McCullough, Joseph P, 1892-1932, Jesuit priest
- IE IJA J/281
- 05 December 1892-27 June 1932
Born: 05 December 1892, Belfast, County Antrim
Entered: 31 August 1914, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1924, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1929, Robinson Road, Hong Kong
Died 27 June 1932, Sacred Heart College, Canton, China (Died of cholera)
by 1918 at Stonyhurst, England (ANG) studying
by 1928 at St Beuno’s, St Asaph, Wales (ANG) making Tertianship
by 1929 Joined second batch Hong Kong Missioners
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 7th Year No 4 1932
Our mission in China has suffered grave loss by the deaths of two of its most zealous missioners, Our hope is that the willing sacrifice of their lives will bring down the blessing of God on the mission, and help in the gathering of a rich harvest of souls for Christ.
Fr Joseph McCullough
On the 27th June Father McCullough died at Canton of cholera. He caught the disease while devotedly attending Father Saul.
He was born in Belfast, 5th December, 1892, educated at Mungret, and began his novitiate at Tullabeg, 31st August 1914. After one year's juniorate at Tullabeg he was sent to Stonyhurst for philosophy. In 1917 our Irish philosophers owing to war troubles, were called home, and located at Milltown. Here he finished philosophy, and then spent two years in
Clongowes. Four years theology at Milltown, a year's teaching at Mungret, and tertianship at St. Beuno's brought him to the year 1928, when he sailed for China. He lived for one year with the Portuguese Fathers in Shiuhing, where he managed to teach English to about forty Chinese boys, using, as well as he could, their own language. Next year saw him Minister at Sacred Heart College, Canton, where he became an excellent teacher of the higher classes, and made such progress in the language that he was able to preach from the pulpit of the Canton Cathedral. His qualities of heart and his gaiety endeared him to many of the boys, and this influence was invaluable the following year when, in trying circumstances, he was appointed Superior of the College.
The Japanese boycott, the anti-foreign feeling in student circles paralysed the discipline in the Canton schools, and Sacred Heart College did not escape. Often during the year heroic
patience was required to keep the classes at work, and better than anyone else Father McCullough succeeded. He had become an intimate friend of many of the leading Chinese pagan boys. Their conversion was not to be hoped for at the moment. But, now that Father McCullough is reaping the reward of his brave efforts, we trust that his prayers will complete the work he had so well begun.
He was so well known that. a short time before his death a Convent of Chinese Sisters had invited him to give a retreat in Chinese to their pupils.
The following sketch is by Father M. Kelly who lived with him for a great many years before he went to China :
“It is difficult to think that he is dead, He was the embodiment of health and vigorous manhood when he left for China. During the last two years of theology he was Chaplain to the lncurable Hospital. There he did invaluable work. Being of a gay and cheerful disposition, it was really wonderful to see how the faces of the poor patients used to light up when they saw him approach. He always had a cheery word or a joke for every one. To bring a little brightness into the lives of such sufferers he got up any number of entertainments, securing the best artists in Dublin, even the famous Fritz Brass and his No. I Army Band. But he himself with his fine voice was always the most popular item with the patients.
On the purely spiritual side he worked even harder, and with conspicuous success. Many a deathbed was made easier by his presence, and not a few were won back to frequent the
Sacraments by his zeal and persistent efforts. Little wonder that, when leaving the hospital, the patients presented him with a beautiful watch, and that they were unfailing in their
prayers for his success in China.
As stated elsewhere Father McCullough sacrificed his life through his devotedness to Father Saul. It was not his only sacrifice. An intimate friend knows, and may now be pardoned for revealing, that he sacrificed his life's ambition when he accepted the invitation to go to China. Knowing that his abilities lay in the direction of preaching and giving retreats he worked assiduously during philosophy and theology preparing sermons and meditations-in the hope that eventually he would be chosen for the Mission staff in Ireland.
Towards the end of the Tertianship a letter came from Father Provincial asking him to go to China. It was utterly unexpected, and accepting, meant the renouncing of his life's
ambition. For two days he prayed for light and grace and then wrote his answer, a magnificent answer - he was willing to go if considered worthy. That meant his giving up the work.
for which he had prepared so long and so carefully, it meant leaving for ever a country that he dearly loved - he belonged to a family that for generations had been intimately connected with every popular movement in Ireland But, under a gay and lighthearted exterior, Father McCullough was an exact and zealous religious, and when the call came for a big sacrifice it got a reply that was really heroic.
May God reward him, and, by his death and that of his fellow worker, Father Saul, may He bless and strengthen our young mission, that has the sympathy of every one in the
Province in the loss of two such zealous workers.”
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Joseph McCullough 1892-1932
Fr Joseph McCullough was a martyr of charity in the exact sense of that hackneyed phrase, for he died of cholera contracted when nursing Fr Michael Saul, who also died of cholera.
Fr McCullough was a Belfast man, born in that city on December 5th 1892. He was one of the pioneer members of our Hong Kong Mission in 1928. He became so proficient in the Chinese language that he was able to give retreats to Chinese girls in a convent run by Chinese nuns.
The keynote to his life was zeal for souls. All during his scholasticate he prepared himself for retreats and missions. His qualities of heart and spontaneous gaiety endeared him to any of the pagan boys he met in Canton and which greatly helped him when appointed to the difficult post of Superior of our College in that turbulent and faction ridden city.
He died on June 27th 1932, young in years but ripe in achievement.
◆ The Mungret Annual, 1929
Father Joseph McCullough SJ
Mungret feels proud that still another of her old boys has been selected to join the little groups of Irish Jesuit Missionaries at Hong Kong. Fr Joe left Ireland for the Far East on September the 3rd. During a few years work in the sacred ministry he had shown a singular aptitude for preaching and direction. So many were indebted to him for spiritual assistance that it was not without dismay that they heard of his new destination. Their prayers will help Fr Joe greatly in his arduous labours amongst the Chinese. Shortly after his arrival at Hong Kong he and a companion Crossed over to Canton where the little band of pioneers have extended their labours, An extract from one of Fr. Joe's letters will illustrate that his eye still twinkles and that he can enjoy the humorous side of things :
At Canton station Fr McDonald SJ met me. If Hong Kong seemed to be 90% Chinese, Canton seemed about 200% so at least. What pandemonium once we left the station! A whole army of rickshaws and coolies seemed to bear down on us. Fr. Dan kept quite cool and an Indian policeman rushed up and smashed into the rickshaws with his long heavy truncheon. He spoke no word but just hit out right, left and centre. All was quiet at once, and Fr Dan's only remark was “This is Canton”.
I had one little adventure in the city. As I walked through one of the crowded thoroughfares with Fr McDonald, a slick looking gentleman eyed me sharply as I passed him, instantly observing, as I suppose, that I was a stranger. He followed with a friend, Then getting in front he left his friend behind me. A push from behind drove me into the arms of the gentleman (sic) in front, and an effort was made to reach my breast pocket. I handed off, kindly I hope, but firmly, and the objective was missed. We looked into each others eyes, smiled and passed on,
We may remark that Fr Joe comes from the North, in fact, Belfast. He really should have warned the Chinamen of that fact. Fr Joe with Mr J Hogan SJ, an old Crescent boy, were sent to the Catholic Mission, Shiuhing, West River, China.
In Shiuhing they are in the company of 20 Portuguese Jesuits who have charge of a district larger than Ireland. Fr Joe is devoting himself this year mainly to the study of Chinese, and gives help in the Catholic school before he returns to Hong Kong. We are sure that Fr Joe would be delighted to hear occasionally from old Mungret boys of 1912-14 as well as from his pupils of later years. He would value their prayers even more.
◆ The Mungret Annual, 1932 : Golden Jubilee
Mungret and the Irish Jesuit Mission in China
Father Joseph McCullough SJ
Readers of the “Mungret Annual” will be interested to read of the progress, in six years, of the work of the Irish Jesuit Fathers in South China. To none will it come as a surprise that the sons of Mungret, true to the traditions of Mungret, have entered largely into this new venture to win China to the Catholic Faith. The Superior of the Mission, Father George Byrne; the Superior of the Jesuit Community in Canton, Father Joseph McCullough; the Minister in the Jesuit Community in Canton, Father Michael Saul (1904-09), and the Irish Father at present stationed in the Stella Maris College of the old capital city of Shiu-Hing, Father Eddie Bourke (1910-13), are all Mungret Alumni. To these must be added Father Richard Gallagher, who taught in Mungret from 1911 to 1914, and Rev R Harris, who was in Mungret as recently as 1922.
And first, the pioneer and founder of all this work is Father George Byrne, who for some years studied in Mungret. He arrived in China on the feast of St Francis Xavier, 1926. Surely an auspicious date. One which We hope and pray foreshadows the success which would have been the Saint's, had God so permitted him to enter into this land of China's teeming million,
The district of South China, to which these sons of Mungret have gone, is one of the most prosperous and densely populated in China. It is the city and district whence have come most of the leaders in the present government of China. For most of China's merchants, bankers, diplomatists and politicians are from Canton and the province of some forty millions of inhabitants of which Canton is the brains and the capital.
Indeed, so great is the share of the Cantonese in the Chinese movement for political freedom, that Canton is styled the brains of China.
The present Acting-President of China, Wong Ching Wei, is from Canton. The founder of the Nationalist Party, Sun Yat Sen, is from a village in the Canton delta. The importance, therefore, of Canton as a stronghold of the Catholic Faith is manifest. And for this reason the Holy See, rich with the experience of centuries, has manifested great concern in the establishment of the Church in this metropolis of South China. From America have come the Maryknoll Fathers, from Italy the Salesian Fathers, and from Ireland the Jesuit Fathers - all to unite in bringing to a great people the message of salvation.
Among the important works which Father Byrne came to do was to open a Regional Seminary for the training of the future priests of South China. It is a work which St. Francis hinself would have cherished, seeing it is one of the best, if not the best means, of solving the terrible problem of bringing China to the light and truth of Christ.
Last October this Regional Seminary building was ready for habitation. It is a beautiful structure in Chinese style, standing on the summit of its little hill-island and overlooking the entrance of Hong-Kong harbour. Seen in the golden rays of the setting sun, it nestles at the foot of the Hong Kong mountains, facing a view of sea dotted with a multitude of little islands. At its feet lies crowded the Aberdeen fishing fleet, the junks and the sampans--the homes of thousands of Chinese. This is a vision not easily forgotten
From here will go forth a well trained native Chinese army of Christ's own soldier priests to win their pagan brothers into the fold of the Good Shepherd. There you will find one who is still, I am sure, remembered in Mungret - Father Dick Gallagher. His energy knows no bounds, and to hear the choir of Chinese students which he has trained but for a few months, makes one proud that Mungret was his home for so many years. “The Rock”, the chief mouthpiece of things, Catholic in Hong-Kong, which he edits, he takes in his stride, as it were, and it is only one of his numerous works of zeal and love.
A night's journey from Hong-Kong by one of Butterfield and Swires' fine river boats, brings one to the famous capital of Kwang Tung-Canton. Here the beautiful Gothic spires of the Catholic Cathedral belonging to the Missions Etrangères, stand out as land-marks to be seen from any elevated part of this vast city. It is in the grounds of this Cathedral that is situated the Sacred Heart College. The Superior of the Irish Community teaching here is Father McCullough, also a Mungret man. With him are also two other Mungret men. Father Saul, well known all over Ireland for his missionary work and zeal, joined the community last year, and already he has made his influence felt. Rev Dick Harris has also been a credit to his Alma Mater by his zeal and sympathy among the boys. Already he has made several converts. He and Father McCullough spent a preliminary year studying the language at Shiu Hing. This place is a large village situated on the West River and a day's journey from Canton. At present Father Eddie Bourke, recently First Club Prefect at Mungret, where he once studied as a boy, is there grappling with the problems of Chinese language and customs.
So Mungret men are everywhere leavening the work of the Irish Jesuits on South China. Surely Mungret is honoured in them and they in her for all she has done for them. Yet they are but a handful of the soldiers of Christ, whom Mungret has scattered so lavishly all over the world, from China to Africa, from America to India, from Australia to the Philippines.
Truly, Mungret's role of honour is mag nificent, and we, its representatives out here in distant Cathay, take a noble pride in being her sons, and we are happy to join with ail her far-flung legions in offering her, on this her Golden Jubilee, our heartfelt thanks for all she has done for us, and in wishing her a continuation of God's blessing in the great and fruitful work she is going to do in the future,
For the convenience of readers we add the addresses of past Mungret men now working with the Irish Jesuits in China :
Rev George Byrne SJ, Ricci Hall, Hong Kong.
Rev Joseph McCullough SJ, Sacred Heart College, Canton.
Rev Michael Saul SJ, Sacred Heart College, Canton.
Rev R Harris SJ, Sacred Heart College, Canton.
Rev E Bourke SJ, Stella Maris College, Shiu Hing.
Rev R Gallagher SJ, Regional Seminary, Hong-Kong
◆ The Mungret Annual, 1933
Father Joseph McCullough SJ
Scarcely had the sad news of Father Saul's death reached us in Mungret, than there followed the news that Father McCullough had also been called to make the great sacrifice and to offer his life for the young Jesuit Mission of Hong Kong. He had caught cholera while devotedly attending Father Saul in his sickness and at his death. Boys still at school here remembered Father McCullough for his great cheerfulness and good-humour, while many had heard of him from their companions. Thus it came about that his unexpected death came home to us all, with unusual force.
Joseph McCullough was born in Belfast, December 5th, 1892, and was in Mungret from 1912 to 1914. In the August of 1914 he entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Tullabeg. He went through the full course of his studies at Milltown Park, Dublin, broken only by two years on the teaching staff at Clongowes. After his ordination he spent the year 1926-27 teaching at Mungret. In 1928 he was appointed to the Mission in Canton. Here he spent a twelvemonth among the Portuguese Fathers at Shiuhing learning. Chinese. He made rapid and remarkable progress in Chinese, and was constantly invited to preach in Canton Cathedral. In 1929 he became Minister and Teacher at Sacred Heart College, Canton, and in 1930 he became its Superior. In attending Father Saul during the cholera epidemic of June, 1932, he himself caught the disease and died after three days illness.
The loss of Father McCullough to the Mission in Canton might be called a disaster if we did not remember that God's ways are not our ways, nor our thoughts His. He had triumphed over the difficulties of the language, and his full powers were just coming into play on the apostolate. We can sympathise, therefore, with the loss of his brothers in the field afar. By all who knew him, too, this early death is keenly felt, for he was gay and cheerful always, a ready helper of others and an excellent friend to all. He had a fine voice, and we are told that he was never readier to use it than for the pleasure of the poor incurables of a Dublin hospital. His humour appears in his letters from the mission, some of which appeared in our columns in 1929. Life in the new land of China, far from Ireland, where his human interest and natural ambitions were centred, was not pleasant, but he met its disappointments with the smile that concealed holiness, and smiling, made the offering of his life for China.
To his sorrowing relatives Mungret offers her deep sympathy. RIP