Lawlor, Gerald P, 1907-1994, Jesuit priest

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Lawlor, Gerald P, 1907-1994, Jesuit priest

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Dates of existence

15 March 1907-17 January 1994

History

Born: 15 March 1907, Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin
Entered: 05 January 1925, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1939, Milltown Park, Dublin
Professed: 02 February 1979
Died: 17 January 1994, St Xavier’s College, Bihar, India - Ranchi Province (RAN)

Transcribed HIB to ASL : 05 April 1931; ASL to RAN : 12 March 1956

by 1930 at Chieri Italy (TAUR) studying

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Gerald Lawlor was the fifth and youngest son of seven children. His father, James, had lived in London as a young man and had trained as a stenographer. His mother, Frances Teasdale, was born of a Protestant family, but later became a Catholic. His early education was entrusted to the Presentation Brothers in Dublin, and through the instrumentality of a Loreto Sister he came to experience Jesuit mission-preacher. Lawlor decided to become a Jesuit. He entered the Society at Tullabeg, 5 January 1925. His juniorate studies were at Rathfarnham Dublin, when he studied for a BA at the National University of lreland, graduating with honors. He studied philosophy at Chieri, Italy and at Tullabeg. During these years, Lawlor had a growing desire to become a missionary. He was at first interested in China, then Russia, and finally Australia. He was sent to Australia for regency for four years at St Aloysius' College, Sydney. He was a memorable teacher and well liked by the boys. In the autumn of 1936 Lawlor went to England for his theology studies at Heythrop College. He was ordained, 31 July 1939, just weeks before the outbreak of World War II, and returned a year later to Australia. The story of his trip on the boat, which rammed an enemy submarine, was recalled with exciting detail. After his return, he worked in the parish of North Sydney, taught philosophy at Loyola College Watsonia, and taught secondary students at St Louis School, Perth. He was then appointed socius to the vice-provincial, Austin Kelly, in 1947. In mid-January 1952 Lawlor was assigned to the new mission in India, where he was head of the department of English at St Xavier's College, Ranchi. Except for short periods, he was to remain at the college for the rest of his life. Lawlor was experienced as a man of genuine culture and innate courtesy, as well as a distracted, wistful person. He was a remarkable teacher, dramatising what was dull and making it come alive, by illustrating whatever seemed too abstruse or complex. He was also interested in and successful in directing a variety of plays with his own personal flair. He even wrote his own dramas that were well received. Another important ministry of Lawlor's was pastoral care for the English-speaking Catholics of Ranchi. He was experienced as a caring, assiduous pastor, compassionate to all. He was always available to people, his door always open, and his alms giving was most generous, even to the apparently undeserving poor. He was called the “Messiah of the Shunned”, a title given to him for his work with the Missionaries of Charity and for the rehabilitation of leprosy sufferers. He rejoiced in Vatican II, claiming that it gave him a real sense of freedom, but the movement of the Spirit never gave him fluency in Hindi. He was a true charismatic whose usual mode in every relationship was the theatrical-dramatic. Added to that was his personal aura, the air of mystery that seemed to surround him no matter where he went or what he did. The end result was that he always made an impact on people and situations. It was never easy to challenge his ideas and never easy for him to accept those of others. He was a man once encountered, never forgotten.

Note from John Phillips Entry
Regency was at Riverview, where, with Gerald Lawlor, he produced a notebook called “Notes on European History”, designed to remedy deficiencies in the presentation of Catholic aspects of history.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 23rd Year No 3 1948
Extracts from a letter from Fr. P. J. Stephenson, Xavier College, Kew, Melbourne :
“... We had brilliant results last year. Xavier boys won 28 1st Class Honours and 68 2nd Class Honours in the December Examinations, 1947. Besides that, they won Exhibitions in Greek, French and Physics ; and four General Exhibitions and 2 Free Places in the University. That was a fine record for a class of about 40 boys. Five Xavierians joined the Noviceship this year : four were boys just left school. An Old Xavierian took his LL.B. Degree and became a Dominican.
Fr. Mansfield has been kept going since his arrival. He will be a great addition to our staff as he can take over the Business Class and the Economic Class. Fr. Lawler came over from W.A. about three weeks ago and has taken up the duties of Socius to Fr. Provincial. Fr. Boylan and his assistant Editor of the Messenger leave for Ireland and Rome soon”.

Irish Province News 52nd Year No 2 1977

Calcutta Province

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).

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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-

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Lawlor, Gerald P, 1907-1994, Jesuit priest

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Australian Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1931- (1931-)

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Australian Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1931-

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Lawlor, Gerald P, 1907-1994, Jesuit priest

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IE IJA J/696

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