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Born: 18 February 1919, Bray, Co Wicklow & Dublin
Entered: 16 September 1938, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1952, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1955, Mungret College SJ, Limerick
Died: 26 March 2019, Highfield Healthcare, Whitehall, Dublin
Part of the St Ignatius, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin community at the time of death.
Brother of Br Christopher J Laheen - LEFT 08 September 1942
Early Education at Presentation College Bray, Co Wicklow; Belvedere College SJ
1940-1943 Rathfarnham - Studying Arts at UCD
1943-1946 Tullabeg - Studying Philosophy
1946-1949 Belvedere College SJ - Regency : Teacher; Choir Master; Studying H Dip in Education at UCD (46-47)
1949-1953 Milltown Park - Studying Theology
1953-1954 Rathfarnham - Tertianship
1954-1957 Mungret College SJ - Teacher; Liturgical Music; Librarian
1957-1962 Gonzaga College SJ - Teacher; Games Master; Subminister
1962-1985 Rathfarnham - Mission Staff; Giving Retreats
1981 Association Rathfarnham
1983 Promoter of Apostleship of Prayer; Writer
1985-2019 Leeson St - Mission Staff; Giving Missions and Directs Spiritual Exercises; Promoter of Apostleship of Prayer; Writer
2001 Council Member of Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and Ecclesiastical Master of Ceremonies
2014 Highfield Healthcare, Swords Road, Dublin 9
◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/kevin-laheen-rip/
Kevin Laheen RIP
Fr Kevin Laheen SJ, died peacefully on Tuesday 26 March 2019 in the Highfield Healthcare centre, Drumcondra. His Jesuit brothers, family and friends gathered for his funeral Mass in Milltown Park Chapel at 11am the following Friday. Fr Kevin died just a few weeks after his 100th birthday which he celebrated with the same family and friends and fellow Jesuits, back in February. Charlie Davy SJ was the principal celebrant and homilist on Friday. He warmly welcomed those present and in particular the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre and those friends who had been so faithful visiting Fr Kevin in his last five years in Highfield. He also spoke briefly about Fr Kevin’s life, noting that he was born in 1919, so his childhood was in the troubled years before and after the founding of the state. He grew up during economic war of the 1930s and lived through the second world war as a scholastic. “They were authoritarian times in the Church and in the Jesuits,” said Fr Charlie, adding that this “did not favour a more rounded personal formation... but today we thank the Lord that Kevin along with seven others of his Belvedere year responded to the Lord’s call.” That calling led Fr Kevin to become a teacher first, then for the greater part of his active life he was a preacher of parish missions the length and breadth of the country, helping many on their journey of faith, according to Fr Charlie. In later years he wrote books on Mungret and Tullabeg, the Mission crosses of Killaloe as well as many articles so that there would be a historical record of work done by his brother Jesuits of earlier times. In his homily Fr Charlie spoke about Fr Kevin’s association with the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, whom he said, gave Kevin great support in his latter years, and share his love of the Holy Land. Fr Kevin had brought many groups there to visit the places where Jesus walked, and preached and healed. He also spoke about the ‘Our Father’, as the prayer that came to him when he was reflecting on what to preach about at Kevin’s requiem Mass. “It seemed appropriate,” said Fr Charlie, adding, “It’s one of the first prayers we learned at home. A prayer utterly familiar to Kevin from his daily Mass, and the morning and evening prayer of the Church which formed his daily prayer routine. It was surely a prayer that would have come to life for him in the Holy Land as he travelled through isolated places where Jesus would have gone off to pray to his Father.” But it was the words ‘Our Father’ that Fr Charlie singled out as the most important phrase of the prayer, noting that Jesus invites us into the intimacy of his divine family allowing us to address God as ‘Abba Father’, encouraging to pray with the confidence of a child before its father. And he went on: “If Jesus asks us to say Our Father it surely means that we never pray in isolation from the needs of all our brothers and sisters. While it is natural that our own needs our foremost in our prayers it can never be the whole agenda. The intercessory dimension of praying for others has to grow and grow. And so it is that today we put our own concerns to one side as we reach out to pray to the Lord for Fr. Kevin and also all those with whom he lived and worked, those who crossed his paths: those who were helped by him but also those who maybe were hurt by something he said or did through human frailty”. Fr Charlie also referenced the phrase ‘lead us not into temptation,’ noting that there is a great need to make this prayer in a world of so much violence and injustice. And finally he noted that, “The Our Father provides a sort of road map for Christian prayer and life. To let this prayer become part of we can follow St. Ignatius’ recommendation of praying it slowly, one phrase at a time.” He then invited all the congregation to take a few moment to pray the words ‘thy kingdom come’ silently and slowly together so that, he said, “God’s kingdom would take deeper root in our hearts and in our actions and finally praying for Kevin that he might be made ready to enter his eternal home in God’s kingdom.” Fr Kevin was cremated in Glasnevin Crematorium, after the funeral Mass. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
Kevin Laheen, SJ
Born in 1919, Kevin’s early years were lived in the troubled around the founding of the state, growing up during the economic war of the 1930s and living through the second world war as a scholastic. They were authoritarian times in the Church and in the Society, a fact which did not favour a personal formation.
After school, along with seven others of his Belvedere year, he entered the novitiate in Emo. As the last survivor, he prayed daily for that group. Kevin followed the usual formation: an Arts degree in UCD, philosophy in Tullabeg, regency in Belvedere and theology in Milltown Park. It was there he was ordained in 1952.
His early ministry was in the schools: Mungret 1954-57 and Gonzaga 1957-62. Kevin was a good teacher and was games’ master in Gonzaga. His strong voice and commanding presence meant he had no problem with class discipline. Pupils knew that “ the RevKev” could fly into a temper. It did not happen often and as pupils I don’t think it bothered us much. We learned to adapt to the personalities of different teachers, most of whom we liked. However, years later I met a class mate at a union dinner, whose anger was aroused at the mention of Kevin’s name. As a pupil, this doctor never played rugby, but loved to kick a soccer ball about with a few others after school. As games’ master, Kevin forbade the playing of soccer. Rugby only.
It was in his early forties that Kevin joined the Mission staff, to which he would be assigned for a number of decades. This new apostolate was a good move for him. He had a desire to preach the gospel to adults willing to listen. I may be wrong, but his rector, Sean Hughes, might also have encouraged this new direction!
Kevin liked driving and I imagine he enjoyed the freedom to travel the length and breadth of the country and follow up his historical interests. He also enjoyed giving community retreats in convents.
It was during these years that he began to visit the Holy Land. Over many years he led groups there. Pilgrimages which opened a space in people’s hearts to imagine gospel stories in situ. In recognition of his work, he was made a knight of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. He was a council member of the Irish knights. They celebrated an annual Mass in Knock at which Kevin concelebrated until the year before he died. This group was a great source of support to him.
In later years he wrote books on Mungret and Tullabeg, the Mission Crosses of Killaloe as well as articles in Collectanea Hibernica so that there would be a historical record of work done by his brother Jesuits of earlier times. A final volume on Mungret was never completed. He wrote a life of St. Patrick and edited a prayer book on the Stations of the Cross with beautiful images.
The Society’s training during Kevin’s time of formation was heavily intellectual. The affective side was left to nature, one’s contemporaries and family. Unfortunately, Kevin’s spiritual and intellectual development was not integrated with his emotions. This was the tragedy of his life. Was Kevin ever able to talk in confidence and receive help?
It is hard truth to admit, but Kevin’s relationship with one woman caused trauma to her and her family. I suspect that this relationship may have traumatised him too and exacerbated his anger both towards himself and those with whom he lived. His increasing deafness was painful for both him and his community.
Due to complaints from a male member of staff, a moment was reached when it was felt that Kevin could no longer live in the Leeson St. Cherryfield, did not feel resourced to take him.
So began his final four plus years in Highfield Health Care on the Swords Rd. For Kevin, this was exile, no longer fit to live with his brothers. While he had a pleasant room, the whole unit was under lock and key. Most of the men suffered from some form of dementia. Highfield did have a chapel, but access would probably have been dependent on a member of staff accompanying him.
Two women friends, a Holy Faith sister, Marie Therese Carney and Nora Finnegan, a single woman, were his ever regular visitors. Jesuits also visited, but often found that Kevin was not there. Sr Marie Therese used take him out for lunch and later to her convent in Glasnevin where he would spend a few hours and celebrate Mass. Nora Finnegan used take out to lunch once a week.
Five weeks before he died, he celebrated his 100th birthday. It was an event that he looked forward to. I think he saw it as a sort of final accomplishment. It was celebrated fittingly in Highfield with Mass and a meal in the presence of Jesuits, family and friends.
As he approaches the Light of Truth, I feel sure that Kevin would want to acknowledge his failures, seek forgiveness and ask of our prayers. Even if little known to most of us, he was our brother.
Fr. Kevin brought many groups to the Holy Land to see the places where Jesus lYou, his friends in the order of the Holy Sepulchre who gave him such support in his old age shared his affection for the Holy Land which you express in supporting a school in Jordan.
Last week when I began to think of what gospel I should choose for Fr. Kevin’s Mass this gospel of Jesus teaching his disciples the Lord’s prayer came to me. It seemed appropriate.
It’s one of the first prayers we learned at home. A prayer utterly familiar to Kevin from his daily Mass, and the morning and evening prayer of the Church which formed his daily prayer routine. It was surely a prayer that would have come to life for him in the Holy Land as he travelled through isolated places where Jesus would have gone off to pray to his Father.
The most important phrase is surely the first: Our Father. Only Jesus can truly call God Father. He is his only Son. But Jesus invites us into the intimacy of his divine family allowing us to address God as Abba Father, encouraging to pray with the confidence of a child before its father.
If Jesus asks us to say Our Father it surely means that we never pray in isolation from the needs of all our brothers and sisters. While it is natural that our own needs our foremost in our prayers it can never be the whole agenda. The intercessory dimension of praying for others has to grow and grow. And so it is that today we put our own concerns to one side as we reach out to pray to the Lord for Fr. Kevin and also all those with whom he lived and worked, those who crossed his paths: those who were helped by him but also those who maybe were hurt by something he said or did through human frailty.
Our Father may your name be held holy: be treated with respect and reverence. Our relationship with God is a wonderful mixture of both intimacy and reverence.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done....Jesus teaches his disciples and us too to put the things of God first: to pray for the coming of his kingdom of love and justice. It is a challenge to seek first the things of God and to trust that He will give us what is best for us. Ad maiorem Dei Gloriam: we seek God’s glory first and try not get in the way.
Give us this day our daily bread...how we need, day after day, for the Lord to nourish us in faith, hope and love.
Forgive us as we forgive others....a difficult prayer? Surely a grace to pray for. As Fr Kevin makes his final journey home to the Lord we pray that he may receive this grace.
Finally we pray to be led safely through temptation and delivered from evil. How great a need to make this prayer in a world of so much violence and injustice.
The Our Father provides a sort of road map for Christian prayer and life. To let this prayer become part of we can follow St. Ignatius’ recommendation of praying it slowly, one phrase at a time.
Let’s take a few moments to pray “thy kingdom come” silently, slowly repeating it again and again. Praying for ourselves that the God’s kingdom take deeper root in our hearts and in our actions and finally praying for Kevin that he might be made ready to enter his eternal home in God’s kingdom.
Pray for us, O holy mother of God that he might be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Pray for us, O holy mother of God that we too might one day be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
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File of documents related to historical research undertaken by Fr Kevin Laheen SJ into the Isle of Man Mission. Includes a letter from David C. Sheehy, Diocesan Archivist, Diocesan Offices, Archbishop’s House, Dublin 9 to Fr Laheen concerning Fr MacPharlan. Remarks ‘…not been able to establish where Fr was ordained…some time between 1787 and 1793’ (19 October 1999). Includes map of the Isle of Man with ecclesiastical sites marked. Includes two articles related to Fr Matthew Gahan SJ ‘Apostle of the Isle of Man’ by Rev. William S. Dempsey and ‘To the Greater Glory of God’.
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The Irish Jesuit Archives are open only to bona fide researchers. Access by advance appointment. Further details: [email protected]
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No material may be reproduced without the written permission of the Archivist. Copyright restrictions apply. Photocopying is not available. Digital photography is at the discretion of the Archivist.
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