Durnin, Desmond P, 1907-1982, Jesuit priest

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Durnin, Desmond P, 1907-1982, Jesuit priest

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  • Des Durnin

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Dates of existence

13 March 1907-06 January 1982

History

Born: 13 March 1907, Clontarf, Dublin
Entered: 18 September 1925, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1939
Professed: 02 February 1942
Died: 06 January 1982, Methodist Hospital, Epworth, Richmond, Victoria, Australia - Australiae Province (ASL)

Part of the Burke Hall, Kew, Melbourne, Australia community at the time of death.

Transcribed HIB to ASL : 05 April 1931

Older brother of Dermot - RIP 1980

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280 :
His early education was at CBS Synge Street, Dublin before he Entered at St Stanislaus College Tullabeg, 1925.

1927-1929 After First Vows he went to Rathfarnham Castle for his Juniorate
1929-1932 He studied Philosophy at Milltown Park Dublin and Tullabeg
1932-1936 He was sent to Australia and Burke Hall at Xavier College Kew for Regency.
1936-1940 He returned to Ireland and Milltown Park for Theology
1940-1941 He made Tertianship at Rathfarnham Castle
1941-1942 While awaiting a passage to Australia he worked at the Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon, England
1942 He arrived in Australia on the Columbia Star and his next 40 years was spent Teaching and Prefecting junior boys.
1943-1950 He was back at Burke Hall and was Headmaster for six years
1950-1956 He was sent to St Ignatius College Riverview
1963-1966 He was twice at St Louis School Perth, having been there in 1949, and he was given responsibility for supervising the school that never was at Attadale. He furnished and set up Campion College Kew in its earliest days as a house for the university scholastics, mostly living at Burke Hall and teaching junior Religion.
In his later years he became a frequent visitor of the sick at Caritas Christi.

He was a great storyteller : The saga of the trip from England to Australia in 1942 avoiding German submarines; The calling of a gynaecologist Dr Quinlan when he had a heart attack; Many stories of how he uncovered crimes in the Boarding School. He loved an audience and there seemed always to be a time for a story. Being Minister at the house for Scholastics in studies was not quite his scene, but he was at times a source of entertainment for the younger men, and at other time a little frustrating. He was a humble, charitable and generous man. It was ironic that he, who had served the sick so well in a Catholic hospital was taken to the Methodist Epworth hospital in his final sickness, and it was there he died.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 57th Year No 2 1982

Obituary

Fr Desmond Durnin (1907-1925-1982)

Fr Desmond Durnin, an elder brother of Fr Dermot – who predeceased him by a year and a month – was born in Clontarf, Dublin, on 13th March 1907. He began his early education with the Sisters of Mercy before his family moved to England. He went to St Michael’s College, Leeds, and on his family’s return to Dublin, to O'Connell Schools, Des Durnin entered the Jesuit noviceship in Tullabeg (September 1925). He was a quiet, gentle person, always cheerful and unassuming. Noviceship completed, he did not attend university, but with a number of others did a “home juniorate” in Rathfarnham under Fr Hugh Kelly (1927-'9). Next stop was Milltown, for philosophy, but only for a year. In 1930 Tullabeg was opened for philosophy, as the novices by then had been shifted to Emo, so with the rest of his year Des returned to Tullabeg.
One memory of Des in Tullabeg dates 1930-31, perhaps October or November. The philosophers were playing soccer one day in the wet, so the football became wet and heavy. Des took a header at the flying ball, hurt himself badly and was in great pain. His cries could be heard all round the kitchen courtyard. The philosophers found this somewhat unnerving as it reminded them of someone else. Michael Hegarty, a "late vocation” and a wonderfully holy man after a rushed philosophy course in Heythrop had returned to Rathfarnham to take charge of an “Irish month” and had gone out of his mind. The Juniors took turns to watch his bedside in his delirium. Seán McCarron was one of the stalwarts who carried out this trying task. Michael died without recovering from his madness: Des Durnin recovered from his head injury.
His four-year regency Des spent in Australia, to which Vice Province he was henceforth to belong. While there he was Burke Hall Preparatory School at Kew, Melbourne. In 1936 he returned to Ireland for theology and ordination, completed tertianship in 1941 during the world war, and awaited his return passage to Australia. During the war years shipping was scarce and submarines were active in all waters. Eventually however he found transport and was back in Burke Hall in 1942.
The 1940s were difficult and trying years for schools. Teaching staff and domestic help were hard to find, and after a couple of years his health gave way under the strain. There followed two years in Perth and four in Riverview, where he was an assistant prefect of discipline. He was recalled to Melbourne (1957) to supervise the opening of Campion College, which had been purchased for the Juniors attending Melbourne University. Four years later he was back in Burke Hall, where he was on the teaching staff till three years before his death, when Providence stepped in.
He described his change of life-style in a letter to a friend (1979): “Last year I had two heart attacks, the second one rather serious, and I was in intensive care for ten days. I got as far as the pearly gates, but St Peter said that they were too busy at the time arranging for Popes to get into heaven and that I would have to wait. However, the doctor told me that he did not want me to go into the classroom any more.
'The Lord is good, and I spend a good deal of my time in a hospital just across the road from us - a terminal hospital [Caritas Christi Home] for the very sick and dying. So far this month a patient has died each day, so it gives me an opportunity of praying and consoling the dying. Last year I received eight people into the Church, and all but one have already been called 'home'. Fr Austin Kelly died there last year: I had visited him there for 4.5 years”.
It would be impossible to recall all the good things Fr Durnin did in his life assigned to time. As a teacher and headmaster in Burke Hall he was most devoted to his work, and few men would have equalled or excelled him in efficiency, kindness and charity. The boys of Burke Hall were fortunate to have such a self sacrificing priest to look after them. A week before he died he had a serious heart attack and was taken to Epworth hospital in Richmond. There he struggled on bravely for a week, but eventually he answered the Master’s call and died very peacefully on 6th January 1982, The Carmelites of Kew, who are neighbours of the Jesuits, wrote:
“...just before 3 pm ... the Magi came quietly along, and took him in their train to the true and eternal vision of the Lord of life.
“Dear Fr Durnin was so closely associated with our monastery while at Burke Hall and later at Campion College, which are both our immediate neighbours at the back of our property here. He was a most faithful and kind chaplain and friend. In his regard we feel how truly St Teresa spoke when she said that the loss of a good priest was certainly a loss for the Church on earth”. [Further light on Fr Desmond Durnin is expected when Jesuit life (Australia) arrives.]

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

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

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Durnin, Desmond P, 1907-1982, Jesuit priest

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

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IE IJA MSSN/AUST

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hierarchical

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

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Durnin, Desmond P, 1907-1982, Jesuit priest

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IE IJA J/1239

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