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Born: 19 June 1794, Tramore, County Waterford
Entered: 10 October 1814, Hodder, Stonyhurst, England - Angliae Province (ANG)
Ordained: 12 June 1824, St Patrick's College, Maynooth, County Kildare
Final vows: 02 February 1833
Died: 10 November 1885, St Francis Xavier, Upper Gardiner St, Dublin
Vice-Provincial of Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus: 19 March 1850-1856
in Clongowes 1817
Ordained at St Patrick’s College Maynooth, 12 June 1824, having studied Theology at Clongowes
◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica”:
His father was a very prosperous master cooper. His sister was an Ursuline of Waterford, and also an authoress.
He has written interesting memoirs of some of his contemporaries of the Irish Province, which are in the HIB Archives. He published a book on the Spiritual Exercises
◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
Ordained at Maynooth 12/06/1824 by Dr Murray.
1834-1842 Sent as Rector to Tullabeg
1842 Appointed Superior of Gardiner St
1850 Appointed Vice-Provincial
1856 Sent as Operarius to Gardiner St
1864 Appointed Superior of Gardiner St again
1871 He worked as Operarius at Gardiner St Church until his death there 10/11/1885
The last few years of his life saw great suffering. He bore it all with great patience and died with a reputation for great sanctity.
He had published a book on the Spiritual Exercises, and was preparing another before he died.
◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
by Patrick M. Geoghegan
Curtis, John (1794–1885), Jesuit provincial, was born 19 June 1794 at Tramore, Co. Waterford, second son among eight children of Stephen Curtis and Fanny Curtis (née Evers). Blind until the age of 3, he claimed that he was cured after a priest prayed over him, although he remained partially blind in one eye for the rest of his life. The priest told Curtis that God had restored his sight for His own glory; this was to be an important determinant in his life. Educated in Tramore, in 1810 he went to Stonyhurst College, Lancashire. He received an injury while playing football there, which was to cause him great pain throughout his life. Believing he had a religious mission, in 1814 he joined the Jesuits. The order sent him to Clongowes Wood, Co. Kildare, where he acted as prefect and later master. He had a reputation for being strict but fair. Ordained in 1824, he left Clongowes in 1829 and spent two years in Dublin, before spending a further two years in Rome. He made his solemn profession of final vows 2 February 1833 in Dublin. In May 1834 he was appointed rector of Tullabeg College in King's Co. (Offaly), and was first to assume the office of superior. From there he began a series of church retreats that proved very successful. He became rector of the Jesuit residence in Gardiner St., Dublin, in 1843, and provincial of the Jesuits in Ireland.
Curtis was an enthusiastic supporter of the apostleship of prayer in Ireland, and may even have been its central director for a period. When John Henry Newman (qv) went to Dublin in 1854 to investigate the possibility of a university, the first person he met was Curtis. Pessimistic about the scheme, Curtis informed Newman that the class of youths did not exist in Ireland who would come to the university: the middle class was too poor, and the upper class would send their children to TCD. He argued that the whole idea was hopeless and should be given up. Newman does not appear to have taken this criticism kindly, and later disputed just how good a man Curtis was. A tour of the country, however, convinced Newman that Curtis had a point and that there was no natural class in Ireland from which to draw university students in great number.
Curtis was noted for his strong moral character and his formal, if rather stiff, manner. Archbishop Paul Cullen (qv) of Dublin held him in high regard and is reported to have remarked that Curtis had a free rein to do what he liked in the diocese. In his spare time he enjoyed both cricket and football. He died 10 November 1885 and was buried at Glasnevin cemetery. Two of his sisters, Mary and Ellen, became Ursuline nuns. His niece, Fanny, also became a nun.
Edward Purbrick (ed.), Life of Father John Curtis (1891); Ian Ker, John Henry Newman: a biography (1988); Louis McRedmond, Thrown among strangers: John Henry Newman in Ireland (1990); id., To the greater glory: a history of the Irish Jesuits (1991)
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father John Curtis 1794-1885
John Curtis was born in Waterford in 1794, and he entered the Society only shortly restored in 1814.
From 1834-1842 he was rector at Tullabeg, and then Superior at Gardiner Street until 1851. He was nominated Vice-Provincial in 1850. After six years in office, he returned to the ranks and worked as an Operarius in Gardiner Street, till his second periodf of Superiority in 1864.
He laboured earnestly in the Church for the rest of his life, the last few years of which were years of great suffering. He died on November 10th 1885, leaving a reputation for great sanctity.
He published a book on the Spiritual Exercises and wrote interesting memoirs of his contemporaries, which have proven very useful towards the history of the Province.
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‘Instructions received from Fr General regarding the members of the V. Prov. who receive pensions or possess a right to property'. Issued by Fr John Curtis SJ.
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