- 1 April 1924-1929; 1930; 1933 (Creation)
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Born: 03 December 1870, Limerick City, County Limerick
Entered: 19 December 1887, Loyola House, Dromore, County Down
Ordained: 02 August 1903
Final vows: 15 August 1906
Died: 07 April 1933, St Bride's Nursing Home, Galway
Part of Jesuit community, Coláiste Iognáid, Galway
2nd year Novitiate at Tullabeg;
Came to Australia for Regency 1893
by 1899 at St Aloysius Jersey Channel Islands (FRA) studying
by 1905 at St David’s, Mold, Wales (FRA) making Tertianship
◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Edmund Dowling entered the Society in September 1887, and after novitiate and juniorate at Tullabeg, was sent to Australia for regency at Riverview, 1893-98, which included two years as first prefect 1895-96.
Newspaper obituary, 1933.
Spent childhood in Galway and attended St Ignatius College, Galway.
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 8th Year No 3 1933
Fr Edmund Downing
The Irish Province sustained another very severe loss by the death of Father Downing, which took place at St. Bride's Home, Galway, on the Feast of the Seven Dolours, 7th April, 1933. He was 63 years of age, and spent 46 of them in the Society.
About four weeks before his death he began to suffer from headaches, and after some days, prudence suggested his removal to hospital. It was not certain what was wrong, but a tumor on the brain was suspected. He was anointed on St. Patrick’s Day. For the last fortnight he was most of the time unconscious. Each day, however, there were intervals of consciousness, and, thanks to the kind and prudent arrangement of our Fathers, he received Holy Viaticum every day, except the actual day of his death.
Father Downing was born in Limerick, 3rd December, 1870, educated at St. Ignatius' College, S.]., Galway, and began his noviceship at Dromore, 19th September, 1887. The second year and a year's juniorate were passed. in Tullabeg, to which place the noviceship had been transferred, and then his health broke down. 1892 found him at Riverview “Cur. Val”, but for the next five years he seems to have done full work at that College. He made his philosophy at Jersey, theology at Milltown, then tertianship at Mold under Pére de Maumigny, and was then sent to the Crescent. After one year he was transferred to Galway in 1906, where he remained until his death. He was eight years Prefect of Studies, thirteen Spiritual Father, Doc. twenty-six, and, during that last residence in Galway a most strenuous worker in the church, and indeed all over the city.
The people gave him a public funeral. Most Rev. Dr. O'Doherty, Lord Bishop of Galway, presided at the Office and High Mass. During the funeral, houses were shuttered and
blinds drawn all over the city. In front of the hearse marched fifty priests, the Confraternities, Sodalities and school children followed it, then came a host of pedestrians, sixty-four cars bringing up the rear.
One of the public papers writes of him as follows : “In the confessional and to those in any trouble he was especially kind with a gentle, tactful, patient kindness. He might have made
his own the words of the Master - I know Mine and Mine know Me. He was a good shepherd, and he gave his life-work for the flock. He loved his own people, his own Order, and his country, and that triple loyalty was what made him the man, the priest, the friend we knew.
The wise counsellor in worldly affairs, the devoted confessor in the church and at the bed-side of the dying, he became a great figure in the religious life of the people. He knew no dividing line between rich and poor. His early experience as a first-class athlete had given his body a grace and dignity that made him a stately personality..... But all his great powers of body as well as mind were subordinated to and sanctified by the ever present realisation of his holy calling”.
A great Churchman, a sincere and devoted friend, his memory will long be revered in the Galway that he loved, and for which he had done good so unobtrusively and so constantly.
A Father who lived for a great many years with Father Downing sends the following. Limited space prevents the insertion of the entire communication :
It is not any exaggeration to say that the Irish Province, the community of which he was a member, the city where he laboured had sustained an almost irreparable loss. To know him was to know a saint , a more Christlike and more unselfish soul, and a more devoted priest it would be hard to find. As a member of the community he was loved, his presence at recreation always enhanced it. His sermons and instructions were highly appreciated, His thorough grasp of Moral Theology, his broad-mindedness, his prudence, his zeal and union with God, his patience and complete self-abnegation, all contributed largely towards the fruitfulness with which his long years in the sacred ministry were blessed. A few lines written by a lady give a sample of his influence on countless souls : “He gave me a rule of life over eighteen years ago which I have followed faithfully ever since. It has made my life very happy, and I hope, holy”.
When his remains were laid out in the house, rich and poor streamed in to have a last look, for they considered him a saint. At the obsequies, on April 9th, the church was thronged, and a few days later His Lordship, Dr. O'Doherty, assured one of the community that he had never witnessed a more devotional or more impressive funeral service.
During a visit to Dublin, in February, 1932, Father Downing slipped on the street and broke his leg. It never mended. When he returned to Galway he was able, with the help of
crutches, to drag himself to his confessional, and continued to hear confessions to within five weeks of his death, but from the day of the accident he was never able to say Mass. RIP
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Edmund Downing SJ 1870-1933
Fr Edmund Downing was born in Limerick City on December 3rd 1870. He was educated in St Ignatius Galway, where he spent most of his life as a Jesuit, and where he became part and parcel of the City’s life. When he died on April 7th 1944 he was given a public funeral. The reason for this sign of esteem can be found in the tribute paid to him in the public press :
“He loved his own people, his own Order and his country, and that triple loyalty was what made him the man, the priest, the friend we knew. The wise counsellor in worldly affairs, the devoted confessor in the Church and at the bedside of the dying, he became a great figure in the religious life of the people. A great Churchman, a sincere and devoted friend, his memory will long be revered in Galway that he loved and for which he has done good so unobtrusively and so constantly”.
He was an authority on mystic prayer and contributed articles on that subject to various periodicals.
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Catalogue entry, death certificate and photocopy of newspaper obituary for Fr Edmund Downing SJ. Includes a brief account book, Fr Edmund McCarthy Downing SJ, St Ignatius College, Galway.
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