Harper, Patrick J, 1907-1972, Jesuit priest

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Harper, Patrick J, 1907-1972, Jesuit priest

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  • Pat Harper

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01 March 1907-30 August 1972

History

Born: 01 March 1907, Heytesbury Street, Dublin
Entered: 01 September 1927, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1940, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 08 December 1943
Died: 30 August 1972, Manresa, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Australia - Australiae Province (ASL)

Transcribed : HIB to ASL 05/04/1931

Uncle of Conor Harper

Early education at Synge Street

◆ Immaculate Conception Church, Hawthorn, Australia 150th Anniversary site : https://www.immaculateconceptionaust.com/150anniversary https://f695c25f-f64b-42f7-be8b-f86c240a0861.filesusr.com/ugd/347de3_02c13bd9e734450881fa4ce539b50d78.pdf

Fr Pat Harper: Kind, Generous and Devoted Priest
Fr Harper was born in Dublin in 1907 and entered the Society in 1927. Most of his studies were pursued in Ireland but, in between, he was posted to Xavier College from 1933-1937. Arriving in Australia following ordination in 1942 he had only two postings during his priestly life, the parish of Richmond 1942-45 and for the remainder of his life in Hawthorn.
Apart from being a very practical parish worker, Fr Harper was known for two things in the parish. First was his devotion to his work as director of the Women’s Sodality and Children of Mary which he directed carefully at their evening devotions. During the month of May the parish held a crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary and then for the entire month a “May Book” was left before the statue in the church, in which members of the Sodality would write their names when they made a visit during the week. It was said that some of the women attended these devotions less for the love of God and much more for their respect for Fr Harper.
The second thing Fr Harper was famous for was his parish visitation. Scarcely a family of the fifties in Hawthorn does not have stories about Fr Harper’s regular visitation, and even if he turned up at the most inconvenient times, he would be seated down at the kitchen table while the mother of the family rushed about preparing dinner or the young children were doing homework. However unlike some people who are enthusiastic, Fr Harper was very methodical and efficient in his methods. Visitations were to sustain the faith and sense of belonging of families in the parish and then to call back to the Faith those who had drifted away. No one ever turned him away. One family returned after summer vacation to find the house burgled and just underneath the door of the ransacked kitchen a note; ‘Fr Harper called.’
A keen sportsman in his youth, Fr Harper also enthusiastically took on the roles as chaplain to the Scouts and to the Manresa Tennis Club.
With the coming of the changes after the Vatican Council Fr Harper felt depressed by the new liturgy, the different styles of personal devotion and the modifications in Jesuit house customs. Following fits of depression and overwork, he collapsed and died in August 1972. Although dying at an early age, he left behind a legacy of faith which still lives on today.

Fr Pat Harper: Recollections of a beloved Uncle
We are fortunate to have Fr Harper’s niece, Toni O’Brien, in the parish today. She has kindly provided recollections of her uncle.
“Uncle Paddy” as he was always referred to by his nieces and nephews left Ireland before any of us were born – he had 30 nieces and nephews.
He was the eldest of 8 children and came to Australia in the early 40s.
I came out to Australia in 1969 – and even though I was 21 years of age, he took his ‘duty of care’ very seriously as I was the first of his relatives to come to Australia.
He was delighted to hear news of everybody at home, but had a very different idea of what life in ‘modern’ Ireland was like at this time. He still remembered Ireland in the 40s and earlier.
He went home in 1970 for a holiday and while he loved catching up with brothers and sisters – and meeting their spouses - it would be fair to say he was disappointed with the way Ireland had progressed.
When my brother Conor SJ suggested he come home and retire in Ireland – his reply was “Why would I want to come here when everything and everybody I know and love is in Hawthorn – no Hawthorn is my home”. - and home he came.
I returned to Melbourne in 1972 with my (Australian) husband and my young son Michael. Uncle Paddy and Michael were great friends. Only a few months later he died, RIP.
Both my children Michael and Conor O’Brien got married in ICC – Michael in 2003 and Conor in 2019. Uncle Paddy would have loved that!
My brother Conor was ordained SJ in 1975 – he would have loved that too – the only one of his nephews who followed in his footsteps.

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Patrick Harper was studying for a BA with a view to teaching, but never completed it. He entered the Society in Tullabeg, Ireland, 1 September 1927, and after his juniorate at Rathfarnham 1929-30, he studied philosophy at Tullamore, 1930-33. He came to Australia and was hall prefect and prefect of discipline at Xavier College, Kew, 1933-37. He returned to Ireland and Milltown Park, Dublin, for theology studies, 1937-41. Tertianship was at Rathfarnham, after which he returned to Australia.
Harper was a good athlete before entering the Society, especially at soccer, and later played golf. During his studies he was always serious, enthusiastic and zealous. These characteristics never deserted him. Along with these qualities he was also methodical and efficient. He was always a busy man, and even overworked at times, especially towards the end of his life. This resulted in depression.
A visit to Europe and Ireland for a short rest only resulted in more depression when he experienced the modern Jesuit. The Old World was not what it used to be. Harper, as a result,
ended up in hospital in Dublin. Only Clongowes gave him some consolation, as the old way of life was still recognisable, and there was a good golf course.
He had only two postings during his priestly life, the parish of Richmond, 1942-45, and for the remainder of his life, the parish of Hawthorn. He was a very holy and simple man,
always at least outwardly cheerful and very charitable. His manner was extremely breezy and hearty. His long life in the parishes, mainly Hawthorn, was interrupted by a couple of bad breakdowns before the short illness preceding his death. Yet he preserved his usual composure and hearty manner.
He was the very model of a kind, simple and devoted man, respected for his sincerity, his deep spirituality, constant cheerfulness, and infectious sense of humor. He reveled in repartee and it was a brave colleague who challenged him. He always appeared to be in good spirits, yet he communicated a poor self-opinion. He was without any obvious self-esteem.
As a priest he had great devotion to the Sacred Heart and Our Lady. He spent his days with people, always at their call, treating them with the same gentle, bright, patient, sympathetic spirit that characterised him. He seemed to have no private life. He spent himself totally for others, without concern for his own needs. He visited many homes in the parish of Hawthorn where he was always welcome. Children particularly loved him. His sermons reflected his simplicity and sincerity, and were much appreciated, He was a man of great faith, and he had the power to win the hearts of the people he served.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 47th Year No 4 1972

Obituary :

Fr Patrick Harper SJ (1907-1972)

Fr Patrick Harper died in Melbourne early in August. He was originally a member of the Irish province but when after Philosophy in Tullabeg the status assigned him for colleges to the newly “emancipated” vice-province he remained definitely ascribed. Back to Milltown for Theology, 1938, ordination 41, Tertianship at Rathfarnham '42, despite the difficulties of war travel he was back in Australia, 1943. From his return, practically, he retained the same status - Hawthorn parish - where he was given the care of Our Lady's Sodality for Women. As director of the sodality he became known and loved by all; earnest, zealous, unassuming he acquired, without ambitioning it, the status of a “sagart aroon” among the parishioners, knowing and being known and consulted by all. He died relatively early being born in 1907. On the announcement of his death a memorial Mass in which Fr Provincial and Frs P Doyle, J Kerr and E Guiry participated was concelebrated at the Parish Church, Harold's Cross, Dublin - Fr Paddy's native parish. May he rest in peace.

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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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Harper, Patrick J, 1907-1972, Jesuit priest

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Australian Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1931- (1931-)

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Australian Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1931-

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Harper, Patrick J, 1907-1972, Jesuit priest

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