Subfonds 106 - Fr Harold E Craig SJ

Identity area

Reference code

IE IJA J/106

Title

Fr Harold E Craig SJ

Date(s)

  • 1901-1985 (Creation)

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Subfonds

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41 items

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Name of creator

(03 July 1901-29 October 1985)

Biographical history

Born: 03 July 1901, Limerick City
Entered: 01 September 1919, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 14 June 1932, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1935, Holy Spirit Seminary, Aberdeen, Hong Kong
Died: 29 October 1985, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of St Stanislaus College community, Tullabeg, County Offaly at time of his death.

by 1929 in Australia - Regency at Xavier College, Kew
by 1934 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) making Tertianship
by 1935 at Catholic Mission, Ngau-Pei-Lan, Shiuhing (Zhaoqing), Guandong, China (LUS) language studies
by 1936 at Aberdeen, Hong Kong - working
by 1944 at Xavier, Park St, Calcutta, West Bengal, India (BEL M)
by 1948 at Sacred Heart Accrington (ANG) working
by 1949 at St Joseph’s Leigh (ANG) working
by 1955 at St Francis Xavier Liverpool (ANG) working

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Father Harold Craig, SJ
R.I.P.

Father Harold Craig, S.J., died in Ireland on 31 October 1985, aged 84.
He worked in Hong Kong, mainly as a teacher in Wah Yan College, until 1941. After the Japanese occupation he went to India, flying the hazardous route then known as ‘across the Hump.’ He worked in India till after the end of the war. He then worked in parishes in Lancashire, England, for over a quarter of a century. About a decade ago he transferred to a rural parish in the Irish midlands, and did not give up this work there till after his 83rd birthday. His retirement lasted less than three months.

Few people in Hong Kong will remember Father Craig after a gap of over forty years, but that few will remember him vividly. He was original in thought, word and action. Such men are not easily forgotten.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 8 November 1985

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
He came to Hong Kong in 1934 after Ordination and left Hong Kong in 1941

Note from Thomas Ryan Entry
In 1942 with Fr Harold Craig - who had come with him in 1933 - he went to Kwelin (Yunan) in mainland China, staying with Mgr Romaniello.

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
After early studies in the Society, Harold Craig was posted to Xavier College for regency, where he taught from 1926-28, followed by a year at Riverview in 1929.After tertianship, Craig worked in the Hong Kong Mission, 1934-44, including 1942-44 at Guilin, Guangxi province, China, after the Japanese occupation brought the work of the mission to an effective halt. He then moved to India, 1944-47, working in Calcutta and Darjeeling before going to England. There he worked in a series of parishes until 1977 when he moved to Tullabeg as a base for more pastoral work. Harold Craig was known in the province as a raconteur frequently regaling people with stories of the past, particularly of his time in Australia.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 61st Year No 1 1986

Obituary

Fr Harold Craig (1901-1919-1985)

3rd July 1901: born in Limerick,1911-19. studied at Sacred Heart College, The Crescent. Ist September 1919; entered SJ.
1919-22 Tullabeg, noviciate and home juniorate, 1922-25 Milltown,philosophy.
1925-'9 Australia, teaching: 1925-28 in Xavier College, Kew, Melbourne; 1928-29 St Ignatius' College, Riverview, Sydney.
1929-233 Milltown, theology (14th ordained a priest). 1933-34 St Beuno's, Wales, tertianship.
1934-44 China/Hong Kong mission. 1934-35 Shiuhing, learning Cantonese. 1935-36 Regional Seminary, Aberdeen, HK, minister. 1936-38 Wah Yan HK again. The Japanese occupation of of Hong Kong brought the work of the Irish Jesuit Mission to a virtual standstill. 1942-44 Kweilin, Kwangsi province.

  1. India. 1944-45 Calcutta. 1945-47 Darjeeling.
    1947-77 England, pastoral work. 1947-48 Accrington. 1948-54 St Joseph's church, Leigh. 1954-77 St Francis Xavier's church and parish, Liverpool.
    1977-85 Tullabeg, pastoral work.
    1985 Cherryfield Lodge nursing unit (his health failing). He died suddenly and and peacefully at 3 am on Tuesday, 29th October 1985.

I personally met Harold for the first time only in 1977, when he came to Tullabeg, so I cannot speak with first-hand knowledge of the earlier and longer part of his life. However, it seems to me that such a man revealed a great deal about the long years that went before: the man who in the late autumn of his life was always friendly, always cheerful and serene, always bubbling with life, always faithful in performing the work to which he had been assigned - this was the Harold I knew.
The most immediately obvious characteristic of Harold was that he was a great talker. He loved to talk and to recount experiences of his long and varied past. (Take for example his four years' teaching in Australia, a period that left an indelible mark on his memory). His love of talk was all part of his instinctive friendliness, his desire to reach out to others. The last time I saw him was about 10th October Cherryfield Lodge, I had feared that enforced inactivity might damp down his accustomed cheerfulness. Not at all. He was as cheerful and talkative as ever. He told me - not without pride - that the people of the neighbourhood, where he had already made many contacts, called him “the friendly priest”. I believe that right up to the end he showed people what he had always been, a sign God's friendliness, of God's interest in them and concern for them.
We all know that there is a vast difference between chronological old age and mental old age. Harold was 84 years of age and therefore chronologically old, but certainly was not mentally old. On the contrary, he had a wide range of interests. Despite the weakness of his legs, he spent at least a couple of hours every day in the garden; he had his favourite tv and radio programmes, he read widely about a variety of topics. That an old man could be so alive is an encouragement to those of us who are beginning to approach old age.
During those years in Tullabeg, I was always moved by the alacrity with which he answered the almost continual summonses to the confessional or hall-door. I do not know how many times I saw him sit down to a favourite tv programme - and getting into a chair was no small feat for him. A minute later he'd be called to the parlour or confessional. Invariably, without a murmur of complaint, he'd manoeuvre himself back onto his feet and go straight to the person who needed him, I am sure this generous availability characterised his whole life.
Finally, Harold had an immense affection for the members of his family. He was interested in each of them - old and young - and very proud of them. When I saw him last in Cherryfield, he told me how warm-heartedly his family responded to his affection, how frequently they visited him, and how happy they were that at last he was allowing others to care for him. His family - like the community in Cherryfield - will miss him greatly. May he live in Christ.

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