the issue of injustice against Catholics in Ireland in the matter of University education. It is William Delaney who headed up the effort and create the National University of Ireland under endowment from the Government.from the Government.

Kelly, Ignatius Daniel, 1679-1743, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1511
  • Person
  • 1679-03 October 1743

Born: 1679, Dungarvan, County Waterford
Entered: 17 November 1698, Villagarcía, Galicia, Spain - Castellanae Province (CAST)
Ordained: 1707, Valladolid, Spain
Final Vows: 02 February 1716
Died: 03 October 1743, Dungarvan, County Waterford

Alias Roche
Mission Vice-Superior 14 August 1727-1773

Entries in old books show that he belonged to :
1723 New Ross Residence
1723-1726 Waterford Residence
1737 Named Rector of Poitiers
His will made in 1743 names him as PP of St Patrick and St Olav Waterford (Thrifts Irish Wills VOL III p 75)

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
1727 Appointed Mission Superior - as appears by a letter of his to John Harrison 13 June 1727
1729 Sent to Irish College Poitiers by General Tamburini
1733-1734 He was sent to Salamanca (Irish Ecclesiastical Record)
1743 At the Waterford Residence

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Son of John Daniel Kelly and Helena née Roche
1700-1707 After First Vows he studied Philosophy and Theology at St Ambrose, Valladolid where he was Ordained 1707
1707-1711 Teaching Humanities at Valladolid
1711-1714 Chair of Philosophy at Bilbao
1714-1715 Tertianship
1715-1718 He was sent back to his Chair of Philosophy at Bilbao
1718-1721 Chair of Theology at Coruña
1721 Sent to Ireland and Waterford Residence and was appointed (15 September 1725) Secretary and Assistant with right of succession to the Mission Superior Anthony Knoles
1727 On the death of Knoles (14 August 1727) he became Vice-Superior of the Irish Mission, and held this Office until 1773. By his prudent government he kept his subjects free from participation in the disputes then rife amongst Catholics. He received many applications to establish houses of the Society in places with old-time Jesuit associations but by reason of the lack of Jesuits he could not accede to the requests from Limerick and Galway. In the end he was able to open the Galway Residence.
At the request of the bishops in Ireland assembled at Dublin he was able to bring influence from abroad to prevent the renewal of religious persecution. While on Visitation as Mission Superior to the Irish Colleges on the Continent, he was able to bring their perilous financial situation to the attention of the General, and thanks to his painstaking work, his successor was able to bring financial negotiations to a successful conclusion.
He was very popular with the clergy and people of Waterford who prevented his return to Spain when he had been named rector of the Irish College, Salamanca.
He died as a result of an accident returning from a sick call 03 October 1743 Dungarvan

◆ James B Stephenson SJ The Irish Jesuits Vol 1 1962

Ignatius Kelly alias Roche (1727-1733)

Ignatius Daniel Kelly, generally known in Spain and Ireland as Ignatius Roche, was the son of John Daniel Kelly, of Dungarvan, and Helena Roche. He was born at Dungarvan on or about 15th June, 1679, and entered the Society at Villagarcia in Castile on 17th November, 1698. He studied philosophy for three years, and did a four years' course of theology in the College of St Ambrose at, Valladolid, ending in 1707; after which he taught grammar for three years, and acted as Minister for one. From 1711 to 1714 he was Professor of Philosophy at Bilbao, and after an interruption of a year of third probation, he resumed his Chair of Philosophy at Bilbao for another three years, during which he made his solemn profession of four vows on 7th February, 1716. Then, after teaching theology at Coruna for two years (1718-20), he returned to Ireland early in 1721, and was stationed at Waterford. Having been appointed Secretary and Assistant to Fr Knoles, with right of succession (15th September, 1725), he became Vice-Superior of the Mission when Fr Knoles died on 14th August, 1727, and continued as such till 1733. By his prudent counsels he kept the Society free from participation in the internecine disputes then rife among Catholics. He received many applications from various places to establish Residences of the Society, but the fewness of subjects prevented compliance. The Residence of Galway, however, was re-opened in the summer of 1731, the bishops of Ireland, assembled in Dublin, requested him to use his influence abroad to thwart the hopes of the heretics, which he did with such success that the danger was averted. In 1631-32* he made a Visitation of the Irish College of Poitiers to settle the confused financial relations between it and the Irish Mission. He appealed often to be relieved of the government of the Mission, but his petitions were not heard until 1733. His end was in keeping with his life. He met with an accident on his way back from a sick call to a poor woman, and died soon after at Waterford on 1st October, 1743.

*Addendum for 1631-32 read 1731-32

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Ignatius Kelly 1679-1743
Ignatius Kelly, generally known in Spain and Ireland as Ignatius Roche, was born in Dungarvan in 1679. As was usual in those days, he did all his studies in Spain, where he was received into the Society in 1698. He was Professor of Theology in Bilbao and Corunna.

Having returned to Ireland he was stationed at Waterford. He acted as Socius to Fr Knoles and became Vice-Superior on his death. The following extract from a letter of his to Fr John Harrison, Santiago, 13th June 1727, will give an idea of the conditions of the time, and the various devices used in correspondence to conceal identities :
“I have written to you several times asking for news of your health, which may the Lord preserve to you for many years. Here we are few and frail. Mr Knoles is incapable of doing anything unless suffer. Senor Tamburini has relieved him of the charge of this poor Mission, and has placed it on my shoulders, and I assure you I am tired of it.I am sorry that I cannot give you a formal Patent to Dom Andrew Lynch, who will be the bearer of this. His parents are very respectable, and his parents have the necessary qualities to become an apprentice in your factory”.
In spite of the poor account that Fr Kelly gave of the state of the Mission, he was able to reopen the Galway Residence in 1729.

In 1733 he was relieved of office, and spent the next ten years in the ministry. He was Parish Priest of St Patrick’s Waterford from 1734-1742, and died on October 1st 1743, as a result of an accident occurred while returning from a sick call.

Lisward, Edward, 1715-1791, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1581
  • Person
  • 01 February 1715-13 September 1791

Born: 01 February 1715, Clonmel, County Tipperary
Entered: 04 May 1741, Villagarcía, Galicia, Spain - Castellanae Province (CAST)
Ordained: Salamanca, Spain - pre Entry
Final Vows: 15 August 1755
Died: 13 September 1791, John’s Lane, Dublin

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
He died in the Augustinian House at John’s Lane
Great Preacher; Professor of Humanities
1752 In Dungarvan
1761-1766 Rector at Salamanca
Note from Gaspar Stafford Entry :
1739 One of the Examiners of Father Lisward (Dr McDonald and de Backer “Biblioth. des Écrivains SJ”)

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Son of Hugo and Kathleen née Norris
Had studied at the Irish Colleges of Santiago and Salamanca where he was Ordained before Ent 04 May 1741 Villagarcía
1743-1745 After First Vows sent to Royal College Salamanca for further studies
1745-1750 Taught Humanities at León and for a time was Minister
1750-1761 Sent to Ireland and Dungarvan where he worked for eleven years
1761-1765 Rector of Irish College Salamanca
1765 Sent to Cadiz to arrange the business of the Mission and then to Ireland and the Dublin Residence. There is little record of his work in Ireland after his return until the suppression of the Society.
He was one of the signatories to the instrument accepting the suppression and became incardinated in Dublin diocese. he was a Curate at St. James's parish but in consequence of some difference with the PP he went to live with the Augustinians in John's Lane and ministered at their chapel, where his sermons attracted large numbers, until his death 13 September 1791

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father Edward Lisward 1715-1791
Fr Edward Lisward was the pioneer of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Ireland. He was Parish priest of our parish in Waterford from 1750-1761. There he founded a Confraternity of the Sacred Heart, the first in Ireland, anticipating by more than fifty years the Confraternity founded in Dublin by Archbishop Murray in 1816.

Fr Lisward had done his studies in Spain, and there he had drank in the devotion from Fr Bernard de Hoyas, who in turn had imbibed it from Fr Gilifret in France, who himself was a disciple of Blessed Calude la Colombière. So, the devotion came to Ireland in a direct line from its original sources.

Fr Lisward was born in Clonmel, the son of Hugh Lisward and Kathleen Morris. He entered the Society in 1741, and was Rector of Salamanca after his period in Waterford from 1761-1766.

He died in Dublin on September or December 13th 1791, in the Augustinian House at John’s Lane.

◆ Clongowes Wood College SJ HIB Archive Collection - SC/CLON/142

Edward Lisward 1715-1791
Edward visward, son of Hugo and Kathleen née Morris was born in Clonmel in February, 1715 and made his ecclesiastical studies at Santiago and Salamanca He was already a priest when he was received into the Society at Villagarcia, 4 May 1741. After his noviceship he was sent to complete his theological studies at the Royal College,Salamanca. From 1745 to 1750 he taught humanities and was also Minister at the College of Leon. On his return to Ireland he was assigned to work in Dungarvan and district and exercised his ministry there until summer 1761 when he was appointed rector of the Irish College Salamanca. Three years later he returned to Ireland. On his return to Ireland he seems to have settled in Dublin, certainly after the suppression he lived and died at the Augustinian monastery at John's Lane. He had already officiated at St James’ Parish but he left it in consequence of some difference with the Parish Priest.

Note, St James's Parish registers C of I “Burials: September 15 Rev. Mr Lisworth, Thomas St”.

◆ MacErlean Cat Miss HIB SJ 1670-1770

Loose Note : Edward Lisward
Those marked with
were working in Dublin when on 07/02/1774 they subscribed their submission to the Brief of Suppression
John Ward was unavoidably absent and subscribed later
Michael Fitzgerald, John St Leger and Paul Power were stationed at Waterford
Nicholas Barron and Joseph Morony were stationed at Cork
Edward Keating was then PP in Wexford

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
LISWARD, EDWARD, was born at Clonmel on the 1st of February, 1715, and joined the Society at Salamanca, on the 5th of May, 1741. Nine years later he revisited his native Country as a Missionary, and was placed by Superiors at Dungarvan. After his Profession of the Four Vows, on the l5th of August, 1755, I can no longer trace him.

McGrath, Thomas, 1947-2000, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/635
  • Person
  • 01 November 1947-27 October 2000

Born: 01 November 1947, Dungarvan, County Waterford
Entered: 07 September 1966, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 30 August 1980, Dungarvan, County Waterford
Final Vows: 03 February 1991
Died: 27 October 2000, St Ignatius, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin

by 1976 at Innsbruck, Austria (ASR) studying
by 1981 at Innsbruck, Austria (ASR) studying

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 108 : Special Edition 2001


Fr Thomas (Tom) McGrath (1947-2000)

1st Nov 1947: Born in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford
Early education at CBS in Dungarvan
7th Sept. 1966: Entered the Society at Emo
8th Sept. 1968: First Vows at Emo
1968 - 1971: Rathfarnham - studying Arts at UCD
1971 - 1973: Milltown Institute - studying Philosophy
1973 - 1975: CIR - studying Psychology
1975 - 1980: Innsbruck - studying Theology
30th Aug, 1980: Ordained priest
1980 - 1982: Innsbruck - Doctoral studies in Psychology
1982 - 1986: CIR. - Lecturer; Doctoral Studies, Psych.
1984 - Minister, CIR
1986 - 1988: Leinster Road - Lecturer, St. Vincent's Hospital;
1987: Superior
1987 - 1988: Tertianship (2 Summers) at Wisconsin
1988 - 1990: Cherry Orchard - Psychotherapy work;
1990 - 1996: Sullivan House - Rector; Social Delegate;
3rd Feb 1991: Final Vows
1996 - 2000: Leeson Street - Director of St. Declan's
1999: Sabbatical leave
27th Oct. 2000: Died in Dublin

About a year before his death, while Tom was in Germany, he developed severe headaches. He was diagnosed to be suffering from a brain tumour. Returning to Ireland, he was operated on, but the doctors were able only partially to remove the tumour. In August, while in France on holiday, he unexpectedly took ill and was brought back to St. Vincent's, from where he was later transferred to Cherryfield on 2nd September, 2000. While his condition was weak, he enjoyed a reasonable quality of life and was lucid to the end. He died on Friday, Oct. 27, 2000.

Brendan Murray preached at Tom's Funeral Mass...

When Tom McGrath was a young child growing up in the midst of a very loving family in Dungarvan, his early years were often darkened by illness, and brightened again by frequent excursions to the seaside. On one of these excursions Tom picked up a shell from the beach and began to wonder what was inside it. Then he looked out over the water at the horizon and began to wonder what was beyond it.

That childlike sense of wonder remained with Tom throughout his life, first as an inner source of energy, which released in him (what he called) 'a rage for knowledge and then as a driving force that helped him to develop the wide array of his God-given talents. Like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Tom saw life as an adventure to be lived, as a challenge to be faced, and as a hymn to be sung.

I don't know if he always had a feeling that his time on this earth would be short but he certainly had that feeling during the last year of his life. Even when he was in full health there was always a sense of urgency about him, an impatience to get things done. The world spun on its axis, but never quite fast eriough for Tom. He needed an extra hour in every day, an extra day in every week, and an extra week in every year. And for him there was always an agenda to channel his energies and time: tasks to be done, articles to be read, calls to be made, people to be helped, appointments to be kept, and - most important of all - occasions to be celebrated.

During his last working week in August, when he was already greatly restricted by his illness, he took his first client for analysis at nine o'clock in the morning and his last one at nine o'clock in the evening. Later, he had a drink and a chat with a friend or with one of his family.

That, of course, was no surprise to his community in Leeson St who were familiar with his ways and well used to the sight of him scurrying down the back garden at seven-thirty every morning and hearing the sound of his battered little Starlet roaring off the grid on its way to Saint Declan's School, usually at top speed, and usually modh díreach in a bus lane.

In Cherryfield Lodge Nursing Home, where Tom was so happy and appreciative of the care that he received when recuperating after surgery and again during the final stages of his illness, there is a saying of Fr John Sullivan pinned to the wall in the matron's office which says: “If you can say Deo Gratias to everything, you are a saint”.

In life, Tom never claimed to be a saint and, in death, he would, I suspect, be a most un-cooperative candidate for canonisation - but he certainly was grateful for everything that he received: for the many gifts that he was given and for the many opportunities that came his way, but more especially for the affection and support of his family, for the companionship and loyalty of his friends, and for the camaraderie and understanding of his Jesuit colleagues.

Tom's training as a Jesuit taught him to seek God in all things. His training as a psychoanalyst taught him to search deeply for the relevant data and to respect their truth. These two sources of formation were fused together in Tom's colourful, complex personality and enabled him to accept the reality of facts whilst discerning in them a veiled reality of gifts. For Tom believed passionately that everything that is, is given; and that it comes to us from the hand of a loving God. He believed passionately that God's creative and forgiving love imposes on us a debt of gratitude and that our sense of gratitude is both the source and measure of our generosity. That is why he tried, as best he could, to give freely what he had freely received.

One of the most revealing memories I have of Tom is of a week end in 1989 when a number of us assembled in Tullabeg to reflect together on the signs of the times. At the social gathering, which opened that seminar, I watched Tom patiently listening to one of the brethren who kept asking, “What do you analyst people do?” Eventually, Tom responded, “I listen”. “And what do you listen for?” “I listen for the word”, said Tom.

At the time, I don't think any of us realised the significance of the word in Tom's life. He listened for the word in his professional work, the voice of the real self as opposed to the echoes of intrusive elders, or idealised expectations, or presentations designed to appease harsh authorities. But he also responded to the word of God: the creative word that called him into being at his birth, the sacramental word of baptism that called him into the community of Christ and the family of the Trinity, the mysterious word of his vocation that called him into the Society of Jesus to be with him as a companion and to labour with him as a disciple, the symbolic word of nature that spoke to him powerfully in the sunset and the dawn, and finally the commanding word of God that summoned him in death into the communion of the saints.

Tom was an independent spirit who liked to be in control of his own destiny. Listening came easily to him. Letting go did not, but as his final illness progressed he gradually found the freedom to speak to others about his fears and his loneliness until those twin spectres were eventually disarmed forever. He even found the freedom to speak about his death.

This day last week a close friend came to visit Tom in Cherryfield and left him with a promise that he would see him again on Friday, not knowing that Tom had other plans for that particular Friday, which was the Feast of St Otteran and the anniversary of Tom's mother's death. As soon as his friend had gone out the door Tom turned to his family and remarked drily: “He'll have a job finding me on Friday”.

The night before he died he recited the Hail Mary with his family, emphasising the final petition, “Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death”. Then he shared with them a simple reflection: “We came into this world without fear and we should leave it without fear”. Tom had reflected deeply on the relationship of law and liberty in the epistles of Saint Paul and saw his whole life as a journey from coercion to freedom, or, as he preferred to put it, as a movement from “should” to “want”.


Brendan Staunton writes...

It would be easier to talk to Tom than write about him. Tom was someone you could talk to. He once said in an interview with the Irish Times, not long after he had returned from his psycho analytic training in Austria, Innsbruck and Igor Caruso, that the goal of analysis was to help people “author their lives”. How do I author an obituary for such a complex and lovable person?

A colleague once teased him by asking, “What do you do all day?” “I listen”, Tom replied. “And what do you listen for?” his colleague persisted. “I listen for the word”, said Tom. I think the word that governed Tom's life is to be found somewhere between psychology and religion, spirituality and psychoanalysis. The relationship between them, not to mention the threshold between psychoanalysis and philosophy, was a central concern, a prime preoccupation ever since I first got to know him in 1970.

Two images from his funeral mass on October 30th, 2000, resonate: as a young man, while walking the beach in his native Dungarvan, he looked into a shell and wondered about its hidden depths? Then he raised his head and gazed out to the horizon, and pondered on what might be beyond the horizon? These two images reminded me of Kant's insight about the only two horizons worth studying: the starry heavens above and the moral law within.

Tom took the latter path, which led to his becoming a Jesuit priest, which in turn led to his following Freud, who saw that the inner world of every child was a life being lived, and not just a passive preparation for adulthood. Tom liked the Cat Stevens's line, “from the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen”, which for him expressed well how misunderstood children could be. He brought this aliveness to his work in St Declan's, a school for troubled kids. This work followed his years of working with Jesuits in formation, and his teaching in the Milltown Institute, NCIR, LSB and the School of Psychotherapy in St Vincent's Hospital, Here his work with the Association for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Ireland built on his experience as a founding member of the Irish Forum for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Constitutional, ethical and organisational issues interested him from his psychological days in UCD.

While Tom loved his work, his first love was his family and friends, Jesuit and non-Jesuit alike. Many of us miss the convivial conversations in pubs and elsewhere. I know he is missed by Eithne, Frank, Helen, Jim, Mary, Niall, Patrick, and many more, especially his Sunday evenings with his sister, Assumpta, his brother-in-law, and family. He was a good friend, in smooth and rough times; he could acknowledge mistakes with friends, but this ability for friendship never left him right up to his untimely death.

As well as the world of childhood and the world of organisations, Tom was also alive to the gap between faith and culture that is a feature of the way we live now in Ireland. Tom lived that tension, trying to do justice to both, without the refuge of a facile harmony or a nostalgic solution.

His fighting spirit shone in his final year. It was a testing, trying and tense time, as his many visitors would testify. And the many people who visited him were a testimony to the affection and love he inspired. Family, friends and faith shone in the passionate uncertainty of Tom's treatment. We couldn't see the depths of the shell, nor beyond the horizon of death and dying. It was difficult to accept that he was dying.

Thinking of Tom at Conferences, (from Rome to Rio de Janeiro), on Committees (IFPP; APPI), his concern with psychoanalysis in all its shades was a constant thread. He pulled and pushed that thread through traditional theology, and I will always remember a passionate outburst during a meeting where Tom's openness to the feminist horizon urged a re-reading of the early history of Christianity, and how that story needs to be told from a different perspective. That men made all the rules alone angered him. He once told me, “Creation is for revelation, and revelation for freedom, a freedom that worked for a more just ordering of society”.

His never-to-be-completed doctorate would have contributed to the debate on the relationship between psychology and religion, spirituality and psychoanalysis. He saw not only the differences but also their common ground. Socrates, Freud and Jesus were three in one for Tom.

“The sense of humanity has not yet left me”. These words, spoken by Kant to his doctor, nine days before he died, could be applied to Tom, yet he often questioned the ethics of self fulfilment, and had no time for the viewpoint that the only point to life was the point you gave it. While appreciating the uniqueness of subjectivity he knew this meant transcendence and therefore a dimension of gift, and word. And yet Tom believed passionately in the truth of experience being the most important norm for human knowing. His ample library bore witness to his thirst for knowledge.

For Tom, Christianity was not against culture. History for him was the medium through which the Divine is realised. The bible was dependent on neighbouring cultures and wisdom traditions, and he, therefore, could never see eye to eye with people in Religious Life who saw Freud as “a pagan”. Augustine appreciated Aristotle! Aquinas loved Plato!

A true reflection on Tom's life would require other people's thoughts, too. Tom was a simple, complex and untidy character. No obituary can do him justice in a way. As Tom battled to accept his brain tumour, his serious spirit became more intense, and paradoxically calmer. There is no denying how difficult his last year and a bit was, for him and for all who cared for him. He underwent a sort of sea change. What moon pulled the tide of his thinking and feeling, sexuality and spirituality, silences and speeches is a mystery. How would Tom like us to remember him? Maybe with some unanswered questions. Like why did he die on his feast day? Or why so young? Why did he not take more care of himself?

“Readiness is all”, he might reply, and raise a glass to us with a twinkle in his eye, cigarette in hand, a sanguine rub of his beard, or an acerbic judgement on someone in authority. Tom was amazing, really, in that he could be a stirrer and a calm presence, but always curious to know what was in that shell by the sea side. And even when he saw a grain of truth, he never imposed it in a doctrinaire kind of way. He lived our zeitgeist with zest. I feel blessed to have known him, and sad he is no longer with us, and miss his sagacity, secretiveness and spirituality. But as Lacan reminds us, separation can mean se parare.

Ó Duibhir, Seán, 1921-2007, Jesuit priest and Irish language editor

  • IE IJA J/583
  • Person
  • 21 April 1921-23 October 2007

Born: 21 April 1921, Limerick City, County Limerick
Entered: 07 September 1939, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1953, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 05 November 1977
Died: 23 October 2007, St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin

Editor of An Timire, 1949-71.

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

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 138 : Christmas 2008


Fr Seán Ó Duibhir (1921-2007)

21st April 1921: Born in Limerick City
Early education in Colaiste na Rinne, Co. Portlairge; CBS Limerick and Crescent College, Limerick
7th September 1939: Entered the Society at Emo
8th September 1941: First Vows at Emo
1941 - 1944: Rathfarnham - Studied Arts at UCD
1944 - 1947: Tullabeg - Studied Philosophy
1947 - 1950: Galway - Regency; Teacher
1950 - 1954: Milltown Park - Studied Theology
31 July 1953: Ordained at Milltown Park
1954 - 1955: Tertianship at Rathfarnham
1956 - 1957: Crescent College, Limerick - Teacher, Assisted Prefect of Studies
1957 - 1964: Galway -
1957 - 1961: Teacher
1961 - 1964: Assisted in Church
1964 - 1969: Tullabeg - Minister; Asst. Dir. Spiritual Exercises
1969 - 1970: Rathfarnham - Promoted Spiritual Exercises, Manresa, Milltown,
1970 - 1971: Milltown - Promoted Sp. Ex., and in Rathfarnham
1971 - 1976: SFX, Gardiner St, -
1971 - 1975: Assisted in Church
1975 - 1976: Assistant Editor, “An Timire” and FÁS
1976 - 1980: Leeson Street - Writer; Assistant Editor “An Timire”
5th November 1977: Final Vows
1980 - 1983: SFX, Gardiner Street - Assistant Editor “An Timire” and FÁS; Assisted in Church
1983 - 1984: Rathfarnham - Assisted in Gardiner Street Church
1984 - 1990: Gardiner Street - Assistant Editor “An Timire”
1990 - 2006: Church of the Sacred Heart, Crescent, Limerick: Assisted in Church and Church Shop; Manager FÁS; Promoter of “Messenger”
1997 - 1998: Assisted in Church and Church shop; Manager FÁS
1998 - 2004: Assisted in Church and shop; Spiritual Director (SJ)
2004 - 2006: Assisted in Church; Spiritual Director (SJ);
2006 - 2007: Milltown Park -Prayer for Church and Society
23rd October 2007: Died in St. Vincent's Hospital, Dublin

Kevin Laheen writes:
In September 1939 the Master of Novices called me to his room and told me that he was appointing me Angelus of two new arrivals. He said that their names were Oliver O'Brien from Dublin and Seán O'Dwyer from Limerick. I knew Oliver very well as he had been a year behind me in Belvedere, but both Seán and Limerick were unknown quantities to me. In the following ten days as I prepared both of them to receive the Jesuit gown, I learned a lot about Seán. His father was either a doctor or a dentist, was nationalist in politics and had been of considerable help from time to time to the “boys on the run”. His father spoke Irish as the occasion demanded but it was not the language of the family home. He was determined that Seán should “get a good start” in the Irish Language and so sent him to Ring College for his early schooling. He was registered there as Seán Ó Duibhir while later on in the rolls of the Crescent he was recorded as Sean O'Dwyer. In the Society he used the English form of his name, but from 1974 onwards he was in the Catalogue by the Irish form of his name given to him in Ring College. In his early years in the Society he spent some years teaching both in Galway and in his old school, the Crescent.

Ten years after ordination he was involved for the first time in administration when appointed Minister in Tullabeg. He also assisted in organising the retreats for the recently opened Retreat House there. As Minister he put his stamp on the house. He hung new pictures along the corridors, placed vases of flowers in the parlour and other places, but above all he gave a new look to the refectory when bare tables were banned and snow white table cloths were introduced. When I commented favourably on these changes he said his aim was to make Tullabeg look like a home and not just an institution. Bro. Guidera, who knew Tullabeg and its traditions better than anyone else, was delighted with the new Minister because he was consulted and his advice was valued. Both of them worked well as a team.

Seán's love of the Irish language was evident but he never forced it on those whose knowledge of the language was not up to his own level. He was a great collector of English phrases which owed their origin to their Irish roots. It was natural that with his facility in this area he was appointed promoter of An Timire. Seán at heart was a pastoral man and his work for this magazinę gave him contact with a wide circle of people. He often told me that this gave him wide scope for assisting and advising people spiritually, to say nothing of the opportunities it gave him for hearing the occasional confession. Stories about his experiences while promoting An Timire abound, One day when he parked his car in a forbidden area close to the barracks in Athlone the military got suspicious feeling that the car might contain a bomb. They were about to blow it open when Seán arrived just in time to stop them. One of the officers was a native of Galway whose first language was Irish so the rest of the story needs no telling. He gave each soldier a free copy of An Timire. Several times, especially in Kerry, he often had to answer five or six questions before he received an answer to his own. This was especially true when he asked information about a certain Sheila O'Shea who lived in Ballyferriter and for whom Sean had twelve copies of An Timire. By the end of the conversation the Kerryman knew more about Sean than Sean learned either about him or Sheila. But as it turned out the man and Sheila were next door neighbours and he offered to deliver the books to her himself, thus saving Sean a drive of some twenty miles.

His work for An Timire made it possible for him to join me occasionally in giving a parish mission. During the very busy days of a mission he often found an opportunity for discreetly but effectively promoting the sale of An Timire. Although he was never a member of the Province Mission Staff, he loved to join me in giving a mission and did so on at least fifteen occasions. He preached very well because he prepared his sermons with great care and was always very much at home in the pulpit. He had a fine voice and his articulation was perfect. He told me that Donal O'Sullivan once advised him to "always preach to that deaf man in the back bench of the church and all the other members of the congregation will hear you". He certainly took that advice and acted on it. He had no time for preachers who used a lazy conversational style when preaching, a style more suitable for the parlour rather than for the pulpit.

His sermons on faith, mercy and prayer were memorable. He referred to death as a reawakening to a joyful reality of which our faith had assured us. In his days in the classroom he had developed a gift for dealing with young people and he was always a great hit with the youth of a parish. The inission in the Irish speaking parish of Inchigeela was one of the last ones which we gave together. There was a man there who had not been to Mass for twenty years because the bishop forbade the use of the Irish language in Mass. At least that was his excuse. But Sean told him that the bishop in question was then dead and that Irish was used in the Mass and that both he and Fr. Laheen had used Irish in the prayers and sermons during the mission.

The old man then said, “Well Father, in that case I'll go back to Mass, again not because that new bishop allowed the Irish in the Mass, but because I never knew there was a priest in the county that had such good Irish as yourself”.

We closed that mission at the second morning Mass on the last Sunday. We then had lunch with a local family as the parish priest had to leave early to join the Bishop for confirmation in another parish. Sean wanted to get the 2.30 bus back to Limerick but the woman of the house said the bus for Limerick never left on time and was always late in doing so. But that was not true, They had deliberately kept him an extra hour because they had secretly decided to drive him all the way back to Limerick in their own big family car, thus having the pleasure of his company for a longer period. This was just one indication of how the people of Ireland valued and loved him. The old granny of the house, enthroned in her big armchair close to the fire said, “May God bless you, Fr. Seán. Sure we would like to keep you here with us all the time because there is the makings of a fine Parish Priest in you”.

Seán then drove off north to Limerick while I drove south to Goleen where I began another parish mission there that same evening. May he now awaken to that joy he promised to so many congregations when he assured them of it from the pulpits throughout Ireland. May he rest in peace.

O'Neill, Hugh, 1927-2017, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/830
  • Person
  • 20 May 1927-12 February 2017

Born: 20 May 1927, Dungarvan, County Waterford
Entered: 07 September 1944, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1958, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1961, Crescent College SJ, Limerick
Died: 12 February 2017, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Milltown Park, Dublin community at the time of death.
Early Education at St.Mary's College Mullingar, Co Westmeath; Clongowes Wood College SJ

1946-1949 Rathfarnham - Studying Arts at UCD
1949-1952 Tullabeg - Studying Philosophy
1952-1955 Crescent College SJ, Limerick - Regency : Teacher; Studying for H Dip in Education
1955-1959 Milltown Park - Studying Theology
1959-1960 Rathfarnham - Tertianship
1960-1961 Crescent College SJ, Limerick - Teacher
1961-1962 Clongowes Wood College SJ - Lower Line Prefect; Teacher
1962-1973 Crescent College SJ, Limerick - Teacher; Pioneers
1973-1975 Gonzaga College SJ - Secretary to Headmaster
1974 Assistant Province Treasurer
1975-1979 Loyola House - Assistant Province Treasurer; Editor “Ordo”
1976 Editor of “Liturgical Calendar” & “Province News”
1979-1984 Leeson St - Subminister; Editor of “Liturgical Calendar” & “Province News”
1984-1989 Crescent Church, Limerick - Assists in Church; Editor of “Liturgical Calendar” & “Province News”
1989-1991 Tullabeg - Assists in Church; Editor of “Liturgical Calendar” & “Province News”
1991-2017 Milltown Park - Editor of “Liturgical Calendar”; Chaplain
1992 Chaplain Maryville Nursing Home, Donnybrook, Dublin
2011 Editor of “Liturgical Calendar”; Assists Co-ordination of Community Liturgy
2013 Editor of “Liturgical Calendar”
2014 Prays for the Church and the Society at Cherryfield Lodge

◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/life-quiet-faithfulness/

A life of quiet faithfulness
Jesuits, family and friends bid a final farewell to Hugh O’ Neill SJ, who died peacefully in Cherryfield Lodge in the early hours of Sunday morning, 12 February. He would have been 90 on 20 May this year. He was a native of Dugarvan, Co Waterford and as a Jesuit, taught in Crescent, Clongowes and Gonzaga colleges. He was a keen environmentalist and ahead of his time in that respect. In his later years he worked on the ‘Liturgical Calendar’ for the Irish Province and edited ‘Province News’.
Fr Bill Callan, rector of Milltown Park, gave the homily at his funeral mass place in Milltown Park Chapel, Ranelagh, on the Wednesday after his passing. Fr Hugh was remarkable for his courtesy he said, noting how many of the nurses and staff of Cherryfield Lodge referred to him as ‘a true gentle man’. He quoted Ella, the Polish nurse who spoke of her sadness at his death saying,“O Father, so sad: he was beautiful man, – so grateful. No matter how small the thing you do for him he always says ‘Thank you’.” This sentiment was echoed even by the Jesuits whom he taught. David Coghlan was in his class and remembered the high jinks he and his fellow students would get up to. No matter what their behaviour, Fr Hugh’s toughest form of discipline was the admonishment – “Better remain standing”.
The Provincial, Fr Leonard Moloney also remembered his school days being taught by Fr Hugh. He shared about the real impression he made on him and the boys when Fr Hugh inculcated in them a sense of caring for the environment, especially the trees that provided the paper they so took for granted. To this day, the Provincial said, he was always mindful not to be wasteful of paper.
An anecdote from Bill also underlined Fr Hugh’s sensitivity to the environment. “Hugh immensely enjoyed his walks, taking a bus to some remote destination at weekends and doing a circuit locally on weekdays. On these daily outings if he saw any offending litter strewn on the ground he had no hesitation in collecting it and bringing it home for disposal in the house bins. The sight of a Jesuit coming up Eglington Road and stooping to pick up litter as he went, is not seen all that often! However what might strike us as incongruous made perfect sense to Hugh: Such rubbish was a blot on the landscape and as he was passing why should he not be the one to put this to rights.”
But in the end, according to Bill, what stood out most regarding Fr Hugh and his life as a Jesuit priest was his faithful service to the God he believed in. The life he lived was sustained by quiet faithfulness, and the strong love he had for his country and his religion, he said. This was “the key to understanding Hugh’s life: His fidelity would not make sense if God did not exist.”
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

O'Neill, Thomas Aidan, 1924-2009, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/724
  • Person
  • 30 January 1924-30 July 2009

Born: 30 January 1924, Dungarvan, County Waterford
Entered: 06 September 1941, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 28 July 1955, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1958
Died: 30 July 2009, Kingsmead Hall, Singapore - Indonesia Province -Malaysia (MAS)

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966; HK to IDO (MAS) : 1991

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1950 at Hong Kong - Regency
by 1958 at Cheung Chau, Hong Kong - Regency studying language

◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/fr-tom-oneill-sj/

Fr Tom O’Neill SJ
Fr Tom O’Neill (centre in photo), who died on 30 July, had spent all his priestly life in the Far East, including ten years in Hong Kong and Manila, and the last forty in Singapore. He was a fine musician, and had specialised in matters liturgical, both in editing and teaching (at the Pastoral Institute, Manila), and then in the pastoral work of the Jesuit parish in Singapore. A correspondent in Hong Kong gathered the reactions to his death of men whom Tom had taught in the 1960s in Wah Yan. They remembered him vividly, and as one of them put it: “That seems to be the way with some Jesuit fathers. They do not realise the full impact of their influence on us.”

We will remember him as our church choir master when we were in P. 6, when my voice changed from soprano to alto. I can still sing many of the hymns, and several voice parts of the Ave Verum, Languen tibus, O Lord I am not worthy, When all moral flesh keeps silence, and of course, Christmas carols and Easter songs. We had special practices for Christmas eves, Holy Saturdays and Easter Sundays, where I had the adrenalin flows, and special treats of tea, cake and sandwich. But my best treat was when the Vienna Choir came to town in 1962 or 1963. They were looking for a special hall for rehearsal, and they picked the hall of Wah Yan Kowloon. As church choir members, Fr. O’Neill invited us to listen to the rehearsal. To this day, I still seem to hear German soprano Elizabeth Schwarzkopf crescendo to the high notes of Voices of Spring that still echo in the auditorium whenever I walked into the hall in my recent visits. Fr. O’Neill became my F2D form-master (1957-1958) during the latter part of the academic year. He was then very young and very energetic. (See attached photos.) He was extremely well-liked by all of our classmates. I remember we invited him on our class picnics and he always went with us. And he was a very fast walker, a lot faster than I. After Form 5, I lost touch with Fr. O’Neill. It was some time after 2002 when I was lucky to get hold of his phone number and home address in Singapore. I phoned him one day and talked to him for almost half an hour. He was very kind-hearted and was concerned about my health and constant muscle pain. He was a great encouragement to me. During the last few years, I always sent him Christmas greeting cards on behalf of the 61 grads. He always sent Christmas cards in return to all of us.I remember Fr O’Neill as a kind and gentle man, universally well-liked and respected. I will always be sensitive of my debt to him and to all my other teachers at WYK, and I hope that they will in some way sense that their efforts and dedication were not entirely in vain. I had great fond memories of Father O’Neill who was my F4B Class-master. He went out to picnic with us a few times. He appreciated my class-work efforts. He was always so gentle, dedicated teacher and priest, handsome, educated, patient, and a great tenor. I wished to have known him better. I’m sure God is with him always. I am sure all of us will miss Fr. O’Neill. Despite his short tenure at WYK, he was especially dear to our class of 1962, having served as the form master of Form 4A (1960-1961). I had planned on a reunion in Singapore so we could see both Fr. Tseng and Fr. O’Neill again. Now that’s not going to happen. Fr. O’Neill was my form-master at 2D. His manner was exceptionally gentle and calm. There was such a peaceful feeling whenever he was around. He was such a inspiring gentleman! I can remember him so well as it was only yesterday! I am sure he has lived a contented and happy life!

Ah, yes. Fr O’Neill was my form master in F. 2D. I believe at that time he just arrived at WYK. I always remember him more than a classroom teacher. He was a musician who played well on the piano. Besides, his mannerism stands out vividly on my mind. He had an air of dignity around him which inspired me a lot. I was struck by his extraordinarily handsome appearance which was matched only by his gentleness. I thought some George Montgomery had decided to join the priesthood. Fr O’Neill was one of the kindest men that I had ever known, although he was frank enough to turn me away from the junior choir on the first practice session, as he told me straight in the face that I could not sing; and he was correct, for I have been told the same thing umpteen times by persons who know me well. My friend Dolly told us that once she offered to buy Fr O’Neill a pair of shoes because she could tell that they were no longer in good condition. He said, “No need. Father Woods is dying and when he dies, I’ll have his shoes.” He was a happy man. One good thing is that he worked until the last moment and went to join the chorus of heaven quietly and comfortably. God must have rewarded him with a peaceful delivery to the other world. You know, the word ‘delivery’ always puts me into deep thought. When we came to this world, we were ‘delivered’ by a doctor or a midwife. When we leave, in what way will God ‘deliver’ us? Has it got anything to do with what we have done? In Fr O’Neill’s case, it was Thursday and he was seen all right in the morning. He was supposed to appear in the place of gathering to rehearse a church wedding to be held on Saturday. He was not there. Nobody suspected anything as they thought he must be tired and resting in his room (silly of them because Fr O’Neill never missed any rehearsal). Dinner came and he was still missing, so they went to his room in the priests’ quarters. There they found him leaving us to join the kingdom of God.

◆ 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 in Hong Kong 1957-1968 and promoted local Liturgy there.
He lived at the Regional Seminary in Aberdeen and then went to Manila for liturgy studies.
He then went to Singapore for almost 40 years.

Note from Paddy Finneran Entry
He came to Hong Kong as a young priest with Peter Dunne and 5 Scholastics - Liam Egan, Paddy Cunningham, Matt Brosnan, Tom O’Neill and Tony Farren. He spent two years at the Battery Path Language School learning Cantonese.

Rumley, Brendan, 1959-1999, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/614
  • Person
  • 12 December 1959-24 June 1999

Born: 12 December 1959, Ballymacoda, County Cork
Entered: 27 September 1977, Manresa House, Dollymount, Dublin
Ordained: 03 August 1992, St Francis Xavier, Gardiner St, Dublin
Died: 24 June 1999, Mater Hospital, Dublin

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

by 1987 at Asunción, Paraguay (PAR) Regency teaching
by 1990 at Belo Horizonte, Brazil (BRA) studying
by 1993 at Asunción Paraguay (PAR) working
by 1997 at Cristo Rey College, Tacna, Peru (PER) working

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 105 : Special Edition 2000


Fr Brendan Rumley (1959-1999)

12th Dec. 1959: Born in Cork City.
Early Education, Ring College, Castlemartyr College, Clongowes Wood College.
27th Sept. 1977: Entered the Society at Manresa House.
27th Sept. 1979: First vows at Manresa House.
1979 - 1982: Sullivan House, Arts degree at UCD
1982 - 1985: Milltown Park, study philosophy
1985 - 1987; Clongowes, Regency
1987 - 1989: Paraguay, teaching in Colegio Tecnico Javier.
1989 - 1993: Brazil, study theology.
30th Aug. 1992: Ordained priest, S.F.X. Church, Dublin.
1993 - 1997: Paraguay, Pastoral Director, parish work.
1997 - 1998: Peru, Pastoral Director, parish work.
1998 - 1999: Belvedere College, pastoral work at S.F.X, Church.

Brendan returned from Peru in January 1998 and lived in Belvedere. While he had some health problems, he was sufficiently well to go to the U.S.A. that summer to do supply work. While there, his health deteriorated. On his return to Dublin, he was diagnosed to have lymphoma (cancer of the lymph glands) Thereafter he stayed either in Belvedere or with his brother or at Cherryfield Lodge. He went periodically to have special treatment at the Mater Hospital. Members of his family together with Joe Dargan and Myles O' Reilly were with him when he died on the morning of 24th June 1999.

Kevin O'Higgins writes ...

Brendan was a member of the Belvedere Community for eighteen months. He died in June 1999 aged 39 years. Our vigil went on for six months. It began on a cold January day, when we heard the shocking news that Brendan had been diagnosed with a life-threatening form of cancer. It ended on a bright morning in late June, when he drew his last breath and went quietly on his way.

Nothing in Brendan's life had been so undramatic as the manner in which he departed it. In Paraguay, where we worked together for almost ten years, he was regarded as a live wire. He always seemed to be planning some sort of event. He had the knack of living life as if it were a never ending fiesta. Maybe that is why he felt so at home in fun-loving Latin America. Like the good people of Asuncion's poorest barrios, Brendan knew how to turn water into wine. When it came to choosing the gospel text for his funeral Mass, we had no hesitation in opting for the account of the marriage feast at Cana.

Brendan's Christianity was essentially joyful, and he had a horror of solemnity and formality. He was captivated by the itinerant preacher from Nazareth, and felt distinctly uncomfortable in the midst of ecclesiastical pomp and circumstance. He liked to keep things simple and to see people enjoying themselves.

We had gone together to Paraguay in 1986, responding to an urgent appeal for Jesuit reinforcements. The dictatorial government of Alfredo Stroessner had recently expelled a group of our Spanish colleagues. Brendan and myself hoped to fill the gap and help to keep the show on the road. Our arrival in Paraguay opened the door to a whole new world and introduced us to an endless series of experiences of the kind which leave you marked for life.

Brendan was in his mid-twenties when we arrived in Paraguay. Ordination as a priest was still several years off, but that did not prevent him from plunging head-long into the task at hand. He was assigned immediately to work as pastoral director in a large secondary school and was an instant hit with students and teachers alike. His infectious optimism and can-do attitude quickly translated into a whole host of projects.

When he saw that the school was in need of a library, he enlisted the help of some friends in his home town in County Cork, and the Ballymacoda Library blossomed in far off Asuncion. The introduction of an electric kettle turned his little office into a coffee shop, permanently open to all and sundry. His creativity and energy transformed school retreats and special liturgies into memorable, life giving celebrations.

During his years as theology student in Brazil, Brendan launched out in new directions. He began accompanying lay people in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, and even devised his own manual. The idea caught on, and by the time he left Brazil some thirty Jesuit students were engaged in this ministry. During the final weeks of his illness, messages from Brazil and elsewhere spoke of how Brendan's wise and gentle guidance through the Exercises had transformed people's lives.

Brendan's first mission after ordination was back in Paraguay. Priesthood meant that his ministry was enriched by the celebration of the Eucharist and other sacraments. He initiated the custom of early morning mass in the college chapel. At weekends, he exercised his ministry among the poor.

He had a great gift for comforting the afflicted. When a teaching colleague fell victim to a fatal disease and had to be moved to hospital in Brazil, Brendan thought nothing of facing the twenty-hour bus journey to be at his side. He did this trip repeatedly, departing on Friday evenings after completing his work in the College, and returning on Sunday nights, ready to face the following week's challenges.

His last years were spent in Tacna, a small city on the border between Peru and Chile. The rapid increase of Paraguayan Jesuits had led him to wonder whether there might not be a greater need elsewhere. In Tacna, he felt even more at home than in Asuncion. Undoubtedly, he would have spent long years there had illness not intervened. Even while he was undergoing chemotherapy in Dublin, his friends in Peru constantly assured him that they would be happy to take care of him should he wish to return there.

Brendan himself never stopped hoping that he would be able to return. He had vowed to serve the people of Tacna, and he constantly continued to do so right up to the end, in sickness as in health. When it became clear that he was too weak to face the journey, his friends pooled resources to send a representative to Dublin, They wanted him to know how close they were to him in his own time of need.

Right up to the end, Brendan spoke of his strong desire to carry on living and continue his ministry. Even as he grew progressively weaker, he insisted on organising small fiestas for groups of friends. His sense of humour remained undiminished, and he was able to mock his illness. He simply refused to acknowledge defeat. His love of life prepared him to face death with extraordinary courage and deep, unwavering faith. That was his parting gift to his friends.

Interfuse No 103 : Winter 1999


Michael O’Sullivan

Arica in Chile and Tacna in Peru are just across the border from one another. I was back in Arica for the first time in fifteen years at the end of August 1999. A requiem Mass for Brendan Rumley was held in Tacna on September 17th. At 6.45 a.m. that morning I set out for Tacna. Crossing the Chilean border around 7.30 a.m., I arrived in Tacna at 7.45 a.m. Pedro Barreto, the 'Superior' of the community met me at Cristo Rey College, where Brendan worked. Gerry, one of Brendan's brothers, had arrived the evening before and was staying with a Peruvian family, and Clem, another brother, had been delayed, but was expected at the college around 11.30 a.m. Clem would be bringing the urn with Brendan's partial remains - Brendan's ashes had been divided among his family, the Irish Province, and the college in Tacna.

Pedro spoke about how much Brendan meant to them in the community and in the college, As I listened it became clear that Brendan had a good friend in Pedro, someone who accompanied him with understanding, care, and feeling in the transition from Paraguay to Peru, from Asuncion to Tacna. He would receive Brendan in death back to Cristo Rey, he had prepared for it, and he had got permission from the Bishop for Brendan's ashes to remain in the chapel for always. He showed me a letter from Brendan to him about a year earlier where Brendan spoke about his hope of returning to Tacna. Pedro read from this letter at the liturgy.

Pedro and I and two members of the community met and welcomed Brendan and his brothers Clem and Gerry at the entrance arch to the section of the compound leading to the college auditorium where the Mass was to be celebrated. Staff and students carrying college flags gathered behind the Rumley brothers.

In the Waiting
We all stood in silence for a time while Pedro spoke about how the liturgy would proceed. As I looked at Clem I wondered what it was like for him to travel to Peru with his brother in an urn. My mind also went back to March 1982 when I was about to leave Ireland to live and work among the poor in Chile at a time when that country was in the grip of the death-dealing military dictatorship of General Pinochet. A Mass of farewell was held in St. Francis Xavier Church, Dublin. Brendan, who was not long in the Society at the time, was at the Mass, his desire to minister in Latin America developing in his heart.

I was very happy that I could be in Tacna for him now and that I could make the link on behalf of the Irish Jesuit Province between his funeral Mass and burial in Dublin and his requiem Mass and the placing of the urn in the Jesuit college in Tacna.

I thought of the amazing impact he had made on so many in a relatively short time in Tacna which I had learnt so much more about in the hours before the Mass. All those who spoke to me, including students, singled out this quality in Brendan: his speed at making friends. He had an amazing ability to make friends with many different kinds of people within and outside the college. The other qualities mentioned often were his simplicity and his kindness. He would do things like take cups of tea or coffee to others on a tray, which is not usual for a man feel better. They spoke about how he built up the college library, which has now been renamed 'The Library of Brendan'. His smile, too, was singled out, and his dedication and enthusiasm.

Hernan Salinas Paiza, a teacher who was sent to Brendan in Dublin when he was ill on behalf of the staff, had told me that Brendan had broken a mould by being the first Director of Pastoral Care to also address the needs of the staff. This was repeated to me by other lay staff whom I met before the Mass. They were all visibly upset at Brendan's death.

I also thought of Declan Deane's words to me when we met in Dublin during his visit to Ireland shortly after Brendan died, that he had never met anyone who had become so completely Latin American. Brendan had stayed with Declan in the United States when he was ill before the cancer had been diagnosed.

I thought of Kevin O'Higgins who had been with him for years in Paraguay and who arrived back in Ireland around the time that Brendan was diagnosed with cancer. Kevin had accompanied Brendan all through those final months in a way that, it seemed to me, no other Irish Jesuit could. This was a great consolation to Brendan, and something for which all of us in the Irish Province can be very grateful. Kevin has written his own tribute to Brendan in the November 1999 issue of the Irish Messenger

I thought of the tenacity with which Brendan had fought for life in Kieran and Miriam's home in Terenure, and later in Cherryfield. The last time I saw him in Cherryfield I knew that, medically, he was near the end, I had phoned him that morning to know if he would receive a visit around 6 p.m. I said that John Henry, a Maryland Jesuit, who was a friend of mine working in Arica and whom he knew as a result of visits to Arica from Tacna, was in Dublin and wished to see him. When we got to Cherryfield Brendan had some letters on the bed for John to bring to people in Arica and Tacna. He was that strong, that focused, that thoughtful, and that giving to the end.

Brendan died in the prime of his life, a few months before his 40th birthday. He had lived and worked in Tacna for only two years. And yet back in Dublin as he fought terminal cancer his great desire was for Tacna to be his place of departure for eternity. When his condition meant that he could not travel, his dying wish was that some of his remains would do so instead. He did not want to be separated from those he loved in Tacna, and he knew that they in their love would want him with them. His friend, Hernan, had said as much in his tribute to Brendan that morning in the Tacna newspaper, Prensa Sur: “The delight Brendan feit for the people of Tacna was mutual. It was a delight of giving and receiving, of loving and of being worthy of that love”.

The Farewell in Tacna
Around 12.15 p.m., the procession to the auditorium began. “Hermano del Alma’, Soul Brother/Sister, sung by Roberto Carlos, accompanied us through the college sound system. As we entered the auditorium the soft sound of one of Latin America's best known singers gave way to the power and strength of the College band.

Pedro invited me to speak at the beginning of the Mass and again after the reception of the Eucharist. He told the congregation that I was representing the Irish Jesuit Province and had a message from the Provincial in Ireland. This let the people know that the Irish Province recognized Brendan's gifts and valued him as much as they did. It also made them feel good about themselves.

The message relayed by me on behalf of Gerry O'Hanlon spoke of the bond in the Spirit between the Mass congregation and Irish Jesuits, due to a shared desire to give thanks for Brendan's life of giving and happiness; it said that they would miss Brendan as much as we would; it drew attention to how much it meant to Brendan that so many prayers and messages of support from Tacna came to him during his illness in Ireland, and how much it lifted him to receive a visit from Hernan Salinas on behalf of his colleagues at the College. The last words of the message were: “in solidarity with you in prayer, sadness, gratitude, and friendship”.

In his homily Pedro told the congregation that Brendan was with them still, not only in his remains, but also and even more so in what he meant to each of them in their minds and hearts.

A short video of Brendan and his work followed. This was one of the most moving parts of the whole ceremony as we saw Brendan animating and addressing groups, listening and speaking to people, in prayer and celebrating Mass, and carrying a tray of drinks to children with his distinctive smile and enthusiastic movement.

His brother Gerry spoke for the family, and Hernan translated. He brought them quickly through the story of Brendan's life and did so with humour and a great sense of pride in his younger brother.

The Director of Formation at the College spoke about how he had met Brendan when they were travelling to a conference in Bolivia for delegates of Jesuit schools. This was while Brendan was still in Paraguay. Brendan's capacity to make friends quickly meant that they became friends and he invited Brendan to Tacna. Brendan came, and now he would remain there always.

Two women also paid tribute to Brendan. They did so without words. They were the widow and mother of a man whom Brendan accompanied over many months during the man's struggle with cancer. They were at the front of the congregation where those closest to the deceased tend to be. They were mouming him as one of their own.

Entrusting Brendan to the People of Tacna
During the offertory of the Mass, Clem came forward and gave me the gift of Brendan. He entrusted me with him on behalf of the Rumiley family. I received Brendan on behalf of his Jesuit companions from Ireland. Pedro then took the urn from me on behalf of Brendan's Jesuit companions in Peru, and placed it on the small table in front of the altar. Brendan had gone from Cork to Tacna via the Irish Province. We had done what he had wanted us to do, namely, share him, so that he could remain in Tacna for always.

The offertory procession also included a map of Latin America, taken from Brendan's office. The commentator said, “today we want to present it to you, Lord, as an offering and testimony of the service of our brother”.

After the final song, “Holy Mary of the Journey”, we processed to the College chapel. Inside Pedro told us that Brendan used to come there in the early mornings to celebrate Mass. The Director of the college gave a final tribute, and Pedro showed where Brendan's remains would lie. Because the urn turned out to be bigger than expected it could not be placed there straight away. That would be done later after the space provided had been altered.

The inscription where the urn will stay reads: “UN HOMBRE PARA Y CON LOS DEMAS” - “A MAN FOR AND WITH OTHERS”. Prensa Sur had pointed out that day that laying Brendan's ashes to rest in the college chapel was "an act without precedent in the history of the Society of Jesus in Tacna." Brendan's dates of birth and death are also given. Pedro pointed out that Brendan's birthday, December 12"", was the important date because, for a Christian, to be born is to be born to eternal life. An IHS emblem can also be seen. Amen! Alleluia!

It was now 2.25 p.m. The whole ceremony had lasted almost two and a half hours. It was an extraordinary and unique tribute by people from Peru to a young Irish Jesuit from Cork in their own language and land. The Latin American spring was about to begin, and the sun was shining, but not oppressively.