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Gleeson, William, 1862-1951, Jesuit priest
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Dates of existence
11 March 1862-30 March 1951
Born: 11 March 1862, Nenagh, County Tipperary
Entered: 04 November 1880, Milltown Park, Dublin
Ordained: 31 July 1896, St Francis Xavier's, Gardiner Street, Dublin
Final Vows: 15 August 1898, St Francis Xavier, Gardiner Street, Dublin
Died: 30 March 1951, St Francis Xavier's, Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin
by 1897 at Drongen Belgium (BELG) making Tertianship
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 26th Year No 3 1951
Fr. William Gleeson died on March 30th, 1951, at St. Francis Xavier's, Upper Gardiner St., Dublin, in his ninetieth year, having been the oldest member of the Irish Province since the death of Fr. P. McWilliams in July, 1950.
He was born at Nenagh on March 11th, 1862, and was the son of John Gleeson, Clerk of the Nenagh Town Commissioners. He was educated at the Christian Brothers School, Nenagh, at Blackrock College, Dublin, and at the Diocesan Seminary, Ennis. He entered the Society on November 4th, 1880, at Milltown Park, where after his noviciate he completed his philosophical studies. Having taught for seven years at Clongowes he returned to Milltown Park for theology. He was ordained in 1896 in St. Francis Xavier's Church, Gardiner St.
Having done his tertianship at Tronchiennes Fr. Gleeson returned to Clongowes for a further period as master and prefect. In 1900 he began his life-work as a missioner and retreat giver. During twenty-six years he made a distinguished name for himself in this field throughout Ireland. He was a vigorous and eloquent preacher and an indefatigable worker in hearing confessions, in visiting the sick and in rounding up the the straying sheep of the flock. He came to Gardiner Street in 1926 and remained there until his death. He will perhaps be best remembered for his work from 1927 to 1943 as organiser and director of the Sodality for the Dublin members of the Garda Siochana. In this capacity he displayed great zeal and untiring energy. The Gardai showed many times how much they appreciated his generous labours on their behalf and as a final tribute to his memory they claimed for themselves the privilege of bearing his remains, after the Office and Requiem Mass, from St. Francis Xavier's Church to the hearse, while a selection of their officers and men marched behind.
As will be evident from this brief record of his long life, Fr. Gleeson was always a strenuous worker, and he worked to the end. He wanted, as he often said, “to earn his daily bread and to die in harness”. In both respects his wishes were fulfilled. He concluded his annual retreat on March 12th. He had been up and about and said Mass as usual the day before he died. In a very true sense he fell asleep in the Lord.
When he was discovered, he was lying on his side, his head cupped in his hand, seemingly sleeping the sleep of the just. As his body was still warm, he was anointed by Fr. Superior. On the previous day he had said apropos of nothing “The Gleesons all die without much warning”.
When in 1930 Fr. Gleeson celebrated his Golden Jubilee in the Society at Gardiner Street, Fr. Macardle, who was then Superior, having paid a fitting tribute to the Jubilarian's versatility and success in the vineyard of the Lord, mentioned that in his earlier years he was an outstanding athlete and skilful in all games. As a scholastic in Clongowes he frequently proved himself a capable cricketer in out matches, while in one historic match against the military from the Curragh Camp, he turned what seemed a certain defeat into a glorious victory by scoring 120 runs, not out. Even at the age of fifty, when he was a seasoned missioner, those who lived with him at the Crescent relate that, when at home between missions, he would walk out to Mungret, play a soccer match with the College boys, walk back to Limerick, play a hockey match with the Crescent team and after it all would appear that evening at recreation as the most sprightly of the. community! Whatever his hand found to do, he did it manfully. He now rests from his labours, for his works have followed him.
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Type of relationship
Gleeson, William, 1862-1951, Jesuit priest
Dates of relationship
Description of relationship
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Place access points
- County Tipperary » Nenagh
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Sandford Road » Milltown Park
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Upper Gardiner Street » St Francis Xavier's Residence
- Belgium » Drongen
- County Dublin » Booterstown » Blackrock College
- County Clare » Ennis » Clonroad More » St Flannan's College
- County Kildare » Clane » Clongowes Wood College SJ
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Upper Gardiner Street » St Francis Xavier's Church (Roman Catholic)
- County Tipperary » Nenagh » Nenagh CBS Primary School
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