FitzGerald, John M, 1919-2012, Jesuit priest

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FitzGerald, John M, 1919-2012, Jesuit priest

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  • FitzGerald, John Michael

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Dates of existence

29 September 1919-13 January 2012

History

Born: 29 September 1919, Dublin / Kilkenny City
Entered: 07 September 1937, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1950, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1953, Southwell House, London, England
Died: 13 January 2012, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin - Zambia-Malawi Province (ZAM)

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

Transcribed : HIB to ZAM 03/12/1969

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1953 at London (ANG) studying

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Note from Patrick (Sher) Sherry Entry
“We imagine his going left many hearts empty and evoked memories of all kinds of services and kindnesses, not least his unfailing patience and cheerfulness”. With these words Fr John Fitzgerald, writing from the Seychelles, summed up well the immediate aftermath of Br Sherry's death on the night of Saturday 5 November 1983.

◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/60-years-after-the-milltown-fire/

60 years after the Milltown Fire
At 5.40 a.m. on Friday, 11 February, 1949, a fire was discovered in a pantry of the Milltown Park building where the community lived. The fire brigade was summoned, and shouts went up to arouse those sleeping nearby. The fire was of the “flash-over” type: propagated by the secret spread of smoulder inside floors, stairs, partitions and lofts until a critical temperature is reached and the smoulder bursts into flames simultaneously at different points. At ten to six, with a muffled explosion, a great wave of fire and smoke rose up to the roof and flowed into the corridors of the house. The roof was in flames, the lights went out and within minutes the whole place was engulfed in thick smoke and fumes. Within two hours Fr Jimmy Johnston was burned to death, Michael Reidy was injured, and the Milltown building was a ruin. Below, Fr John Fitzgerald recalls that winter morning :

I rose early and left my room with a jug to get hot water. There was some commotion below, with the sound of jugs filling. I cried: “I’ll go down to help” – but a shout came up: “Get out!” All I recall is hurrying back, putting on shoes and some clothes, and calling Des Coyle, my neighbour. “There seems to be a fire. We’re ordered to get out.”
By now there was some heat and smoke. I made for the fire escape across the corridor. An iron ladder was the lifeline for about 30 Jesuits on the two upper stories. Barring an emergency, none of us would have tackled that ladder, as it was narrow and vertical and passed some distance from the window sills. There was no hesitation then.
We gathered on the grass between the refectory and the library. Mick Reidy was on the projection of a bay window. We urged him to jump. Michael was no athlete. He dropped like a stone, fell on the grassy slope and back into the area, fracturing his spine. That was the only injury, but sadly there was a fatality. Jimmy Johnston had the last room on the top floor. He was to have said the late Mass at the convent, so while his neighbours hurried to safety Jimmy slept and the flames raced up. He left his room too late and was overpowered on the corridor.
All those on the first floor would have probably survived, provided they waited behind closed doors. Those on the top floor were surely saved by the fire escape. Fr Packy Gannon was at the end of the first floor and when he turned his doorknob his hand was burned. He was making his peace with God when the fireman came. Dick Brennan and Piaras O’Higgins were rescued from the roof of the roadside bay window. Piaras’ mother remarked: “Piaras would usually fall over a pin!”
We gathered near the Minister’s House (the reception area in today’s Milltown). It was an awesome sight to watch the fire fighters, and the fire engulfing the upper rooms, and showers of sparks scattering upwards as the roof fell in. We saw a fireman shepherding down Fr Edmund Power from the topmost room of the Minister’s House. Back inside Fr Tommy Byrne told us that Jimmy Johnston was missing. Soon after, a fireman brought down his body.
Some final reflections: Those on the top floor lost everything. Jim Corboy and my brother Eddy had a souvenirs the corpus of a vow crucifix half melted by the heat. If I had closed my door I would have lost nothing to fire. The smell was all pervading, and unlike anything experienced before or since.
A sad note to end. Jimmy Johnston was a kindly and thoughtful soul, scholarly and sensitive. In 1945 he handed over senior history classes to me in Clongowes. Caring and perceptive as ever, he tried to alert me to the pitfalls ahead, as he foresaw the fate of one ill-equipped to enliven later medieval European history. At Milltown we gardened together and shared an interest in nature.
Jimmy’s death came as an immense shock to his family. I don’t think his elderly mother could take in the tragedy. Perhaps the circumstances were kept from her. But Jimmy’s younger brother was deeply saddened, puzzled and disappointed. Why had Jimmy alone died? How was it no-one had thought of him? It was hard to reassure, and besides Fr Tyndall in his imperious manner waved Eddie and me away as we approached the family at the coffin. The whole episode of 11 February was mysterious and tragic, but also miraculous for most, and befitting the Lourdes feast.

https://www.jesuit.ie/news/fr-sullivan-the-last-witness/

Fr Sullivan: the last witness
Fr John Fitzgerald SJ, the last surviving Jesuit to have been taught in Clongowes by Fr John Sullivan, shared some precious memories at the commemorative Mass :

The bones of Fr John Sullivan are your precious possession. They draw his clients from near and far. If John is beatified, St Francis Xavier’s will be a place of pilgrimage like St Thomas a’Becket is at Canterbury, Blessed Pope John XXIII at St Peter’s, Bl. Mother Teresa at Calcutta, and as Cardinal Newman will be at the Oratory in Birmingham. The people in a quiet corner of County Kildare still keep such fond memories of John. They were greatly saddened when his bones were taken away from them for Gardiner Street in 1961. It is a sad separation they will always feel. In fact his grave has been visited ever since.
The relocation of Father’s bones is as good for his cause as it is for you who give them this new home. You have always by your devotion shown how grateful you are to have him. You bring him day by day the stories of your needs – they are always pressing and often sad. John listens – he was always a ready and eager listener to others’ worries.
Coming to St Francis Xavier’s was in a sense a homecoming. John had been baptised in Temple Street (St George’s), and Dublin was his home until he joined the Jesuits. During the years in Clongowes, the City’s hospitals, the Mater included, were within range of his trusty old bicycle.
Sometimes people have asked me what was he really like. Some have a nagging impression that he must have been an ascendancy type, as his father was a baronet and he had passed through Portora Royal School to Trinity College. My own memory of him – clear and vivid – is of a humble, entirely self-effacing person, riveted on the one thing necessary, the commandment of love. He was completely focussed on the needs of others, particularly of the poor and suffering. For him the face of the Lord was there. Gardiner Street would have been an ideal assignment with so much sickness, suffering and poverty all around in the hungry years between the wars.
Clongowes in its rural isolation does not seem an ideal place for one so drawn to the poor and suffering. I knew John in the last three years of his life – my memories are boy’s memories – a child’s impressions – but still so vivid. His appearance so well captured in Sean Keating’s drawing – the sunken cheeks, the fine crop of brown hair, the bowed head, the penetrating eyes – a true man of God. I remember his wrinkled leathery hands. Meeting you on a stone corridor on a bleak cold winter’s evening he would clap those hands and say “Cheer up, cheer up, cheer up”. He well knew the mood of small boys – short of funds, nursing chilblains and facing into two hours’ study. I have a memory of Johnny O shuffling quickly from the sacristy, head bowed, halting at the altar rails – a welcome interruption to the evening rosary. Always he would describe a visit he had made to some sick or dying person. He was no gifted story-teller, no gifted preacher. There were no embellishments; sincerity shone through, telling of his complete devotion to the sick and needy.
John was occupied with the People’s Church and the boys’ spiritual needs with very little teaching. He took the smallest ones for Religion classes. Often we delighted to annoy him by rowdiness and irreverence. This drew the condemnation we intended: “Audacious fellow – pugnacious fellow!” Deep down we revered him, but we played on him.
If some day you visit the Boys’ Chapel, you see at the back on your left Fr John’s Confessional. The “toughs” – the ones never selected as prefects and who won no prizes – were most often there. The smaller boys would crowd into his very bare room after supper. We would come away with rosaries and Agnus Deis which John got from convents he knew. The People’s Church is the easiest place for a visitor to find. There is where John spent long hours and helped so many in times of trial. There he prayed long after the boys were tucked in bed.
Father John was our Spiritual Father. His life and interests revolved round the boys’ spiritual needs. He took no part and had no interest in our games – never appeared at matches, debates, concerts or plays. Free time meant time for prayer or the sick. No use asking Johnny O to pray for victory at Croke Park today, but he will listen to your sorrows, he will pray for your sick and departed ones.
The day of Fr John’s funeral in 1933 comes back clearly. I was in the youngest group and so was up front in the Chapel, and near the coffin. I tried without success to cut off a splinter – as a keepsake, a relic. We had been privileged to know Fr John for three years. Not everyone is so blessed – perhaps only a few have been close to saintliness in one who so well mirrored the Lord Jesus, the Suffering Servant. It is a joy to be here in St Francis Xavier’s and to share your treasure – the Venerable John Sullivan.

◆ Irish Jesuit Missions : https://www.jesuitmissions.ie/news/198-interview-with-late-fr-john-fitzgerald-sj

Interview with late Fr. John Fitzgerald SJ
Fr. John Fitzgerald, SJ died on 13th January 2012 in Cherryfield Nursing Home, Ranelagh after a long illness which he bore graciously to the end. He was buried in Glasnevin cemetery following the funeral mass in Milltown Park Chapel on Monday 16th January. Below is an interview with Fr. Fitzgerald before his death in which he recounts his experience of Zambia as a Jesuit Missionary.

‘Zambia was a completely new world,’ began Fr. John Fitzgerald, as he recalled his years spent in Africa. It is certainly easy to imagine that the Northern Rhodesian bush, as it then was, would have been a world away from Fr. Fitzgerald’s native Killiney!
Fr. Fitzgerald was born in 1919, and was educated at Clongowes Wood College before joining the Jesuits in 1937. He was ordained with his brother Teddy in 1950. He spent 48 years of his life abroad, living and working in Zambia, Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Seychelles, before returning to Ireland in 2001. Although it was only one of many posts, it was Africa on which his mind used to dwell.
Fr. Fitzgerald was sent to the Jesuit mission station in Chikuni, Zambia in 1953, where he worked at St. Canisius College, the Jesuit-run secondary school, and Charles Lwanga Teachers’ College, a centre for trainee teachers. Although he did not view himself as a natural teacher, witnessing the benefits of education proved to be his greatest consolation in mission. Seeing students on the path to better career prospects and a higher salary was gratifying because of the appreciation displayed by the students. In his own words, ‘you didn’t give them very much, but they’d gobble it up. They were good, eager students- even though I wasn’t a good teacher!’
Listening to Fr. Fitzgerald, one couldn’t help but conjure up exoticised images of a world completely foreign to our own. This was particularly true of his descriptions of the physical landscape, the seasons, and the flora and fauna. Life was governed by the changing seasons rather than the ticking clock, and everything depended on the coming of the rains. Although the landscape would remain dusty and barren during the dry season, ‘in the rainy season, everything changed. You quickly had a carpeting of all kinds of wild flowers, all totally different in appearance... I was teaching in a rural area, and so much depended on the rain.’ With the rain, however, came danger: thunderstorms were frequent, and injury by lightning was not unheard of. Other occupational hazards included venomous snakes and poisonous spiders, with the puff adder being the most dreaded. If one stood on a puff adder, it could be fatal: because of the distance to the hospital, it was difficult to receive the necessary antidote. For this reason, snakes were always quickly ‘dispatched’, regardless of their species! Climate and wildlife were not the only differences which Fr. Fitzgerald encountered. He soon came to realise that Zambian Catholicism was expressed in ways which would be unfamiliar to Irish Catholics.
‘They threw themselves into Christianity wholeheartedly. In comparison to what we are used to here, they are much more demonstrative in their piety: they sing, they dance, they participate. Kneeling in silence, as we do, might be completely foreign to Tongan Christians.’ New and innovative ways of expressing Christian worship were devised to accommodate Zambian culture. One such method involved using local hunting songs as templates from which to create Christian hymns: this allowed people to experience a message which was unfamiliar in a format which they recognised. These hymns are still sung in Zambia today.
Missionaries in Africa have always worked as agents of development, and Fr. Fitzgerald believed that development is a key part of the missionary project: ‘Christianity cannot make any headway unless people also develop economically. Without development, I don’t think Christianity could be easily accommodated.’ He stated that Dr. Corboy, who was appointed Bishop of Monze, Zambia, in 1962, was interested in developing Africa ‘along African lines’, so as to ‘promote the African.’ There was a great emphasis on promoting development in such a way that it fit with African culture.
However, some cultural practices were found to be difficult to integrate with Catholicism. Fr. Fitzgerald argued that the ‘superstitions’ of the Tonga had an occasional tendency to ‘spill over into Christian living’. This was particularly apparent with regards to local understandings of health and sickness. Because the Tonga believed that all misfortune could be attributed to evil spirits, there was a constant struggle over their reactions to hospitals and Western medicine. Certain practices which were antithetical to Christian living also proved difficult to stamp out. For example, some converts would revert to polygamy because it was seen as an economic practice which was necessary for subsistence farming.
As an Irishman, Fr. Fitzgerald admitted that he originally found the cultural divide between Killiney and Chikuni quite difficult to bridge. However, the influence and efforts of other Jesuits, some of whom produced cultural studies, English-Tongan dictionaries, and works of anthropology, made the transition more manageable for those who came later. ‘In our days it was a good deal different, but later works focused more on enculturation.’
Although the Chikuni mission is now run by Zambian locals, there is still a part for Irish Catholics to play in promoting the missionary spirit. Fr. Fitzgerald believed that volunteering is a great help: ‘the fact that people are willing to go out and work must make a big impression [on their hosts].’ Such work benefits not only the recipients, but also the volunteers, by ‘breaking down barriers’ and facilitating the opening of a ‘global conversation.’
Fr. Fitzgerald always remained optimistic about the future of the Jesuits in Africa. Vocations have been successfully promoted, and studies for the religious life, from first interest up to ordination, are completed in Africa. Returning missionaries are happy to pass the torch to their African brothers; this was, of course, always the end goal! ‘It’s a healthy looking, locally-grounded church. The Jesuits will continue to do excellent work there, just as they do here in Ireland and in our other foreign Provinces.
All indications are that it will become stronger.’

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 147 : Spring 2012

Obituary

Fr John Michael Fitzgerald (1919-2012) : Zambia Malawi Province

29 September 1919: Born in Dublin.
Early education in St. Gerard's, Bray, Clongowes and Trinity College, Dublin
7 September 1937: Entered the Society at Emo
8 September 1939: First Vows at Emo
1939 - 1942: Rathfarnham - Studied Arts at UCD
1942 - 1945: Tullabeg - Studied Philosophy
1945 - 1947: Clongowes - Teacher
1947 - 1951: Milltown Park - Studied Theology
31 July 1950: Ordained at Milltown Park, Dublin
1951 - 1952: Tertianship at Rathfarnham
1952 - 1953: London Institute of Education - Study
2 February 1953: Final Vows
1953 - 1959: Chikuni and Monze – Teacher
1959 - 1960: Charles Lwanga Training College - Teacher
1960 - 1961: SFX Gardiner Street - Church Work and help in Mission Office
1961 - 1970: Sacred Heart Church, Monze -
1962 - 1964: Secretary to Bishop
1964 - 1970: Vice-Superior; Treasurer; teaching in Monze Secondary
1970: Transcribed to Zambia
1972 - 1973: Charles Lwanga – Vice Superior and teaching
1973 - 1976: Australia, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles - Teaching and Pastoral work
1976 - 1978: Chikuni - Teaching
1978 - 1981: Seychelles - Pastoral work
1981 - 1982: Chivuna - Assistant Parish Priest
1982 - 1990: Seychelles – Parish Priest
1992 - 1993: Sacred Heart Church, Limerick - Assisted in Church, Promoter of Missions
1992 - 2001: Seychelles - Pastoral Work
2001 - 2002: Recovering health; Milltown Park - awaiting an assignment
2002 - 2006: Crescent Church, Limerick - Assisted in Church, Promoter of Missions
2006 - 2011; Leeson Street - Chaplain in Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital
2011: Resident in Cherryfield Lodge, praying for the Church and the Society
13th January 2012: Died at Cherryfield

Fr John FitzGerald was admitted to Cherryfield Lodge on 28th January 2011. He maintained his interest in books and continued to proof-read documents when possible. He was happy in Cherryfield as his condition slowly deteriorated during the year but he remained mentally alert. He died peacefully in the early morning of Friday 13th January 2012. May he rest in the Peace of Christ

Obituary : Michael J Kelly
Father John Fitzgerald was born in September 1919, entered the Society in September 1937, was ordained in July 1950, took Final Vows in February 1953, and died in January 2012. On completion of his tertianship and further studies he spent fifty-eight years in active ministry before assuming the ministry of praying for the Church and the Society in Cherryfield Lodge in January 2011. He spent twenty four of these years as a teacher or trainer of teachers in Zambia and thirty-four as a parish priest, pastoral worker and hospital chaplain in the Seychelles, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Ireland.

John was a Jesuit through and through. As a schoolboy in Clongowes he was enormously influenced by the asceticism, Jesuit commitment and joyful holiness of the saintly Father John Sullivan and strove to guide his own life by similar ideals. Throughout his Jesuit training he absorbed the spirit of St. Ignatius to such an extent that he sought always to live according to two of Ignatius' guiding principles: “that in everything God might be glorified” and “go where you see a need”.

And so it was that John threw himself wholeheartedly into whatever teaching or pastoral assignment to which he was missioned, while at the same time showing an almost restless zeal to do more and to respond to the needs and challenges of those in other parts. Like his predecessor Francis Xavier, he lived, as one of his companions in later years put it, “with both feet in mid-air”, always available, always ready to undertake difficult enterprises courageously and cheerfully. In these and so many other ways he was the sort of Jesuit dear to the heart of St. Ignatius.

But Ignatius would not have been alone in this love. In all his diverse assignments John radiated love, gentleness, and kindness and brought out the same qualities in all those with whom he interacted. As the sanctity and mellowness of Father John Sullivan attracted him so strongly from the time of his boyhood, so his own holiness and graciousness attracted others, not just to himself but also to God. In the spirit of one of the hymns for the office of Readings, the Holy Spirit inflamed with love each of his senses so that other souls might kindle thence. For there can be no mistake about it: Father John Fitzgerald was a holy, saintly and very humble man, in the very best sense of each of these words. He sought at all times God's glory, not his own; the well-being and happiness of others in preference to his own. He always wanted that God and others should increase while he himself would decrease, but he strove that this should come about in a way that would give free rein to the Spirit in its work of transforming people.

Long before his death, people spoke of the way they were attracted to John. They spoke of the example of his life, of his generous service, of his uprightness and integrity, of his warm approving manner, of his words of encouragement and understanding, of his generous smiling openness, of his wisdom and gentle humour. It is clear that they found in John a man who in an unselfconscious way shared with all-comers the fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, forbearance, gentleness, faith, courtesy, temperateness, purity”. This then was the man who spent twenty-four years as an apostolic worker in Zambia, twenty in the Seychelles, three in Australia and Papua New Guinea and eleven in Ireland, living and showing in his person the Good News of God's passionate love for every man, woman and child.

On completing his tertianship in 1952, John spent one year at the Institute of Education, University of London, preparing himself for what was to be his initial assignment as a teacher trainer in Zambia (Northern Rhodesia at the time). There he was the right-hand man of Father Bob Thompson (and later of Father John Counihan) in running the training programme, at first within the physical and organisational structures of Canisius College and subsequently at Charles Lwanga Teachers' College when the teacher training was hived off to independent status at this newly established college. During these early years he was closely associated in his work as a trainer of teachers with the “early feminist”, Sister Joseph Helen RSC, who though eleven years John's senior, predeceased him by just four days in her hundred and fourth year.

In one notable respect Charles Lwanga College conferred on John a kind of immortality (his own words), since it was he who advocated that it be called “Charles Lwanga” and not just “Lwanga”. But John's immortality was written more strongly in the many teachers he helped to train, men and women who learned from him not only how to be good teachers but also how to be good people.
The strength of John as a teacher trainer was brought out in a protest from the Zambia Ministry of Education UK-born and Oxford educated inspector for teacher training. When John was redeployed from Charles Lwanga to teach at the government secondary school in Monze, the inspector tartly observed: “You Jesuits are supposed to be great educators. But here you are, taking the best teacher trainer in all Zambia away from the work in which he excels and relegating him to teach in a secondary school”. Characteristically, John's response on being told of this was to deprecate himself and to allege that the inspector had a misguidedly high opinion of him.

John served with great distinction in Monze for several years, and subsequently for short spells in Australia and Papua New Guinea and back again in Zambia at Canisius College. These latter interludes heightened his desire to be engaged in more directly pastoral work, the realisation of which a remarkable intervention of the Spirit set dramatically in train. In 1978, he was requested to accompany an elderly and infirm Jesuit whose condition required that he return to Sri Lanka where he had previously worked. The travel entailed a stopover in the Seychelles where John and his companion were hosted by the local Bishop, the first Seychellois to be appointed to this office. During their brief stay the Bishop painted such a graphic picture of the pastoral needs of his people that on his return to Zambia John felt impelled to seek permission to exercise his apostolic ministry in the Seychelles. The permission was reluctantly given, though at first for only a few years. So began John's apostolic life in the Seychelles where, as the Bishop Emeritus of the islands stated at the time of John's death, “over many years he gave great pastoral and spiritual service to the people of the Seychelle Islands”. There were a few short returns to Zambia, and one on health grounds to Ireland, but for the next twenty-three years John's essential ministry was to the people of the Seychelles whom he heard calling out to him for the Mass, the Sacraments, the Word of God, the compassion of Christ and the presence of the Spirit. Following the footsteps of the Lord whom he loved so wholeheartedly, he saw the people of the Seychelles as sheep without a shepherd, he was filled with pity for them and set out to teach them at length. His ministry extended to every person within the large areas where he served - La Digue, Mont Fleuri (Bon Pasteur parish), Baie Ste Anne and Victoria (the capital city). During these years he also gave greatly appreciated service to the formation of seminarians and to the guidance of members of religious congregations. Well known for his availability and discretion he found himself as the confessor of choice of many religious, including Blessed Teresa of Calcutta at the time she was establishing her congregation in the Seychelles.

Throughout his life, John was an ascetic who lived as poorly as his situation would allow. He had a minimum of personal possessions and could easily pack his few belongings into a single case when moving from one place to another. Although he lived in the idyllic surroundings of the Seychelles, with its enticing sea and beaches, there was never any danger of his becoming a “beach potato”. Indeed, he was almost a decade in the Seychelles before he even walked a beach - and on that occasion he had to get the loan of swim wear before going into the sea.

But John's asceticism took its toll on his health. While in Zambia and Australia, community routines ensured that he was regularly presented with sustaining meals. But living by himself, as he did in the Seychelles, the needs of the poor and the upkeep of the church buildings were a greater priority for him than his body's need for adequate nutritious food. His poor diet gradually led to his becoming physically very run down, necessitating a visit on health grounds to Ireland and eventually to his final departure from the Seychelles and definitive return to Ireland in 2001.

John spent the last decade of his active apostolic life, first in the Crescent Sacred Heart Church in Limerick and, after this was closed, in Leeson Street, Dublin, from where he served as chaplain to the nearby Eye and Ear Hospital. During these years he bore a great deal of physical discomfort, but quietly and without fuss. He was low-key in his presence but always a most gracious helper to colleagues and host to visitors in the Limerick and Leeson Street communities, to those he served from the Sacred Heart Church, and to the patients and staff in the Eye and Ear Hospital. Indeed he was graciousness itself and was noted for his gentle good humour and great smile. These became increasingly more characteristic of him, even as advancing years took their toll. He had the rare gift of being able to listen to others and hear what they were really saying, without letting his own interests, declining health or physical discomfort come between them and him.

Early in 2011, his adverse health condition brought John to his final earthly home, Cherryfield Lodge. Here his gracious and uncomplaining manner, with his gentle and humble disposition, quickly endeared him to the other residents and staff and elicited from them extraordinary care and attention. There are many memories of John's patience and prayerfulness during his last months on earth - his dedication to the Rosary, his wise advice, his graciousness to the almost unending stream of visitors who called to see him, his delight when visited by his brother Julian and members of his family, his generous comments about others, his insightful but ever-gentle humour, his gratitude for any little thing done on his behalf, his reluctance to talk about the pains, bad nights and poor appetite of a man experiencing great physical discomfort, his ability to keep himself abreast of major sporting events, his almost childlike pleasure in the bright skies he could see outside and the flowers that were brought to him in his room.

One memory that endures is very simple. It is of John lifting his pain-filled body to reach towards a nearby vase of roses, allowing the roses to be brought before his face, and his great smile of satisfaction and happiness as he breathed their fragrance and sank back on to his pillow. You could almost hear him say with Simeon of old, “At last, all-powerful Master, you give leave to your servant to go in peace, according to your promise”. Clearly, we had a saint among us and scarcely knew.

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St Gerard's Catholic School, Thornhill Road, Bray, Co. Dublin; UCL Institute of Education, Bedford Way, London, England

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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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FitzGerald, John M, 1919-2012, Jesuit priest

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