Forster, John, 1870-1964, Jesuit priest

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Forster, John, 1870-1964, Jesuit priest

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  • Foster, John

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15 September 1870-01 January 1964


Born: 15 September 1870, Brunswick, Melbourne, Australia
Entered: 18 January 1891, Tullabeg/Loyola Greenwich, Australia
Ordained: 29 July 1906, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1908, St Mary’s, Miller Street, Sydney, Australia
Died: 01 January 1964, St Aloysius College, Milson’s Point, Sydney, Australia - Australiae Province (ASL)

Transcribed HIB to ASL : 05 April 1931

FOSTER initially;

Brother of Thomas - RIP 1929

by 1901 in Vals France (LUGD) studying
by 1902 at Kasteel Gemert, Netherlands (TOLO) studying
by 1907 at Drongen Belgium (BELG) making Tertianship

◆ 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 St Patrick’s College Melbourne and he was the first Novice to enter at Loyola Greenwich in 1891, having been an apprentice draughtsman with Victorian Railways.

1893-1894 After First Vows he remained at Loyola for a Juniorate
1894-1900 He was sent for Regency first to St Aloysius Sydney and then Riverview.
1900-1901 He was sent to Vals in France for Philosophy
1901-1903 He went to Ireland and did two more years regency at Crescent College Limerick
1903-1906 He was sent to Milltown Park Dublin for Theology.
1906-1907 He made Tertianship at Drongen Belgium
1907-1921 He returned to Australia and St Aloysius Sydney, and he was appointed Rector there in 1916 following the resignation of Patrick McCurtin. During this time he had also become a keen photographer, and he left several albums of photographs of classes, picnics at Middle Harbour and Lane Cove, and of dramatic groups and choirs. He had a great interest in choral works and “Glee Clubs”. His skill as a hand writer, even as an old man, was a source of wonder to all who were taught by him. It was said he cold write the Hail Mary inside a small shell! Fountain pens and biros were “an abomination of desolation”! The steel nib was the only permissible weapon.

He was also a skilled carpenter and painter, and the bricks he laid in the junior yard towards the end of WWI were still good in 1964 before the bulldozers disturbed them for a new building. The Old Boys also tell of his prowess as a bowler and batsman, and even in his late 80s was a keen spectator of rugby and cricket.

He spent a short time at both Riverview and Xavier Colleges. he was Headmaster at Burke Hall 1924-1925 and from there he went to St Patrick’s Melbourne until 1932, when he was appointed Superior at Sevenhill, and he remained there until 1940. He spent a brief period at the Norwood Parish before returning to St Aloysius Sydney for the rest of his life, and he died teaching junior Religion.

By 1961 he had been a teacher for 50 years and at his death, a Jesuit for 73. Even in his old age, he caught the 6.25am tram to Lane Cove every morning to say Mass at St Joseph’s Orphanage. He still taught his writing classes, typed his exhortations which he gave regularly, and was also quite faithful to his Apostles of the Mass Sodality.

In his early years he wrote a book on the Mass “In Memory of Me”, and he was often quoted as an authority on the Mass. Towards the end of his life he produced a commentary on the “Anima Christi”, which found its way round the world, even to Pope John XXIII.

He was a man of the old school who scorned relaxation and concessions. Community duties were sacred even when he was a tottering old man. Until his death, he was still giving the scholastics their renovation of Vows, usually on the topics of poverty, obedience and devotion to Our Lady. He ultimately suffered a mild thrombosis after dinner on the Feast of St Aloysius. He went to hospital and then to St John of God Hospital Richmond where he lingered on for some months. There he found confinement to a wheelchair very restrictive. He had two further strokes than and died soon after.

Note from Thomas Forster Entry
He was a brother of John (RIP 1964) and was a master builder before he decided to follow his younger brother into the Society, He was invited to study for Priesthood but preferred to become a Brother. Both brothers were very intelligent and good musicians - their simplicity was deceptive and some underrated them. He Entered at Loyola Greenwich.


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