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Browne, Liam, 1929-2017, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/825
  • Person
  • 18 August 1929-26 October 2017

Born: 18 August 1929, Kilmainham, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1946, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 28 July 1960, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final vows: 02 February 1964, Canisius College, Chikuni, Zambia
Died 26 October 2017, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Milltown Park, Dublin community at the time of death.

HIB to ZAM : 03 December 1969; ZAM to HIB : 31 July 1982

by 1955 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) Regency
by 1963 at Campion Hall, Oxford (ANG) studying

◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/liam-browne-sj-much-loved-missionary/

Liam Browne SJ – a dedicated missionary
Irish Jesuit Fr Liam Browne SJ died peacefully at Cherryfield Lodge nursing home, Dublin on 26 October 2017 aged 88 years. His funeral took place on 31 October at Milltown Park, Ranelagh followed by burial in Glasnevin Cemetery. The Dubliner spent much of his early priestly life on various missions in Zambia, before returning home to work at various places in Ireland in 1974. Below find the homily at his funeral mass given by Fr John K. Guiney SJ.
A dedicated missionary
We remember and celebrate a long and eventful life of Liam Browne.
He was born in the Rotunda on 18th August 1929 and brought up in Kilmainham Dublin, went to CBS James’s St... and entered the Jesuits at Emo Park on 7th September 1946, was ordained in Milltown Park on 28th July 1960, and took his final vows at Chikuni in Zambia on 2nd February 1964.
Four of the 12 companions who took first vows with him in Emo are with us still: John Guiney, John Dooley, and Jim Smyth... MJ Kelly who is living in Lusaka, Zambia.
To say Liam had a rich,varied and eventful life is an understatement. He worked in Zambia, Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard, was Chaplain in St Vincent’s Hospital and Marlay Nursing Home and all through was constant in his research on the Chitonga language and culture. He went to God peacefully in Cherryfield Lodge last Thursday at 4pm.
A common theme of Liam’s life was his desire and wish to be close to ordinary people and to understand their cultures and ways of life. In an interview with the Irish Jesuit Mission Office he expressed his desire to become a Jesuit and priest in this way: “to help people and to enable them to experience Christ’s forgiveness and he noted the great influence on his vocation of his grandmother Susan Waldron.
When Liam arrived in Zambia in 1954 he plunged himself into learning the local language Chitonga in the diocese of Monze. He was not only interested in learning a language but set about researching the culture of the people, looking at what makes them tick – trying to understand seeing how culture/religion/faith are interrelated.
His work in the study and preservation of Tonga culture was similar to the work of another renowned student of Tonga culture – Frank Wafer who founded the Mukanzubo Kalinda Cultural Centre in Chikuni. They did so much to record, store and document traditional proverbs, dance, songs, customs and rites of the community. Liam did what every effective missionary does; he fell in love with the people he was called to serve – the Tonga people and culture.
Liam was the go to person for scholastics/young volunteers, learning the language and entering a new culture. He was the person to induct them into Tongaland. Colm Brophy as a scholastic in Zambia in 1969 recounts: “I was anxious to acquire a knowledge of Chitonga. So I asked the Provincial, John Counihan, to send me to a place and to a person who could help me do that.
“In 1969 I was posted to Chilala-Ntaambo (‘the sleeping place of the lion’), a metropolis of remoteness... because I knew it was remote and that I would be living with a man who was very fluent in the language – Liam Browne.”
Liam, he remembers, would spend a lot of his time researching the Chitonga language and culture. He would go around various villages with his tape-recorder interviewing mainly elderly people.
Chilala-Ntaambo was frontier missionary land in the 1960s.
It wasn’t an easy life for Liam there as parish priest. There was no solid Catholic community. The place was new. For Sunday Mass only eight or ten people would turn up mainly from two families. He was ploughing a lone furrow.
Liam continued to work in missionary frontiers in the Fumbo and Chivuna parishes and in 1973 took a break to study cultural anthropology in Campion Hall, Oxford under the guidance of the renowned Professor Evans Pritchard.
Liam then published some of his research on the initiation rites of the Tonga people but fell foul of at least one influential Tonga political leader who felt that secrets of their culture was not for public reading. He was not allowed to renter the country.
Two years ago while visiting Monze I met his mentor and friend in Zambia – the great cultural anthropologist of the Tonga people Barbara Colson who worked with Liam.
She was full of admiration for the work and research of Liam and admitted that Liam’s kind of research is now prescribed reading for students of the Tonga culture in every African library. A real joy for Liam in latter years was The Tonga-English Dictionary that Liam had started in the 60s and was finally completed and published by Frank Wafer just 3 years ago.
Liam returned to Ireland in 1974 and from then to 1989 he went to work in Ballyfermot and began to build firstly a temporary and then a permanent Church with the people and with the able assistance of the Daughters of Charity and especially Sr Cabrini.
His friends in Cherry Orchard still remember him as a man of great kindness and compassion. They remember his outreach to the most needy, his wisdom in counselling people and also his ability to plan, budget and look ahead even when the share budget of the diocese was small. Amongst Liam’s talents was wood work and he loved making things; much of the design and wooden fixtures and paintings were done by Liam in the Churches he built.
Those who knew Liam in Zambia and Ireland remember him as good-humoured, generous and who loved music especially jazz.
His friends also remember Liam as a man who shot from the hip, spoke his mind with a bluntness that could put people off. He had a certain distrust of superiors and people in authority, sometimes with well founded reasons. However, once he had got it out of his system, he got on with things and remained on good terms with all whom he encountered.
Perhaps the phrase ‘he got on with things’ sums up the greatest characteristic of Liam’s life. Liam was a man always available for mission and when the mission he really loved, Zambia was suddenly interrupted – it must have been a heartbreak for him, but he moved on without complaining to the new missions on the home front.
At the end of his life Liam shared with his friends. I am glad I did what I did when I could. He had few regrets. Once he decided that Cherryfield Lodge nursing home was the best, he moved and had the highest regard to all who cared for him there.
He was indeed always ready for a change and recognised in the wisdom of the ancestors that there is a time and a season for all things under the sun. On Thursday last a final time had come; he surrendered in peace to his maker in the presence of his sister Monica.
Finally, a word of thanks to two great missionary families: the Browne’s and the Cassidy’s. Liam’s niece Susan shared with me that as a child she saved up her pocket money for the missions. Monica helped out Tommy Martin for years with cake sales and raffles for the missions and coincidentally two weeks ago we got a letter from a Zambian PP, from that very parish that Liam founded 50 years ago with the help of his family and friends saying hello to Liam.
It reads:
My name is Fr. Kenan Chibawe, parish priest of St. Francis Xavier parish in Chilalantambo, Monze in Zambia. Our parish was officially opened in 1967 by Fr Liam Browne. This year on 28th October, we are celebrating 50 years or Golden Jubilee of the growth of the Catholic faith that was planted by the Jesuit missionaries in particular Fr Brown and the Late Fr Norman McDonald SJ. We would have loved to see Liam here but maybe his age may not allow him to travel. People still remember these priests in our parish.
We too remember and celebrate Liam’s life with the people of Zambia, Cherry Orchard, his former colleagues alive and dead in the Vincent’s and Marlay chaplaincies. We pray for and with Liam in his adopted language Chitonga:
Mwami leza kotambula muzimo wakwe kubuzumi butamani, which means in our own language, Ar dheis dei go raibh an anam dilis.

◆ Irish Jesuit Missions :
As in “Jesuits in Ireland” : https://www.jesuitmissions.ie/news/571-liam-browne-sj-a-dedicated-missionary and https://www.jesuitmissions.ie/news/238-interview-with-fr-liam-browne

Fr. Liam Browne, born in 1929 in Rotunda, Dublin, can easily sum up why he wanted to be a priest: ‘to help other people’, particularly by allowing them to ‘experience Christ’s forgiveness’. Fr Browne had been encouraged in his calling by his grandmother, Susan Waldron, who raised his brother, his sister, and himself after the death of his mother. He had first become interested in the Jesuits after attending a retreat with his school, James’ Street Christian Brothers, and was attracted to missionary work because of the possibilities it offered for helping others abroad.
Fr. Browne left Dublin as a young scholastic bound for Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia) to work with the Tonga. Although direct flights now link London and Lusaka, in the 1950s it took three days to reach the Zambian capital by air. Despite the distance and the difficulty, Fr. Browne recalls his first year in Africa as the happiest of his life: ‘it was the happiest time because I was doing exactly what I wanted.’ He spent this first year acclimatising, learning the language, and immersing himself in Tongan culture. His greatest consolation, or most rewarding experience, was learning the language and speaking to the Tongan people about religion. He spent his time with the Tonga working in the mission station and at Canisius College, the Jesuit-run boys’ school, and served in Zambia for a total of thirteen years (three years as a student, and ten as an ordained priest). It is clear that Fr. Browne immensely enjoyed his time in Africa: his only desolation in mission was the frustration of waiting for the rains to come, with October standing out as ‘the most dreadful time of the year’!
Fr. Browne became fascinated with Tongan culture, and with the broader field of social anthropology. He had been able to study Zambezi culture thanks to work by Elizabeth Colson, an American anthropologist who had begun studying the Tonga through the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute. In between postings, he had the benefit of spending a year at Campion Hall, Oxford, studying under Professor Evans-Pritchard at the Institute of Social Anthropology. He states that this training was ‘invaluable’ to his work in Zambia, and recalls Evans-Pritchard (a legend in anthropological circles) as an ‘outstanding’ scholar. Fr. Browne went on to write a detailed study of the Tongan way of life; studies such as these were useful not only in providing a record of Tongan custom, but also for instructing new missionaries about their host culture.
Although life in Zambia was very different to life in Ireland, Fr. Browne never experienced a ‘culture shock’. His entire philosophy was based around being open and receptive to Tongan culture, and he didn’t ‘allow himself the luxury of being shocked’ by unfamiliar practices. ‘I felt you should be open. I was convinced you needed to know the people’s language and customs- if you didn’t know that then you were really clueless! The prevailing view was that you had everything to give and nothing to receive, but I didn’t believe a word of it.’ He argues that this openness is the secret to success in both missionary work and in anthropology: ‘there is a Jesuit saying that one must go in another’s door in order for that other to come out of your door...You need to be receptive.’
Because missionaries had been working in Zambia since 1896, the Tonga were not tabula rasa when it came to the Christian message. However, Christianity still needed to be culturally located: ‘What I believe is that you have to make an effort to understand the people; that will determine your approach to preaching Christianity. To preach in a way which people will understand, you must preach in terms with which they are familiar.’ When asked if African Christianity differs from European Christianity, Fr Browne replies that it does so ‘as much as Africa differs from Europe’. Some interpretations of Christianity were more Pentecostalist than Catholic, but the Tonga were generally a receptive people who took the Christian message to heart. Indeed, Fr. Browne argues that the Zambian mission housed some of the holiest people one could ever hope to meet. In his own words, it takes ‘a hell of a long time to build a Christian culture’: given this, the fact that Christianity has become rooted in African culture in only a few generations is astounding.
However, there were areas in which the acceptance of Catholic doctrine was somewhat superficial. Although the Irish tendency is to assume that we can separate the ‘religious’ from the social or the economic, life among the Tonga shows that this is not the case. For example, polygamy was common amongst Tongan men, even those who were Christian. Converts knew that this went against Biblical teachings on marriage, but because polygamy was seen as an economic rather than a moral practice, they did not view it in the same way that their Irish missionaries did. There were also some issues of cultural ‘translation’: because the Tonga are a matrilineal people, it was somewhat difficult to promote a patrilineal religion such as Christianity, with its emphasis on Father and Son. Fr. Browne argues that new converts always tried to live the Christian life; like all Catholics, however, this was a work in progress.
Political agendas have always been a part of the mission process, and this was equally true for Jesuit missionaries in Zambia. Although race relations in Zambia were significantly less strained than those in South Africa or Zimbabwe, there were still tensions between white and black populations. However, Fr. Browne believes that a distinction was made between white government officials and white missionaries. Missionaries, unlike government officials, made an effort to assimilate into the local culture: they had to, after all, if they were to have any success. Because they were not familiar with Zambezi culture, white government officials misunderstood local power relations. For example, they would treat one man as local headman despite the fact that he was not seen as such by his would-be subjects. This was a mistake which was avoided by missionaries, who had learnt (through living with them) that the Tonga valued democracy and the ability to compromise or broker peace far more than an abstract colonial understanding of power; as the Tongan saying goes, ‘anyone can call himself a chief, but it doesn’t mean we have to obey him’! Headmen tended to be European appointees. Further, Christian missionaries were respected because they had opened schools. Although the British government had claimed that education was important, they had only introduced primary schools, and it was left to religious organisations to open schools for secondary education.
The mission station also benefited the community by distributing basic medical supplies. The Sisters of Charity ran a small bush hospital, and the mission distributed pills, tonics, supplies for cuts, etc. With the nearest hospital 35 miles away, and high rates of infant mortality, this proved a very useful service. The parents of sick children would go to great lengths to prevent their premature deaths. Fr. Browne recalls a woman who decided to begin the 35 mile walk to the hospital in the middle of the night so that her sick baby could get access to medical treatment; although she was eventually persuaded to wait until morning, when she could be driven there, this incident demonstrates the very real danger of having a sick child in the bush.
The mission station is now run by local recruits rather than Europeans. Fr. Browne is ‘delighted’ to see local people running the mission, and has high hopes for Zambia’s future. He believes that the Catholic Church can act as a unifying force in Africa today, because this is the message of the liturgy. Although the mission station is now largely run by African priests and nuns, there is still a role for Irish Catholics to play. Fr. Browne speaks highly of volunteers who give up their time to work in Zambia. He gives a particularly glowing report of a couple from Derry, who taught at the Catholic girls’ school for six years. The children grew up with their parents’ students, and Fr. Browne laughs as he recalls their daughter being taught to dance by the African girls.
If there is an overarching theme around which to organise Fr. Browne’s narrative, then surely it is that of being open and receptive: ‘Be ready to learn. If you go in with a full head, thinking you know everything, you’ll learn nothing.’

1948-1951 Rathfarnham - Studying Arts at UCD
1951-1954 Tullabeg - Studying Philosophy
1954-1957 Chikuni, Zambia - Regency at Canisius College, learning Chitonga
1957-1961 Milltown Park - Studying Theology
1961-1962 Rathfarnham - Tertianship
1962-1963 Oxford, UK - Diploma in Social Anthropology at Campion Hall
1963-1964 Monze, Zambia - Parish Priest at Sacred Heart
1964-1965 Chikuni, Zambia - Teacher at Canisius College
1965-1972 Chivuna, Zambia - Parish Work at Chivuna Mission
1968 Parish Priest at Chilala-Ntambo, Pemba
1969 Transcribed to Zambian Province [ZAM] (03/12/1969)
1971 Working in Parish at Fumbo
1972-1973 Chisekesi, Zambia - Studying Language and Social Anthropology at Charles Lwanga Teacher Training
1973 -1974 St Ignatius, London, UK - Studying Social Anthropology at London University
1974-1989 Gardiner St - Parish work in Dublin Diocese at Ballyfermot
1982 Transcribed to Irish Province [HIB] (26/03/1982)
1986 Parish Ministry at Blessed Sacrament, Cherry Orchard, Dublin
1989-2017 Milltown Park - Historical Research and Writing
1993 Chaplain at St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Dublin
2000 Chaplain at Marlay Nurshing Home, Rathfarnham, Dublin
2009 Research in African Studies
2014 Praying for the Church and Society at Cherryfield Lodge

McCullough, Joseph P, 1892-1932, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/281
  • Person
  • 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
Final Vows: 02 February 1929
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
Obituary :
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.

Murphy, Conal K, 1902-1979, Jesuit priest and chaplain

  • IE IJA J/230
  • Person
  • 08 January 1902-14 January 1979

Born: 08 January 1902, Kilmainham, Dublin
Entered: 07 March 1929, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1939
Professed: 07 February 1942
Died: 14 January 1979, Manresa House, Dollymount, Dublin

Chaplain in the Second World War.

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - National Teacher before entry

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 16th Year No 4 1941

General :
Seven more chaplains to the forces in England were appointed in July : Frs Burden, Donnelly, J Hayes, Lennon and C Murphy, who left on 1st September to report in Northern Ireland, and Fr Guinane who left on 9th September.
Fr. M. Dowling owing to the serious accident he unfortunately met when travelling by bus from Limerick to Dublin in August will not be able to report for active duty for some weeks to come. He is, as reported by Fr. Lennon of the Scottish Command in Midlothian expected in that area.
Of the chaplains who left us on 26th May last, at least three have been back already on leave. Fr. Hayes reports from Redcar Yorkshire that he is completely at home and experiences no sense of strangeness. Fr. Murphy is working' with the Second Lancashire Fusiliers and reports having met Fr. Shields when passing through Salisbury - the latter is very satisfied and is doing well. Fr. Burden reports from Catterick Camp, Yorks, that he is living with Fr. Burrows, S.J., and has a Church of his own, “so I am a sort of PP”.
Fr. Lennon was impressed very much by the kindness already shown him on all hands at Belfast, Glasgow, Edinburgh and in his Parish. He has found the officers in the different camps very kind and pleased that he had come. This brigade has been without a R.C. Chaplain for many months and has never yet had any R.C. Chaplain for any decent length of time. I am a brigade-chaplain like Fr Kennedy and Fr. Naughton down south. He says Mass on weekdays in a local Church served by our Fathers from Dalkeith but only open on Sundays. This is the first time the Catholics have had Mass in week-days

Irish Province News 17th Year No 1 1942

Chaplains :
Our twelve chaplains are widely scattered, as appears from the following (incomplete) addresses : Frs. Burden, Catterick Camp, Yorks; Donnelly, Gt. Yarmouth, Norfolk; Dowling, Peebles Scotland; Guinane, Aylesbury, Bucks; Hayes, Newark, Notts; Lennon, Clackmannanshire, Scotland; Morrison, Weymouth, Dorset; Murphy, Aldershot, Hants; Naughton, Chichester, Sussex; Perrott, Palmer's Green, London; Shields, Larkhill, Hants.
Fr. Maurice Dowling left Dublin for-Lisburn and active service on 29 December fully recovered from the effects of his accident 18 August.

Irish Province News 21st Year No 1 1946

Frs. Guinane, Pelly and Perrott C. have been released from the Army. Fr. Guinane is now Minister at Mungret, Fr. Perrott is posted to Galway, and Fr. Pelly is awaiting travelling facilities to go to our Hong Kong Mission. Fr. Martin, a member also of the Mission, was to have been released from the Army on December 12th, but on the 11th be met with a serious accident in Belfast (see letter below). Fr. Provincial went to Belfast on Wednesday, January 9th, to visit him at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Fr. C. Murphy hopes to start on his homeward journey from Austria on January 14th and to be released from the Army by the end of January.

Irish Province News 54th Year No 2 1979

Obituary :

Fr Conal Kieran Murphy (1902-1979)

Born on January 8, 1902 Conal entered the Society on March 9, 1929 and was ordained priest on July 31, 1939.Final vows 7 February, 1942. He died on the 14th of January 1979.
He was educated at CBS Synge St and at St Mary’s College, Rathmines; trained as a Primary Teacher at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra and taught in St Peter’s National School, Phibsboro. After noviceship he completed his BA degree in 1932, did philosophy in Tullabeg, one years regency in Clongowes, theology in Milltown Park and Tertianship in Rathfarnham Castle.
After Tertianship he served as chaplain to the British Forces in England, Scotland, Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, Syria, Egypt and finally Austria. After demobilization he taught in Crescent College Limerick 1946-51 then to Milltown Park where he was Director of the short-lived juriorate for Brother postulants and also Director of Missions and Retreats from 1951-67.
In 1967 he came to Manresa House as Adj Dir Exc Spir and Praef Spir NN.
That is the bare record. But what of the man? Conal K (he always used the “K” and liked to use it) was a friendly, quiet and most companionable man who loved a bit of gossip, especially if it had a political or educational flavour. He was interested in sketching and could pass a summer afternoon trying to get on paper his vision of the West Cork scenery. he was a vigorous walker but a problem for his companion; as his Master of Novices said, “he careens, dear and good brother” with the result that the companion found himself being forced into the ditch or on to the roadway.
Fidelity, loyalty, conscientiousness, honour are the words that spontaneously come to mind when thinking of Conal; superiors realised that he was literally “paratus ad omnia”; there was no demand on his time or services but would be met willingly and cheerfully. He was a voracious but selective reader and probably one of the best read men in the province in modern theology, dogmatic and moral. His great difficulty was in expressing what he knew and we lovingly recall his “what-you-may-call-it”: a phrase which took the place of nouns, common and proper, or verbs, adverbs, adjectives and indeed of most parts of speech. Unwary listeners sometimes found themselves utterly confused. However when he wrote out his thoughts he could and did write quite exceptional sermons and conferences. If he read the text, well and good.
Can I add much to the above jejune biography? Not very much, I fear, for Conal did not easily talk about himself, least of all about his war-time experiences. He had to be trapped into recalling even trivial reminiscences.
We who entered in September 1929 found him already there, our senior in the Society by some five to six months; our senior in age by some eight or nine years. He was helped somewhat in bridging the generation gap by the presence in the noviceship of another senior citizen, Fr Liam McElligott. Conal was our Beadle during the Long Retreat communicating by quite illegible notes which he either showed or handed to you. His years did not prevent him taking part, a rather ungainly part, in our football and drill. One of his rare disclosures about himself took place, I recall, when we were novices together. He admitted that at the fateful election of 1922, when he was in teacher training, he voted SEVERAL times AGAINST the Treaty.
Whatever were his political opinions in 1922, after 1942 he was a totally establishment man and British establishment at that. I think, however, that this was an expression of his sincere loyalty to his war time comrades rather than any political bias. Memories of his visits home on leave as chaplain are of the ceremony of opening a bottle of Jameson so that it could appear as for personal use to the Customs Officials, though its real destination was the officers mess. He had it in for the Arabs who stole his Mass kit; that was a sore memory.
Conal was invited to preach on Remembrance Day at the service in St Patrick’s Cathedral, an invitation which it gave him great joy to accept. In his sermon he made some references to the Christian ideals which inspired so many of his old comrades in the war. Subsequently, he heard with great satisfaction, I’m sure, that the Soviet Ambassador had formally complained about such references.
His loyalty to friends, in the Society, in the army and the many who met him in his retreat work especially members of the Diocesan clergy, the members of the Praesidium of the Legion of Mary to which he was devoted, the members of the Victualers section of St Joseph’s Young Priests Society was met with an answering affection and devotion. They will miss him. So too will his only sister Ursula to whom he was a most devoted brother. So, too, his brethren, young and old, in Manresa, did and do miss him.
May he be in the glory of his Lord to whom he gave loyal and dedicated service, and, one day, may we all be merry with him in Heaven.

Saul, William, 1910-1976, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/393
  • Person
  • 18 October 1910-01 August 1976

Born: 18 October 1910, Kilmainham, Dublin
Entered: 01 September 1928, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1941
Final vows: 02 February 1944
Died: 01 August 1976, St Joseph. Hawthorn, Melbourne, Australia

Early education at CBS Synge Street, Dublin

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
William Saul was educated at the Christian Brothers school, Synge St, Dublin, 1920-28, and entered the Society at St Stanislaus', Tullabeg, 1 September 1928. Philosophy studies were at Tullabeg, 1932-34, and his juniorate studies in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and Irish, were at the National University Dublin, 1930-31. Regency was at Mungret College, Limerick, 1935, and Clongowes Wood, 1936-37. His theology was at Milltown Park, Dublin, 1938-41, and tertianship at Rathfarnham, 1942.
Before arriving in Australia in 1948, he taught at the Crescent, Limerick, and at Clongowes. From 1955-61 Saul taught mathematics and music, as well as directing the military band at Xavier College, Kew. Then he taught religion, mathematics and music at Riverview, 1962-71. After a year at Canisius College, Pyrnble, 1972, he spent the last years of his life at the provincial residence, Hawthorn.
Saul was a highly talented musician and could play any instrument in the orchestra. He created an arrangement of “Galway Lullaby” from which he received royalties. He was not an easy man to know, and was considered irascible. In his latter years, he did not appreciate superiors, whom he considered were not friendly towards him. He did not always appear to be the happiest of men.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 23rd Year No 3 1948

Frs. Kennedy G., O'Flanagan and Saul leave for Australia on 9th July.

Irish Province News 51st Year No 4 1976

Obituary :

Fr William (Bill) Saul (1928-1976)

Fr. J. A. Mac Seumas writes:
It was with a heavy heart that I heard last July of the death of poor Willie Saul. I call him Willie as that is how we knew him long ago in Synge Street, in the 1920s. In those days we walked to and from school, only travelling by tram when the weather was too bad. And so we usually walked, especially home, with the same people. In my case I walked back with Willie Saul, During those years we came out to Rathfarnham Castle on a three-day retreat once a year. I was on retreat with Willie Saul four times, in the years 1924 to 1928. One cannot emphasise sufficiently what good these retreats did in helping young lads to go on for the priesthood, not only in the Society, but also to other religious orders and the diocesan clergy.
In due course Willie and I, and some others, having applied to the Society to be admitted, left Dublin on the afternoon train on September 1st for Tullamore. We were met by the socius to Fr Martin Maher, Fr Henry King and made the uninspiring trip out to Rahan College, otherwise known as St. Stanislaus College. After the period of first probation, we began the two years of the novitiate and, looking back on it now, I can say that we enjoyed that period of our lives a little more than we might admit.
The two years passed quickly enough, and the Vow Day came along. We then entered the Society as scholastics, bound by yow to spend our lives in the same Society until God would call us to Himself.
When Willie reached the colleges, in Mungret in fact, the pattern of ill health in his life began to show itself. He suffered from severe stomach pains which often left him very weak. This persisted, and a year in Clongowes when he was Study Prefect showed no improvement, in fact he never recovered from this malady of the intestines.
Whilst he was in the study he had a very quiet systematic method of dealing with any disturbance. He kept an exact record of any breach of the study rules. For these offences he did not punish. Later if any concerted breach of discipline occurred, he would read out the list of minor infringements, which he had kept, and remark that the offenders would receive their due punishment unless quiet was restored. This usually had the desired effect.
He was very loyal to his family. His brother, Paddy, died at an early age. Fr James was an SMA. Myles was a founder of the Photographic Section of the Garda Siochana. Willie himself was blessed with a very quick mind, and was very good at mathematics. He taught Leaving Certificate in this subject. He was also talented in a high degree in music, and more about this later.
But above all else he was solidly spiritual. It was only a solid spirituality that sustained him in Milltown. He suffered severely from pains in his stomach. The house physician was not ideal for religious. He was known to have told his students in UCD that religious were prone to be hypochondriacs. It would seem that he had put Fr Willie into that category, because all the comfort given him on his first visit was “You are suffering from flatulence”, and on a second visit months afterwards he told Bill Saul, “Take plenty of exercise”. Needless to say the medical report was accepted and acted on by his religious superiors, and Fr Willie soldiered on. It took peritonitis and an ambulance in the early hours of the morning and an emergency operation to prove that Fr Willie was a genuinely sick man.
A second major operation followed, both of which, coupled with some time convalescing, meant that Fr Saul missed a sizeable share of the scholastic year. He was now told that he could not be ordained because the requirements of Canon Law had not been met.
With only weeks to go before ordination day Fr Willie was able to show the fallacy of the so-called canonical obstacle, and was then presented with the final hurdle : his exam, and if you make it you are acceptable. He rose to it like Eddie Macken on Boomerang.
Willie had loyalty to his friends in a high order. With a serious turn of mind he was dependable and true. This seriousness showed itself in his reading, his taste was intellectual and heavy, rather than frivolous. He loved a good problem, be it in maths, chess, bridge or anything. Incidentally, he played a good hand at bridge, sized up the situation in a brief time, and then played without any further hesitation, and always got full value from a hand.
He enjoyed more than anything a good musical evening, and he put much work into organising both the instrumental and the singing side of such a get-together. He himself was very talented in violin, flute and piano.
He had a quick mind and was a clear thinker. He had, moreover, the gift of making clear to us slower ones in philosophy and theology what his alert mind had grasped in a flash. And most important of all he was most generous in using this gift.
In these days of comfort and carpets one small point deserves mention. Many a theologian in those days studied in less discomfort because of his skill as a carpenter. Fr Saul’s speciality was an armchair of his special design. The music-stands in the Crescent, still in use, if I mistake not, are his handiwork. The revival of the Caecilians was in no small part due to his inspiration and hard work.
We lost touch with Willie when he left us for Australia in 1948. May he rest in peace.

Fr Hugh O'Neill adds the following details concerning Fr Bill Saul’s life as a Jesuit:
From 1943 (after his tertianship) till 1947 he taught in the Crescent; then, after another year or so in Clongowes, he went to Australia around 1948. After he left Ireland, Fr Saul worked in the following places: 1948 56: St. Louis School, Claremount, Perth; 1956-62: Xavier College, Kew, Melbourne; 1962-72: St. Ignatius College, Riverview; 1972-74: Canisius College, Pymble; 1974-76: Director of Jesuit Seminary Association.