Lawler, Brendan, 1909-1993, Jesuit priest

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Lawler, Brendan, 1909-1993, Jesuit priest

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29 October 1909-16 June 1993


Born: 29 October 1909, Bunclody, County Wexford
Entered: 01 September 1926, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 17 July 1938, Innsbruck, Austria
Professed: 02 February 1945
Died: 16 June 1993, Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin

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

Eldest Brother of Donald - RIP 1984 and Ray - RIP 2001

Early education at Clongowes Wood College Sj

by 1933 at Valkenburg, Limburg, Netherlands (GER I) studying
by 1936 at Innsbruck, Tirol, Austria (ASR) studying

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 8th Year No 4 1933

Father T. Corcoran's labours in connection with the examinations for the Higher Diploma had scarcely concluded when he had to betake himself to Holland to preside at the second International Congress of Catholic Secondary Education. The meetings of the Congress took place at the Hague each day from 31st .July to 5th August.
Their Excellencies, the Bishops of Holland, were patrons of the Congress, which was attended by some 350 delegates representing the leading Catholic countries. Among the delegates were about 45 members of the Society from lands outside Holland. Prominent among the visitors were the Provincial of the Paris Province, with various Rectors and Prefects of Studies from our French Colleges. Père Yoes de la Brière, the Rectors of Brussels, Namur, Liege and other Belgian Colleges, Fathers Errandonea, Herrera and others from Spain,the French Oratorian Sabatier and various distinguished lay-men from Germany and Italy.
Cardinal Pacelli, in the name of the Holy Father, sent a long and cordial telegram of good wishes to the Congress , also the Nuncio Apostolic in Holland, who was prevented by serious illness from attending in person.
In the absence of the Nuncio the final allocution was delivered by the Bishop of Haarlem, after the Rector Magnificus of the University of Nijmegen and Father Corcoran, as President of the Congress had already spoken. Mr. J. O'Meara from Louvain Messrs. B. Lawler and C. Lonergan from Valkenburg acted as assistants to Father Corcoran at the Hague.
A splendid paper on “The Present Condition of Secondary Education in Ireland” was read by Dr. John McQuaid, the President of Blackrock College. All accounts agree in stating that the Congress was a brilliant success.
As the proceedings at the Hague coincided with the Biennial Conference of the World Federation of Education Associations, Father Corcoran was unable to be present at the functions in Dublin, but an important paper from his pen was read by Mrs McCarville, Lecturer in English in University College, Dublin. This paper expounded the Catholic philosophy of Education.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 77 : Summer 1994 & Interfuse No 82 : September 1995


Brendan Lawler (1909-1993)

29th Oct. 1909; Born, Bunclody, Co. Wexford
Early education: Clongowes Wood College
Ist Sept. 1926: Entered the Society at Tullabeg
1928 - 1932: Rathfarnham - studying Science (biology) at UCD
1932 - 1935: Valkenburg, Holland, studying Philosophy
1935 - 1938: Innsbruck, studying Theology
17th July 1938: Ordained at Innsbruck
1939 - 1940: Tertianship, Rathfarnham
1940 - 1941: Tullabeg, Professor of Cosmology and Biology
1941 - 1943: 35 Lower Leeson Street, Private Study
1943 - 1962: Tullabeg - Professor of Cosmology and Biology. (From 1953 - '59 he was Rector)
1962 - 1968: Loyola House - Socius to Provincial
1968 - 1992; Milltown Park: Secretary, Institute of Theology/Philosophy, and Lecturer (Philosophy), (1982 Assistant Registrar)
1993: Cherryfield Lodge. Hospitalised in The Royal, Donnybrook and then in Our Lady's Hospice.
16th June 1993. Died Our Lady's Hospice.

For many members of the Irish Province the name of Brendan Lawlor is synonymous with memories of the philosophate in Tullabeg, Once can see him still on a dark day in the tiered lecture-room, reading from the yellowing pages of his cosmology notes or play-acting as to whether the continuum could be found in the drawer or under the table. These memories can be crowned with those of drowsy afternoon sessions with diverting slides portraying the innards of the amoeba. In retrospect one can only admire the patience and endurance of those who, after years of no mean scholastic attainment, accepted from the Society the “world without event” of life in Tullabeg.

Brendan had a distinguished scholastic career behind him when he came to Tullabeg as Professor of Cosmology and Biology in the autumn of 1943. He was one of those “stars” who had been picked out for a four-year Juniorate (1928-1932), ending up with a MSc in biology. In the autumn of 1932 he made his way with Con Lonergan to do his philosophy with the exiled Germans in Valkenburg, and then in 1935 both of them went on to join Donal O'Sullivan for theology in Innsbruck. It was typical of the man that he could spend those years so close to the drama of the rise of Hitler and the Anschluss of Austria and so rarely speak of these momentous events afterwards. Even the theology of the times was rarely mentioned by him, though Innsbruck in those years was the centre of “kerygmatic theology” and of the liturgical and catechetical renewal spearheaded by JA Jungmann. Within a short time of Brendan's leaving Innsbruck the house in Sillgasse was turned into the headquarters of the Gestapo, but Brendan by that time was safely back in Ireland doing further studies in Leeson Street.

It will come as a surprise to most people to realize that by far the longest period Brendan spent in one place was not Tullabeg but Milltown Park. He spent nineteen years in Tullabeg at a stretch, being Rector there from 1953 to 1959. He left the midlands in 1962 to become Socius to the Provincial (1962-68), and after those six years in Eglinton Road was assigned to Milltown Park, where he was to spend the next quarter of a century. For many years during this period he did some teaching in the area of logic, but his principal task was to look after the administrative staff of the Institute and to keep the scholastic records of the students. He was also responsible for organizing what came to be called “Saturday Theology”, a very successful programme of lectures for extra-mural students which, over a period of twenty years, introduced innumerable religious and laity to the mysteries of Vatican II.

For a person who in many respects was the quintessence of predictability, Brendan could be a source of hidden talents. The last instance of this came about only a few weeks before his death, when his community was presented with an amazingly competent landscape which Brendan had painted during occupational therapy in the hospice. Who would have thought that we had another Paul Henry in our midst? Then there was his early interest in the scriptures, which eventually bore fruit in his book, Epistles in Focus, widely read in Ireland at the time, and for many years the only scholarly book on scripture by a member of the Province. During his years as Professor in Tullabeg, he rarely, if ever, published anything in philosophy, but in his final years in Milltown he had some published work in Milltown Studies, includ ing one article of which he was particularly proud, “The Star of Implication” (Milltown Studies, no.5).

Those who knew Brendan in the two main periods of his life, that in Tullabeg and that in Milltown, will have been struck by the contrast between the two, especially if one was a scholastic in the earlier period. In Tullabeg he seemed constrained by the stricter regime of the times. In Milltown his natural humour and spirit of companionship blossomed, so that he became one of the most appreciated members of the community. He maintained amazingly good health, even after retirement, and took a great interest in all that was happening in the world, not least in the world of sport, Brendan before the television-set, with cigarette in hand, was one of the fixtures of Milltown life during those years. This continued up to the time that the onset of Parkinson's necessitated his hospitalization. The decline that set in developed with a speed that surprised us all. The disease took him from us within a matter of months, and so he died at the impressive age of 83. May he rest
in peace.

Ray Moloney


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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830- (1830-)

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-


Lawler, Brendan, 1909-1993, Jesuit priest

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IE IJA J/515

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