File 331 - Letters from Fr Albert Power SJ to Irish Fr Provincial concerning his voyage to Australia, and work at Newman College

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IE IJA MSSN/AUST/331

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Letters from Fr Albert Power SJ to Irish Fr Provincial concerning his voyage to Australia, and work at Newman College

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  • 20 September 1918 - 13 October 1924 (Creation)

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24 items

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(12 November 1870-12 October 1948)

Biographical history

Born: 12 November 1870, Dublin
Entered: 13 August 1887, Loyola House, Dromore, County Down
Ordained: 29 July 1906, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final vows: 15 August 1909
Died: 12 October 1948, Xavier College, Kew, Melbourne, Australia - Australiae Province (ASL)

Transcribed HIB to ASL : 05 April 1931

2nd year Novitiate at Tullabeg;
by 1894 at Cannes France (LUGD) health
Came to Australia for Regency 1896
by 1902 at Valkenburg Netherlands (GER) studying

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Albert Power came from a pious Catholic family, uninterested in politics. Their life centred the Jesuit church in Gardiner Street, and the Jesuits educated Power at Belvedere College. Albert's vocation was believed to be a great blessing by the whole family.
He entered the Society, 13 August 1887, First at Dromore, and then moved to Tullabeg under John Colman. He studied for his humanities degree as a junior at Tullabeg and Milltown Park, Dublin. His health was not good, and he was sent to Australia, 1895-1901, to teach the classics at Riverview. He was prefect of studies from 1899-1901. He returned to Europe and Valkenburg, for philosophy, and to Milltown Park for theology, 1903-07. He lectured in dogma and scripture, and held the office of prefect of studies and rector at Milltown Park, 1907-18. He was a consultor of the province from 1914-18.
Power returned to Australia to become the first rector of Newman College, Melbourne University, where he tutored in history and English. He was appointed the first rector of the diocesan seminary, Corpus Christi College, Werribee, as well as being consultor of the mission in 1923. He taught Latin, Greek, history, elocution, and Hebrew, as well as scripture at various times, and was much sought after by nuns for spiritual direction, which was “wise, firm and sure”. He had a special liking for Our Lady's Nurses at Coogee, founded by Eileen O'Connor, a good and holy lady.
Power had much Irish piety, but was not good in the apologetics of dealing with non-Catholics. He was a clear teacher, but not an original thinker. He had great devotion to God, the Church, the Society and to all in trouble. His published works included: “Six World Problems” (NY: Postet, 1927); “Our Lady’s Titles” (NY: Postet, 1928); “Plain Reasons for Being a Catholic: (NY: Postet, 1929), and many ACTS pamphlets, including “The Sanity of Catholicism” and “Do Catholics Think for Themselves?”. He retired to Xavier College in 1945 and remained there until his death.
Power was a very small man, and called 'the mighty atom' because of his abundant energy and ceaseless activity. He was first and foremost a devout Irish Catholic and all his later learning did nothing but reinforce the faith he had learned from his mother. But the intensity of his faith and devotion appealed enormously to the devout and to struggling souls, and he had a very wide spiritual clientele, especially among women.
He was also a genuine classical scholar and a first class teacher, much appreciated at Riverview by staff and students. He deepened his knowledge of scripture and was able to expound it better than most people. He was not particularly contemporary with theology, but in Latin, Greek or Hebrew, he was an expert. While his sympathies were somewhat narrow, and he found it hard to understand different personalities, he was a highly respected priest.
From external appearances, Power was a very successful Jesuit, projecting confidence and friendliness. His diaries, however, revealed an inner struggle to become the kind of person he believed that God and the Society of Jesus expected him to be. He typified most Jesuits who seemed to experience a continual tension between their individual personality and the expectations of formal authority.
But being a Jesuit for Power was not all romance and adventure to the ends of the earth. It also meant some internal changes in the person. Through socialisation processes in the Society, he believed that to be a good Jesuit he should avoid the things of the “world”. For him this meant obedience to the rules of the Society avoiding material and secular distractions, such as visiting “externs”, or interest in the political or social questions of his time. In the diaries he expressed the struggle within him to be such a person. In particular he recognised a tension in his life between fear and love, believing that love, confidence and hope were better motives for the Christian life than fear.
While respecting and admiring men who preached an austere life with much mortification and self-denial, he was never comfortable with that more traditional spirituality which had frequently caused him tension and “nerves”. Power suffered from scruples, and he needed to be encouraged in his convictions about a more joyful spirituality. However, he was sufficiency clear-minded to observe that too much self-introspection inflamed the scrupulous conscience and led to depression. He would prefer to convince himself that somehow his personal problems would be resolved once he became close to God.
He enjoyed meditating on the life of Christ, entering well into St Ignatius' use of the senses as the retreatant contemplated Christ in his humanity Power was more comfortable relating to a loving and caring Christ. In his diaries, sermons and lectures, he expressed a spirituality that accepted the whole human person, intellectual and affective.
Power's spirituality reflected much of the emotion of the French spiritual writers whom he claimed to value and whom he read at various stages through his life. St Francis de Sales was a good counter balance to Michael Browne's severe spirituality He read de Maumigny, de Ravignan, Lallemant, and St Therese. All these authors wrote about the importance of human emotions in the spiritual life. Human and consoling thoughts of joy and hope were needed in a soul that was torn by self-doubt and anxiety,
Power regularly expressed recognition of the movement of strong spirits within him, especially guilt, but as he grew in understanding of himself and learnt how to discern these spirits, he could offer himself sound advice, but he was not always able to put it into practice. He also worried about not possessing many human qualities. He wanted to be more patient, amiable, large-minded, more generous and self-sacrificing, courteous, and tolerant.
Despite his weaknesses, through direction and resection, Power seemed to grow in his spiritual life, becoming less introspective, more controlled and happy with his life. Learning to live with tensions, and working hard through teaching, writing, spiritual direction, and retreats, towards the end of his active life, he found the confidence to record :
“ I find it hard to resist a cry for help from someone i distress (of body or soul). And I think I can say - honestly- that during the past twenty years I have rarely (if ever) refused help when I could give it......”
Living in an age that generally promoted a severe spirituality Power exemplified those Jesuits who experienced tension when presented with an exclusively austere spirituality and he came to prefer a more fully human integration - a balance paradoxically more natural and instinctive to the older Irish traditions in which he had his roots.

Note from the Joseph A Brennan Entry
He was also chosen to superintend the foundation of Corpus Christi College, Werribee, whilst awaiting the arrival of the Rector, Albert Power.

Note from William McEntegart Entry
He arrived in 1926 and went to Corpus Christi College, Werribee, to teach philosophy. But it was not long before he clashed with the rector, Albert Power. McEntegart was a genial, easy-going man. Albert Power a small, intense, hard-drivlng and rather narrow man. The latter persuaded himself the former was having a bad influence on the students, and had him moved to Riverview in 1927. He had McEntegart's final vows postponed, despite clearance from the English province. After this treatment, McEntegart naturally desired to return to his own province, and left Australia in February 1929.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 24th Year No 1 1949
Obituary
Fr. Albert Power (1870-1887-1948) – Vice Province of Australia
A native of Dublin Fr. Power was educated at Belvedere College, and entered the Society at Dromore in 1887 at the age of 17. After a brilliant course at the old Royal University of Ireland, he taught at Riverview College, Sydney, and later studied philosophy at Valkenburg, Holland, and theology at Milltown Park, where he was ordained in 1906. He joined the professorial staff at Milltown Park, first as Professor of Dogmatic Theology and later of Sacred Scripture, and was Dean of Studies and Rector from 1910-18.
In the latter year Archbishop Mannix founded Newman College at the University of Melbourne and entrusted it to the Fathers of the Society. Father Power led a band of pioneer teachers to Newman and was its first Rector. From 1923-30 he was Rector of the new Regional Seminary, Corpus Christi College, Werribee, and continued until 1945 on its teaching staff. He was also for most of this period Spiritual Director of the seminarians, so that for nearly a quarter of a century he played a distinguished part in the training of the secular priesthood of the Archdiocese. In 1947 when celebrating at Xavier College, Kew, the 60th anniversary of his entrance into the Society he was honoured by the largest gathering of his former priest-students ever to assemble in Melbourne.
Father Power was a popular lecturer in the Catholic Hour broad cast from Melbourne. His books include “Plain Reasons for Being a Catholic”, “The Catholic Church and Her Critics”, and “Six World Problems”.

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A file of letters from Fr Albert Power SJ to Irish Fr Provincial concerning his voyage to Australia via America. Includes letters referring to William Tucker SJ and his health (6 October 1918 & 7 October 1918, 2 items). Includes a letter concerning his journey to San Francisco. Remarks 'At San Francisco there is a Priest (Fr O'Neill) who is Rector of Newman Hall in the University at Berkeley...a Catholic Hall like the one I am going to be acquainted with. I have a letter of introduction to him and hope to get some lights from him. They say he has done a great deal for his Hall...' (21 November 1918, 2pp). Includes a letter concerning his new position as Rector of Newman College. Refers to Fr O'Dwyer SJ. Remarks 'The poor man has had a v. heavy trial over this Newman College affair - and I think he has been dealt with rather unceremoniously.' Refers to an offer by the Archbishop of Perth inviting the Jesuits to establish a see also residence in Perth. Remarks 'I would remind your Reverence that we are very much undermanned out here - and unless you can send us out a good few subjects, it might be better not to extend the frontier that we have to garrison.' (21 January 1919, 2pp). Includes a letter reporting on Newman College after 18 months as Rector of the College (19 August 1920, 4pp). Includes a letter referring to a consult of the mission at which the proposal of Australia becoming a Vice-Province was discussed. Summarises the points raised (13 October 1924, 3pp).

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2000

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