Born: 18 October 1898, Dublin
Entered: 30 September 1919, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1929, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1936, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong
Died: 12 June 1975, Vinayalaya Novitiate, Mumbai, India
Part of the Campion School, Mumbai, Marharashtra, India community at the time of death
Older brother of D Leo Donnelly - RIP 1999
by 1922 at Valkenburg, Netherlands (GER I) studying
by 1927 at Innsbruck, Austria (ASR-HUN) studying
by 1932 at St Beuno’s, Wales (ANG) making Tertianship
by 1933 at Hong Kong
by 1934 at Catholic Mission, Ngau-Pei-Lan, Shiuhing (Zhaoqing), Guandong, China (LUS) - Language
by 1935 at Aberdeen, Hong Kong - working
by 1946 at St Mary’s, Kurseong, Darjeeling & Himalaya Railway (DH Ry), Darjeeling, West Bengal, India - teaching
by 1944 at Xavier, Park St, Kolkata, West Bengal, India (BEL M)
by 1951 at St Stanislaus, Bandra, Mumbai, India (TARR) teaching
by 1957 at St Xavier’s Mumbai, India (BOM) teaching
by 1963 at St Mary’s High School, Mumbai, India (BOM) teaching
by 1964 at De Nobili Pune (PUN) teaching
by 1968 at St Xavier’s, Mumbai, India (BOM) teaching
by 1973 at Campion School Mumbai, India (BOM)
◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Note from Joseph TaiYu-kuk Entry
He was a teenager in Hong Kong when the Japanese invaded in December 1941. He had joined a group of a dozen Catholics who, it was hoped, might one day become priests, under the charge of Father Dan Donnelly SJ.
◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
In his early years he had a brilliant academic career in the Sciences, and he produced a theory in ballistics which engineer’s used refer to as “Donnelly’s Theory”. he later lost interest in Science, but he did retain a fantastic memory for the pedigree of horses, and in India he became a national expert in field hockey.
Always unpredictable, he was remembered with affection by many in the Province for his engaging - if at time exasperating - eccentricities. He originally came to Hong Kong in 1932 as one of the early pioneers of the Irish Province’s new Mission, having already spent a year in Rome as sub-Secretary for Missions. After two years in Shiuhing studying Chinese and doing some teaching there, he was sent to Wah Yan College Hong Kong in 1935, and he was Prefect of Studies there until 1939. In 1940 he began a small Jesuit Apostolic School at Tai Lam Chung which was intended to encourage vocations to the Society.
He spent 12 years in Hong Kong before heading to India on a mission of mercy with 12 Chinese boys towards the end of WWII in late 1944. He enjoyed India and they liked him there, so after a short return to Canton and Hong Kong after the war, he went to Mumbai in 1949 and spent the rest of his life there.
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 10th Year No 3 1935
Works by Father Donal Donnelly SJ :
- “A Prisoner of Japan” - (Sheed & Ward).
- “Life of B. Charles Spinola, S.J.”
- “A Nobleman of Italy” - Sands & Co.
- “Life of St. AIoysius”
- “A Gallant Conquistador” - Browne & Nolan
- “Life ofB. Rudolf Acquaviva and Companions” - MS
Irish Province News 21st Year No 2 1946
IN ALIIS PROVINCIIS DEGENTES :
Fr. D. Donnelly gave a series of Lenten Conferences to the men's sodality there on The Authority of the State, Obedience to Law. The Catholic in the Municipality, The Catholic in the State.
Fr. Donnelly to Province News, 20-3-46 :
“A batch of Chinese Navy men passed through Bombay on the way to England for training in December-January last. The Naval Chaplain brought me along to hunt up the Catholics among them. There proved to be very few Catholics, but two of the pagans were old Wah Yan boys, and they gave me a tremendous welcome. I got a big batch to Midnight Mass at Christmas. I also had one of the Wah Yan boys and three others under instruction, but they left for England before I could finish. However, I gave them a letter to the nearest Parish Priest in England.
Irish Province News 37th Year No 2 1962
Fr. Daniel Donnelly, St. Mary's High School, Bombay 10, writes :
I am at present in practically sole charge (one Brother to collect fees, one Father to teach Hindi) of a grand school of 1,100 boys, more than half of them Catholics. We get quite a few vocations every year; this year I am praying for half-a-dozen. The boys are mostly Goans, grand people. The non-Catholic boys are Parsees, Moslems and Hindus; and while very, very few are ever converted, they are wonderfully responsive to moral instruction, easily the most consoling classes which I teach. These young Indians are like no other boys whom I have taught in this : that once they take to you they give you their heart and are astonishingly loyal and friendly.
Retiring age over here is 65, so I have only another year to run as Principal. Then I hope to get away to “real” mission work in the districts. I'd have to learn Marathi, of course, but I learn languages easily, T.G.
We shall see.
Irish Province News 50th Year No 3 and 4 1975
Fr Don Donnelly (1896-1975)
In his letters to various Jesuits in Ireland and Bombay, Don's brother, Fr Leo SJ, St Albert's College, Ranchi, wrote as follows:
“You will have been informed by cable of my brother’s death. He suffered a severe stroke in March and was paralysed on his left side. He became progressively weaker as he was unable to retain solid food. I was with him during the summer holidays, but started back on 10th June. After my return here I received a telegram announcing his death on 12th June, It was, in fact, a merciful release, as it was painful to see so active a man reduced to helplessness. Still, it makes me feel rather lonely.
Donal (latinised in the Society to Daniel) had a very full and happy life. For his early life I can supply a few details. He had an exceptionally brilliant academic record. Under the old ‘Intermediate’ system he won a 1st Class Exhibition in each Grade, and at least one Gold Medal (first place in all Ireland in a given subject) each year (details in the Belvederian). At UCD his record is still, I think, unsurpassed. He took seven subjects in his first year, doing First Arts and First Science simultaneously, and got 1st Honours in all seven and 1st place in five, plus the Delaney Scholarship (this could be checked by reference to the files in UCD). He scored very high marks in the BSc, and MSc (equivalent to a PhD today as it involved research) He produced a theory of ballistics which engineers used to refer to as ‘Donnelly's Theory’. He was also enrolled as a student in Trinity College (his father's university) and won some prizes there - in particular a Foundation Scholarship. He entered the Society still under 21.
He inherited his love of and knowledge of horses from his father, who was an excellent judge. Don had a fantastic memory for the pedigree of horses. I think he carried the whole Stud Book in his head, and knew the breeding of every horse running at that time. When he entered the Society he put all that completely aside, never 'talking horses'. It was only in 1963, when age compelled his retirement from headmastership and he was sent as Minister to our scholasticate in Pune (Poona), that he took it up again. There he discovered a number of stud farms in the neighbourhood, and seemed to take it as a hint from the Lord that it was permissible to use his talent in this field of apostolate. If you really know horses, you are accepted in the horsey confraternity, and so he moved with ease in that circle. At least he saw apostolic opportunities in meeting managers, owners and jockeys on their own ground. He liked to meet Irish jockeys who came to Bombay to ride, and he did them good. Ask Johnny Roe about that.
Don spent so little time in Ireland that he is not well known in the Province - now probably only by those whom he taught in Clongowes from 1923 to 26. But I know that he remained somewhat in touch with the Brutons of Kildare.
It would be difficult to discover the number of priestly vocations he fostered wherever he happened to be. During all his extremely successful career as Prefect of Studies he was above all interested in boys, rather than studies as such. The way he took up hockey in Bombay is an indication of that. It gave him a beneficial influence over a very large number of young people.
Naturally I am a bit prejudiced. All my life he has been an immense inspiration to me, and I still can't quite realise that he is gone. One would like to think that his influence will continue to do good, at least through his publications.
In spite of the amazing amount of work he managed to fit into the day, he always said two rosaries in addition to his Divine Office. Here is a quotation from a letter from a Hindu friend of his: ‘I was very grieved to learn that your dear brother, my good friend, passed away on 12th June. For the past many years we used to meet in Bombay during the annual bloodstock sales, and I used to look forward to the pleasure of seating him by my side and inviting comments on my lots for sale. In the process I learnt a great deal and valued his advice which was always unbiassed. I shall miss him sadly’.
From a letter of one of the boys Don brought from China to India, who entered the novitiate but was advised to leave on account of scruples (apparently Don and he corresponded for 25 years): ‘He was, I think, my ideal man. As a small boy, I was afraid of him, and then I grew to have an extraordinary respect for him both as a priest and for his intelligence; and all the time I had a sincere affection for him. My wife often says I have two fathers, my own and Father Donnelly. Now I certainly know that is true’. (The writer is now an artist and schoolmaster in England).
In case you have not got it otherwise, a short account of Don’s coming to India. In 1939, with no more scholastics coming from Ireland, the Language School in Hong Kong was turned into an Apostolic School. Don and Ned Sullivan were in charge of about 30 boys. When the Japanese invaded Hong Kong, the School had to be abandoned. Don and some other Fathers made their way into Free China. Don went to an Apostolic School run by the Maryknoll Fathers, where twelve of his boys joined him. In 1943 the Japs made a drive to eliminate some air-fields used by the Americans, so Don, his boys and some Fathers had to move west. They ended up in Kunming in the south-west corner of China, nearest India. Eventually they were air-lifted to India ‘over the hump’ by RAF planes returning to India after having brought military supplies to China. In Calcutta he met Fr Conget, Superior of Bombay, who advised him to bring the boys to Bandra, the only boys' school which has an almost entirely Catholic pupil intake. Don remained there even after the end of the war to let the senior boys finish their matric exam. Then in 1947 he returned by sea to Hong Kong. The authorities there were not so keen on a large number of Chinese candidates, so most of the boys were ‘brushed off’. Only three were accepted, One left in the novitiate (scruples), one left in philosophy (lack of grey matter), one has been ordained - Fr Joseph Tai SJ.
Don went up to Canton, where he took charge of the Sacred Heart School (formerly run by the de la Salle Brothers for the Archbishop). When the Commies came in he was pushed out, and asked to return to India rather than remain in Hong Kong.
While learning Chinese in 1932, after some months with a teacher in Shiuhing, Don went to a village on the West river to to get practice by acting as assistant priest. Returning to the presbytery one day, he found a man chained to the railing of the church. The man was a leper, caught stealing and condemned to death. He was to be shot the following morning. Entering into conversation, Don discovered that the unfortunate man's mother had been a Catholic, though of course unable to practise her - religion once she had been engulfed in her husband's 'extended family'. Helped by the PP, Don instructed the man, gave him some food, and went back to supper, On an impulse the PP decided to baptise the man that evening - very fortunately, as the man was shot so early in the morning that they had no opportunity to speak to him again. The man was christened ‘Dismas?’
In Bombay, 1944-1975 (from the Bombay Province newsletter Samachar, July 1975):
Father Daniel Donnelly, after having laboured in Hong Kong and China for 12 years, came to Bombay on a mission of mercy with 15 Chinese boys. He liked us and we liked him, and after safely depositing his boys in their native land, he returned to Bombay for good and worked like a Trojan here for the next 25 years and more until he was struck by partial paralysis.
During these years he had time to work in most of our Bombay City houses, generally in the capacity of Rector and/or Principal and/or Minister and/or Parish Priest. He was never at the Institute of Education, Sodality House or Diocesan Seminary. At Vinayalaya he was only for some weeks as a sick man. De Nobili College, Poona, too had him for a couple of years as Minister and treasurer, and his last community was the one of the Christian Brothers in Bassein.
Barring the last three months, which he spent at the Holy Spirit Hospital or in the novitiate infirmary, he had always been in excellent health. He believed in brisk walking, light meals, early rising and hard quick work. Since childhood he loved horses, and from the day he landed in India he loved hockey.
His hobbies were solving a daily cross-word puzzle (for a time he composed one daily), an occasional game of patience, reading novels and also other more serious stuff (including science magazines - he was an MSc); and writing articles (by the dozen, and keeping two or three series abreast) for the Messenger and other papers. Many an author did not know (?) who had censored his book; Fr Donnelly knew at least one of the censors. Organizing school hockey leagues and tournaments and watching the games he considered not a hobby but part and parcel of his work in the all-round education of the boys.
As Rector and School Principal he could not be accused of curtailing the freedom of his subordinates or unduly interfering in their spheres of action. He expected every Jesuit, teacher or boy to do his duty. Even in the days of greater regimentation in schools, he could not pass as a disciplinarian.
He trusted boys, even when he knew some would take advantage of his kindness and liberality. Few did more than he did, chiefly in Bandra days, to foster vocations to the Society (for Bombay, Hazaribagh, Jamshedpur). Yet it was well known that in his optimism he was inclined to count his candidates before they were hatched. Yet, in later years, he could count quite a few Jesuits whom he had encouraged to break the egg-shell. Some will remember the vocational booklets he wrote and the Bombay Vocation Exhibition (for the Seminary and for religious orders of men and women) he organized in Bandra.
He loved the Society and found it hard to reconcile his loyalty to the Jesuit spirit with some of the changes introduced in the last decade. In his lovable frankness and literary wit he showed what he thought of some modern trends in his devastating piece of satire - which he called parable or vision - whereby he regaled(?) the ears of scores of fellow Jesuits assembled on the terrace of St Xavier's High School one evening in 1969 to celebrate his 50 years in the Society.
Although his speech in ordinary conversation was at times difficult to follow there were some stories too about the legibility of his handwriting even when in block capitals), hardly anyone could miss a word when he spoke in public, which he did often. For a couple of years he was entrusted with the monthly domestic exhortation (you may recall that ancient custom) at St Xavier’s High School. He was always original, even if not to everybody's taste. Many a Catholic in Bandra, St Mary's and St Xavier's made it a point to attend Fr Donnelly's Sunday Mass to hear his sermons. You could never predict the subject of the homily, but most people found it interesting and profitable. On a certain Sunday he spoke on some changes in the Liturgy. The following Sunday he read out from the ambo two letters on the subject he had received from the pews during the week.
His last months in a sick bed must have been a severe trial. Fortunately he had most of the time his younger brother Leo from Ranchi with him. Many others of the Vinayalaya community helped him in his hour of need. He mellowed during those last 100 days. Illness bridged for him the generation gap that had opened before him.
Unshorn novices in mufti watched over him day and night. He was grateful to them. For him they were a concrete token of the motherly love of the Society he had joined in far-away Ireland when the century (though no longer he) was in its teens.
After a Eucharistic concelebration at St Peter’s, Bandra, he was buried on June 13, in the porch of the church and beside the school that had been his first centre of apostolate in India.
Fr Don Donnelly’s curriculum vitae shows the man's adaptability to varying circumstances: 1898 - born in Dublin; 1919 - Jesuit novitiate in Tullabeg; 1925 - philosophy in Valkenburg; 1927 - theology in Innsbruck; 1929 - ordained in Dublin; 1930 - Subsecr, of Missions, Rome; 1931 - tertianship; 1932 - arrival in China, teaching in Shiuhing; 1933 - studying Chinese language; 1934 - Wah Yan, Hong Kong, teaching in Regional Seminary; 1935 - Prefect of Studies, Wah Yan; 1936 - final vows; 1940 - director of Minor Seminary, Hong Kong; 1944 - arrival in Bandra (India) with Chinese boys, teaching; 1947 · back to Canton (China), teaching; 1949 - back in India, studying Hindi in Ranchi; 1950 - Rector of St Stanislaus High School, Bandra; 1956 - Minister, St Xavier's College; 1957 - Principal and Minister, St Mary's High School; 1963 · de Nobili College, Minister and Treasurer; 1965 - Minister and Treasurer, St Xavier's College; 1972 - Principal and Superior, Campion School, Bhopal; 1974 - chaplain to Christian Brothers, Bassein road; 1975 - death at Vinayalaya, 12th June; burial in Bandra, 13th.
Fr Don Donnelly (1896-1975)
More about Fr Don Donnelly († 12th June 1975)
When the last number of the Province News had gone to press, the editor discovered fifteen pages of notepaper which Fr Fergus Cronin, Rector of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, had filled with this account of Fr Don:
For one who was so well known in the countries in which he worked, Fr Daniel Donnelly, who died last June in Bombay, was relatively little known in Ireland. This was largely due to the fact that apart from his noviceship and his period in the Colleges, all his life in the Society was spent abroad,
He came from a Dublin family. His father was a doctor practising in Parnell square, and he went to school at Belvedere.
He entered the Society in 1919, having already obtained a Master of Science degree. My recollection may be at fault, but I think I remember him telling me that he had got a scholarship to Trinity College, Dublin, and that he attended lectures there, in order to fulfil the conditions of the cash grant, and also studied for a degree at University College, Dublin.
Having finished his novitiate, he studied philosophy in Valkenburg, came back for his Colleges to Clongowes and then did his theology in Innsbruck.
After tertianship he spent a year in the Curia in Rome as assistant to the Secretary of the Missions, and from there he went to work in the Missions - in Hong Kong.
He studied Chinese (Cantonese) in the Portuguese Mission at Shiuhing and then came to teach in Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, which had just been given to the Society by its founders. Again my memory may be at fault, but I believe I heard that while the negotiations regarding our taking over the College were in progress, Fr Donnelly dropped several Miraculous Medals into the grounds!
After a few years he was made Prefect of Studies in Wah Yan College and was in this position until just before the beginning of World War II. He was extremely well known in Hong Kong because of his position in the world of education. He had very positive ideas on most subjects, and in education he believed in being very firm, but he was also very approachable. A recently published book by Fr P O'Connor of the Columban Fathers, under the title Buddhists find Christ, gives a number of accounts, written by the persons themselves, of their conversion to Christianity. One of these was Dr Lert Srichandra, a Thai doctor educated in Wah Yan College and later in UCD. The book recounts many very amusing conversations, often held late at night in Wah Yan, between Dr Lert and Fr Donnelly. In his account, Dr Lert gives a great deal of credit for his finding the answers to his problems to the very direct, frank and friendly handling by Fr Donnelly of a young student's fumbling approaches to the mysteries of our faith. Dr Lert has many pages of such interchange, all very revealing of the mentality of both of these men.
Just before World War II struck Hong Kong, Fr Donnelly had collected a group of teenagers, who had shown some signs of a possible vocation to the priesthood or to the Society. These were known to all of Ours in Hong Kong by Don's name for them, “the little lads”. They were in his care in the Language School in Tai Lam Chung, and when the war came, Don succeeded, first in getting these lads out of Hong Kong to the port of Kwang Chow Wan, and then to the part of South China not occupied by the Japanese. Finally he got them flown over “The Hump” from Kunming in Yunnan province to Calcutta in India. From Calcutta he brought them by train across India to Bombay and finally was able to house them in St Stanislaus College in Bandra, just outside Bombay. Many years later, Don was to be Rector of this college.
After World War II, Don brought the group of young men back safely to Hong Kong. Of them Fr Joseph Tai is the only one in the Society, but many of the others grew into pillars of the Church and of the community in other walks of life.
Returning after this tremendous odyssey to Hong Kong, Don was able to arrange the future of these young men, and then was himself assigned to Canton. There he was a teacher in the Sacred Heart School, but was also concerned with the planning of a Jesuit secondary school which was to be built there. Fr Thomas Ryan was the Superior of the Hong Kong Mission, and his idea of a Jesuit college was one which would in every way make its own impression on all, not only for its standards of excellence in teaching, but also as being a building such as to do us credit. Don was always a man whose idealism was to be realised in a very practical form, and at one time he brought a brick down from Canton to show Fr Ryan what a suitable material it could be from which to build the proposed college. Fr Ryan’s reaction, it is believed, was to throw it back to him in disgust!
Don was in Canton until the communists came to take over South China. He was fairly sure that they would also take over Hong Kong, and in any case, since for the foreseeable future we had no work in Canton, he in his practical way wanted to go elsewhere. To Fr Ryan, leaving China at such a time was not to be thought of - it betrayed a lack of faith in the future of our work in China, a thing he refused even to think of. To Don, it was just being practical to find some other field in which to labour. Fr Ryan rather hurt Don by the manner in which he viewed Don’s desire to go to India, where he was assured he would be very welcome and much needed. But Don was never a man to be discouraged or even much affected by what others thought of him or his actions, so, about 1950, off he went to start a new life in India.
In India he later became Rector (as mentioned above) and Principal of St Stanislaus, Bandra. He was also Principal in several other Jesuit colleges, ending his teaching career as Superior and Principal of Campion High School in Bombay.
During these long years he developed many new interests. Most of those who knew him remember him, apart from his great ability in the scholastic field, as the man who produced the standard book on hockey (for which, I have been told, he was decorated by the Indian government). He is remembered also as an incessant writer of verse. Every school annual of the colleges where he was Principal (or Superior, or both) contains many poems, some as short as sonnets, some quite long narrative poems on current or on spiritual themes.
When finally he retired as a teacher he went to St Augustine’s High School, Bassein, a school run by the Christian Brothers (to quote his own words from one of his last letters) ‘where I act as chaplain, teach a little, and make myself generally useful’.
He enjoyed really good health until April 1975, when he suffered a severe stroke which left him paralysed on the left side. He was moved to the Jesuit novitiate of Vinayalaya, Andheri, Bombay, where he was cared for until a second stroke caused his death.
His death leaves the Society the poorer by the loss of one of its most loyal sons. In his later years, by all accounts, he had become rather critical of many of the changes taking place in the Society, particularly in the life-style of its members, but this was largely due to the high standards he had set himself, and which he believed he should see everywhere.
His love of the Society is seen in all of his writings. He was a man who studied the theory of anything in which he was concerned. This is seen in his writing his book on hockey. He saw everything as the carrying into reality of the theory which he had formulated about that particular subject. This too is seen in his writings about Society subjects, eg, his pamphlet on the Spiritual Exercises and his short Life of Blessed Charles Spinola. This latter was an adaptation of an Italian life which had attracted his attention. This tendency to take over the work of others is seen when later he produced a catechism in Chinese and English which was largely based on My Catholic faith by Bishop Morrow. Don was always practical, and if someone else had written something that he thought well expressed what he wanted to say, he felt free to use this material in a way that some of his fellow Jesuits felt was a little too close to the original without sufficient acknowledgement.
He was a man of tremendous energy, who faced without any self-consciousness any situation which arose. He was a man of great and strong convictions. Above all, he was a really observant religious whose love for the Society came through in everything he did or wrote. He had thousands of friends and admirers, and I think it is true that of this great number of men of all kinds who admired him for one or other of his many gifts, all saw him first and foremost as a man of God
Irish Province News 52nd Year No 2 1977
Extract from a letter from a Jesuit of Calcutta Province, Darjeeling Region (Fr. Edward Hayden, St. Joseph's College, North Point, Darjeeling, Western Bengal)
I was one of the old “Intermediate” boys of the Christian Brothers, Carlow. I left off in 1910, 67 years ago, at the end of June. Yes, we learnt the Gaeilge. The Brothers - or some I met, one in particular, a Brother Doyle, was very keen on it. The others didn't teach it as it was only in the “Academy” that they began with languages: French, Gaeilge, Algebra, Euclid and of course English. (5th Book - Senior Elementary Class - was followed by the “Academy”). The Brothers had dropped Latin just before I joined the “Academy”. We were living at a distance of 5 Irish miles from Carlow, and I was delicate, so I often fell a victim of 'flu, which didn't help me to make progress in studies - made it very hard: but at that time the rule was “do or die”. There was only one excuse for not having home work done – you were dead! That was the training we had: it stood me in good stead through life; it is the one thing I am grateful for.
We had a number of Irishmen here, a handful: Fr Jos Shiel, Mayo, died in Patna. Fr James Comerford, Queen's County, died in Bihar. I met the Donnelly brothers, they were Dubliners. The one who died (Don) was Editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger. Many of his stories were about horse-racing - he must have read plenty of Nat Gould when he was a boy! (Nat wrote a number of horse-racing stories supposed to have been in Australia). There are three Irishmen in Ranchi: Frs Donnelly, Phelan and Lawlor. Fr Phelan has spent nearly his whole life in India. As a boy he was in North Point, and after his Senior Cambridge he joined the Society. At that time there was only the Missio Maior Bengalensis of the Belgian Province. The Mission took in half or more of north-east India - Patna, Ranchi and south of it, Assam, Bhutan and Sikkim - an area four or five times that of Ireland! Needless to say, there were parts of it which had no SJ within a hundred miles ...Down here in the Terai where I am “hibernating” out of the cold of Darjeeling, some forty-five years ago there was no priest. One or two of the professors of theology from Kurseong, some 40 miles away, used to visit this district at Christmas and Easter. It was very malarious. Catholics from Ranchi came here to work on the tea plantations. Then a Jesuit was sent to reside in it. Now the district has schools and Jesuits galore, also non-Jesuits. Great progress has been made. The Salesians took up Assam, the American SJs took over Patna. The Northern Belgians took over Ranchi and the Southern Belgians took Calcutta. (The Belgian Province grew till its numbers reached 1400. Then, about 1935, Belgian separated into Flemings - North - and Walloons - South). Ranchi was given to the North and Calcutta to the South. On the 15th August last year (1976) Calcutta was raised from being a Vice Province to be a full-blown Province. 100% of those joining the SJ now are sons of India. Madura in the south has been a Province for years. Nearly all the Europeans are dead: no more are allowed to come permanently unless for a very, very special reason, India has begun to send her sons to East Africa in recent years.
Fr Lawlor is Irish-born but somehow joined the Australian Province about the time it started a half-century or so ago.
Brother Carl Kruil is at present in charge of an ashram: a place for destitutes, in Siliguri. Silguri is a city which grew up in the last forty years around the terminus of the broad gauge railway and the narrow (two-foot) toy railway joining the plains with Darjeeling - one of the most wonderful lines in the world, rising from 300 feet above sea-level, 7,200 feet in about 50 miles and then dropping down to about 5,500 feet in another ten. Three times it loops the loop and three times climbs up by zig-zags. I seem to remember having met Fr Conor Naughton during the war. Quite a number of wartime chaplains came to Darjeeling. The mention of Siliguri set me off rambling. Br Krull remembers his visit to Limerick. (He stayed at the Crescent, 11th 13th June, 1969). He is a born mechanic. Anything in the line of machinery captivates him. He has to repair all the motors and oil engines – some places like this have small diesel generators which have to be seen to from time to time and all other kinds of machinery: cameras, typewriters etc. At present he comes here to do spot welding (electric welding of iron instead of bolts and nuts.
The PP, here is replacing an old simple shed with a corrugated iron roof by a very fine one with brick walls and asbestos-cement roof. Two years ago or so, the roof was lifted by a sudden whirlwind clean off the wooden pillars on which it rested. Since then he has been saying the Sunday Masses on the veranda of a primary school. In this school 235 children receive daily lessons and a small mid-day meal. The Sisters are those of St. Joseph of Cluny – all from South India. They are really heroines: no work is too difficult for them. They do all their own work and cook for us. Their Vice-Provincial is from somewhere in the centre of the “Emerald Gem”. They are growing in numbers and do great work, running a dispensary amongst other things. The church is very broad, approximately 90 by 60 feet. As no benches are used - people sit on the floor - it will hold nearly 450 people at a time. The altar is in one corner. :
Fr Robert Phelan (Ranchi Province) had a visit one night from dacoits (armed robbers), but with help managed to beat them off.
Ranchi had several of these raids last year. In nearly every case the dacoits managed to get some cash.
One night about two weeks ago a rogue elephant (one that is wild and roaming away from the herd) came to a small group of houses close by. A man heard the noise and came out. The elephant caught him by the leg and threw him on to a corn stack - fortunately. The corn stack of rice waiting to be thrashed was quite broad and flat on top! He was very little the worse for the experience. And that is the end of the news.
One more item: please ask the new Editor of the Irish Province News to let me have copies as (?) and send them by overland (surface mail). Even if they are three months coming, they will be news. God bless you and reward you handsomely.
Yours in our Lord,
Edward Hayden, SJ (born 15th October 1893, entered S.J. Ist February 1925, ordained 21st November 1933, took final vows on 2nd February 1936. Now conf. dom. et alumn. and script. hist. dom. at the above address).
◆ The Belvederian, Dublin, 1945
Letter from Father Donal Donnelly SJ
By all accounts the Missions in China, so far from being set back, are actually progressing during war-time, most of the missionaries having turned their hand to hospital and relief work thereby increasing the prestige of the Church and bringing more souls to Christ. All of the Irish Jesuit Mission in China are safe and sound.
Fr Don Donnelly, has travelled by rail, road; water and air, accompanied by a little troop of seminarians, from end to end of Asia. After the capture of Hong Kong, he first went to French Indo-China to reconnoitre for the mission, then to Wuchow in Kwangsi, where he taught science and philosophy in the Junior Seminary of the Maryknoll Fathers. There he was joined by a remnant of the boys whom he had been training for the priesthood in Hong Kong, and another older boy who wished to become a Jesuit. As the invading Japanese armies approached, the Seminary was transferred to Paaksha in the same province. In a letter dated last September, Fr Donnelly describes the rest of his odyssey :
“An urgent warning came from the American Consul to us in Paaksha in June, urging us to clear out without delay. The Maryknoll Fathers promptly closed down the Seminary, and Fr Grogan and I, with our ten little protégés, set off for Kweiyang, the capital of Kweichow province. We had a very mnixed trip. The first bit, by sampan floating down the West River to Kweiping, was very pleasant; it took about nine hours. Then we had a day or two waiting in Kweiping, before we were picked up by an American Army barge, towed by a launch. (The lad in charge was an Irishman, from Fr Grogan's part of the country.) This dragged us past the most glorious scenery, and through the most wonderful rapids, I have ever seen, to a place called Taai Waan, south of Lauchau. There should have been a train to Lauchau, but there was none; so we contacted the big shot at Taai Waan, a Catholic, and he squeezed us on to a boat leaving that evening for Lauchau. We got there after a very leisured trip. and hung about Lauchau for a couple of days, waiting for a train. Finally we got one, and then started the most appaling train journey ever made. The train was packed to the doors, corridors and steps; we had no seats, most of us; the journey was about 250 miles, and was supposed to take 23 hours; it actually took almost four days. The nights were terrible - nodding about all over the place, without room to rest or move; However, we reached the railhead at Tushan at last, and then our troubles were over. We had a great welcome from the Chinese Father at the Catholic Mission, and in a few days, the British military authorities (who have been extraordinarily kind to us) gave us a free ride in a truck to Kweiyang, about 150 miles.
I left the boys with Fr Grogan at Kweiyang and came on myself (by American truck this time, also free) to Kunming, to see about getting the boys and ourselves out to India. That was a very pleasant trip, though a bit long, about 400 miles. I saw for the first time the real old Chinese walled cities; and the scenery was marvellous. I arrived here three months ago; since then I have brought Fr Grogan and the boys along here. We hope to leave now any day for India (by RAF plane, I hope, as I say, the British authorities, and indeed, the Americans also, have been most kind and helpful) but there are still documents to be obtained and arrangements to be made”.
And in a letter dated April 19th, he writes, this time from St Stanislaus High School, Bandra, Bombay :
“I am out here in India now with these grand Spanish Fathers for the past four months, and the years in China seem like a bad dream. Still, I must say that I am very grateful to Almighty God, not only for His marvellous Providence over us all during these past three years, but also for the trifle of war experience which He sent my way. I cannot truthfully say that I should like to go through the war and its aftermath again; but just for once it was a most salutary and sanctifying experience. I certainly shall never listen again without a slightly contemptuous smile to the saying that ‘war is heil’. War is certainly very terrible, but it is equally certainly not hell; on the contrary, many men get nearer to heaven in wartime than in times of peace.
The Chinese boys and I are quite settled down here now and thoroughly happy. There are eleven of them; ten are junior seminarians who hope to join the Society of Jesus, while the last boy is a university student. He is an old Wah Yan boy named Philip Chau Pak Harig; he has wanted for years to join the Society. I brought him along with me on the understanding that I should teach him Latin, and that he would teach my boys Chinese. He (as indeed, all the boys without exception) has made an excellent impression on all here. So,I am trying at present to get him into the Bombay university, so that he can finish his degree (medicine). The rest of the boys are not so far advanced; they will be taking their Matric. in 1947 and 1948, and will then, I hope, go to the novitiate, Vinayalaya, a delightful spot about half-an-hour from here by surburban train and bus. It is really most creditable for these lads, because, despite the handicap of learning through a foreign language (English) and of broken, unsatisfactory studies for the past three years since the war, they are actually a year ahead of time; had they been in Hong Kong, they would not be due for Matric. before 1948 or 1949.
These Indian boys are very different from the Chinese. The Chinese is quiet, shy, reserved, very industrious, patient, gentle, and altogether charming; your Indian boy is lively, very friendly, distinctly less industrious, cheery, clever and not less charming, I shall certainly leave a bit of my heart here in Bandra when the time comes to return to. China. The Indian boys here are far more fickle than the Chinese, but they are solidly Catholic, and to them the priest is the priest, as he is to any Irish boy. In China it is not so; the priest is just another schoolmaster, usually somewhat ‘more decent’ and kindly and painstaking than the lay teacher, but as far as priestly dignity is concerned, you might just as well be Mr Ezechiah X of the China Inland Mission.
I am teaching here myself, and helping out in the church, the finest parish church I have ever seen, and as busy a place as Gardiner St nearly 250,000 Communions a year. I have given several Retreats since I came, to Matric, boys, to our Scholastics at the Theologate in Poona, to teachers, etc. I start another retreat this evening to nuns. The last little job I had was, of all weird. things, to write a new libretto for an operetta ! You would be amazed at the amount of verse I have perpetrated since coming here. It started with the demand for translation of Spanish Christmas carols into English, then came requests for Papal anthems, Mission anthems, Rector's Day songs, and so on, and now this is the last straw!
Well, best wishes to all old friends in Belvedere”.
◆ The Belvederian, Dublin, 1986
The Travelling Donnellys
Don Donnelly SJ (1915) died in 1975 after a varied life in a different world. His brother Leo (1920), now in Sacred Heart Church Limerick, sends this report which he calls “The Travelling Donnellys”:
The older, Donal or Don (later Latinised into Daniel or Dan), Belvedere 1903-1915, was always first in his class. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1919 after taking his MSc in UCD After two years in Tullabeg, Rahan, he went for Philosphy to Valkenburg, Holland, with the German Jesuits expelled from Germany by Bismarck. After three years teaching in Clongowes, he studied Theology in Innsbruck, Austria. Ordained in Dublin in 1929, he spent a year in Rome attached to the Jesuit Mission Secretariat. Then, after Tertianship in North Wales, he sailed for Hong Kong in July 1932.
Having learnt the Cantonese version of Chinese mainly with the Portuguese Jesuits in Shiu Hing, he worked as Headmaster of Wah Yan College in Hong Kong until the second World War broke out. No more Scholastics would come from Ireland, so the house intended for their Language School was vacant, and was utilised as a Minor Seminary for boys intending to become Jesuits. Don was put in charge. Then, on 8th December 1941 the Japanese invaded and occupied Hong Kong. The Irish Jesuits, as neutrals, were not interned. So, after things had quietned down, Don made his way into Free China with a dozen of the “Little Lads”. He settled down with the American Maryknoll Fathers at Tanchuk. Alas, a year orso later, the Americans began to construct an airfield nearby. Whereupon the Japanese Army made a drive to occupy that part of China as well, so the Maryknoll Minor Seminary had to be abandoned.
With his charges Don made an adventurous journey westwards by antiquated train, up turbulent rivers in over-crowded boats, and finally up steep mountain roads in delapidated trucks, ending in Kunming, the Capital of Yunnan Province, the nearest to India. To Kunming the Allies were bringing supplies by air over the “Hump” for the Chinese Army of Chiang Kai Chek. The planes were returning empty to India, so Don succeded in getting passage for himself and the twelve boys. Eventually they settled in St Stanislaus School, Bandra, Bombay. When the war was over and the older boys had completed their matriculation, the party returned to Hong Kong by sea.
Don went on to Canton, now liberated, to act as Headmaster in the Archbishop's school. But all too soon the Communists took over the whole of China, and Don was on his travels again. He asked to return to India and worked in Bombay for twenty five years as Headmaster in various schools until his death of a stroke in 1975.
The younger brother, Diarmuid Leo (the second name was always used) Belvedere 1908 - 1920 was never first in his class. He entered the Jesuits straight from school. After two years in Tullabeg, he was sent for a year to study Humanities in France. Then after three years Science in UCD, he began Philosophy in Milltown Park. However, owing to illness, a colleague returned to Ireland and, to replace him, Leo was transferred to Pullach-bei-München in Germany.
There followed three years teaching and coach ing Rugby in Belvedere. Then, after Theology and Tertianship he returned to Belvedere to teach Mathematics as a side-line to coaching Rugby.
In September 1941 he was appointed Chaplain in the British Army. He spent nearly three years in various posts in Great Britain, then transferred to Normandy on D-day. Always remaining safely behind the lines, he ended the war in Ostend, Belgium. Shortly after he was appointed to the Irish Guards in Germany, and was demobbed early in 1946.
On suggestion ot his brother he was appointed Professor of Church History in Kurseong, the Theologate of the Jesuits in India, situated in the foothills of the Himalayas, After a little over two years, he was transferred to Australia, visiting Hong Kong on the way. There followed one year in Newman College, Melbourne, and then five years in the Holy Name Minor Seminary, Christchurch, New Zealand
The Belgian Jesuits in India were having difficulty in securing Visas for new blood from Belgium, so a “swop” was arranged. Leo went to Ranchi, Bihar, India, while a Belgian went to the Irish Jesuit Mission in Zambia. Leo remained as Professor of Philosophy in the Regional Seminary, Ranchi for twenty six years, and finally returned to Ireland in 1981.
(Editor: Fr. Leo forgets to mention something about his 1938 SCT...)