Item 283 - Letter from Fr Patrick Keating SJ to Irish Fr Provincial regarding the Rectorship of Xavier College

Identity area

Reference code

IE IJA MSSN/AUST/283

Title

Letter from Fr Patrick Keating SJ to Irish Fr Provincial regarding the Rectorship of Xavier College

Date(s)

  • 23 July 1908 (Creation)

Level of description

Item

Extent and medium

4pp

Context area

Name of creator

(17 March 1846-15 May 1913)

Biographical history

Born: 17 March 1846, County Tipperary
Entered: 28 August 1865, Milltown Park, Dublin
Ordained: 1880
Final Vows: 15 August 1890, Australia
Died: 15 May 1913, Lewisham Hospital, Sydney, Australia

Part of St Ignatius College community, Riverview, Sydney, Australia at the time of death.

Younger brother of Thomas - RIP 1887
Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

Father Provincial of the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus: 3 December 1894-11 November 1900.
Superior of the Irish Jesuit Mission to Australia Mission: 05 April 1890-1894

by 1868 at Amiens France (CAMP) studying
by 1869 at Rome Italy (ROM) studying Theology
by 1871 at Maria Laach College Germany (GER) Studying
by 1878 at Innsbruck Austria (ASR-HUN) studying
by 1879 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) studying
Early Irish Australia Mission 1884; Mission Superior 05 April 1890
PROVINCIAL 03/12/1894

◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
Younger brother of Thomas - RIP 1887. They were very close.
Early education was in America and then Clongowes.

After First Vows he did his studies at Amiens and Rome, later at Maria Laach and Innsbruck, and in the end at St Beuno’s. Wherever he went, the same spirit of kindness and good humour went with him, and this was true throughout his life. On Australian who went to visit him in Rome was greeted warmly at first, but when he mentioned that he was to see Father Keating, the courtesy was unbridled.
1870 He was living in Rome at the same time as the “Robber King of Sardinia” Victor Emmanuel laid siege to and conquered the city. he was a student at the time, and not inactive in the siege, going here and there to tend to the injured and dying. He was truly a martyr in desire. The conquerors drove the Jesuits from the Roman College. By 1872 the Jesuits were banished from Maria Laach and Amiens, and he was in these places.
1877 He was sent for studies to Innsbruck where he joined Thomas Browne and Francis Carroll.
1880 He joined Joseph Dalton in Australia, and succeeded him as Rector of Riverview.
1890 He was appointed Mission Superior in Australia.
1894 He was recalled to Ireland as provincial of HIB, and he remained there for six years.
1901 He returned to Australia as Rector of Xavier College, Kew. He then moved to North Sydney, for a time at St Mary’s, then Lavender Bay, succeeding John Gately. While working in these Parishes, his gentleness, friendliness and care for every man, woman and child, won the hearts of all. When he left Lavender Bay for a second stint as Rector of Riverview in place of Thomas Gartlan who had been sent to Melbourne, the people gave him a wonderful send off.
His death took place at Lewisham Hospital (run by the Nuns of the Little Company of Mary) 14 May 1913. The funeral was hugely attended and the Archbishop of Sydney, Michael Kelly, both presided and Preached. The Jesuits at Riverview received countless letters and telegrams from all parts of Australia condoling with them on the death of Father Keating.

Catholic Press, Sydney :
Rev W A Purves, Headmaster of the North Sydney Church of England Grammar School wrote : “I am sure everyone who knew Father Keating feels an individual loss. For myself I never knew quite so courteous and kindly and entirely charming a gentleman; and for you who knew well his other great and endearing qualities, the blow must indeed be heavy. I think sch personalities as his have a strong influence in maintaining friendliest relations among us all, and whilst in a sense one cannot mourn the second and better birthday of a good man, one cannot but miss him sorely.”

Rev Arthur Ashworth Aspinall, headmaster of the Scots College, in conveying his sympathy to the Acting Rector, the Staff and Pupils of Riverview, wrote :
“It was my privilege to meet Father Keating years go and more recently, I realised the charm of his cultured personality, and can thus in some degree realise the loss which the College and your Church has sustained. The State has too few men of culture not to deplore the removal of one so much honoured in the teaching profession.”

Note from Thomas P Brown Entry
1877 He was sent to Innsbruck for Theology with W (sic) Patrick Keating and Vincent Byrne

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Although born in Ireland, Patrick Keating received much of his early education in the USA. His secondary education began at Clongowes Wood College, Kildare, Ireland, where he had a reputation as a fine athlete and was a good rifle shot. He entered the noviciate at Milltown Park Dublin, 2, August 1865. His juniorate studies were at the College of St Acheul, France, his philosophy at the Roman College, and theology at Innsbruck and St Beuno's, Wales, 1877-81. Regency was undertaken after philosophy at St Stanislaus College Tullabeg, 1871-77, where he was assistant prefect of studies and taught university students.
Keating was living in Rome in 1870. On 20 September the troops of Victor Emmanuel laid siege to the city of Rome. He risked his life by helping the wounded on the streets. The Jesuits were driven from the Roman College. So Keating finished his third year philosophy at Maria Laach during the Franco-Prussian War.
After his ordination in 1880, he taught religion, French and Italian for a short time, 1881-82, at Clongowes Wood, and the following year was socius to the master of novices at Milltown Park, during which time he completed his tertianship.
In 1883 Keating arrived in Australia, joined Joseph Dalton at St Ignatius' College, Riverview, and succeeded him as rector in 1888. He was appointed mission superior in 1890 and resided at Riverview. In 1894 he returned to Ireland as provincial, residing at Gardiner Street.
He returned to Australia in 1901 and was appointed rector of Xavier College, Kew, and taught for the public examinations. From 1908-11, he performed parish ministry at North Sydney and at Lavender Bay, Sydney, and in 1912 was appointed rector of Sr Ignatius' College, Riverview. He died in office the following year following a cerebral haemorrhage.
Patrick Keating was one of the most accomplished Irish Jesuits to come to Australia. He was spiritually, intellectually and athletically gifted, and respected for his administrative skills. People spoke of “his urbanity his culture, his charm, his good looks, his human insight and his ability to inspire affection”.
Christopher Brennan, the Australian poet and former student of Keating, paid him an outstanding tribute. He believed him to be “the most distinguished personality that I have ever met, a standard whereby to test and judge all others. To come into his hands ... was to be initiated to a quite new range of human possibilities”. He praised Keating for his 'rare qualities of gentleness and sympathetic comprehension.
His Jesuit community praised his great spirit of exactness and neatness, the kindness he extended to all, his strong sense of duty, a tender devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and his work in adorning the chapel. Under his direction, Brother Girschik made a line cedar vesting press for the sacristy at Riverview, which still stands.
Writing to Ireland in 1894, Dalton, at Riverview, believed that Keating's students had great confidence in him and “liked him well”. John Ryan, mission superior, did not lavish praise upon him. He believed him to be good at administration, but not with finances, not overly strict in discipline; firm and decisive, but easily influenced by anyone of strong mind, cool of temper, but not fatherly or sympathetic, somewhat superficial, cold and at times sarcastic, discouraging more than encouraging. The Irish provincial, Timothy Kenny, while visiting Australia in 1890 believed Keating to be “the most admirable man I ever met”. That being the opinion that counted, Keating became the next Irish provincial.
In his speeches as rector of the various colleges, Keating showed his openness, appeal to reason and genuine belief in the goodness of human nature. He was truly a cultured humanist. He kept well informed about contemporary ideas in education and gave critiques of them, continually stressing the traditional classical education of the Jesuits. He was concerned at Riverview by the rather poor quality of Jesuit teachers, men “rather broken in health”, who were not helping the boys achieve good examination results.
At the time of his death, Keating was one of the most significant Jesuits in Australia, much loved and most appreciated by those who experienced him, both as a kind and courteous gentleman, and as a cultured scholar.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father Patrick Keating SJ 1846-1913
Fr Patrick Keating was born in Tipperary on March 17th 1846. Although born in Ireland he received his early education in America, then completing his secondary course at Clongowes Wood.

As a Jesuit, he was present in Rome when it was captured by Victor Emmanuel of Sardinia. In the midst of the bombardment, he went here, there and everywhere, assisting the wounded civilians and soldiers. He, with his companions, were driven from Rome and proceeded to Maria Laach in Germany and then to Innsbruck.

Fr Keating went to Australia where he became the first Rector of St Ignatius Riverview, and then Superior of the Mission.

He was recalled to Ireland to become Provincial in 1894. After his term as Provincial, he returned once more to Australia, where he filled many administrative posts and became a widely-known and popular figure in public life. He figures largely in the long and brilliant school-story of Fr Eustace Boylan”The Heart of the School”. Fr Keating (Keeling of the story) is a winning and lovable Rector of Xavier.

At his death in Sydney on March 15th 1913 there were many generous tributes to his work and character, not only from Catholics, but from persons of all religious denomination.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 42 : Easter 1986

Portrait from the Past

PATRICK KEATING : 1846-1913

Province Archives

The following appreciation of a former Irish Provincial appeared in the CATHOLIC PRESS of Sydney on 22nd May 1913.

Born in Tipperary on 17th March, 1846, Fr. Keating occupied almost every position a Jesuit can occupy except that of General. His last sickness was brief. It was only a few days before his death that he became ill. His medical attendants pronounced his case serious - cerebral hemorrhage - and the last Sacraments were administered to him at once by the Rev. Father C. Nulty, S.J. He was taken to hospital the following day, and had been a patient only twelve hours when he died.

Of Father Keating, as boy and man, as student and teacher, as pastor of souls and Provincial of the Irish branch of his Order, it may be safely said that his whole life was one well-sustained effort to be ready for the final sunmons of the Sovereign Master who has called him home so suddenly. He was Superior of the Australian Mission of the Society of Jesus in 1894. At a later date he governed the Irish Province. He was for some years Rector of St. Francis Xavier's College at Kew, and before he went to Riverview as Rector for a second time, he had been zealously labouring as pastor of souls among the people of North Sydney.

Although he was born in Ireland, Father Keating imbibed the rudiments of knowledge in America. His high-school studies began at Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare. He entered the Novitiate at Milltown Park, near Dublin in 1865. His later studies were made at the College of St. Acheul, in France; at the Roman College of Maria-Laach, in Germany; at the University of Innsbruck, in the Tyrol; and at St. Beuno's College, in Wales Wherever he went, the same spirit of genuine kindness and genial good-humour that we ourselves witnessed invariably went with him, An Irish-Australian who visited Rome a few years ago called at one of the principal colleges there. The Professor who showed him over the place was kind and courteous; but when the name of Father Keating was mentioned to him, then to kindness and courtesy were added all manner of friendly offices. The Professor had been an old class-fellow of Father Keating, about 40 years before, and his face glowed with pleasure at the very mention of his name.

Father Keating was living in Rome in 1870. On September 20th of that year the troops of the robber King of Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel, laid siege to the city of the Popes, bombarded the walls of Rome, and entered into its streets as conquerors. While all this was going on, Mr. Keating, as he then was, was not inactive. In the midst of balls and bombs, in the midst of whizzing bullets and falling masonry, at the risk of his own life, he went here, there and everywhere on his mission of assisting to the best of his power the wounded and dying soldiers and civilians. He was truly a martyr in desire. The same bandits that deprived the Pope of his dominions deprived the Society of their college. They were driven from the Roman college in 1870. In July, 1872, they were banished by the German government from Maria-Laach, a college they had acquired only ten years before. If Father Keating had remained only a little longer, at Maria-Laach and St. Acheul, he would doubtless have driven out of house and home like so many of his brethren, at the point of the bayonet.

In 1877, Father Keating was sent to Innsbruck, where he studied for a time with Father T. Browne and Father Carroll, of North Sydney.

Three years after his ordination, which took place in 1880, Father Keating came to Australia. He joined the late Father Dalton, founder of the college, at St. Ignatius', Riverview, and succeeded him as Rector. He held the position for six years, and was then appointed Superior of the Jesuits in Australia. He was recalled to Ireland in 1894 to be Provincial of the Irish Province, an office he filled with distinction for six years. He returned to Australia in 1901, having been appointed Rector of Xavier's College, Kew. He was transferred to North Sydney some years ago, and for a time was on the staff at St. Mary's, Ridge Street. Thence he was placed in charge of St. Francis Xavier's, Lavender Bay, succeeding the late Father Gately. While working amongst the people of the parish, Father Keating's gentleness, geniality, zeal and solicitude for the welfare of every man, woman and child in his flock, won the hearts of all, as they did everywhere he laboured throughout his career.

When he left Lavender Bay in January 1912 to assume the Rectorship of Riverview for the second time, in the place of Father Gartlan, who was transferred to Melbourne, the people entertained him, and demonstrated their affection for hin in no unmistakable way.

The late Father Keating belonged to an old Tipperary family. An elder brother, Father Thomas Keating, S.J., came to this country two years before him. In Ireland he had been Rector of Clongowes Wood College. In Australia he joined the teaching staff of St. Aloysius' College, then in Sydney. He died many years ago in St. Francis Xavier's College, Kew. The deepest affection existed between the two brothers. Both were excellent religious and most saintly men. Their immediate relatives reside in a fine place close to Chicago, USA.

Father Keating's death took place as described at Lewisham Hospital on May 14th, 1913. The obsequies were largely attended and were presided over by His Grace, the Archbishop of Sydney, who, after Mass, preached the panegyric, basing his discourse on the inspired words of St. Luke:- “Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when He cometh, shall find watching. Amen, I say to you, that He will gird Himself, and make them sit down to meat, and passing will minister unto them, and if He shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. But this know ye, that if the householder did know at what hour the thief would come, he would surely watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Be you then also ready; for at what hour you think not, the Son of Man will come”. His Grace said the Divine Redeemer spoke these words tacitly for circumstances like those in which they were now assembled. One of their number had been called away, his soul had gone to eternity, and the earthly tenement of that soul lay on the catafalque before them like a house broken through, the spirit gone. This fact shocked them, but Holy Faith told them that blessed was the soul that was found watching, as Father Keating's was.

Now that they were gathered together according to the traditions of the Church, to mourn together, they must attend to the spiritual profits to be derived from the occasion, and first of all heap up powerful supplications for the soul that had been called away that it might speedily, if not immediately, enter into the joy of the Lord. The sacred liturgy which guided them to that bier to send forth their last prayers, and to accompany those mortal remains to the grave, wished that they would first of all derive consolation from the solemnities, and secondly, edification. The good man would be encouraged to greater perseverance, the tepid would be made fervid, and those who might be asleep in the sleep of sin, induced by the concupiscence of the flesh, would be wakened up. Father Keating served God and guided youth in the paths of learning and holiness which were characteristic of himself when his soul inhabited that human frame, with its vital organs stilled in death, and like a house abandoned. The earth would go back to the earth until the Last Day, but the soul was at that moment in the strange land from which no traveller returned. What did they think had been its lot? A week ago Father Keating had been with them in the flesh as a brother, as a fellow-worker, but suddenly he was caught up and taken from their midst. Well for his friends to know what a life Father Keating had led, happy for them that the record he wrote upon their memories was ripe in personal sanctification and spiritual victory. Therefore, he was found watching in the observance of the rules of his Order, watching at his post of duty, Father Keating had triumphed, he had fought the good fight, and kept the faith. But though they looked upon him as one already saved, he might be crying out for their suffrages from the fires of Purgatory. Sinners though they be, they could help him, for in the economy of God's Providence prayer was the Key of Heaven. God would hear their supplications on behalf of the faithful departed, but he would be dear to their prayers when they themselves were bring purged. Hence, let them studiously avail themselves of the period during which the recollection of Father Keating would be living amongst them to send up this prayer from the bottom of their hearts: “Eternal rest grant him, O Lord, and let perpatual light shine upon him. From his iniquities cleanse him, for all human frailties forgive him. What is man taken from this vale of tears that he shall be justified in the sight of God? Purify, O Lord, all this is to be purified, and take the soul of your servant and our brother, and peruit him to pass quickly, if not at once, into the joys of your heavenly abode”.

The Archbishop then vested in cope and mitre, and pronounced the Last Absolutions. As the strains of the “Dead March in Saul” throbbed through the church, the coffin was raised on the shoulders of the bearers and carried to the main entrance, the Archbishops and priests accompanying the remains to the hearse, where the Benedictus was chanted.

The Jesuit Fathers at Riverview received countless letters and telegrams from all parts of Australia condoling with them on the death of Father Keating.

In the course of his letter, the Rev. WA Parves, head-master of the North Sydney Church of England Grammar School, wrote: “I am sure everyone who knew Father Keating feels an individual loss. For myself, I never knew quite so courteous and kindly and entirely charming a gentleman; and for you who knew well his other great and endearing qualities, the blow must indeed be heavy. I think such personalities as his have a strong influence in maintaining friendliest relations among us all, and while in a sense one cannot mourn the second and better birthday of a good man, one cannot but miss him sorely”.

The Rev. A. Ashworth Aspinall, head-master of the Scots College, Bellevue Hill, in conveying his sympathy to the acting-Rector, the staff, and pupils of Riverview College, wrote:- “It was my privilege to meet Father Keating years ago and more recently, and I realised the charm of his cultured personality, and can thus in some degree realise the loss which the college and your Church has sustained. The State has too, few men of culture not to deplore the removal of one so much honoured in the teaching profession.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Letter from Fr Patrick Keating SJ to Irish Fr Provincial John Conmee SJ concerning his handing over of the Rectorship of Xavier College to Fr James O'Dwyer SJ.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Accruals

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

The Irish Jesuit Archives are open only to bona fide researchers. Access by advance appointment. Further details: [email protected]

Conditions governing reproduction

No material may be reproduced without the written permission of the Archivist. Copyright restrictions apply. Photocopying is not available. Digital photography is at the discretion of the Archivist.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

Status

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

2000

Language(s)

Script(s)

Sources

Accession area