Item 176 - Letter from Fr John Roney SJ concerning the conduct of Fr Michael Colman SJ

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IE IJA MSSN/AUST/176

Title

Letter from Fr John Roney SJ concerning the conduct of Fr Michael Colman SJ

Date(s)

  • 23 May 1913 (Creation)

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3pp

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Name of creator

(23 November 1856-31 May 1931)

Biographical history

Born: 23 November 1856, Belfast, County Antrim
Entered: 01 January 1878, Milltown Park, Dublin
Ordained: 1889
Final vows: 15 August 1894
Died: 31 May 1931, St Ignatius College, Riverview, Sydney, Australia - Australiae Province (ASL)

RONEY or ROONEY - changes in Cat 1900

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - Clerk before entry

by 1886 at Leuven Belgium (BELG) Studying
Came to Australia 1892

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
John Roney was educated by the Irish Christian Brothers, and entered the Society 1 January 1878, at Milltown Park at the age of 21, probably after some further education. He studied philosophy at Milltown Park, and theology at Louvain, 1886-88, with regency at Belvedere and Tullabeg Colleges, 1882-85, teaching physics, chemistry, French and mathematics. He returned to teaching after ordination, first at Belvedere, 1888-89, and then at the Crescent, Limerick, before arriving in Australia in 1890. Tertianship was completed at Loyola College, Greenwich, the following year.
From 1891-1900 he taught for die public examinations and was hall prefect and prefect of discipline at various times, at Xavier College, Kew. Then he worked in the parish ministry, at North Sydney, 1900-08, at Hawthorn as minister, 1908-10, at Norwood, 1910-13, as superior and parish priest, followed by Richmond, Lavender Bay, and Toowong, 1919-24, again as superior and parish priest.
His final years, 1924-31, were teaching languages at Riverview. He suffered much in this final period from an internal trouble. While preparing for an operation he developed heart trouble from which he died suddenly.
Roney was a zealous, active and prayerful priest who had an irascible temper. The boys at Riverview would provoke him into one of his passions, though he begged them not to! When he was superior at Toowong he quarreled with one of the parishioners whom he accused of wanting too high a price for a piece of land which he wanted for the church, and when he took to denouncing her from the pulpit he was removed from office. He was also a great champion of Irish rights in the days of Home Rule.
He was remembered as a most sincere priest. Inaccuracy in narrative or argument always incurred his censure. He had a great love of literature and the ancient classics, and a deep knowledge of modern languages, especially French language and literature. He was a man of prayer, spending an hour before the Blessed Sacrament every evening.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 6th Year No 4 1931
Obituary :
Fr John Roney

Fr. John Roney was born 3 Nov. 18533, and entered the Society at Milltown 1 Jan. 1878. He began Philosophy immediately after the noviceship, spent two years at it, then put in two years at Belvedere and one at Tullabeg teaching. 1885 saw him at Louvain, where he completed Philosophy, adding two years Theology before returning to Belvedere for a year, and another at Crescent.
In 1900 he sailed for Australia, made his Tertianship at Loyola (Sydney), and spent the next nine years at Xavier as Prefect or Master. During this period, he was Minister for eight years in various Residences, Superior of Norwood for two years, and Toowong for six. He was Miss. Excurr. in 1904, an unusual work at that time in Australia. Superiors sent him to Riverview in 1925, as Spiritual Father and Master, where he remained until his death. In all he was 23 years Master.

We owe the following appreciation to Mr G Ffrench. It is a true picture of the man, not only during his stay at Riverview, but of his whole life :
“This note merely gives impressions Fr. Roney in his last years in Riverview, some half dozen years ago, he was active still. He was Spiritual Father of the Comunity and was teaching French in the three top classes.
It is easy to visualise him sitting in the library during recreation watching a game of billiards, reading the Tablet, conversing - or rather arguing - with someone. He was a well of interesting information. His varied career had made him rich in experience and anecdote. He was accurate, sometimes overwhelming accurate in conversation.
This same accuracy distinguished his teaching. On a point of French grammar he would give you the rule in a neat formula, and then the exceptions in an order which aided memorising them.He slaved for his classes. No matter how late at night it was when one got down to his room to go to confession, Fr. Roney was always to be found at his table, with a pile of theme books on either side of him. His work often took him till 2 o'clock in the morning. Every mistake was underlined, every theme annotated. Was all this necessary? Perhaps not. But it showed an admirable devotedness to duty.
Indeed, unswerving, unmeasured fidelity to duty was the most characteristic feature of the man. It appeared everywhere. His observance of rule was truly edifying. His exhortations were always ad rem. Their chief theme was the necessity of the interior life which over work and the spirit of competition tend so much to dissipate. He never wearied of urging the practice of a monthly recollection. He was in our busy world of school, toiling from morning till far into the night, but he was not of it.
Fr. Roney had high ideals and strict views. Being honest, he was consequently, hard on himself. It is not surprising that he expected much from others, inferiors and superiors alike. During the years he was superior in the residences, he appears to have been an exacting one. Some quite amusing stories are told of his rencontres with defaulting subordinates.
When his own superiors failed, or seemed to him to fail in their dealings with him, he was wounded. He bore such wounds to the grave. Vain to reflect now that perhaps greater width of vision. deeper sympathy with the difficulties of others, a keener sense of humour might have lightened his troubles. For him these troubles were real and heavy. He bore them like a
true Jesuit. Fr. Roney was too humble a man to be embittered, too honest a man not to he saddened. Not all who saw him walk resolutely over to the boys' Chapel every evening, and there spend an hour in prayer, knew that within that bowed figure a bowed though not a broken spirit was meditating on indifference and praying for it.
One who knew him long and well once put it, “John Roney is rough, outspoken if you like, but he is a very holy man.”

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Letter from John Roney SJ, Manresa, Norwood, Adelaide to Fr John Ryan SJ concerning the conduct of Fr Michael Colman SJ. Asks Fr Ryan for advice.

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2000

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