File 182 - Letters from Fr Edward Sydes SJ to Fr John Ryan SJ discussing Jesuit wills

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Letters from Fr Edward Sydes SJ to Fr John Ryan SJ discussing Jesuit wills


  • 3 November 1914 & 22 May 1917 2 items (Creation)

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(24 November 1863-15 November 1918)

Biographical history

Born: 24 November 1863, Australia (born at sea coming from Ireland to Brisbane)
Entered: 07 November 1903, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 01 August 1909
Final vows: 15 August 1916
Died: 15 November 1918, HQ 2nd Australian Div, Wandsworth Military Hospital, London, England

First World War chaplain

by 1906 at Leuven Belgium (BELG) studying
Came to Australia 1909
by 1918 Military Chaplain : HQ and Australian Division Training, BEF France

◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
He had studied for the Australian Bar before Entry and had some position in the Courts.

After his Noviceship he studied Philosophy at Louvain, and later Theology at Milltown.
1911 He was in Australia and was an Operarius at St Mary’s, Sydney.
1915 He made Tertianship at Loyola (Sydney??)
1918 He came over to Europe as Chaplain to the Australian Troops HQ 2nd Australian Div Training, BEF France. He was invalided to a London Hospital and died there of pneumonia 15 November 1918. He had a military funeral to the Jesuit plot at Kensal Green.

◆ Jesuits in Ireland :

The last parting: Jesuits and Armistice
At the end of the First World War, Irish Jesuits serving as chaplains had to deal with two main issues: their demobilisation and influenza. Some chaplains asked immediately to be demobbed back to Ireland; others wanted to continue as chaplains. Of the thirty-two Jesuits chaplains in the war, five had died, while sixteen were still serving.
Fr Edward Sydes SJ, serving with the Australian forces, would die from a blood clot, four days after the Armistice.

Commemorating the sesquicentenary of the arrival of Irish Jesuits in Australia
This year the Australian Province of the Jesuits are commemorating the sesquicentenary of the arrival of Irish Jesuits in Australia. Australia became the first overseas mission of the Irish Jesuit Province. To mark the occasion the Archdiocese of Melbourne are organising a special thanksgiving Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne 27 September. On 20 June Damien Burke, Assistant Archivist, Irish Jesuit Archives gave a talk at the 21st Australasian Irish Studies conference, Maynooth University, titled “The archives of the Irish Jesuit Mission to Australia, 1865-1931”. In his address Damien described the work of this mission with reference to a number of documents and photographs concerning it that are held at the Irish Jesuit Archives.
Irish Jesuits worked mainly as missionaries, and educators in the urban communities of eastern Australia. The mission began when two Irish Jesuits Frs. William Lentaigne and William Kelly, arrived in Melbourne in 1865 at the invitation of Bishop James Alipius Goold, the first Catholic bishop of Melbourne. They were invited by the Bishop to re-open St. Patrick’s College, Melbourne, a secondary school, and to undertake the Richmond mission. From 1865 onwards, the Irish Jesuits formed parishes and established schools while working as missionaries, writers, chaplains, theologians, scientists and directors of retreats, mainly in the urban communities of eastern Australia. By 1890, 30% of the Irish Province resided in Australia.
By 1931, this resulted in five schools, eight residences, a regional seminary in Melbourne and a novitiate in Sydney. Dr Daniel Mannix, archbishop of Melbourne, showed a special predication for the Jesuits and requested that they be involved with Newman College, University of Melbourne in 1918. Six Jesuits (five were Irish-born) served as chaplains with the Australian Forces in the First World War and two died, Frs Michael Bergin and Edwards Sydes. Both Michael Bergin and 62 year-old Joe Hearn, earned the Military Cross. Bergin was the only Catholic chaplain serving with the Australian Imperial Force to have died as a result of enemy action in the First World War.

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Edward Sydes was born off the coast of Australia in the British ship Norman Morrison on which his parents were passengers from Ireland to Queensland. His father was a carpenter and he was the seventh in a family of eight. He attended the Catholic primary schools at Ipswich and Brisbane and also a state school for twelve months.
His secondary education was at the Ipswich Grammar School, Queensland, where he had been granted a scholarship. He passed the junior public examination of the University of Sydney in six subjects at the age of fourteen, and passed the senior public examination of the University of Sydney in nine subjects in 1881. He also won a Queensland Government University Exhibition that was worth £100 per year for three years, which entitled him to attend any university in the Empire.
He decided to attend The University of Melbourne and took degrees of BA, MA and LLB. The MA degree with second class honours was taken in 1890 at the school of history, political economy and jurisprudence. In 1886 he won a scholarship for Ormond College, and later won the Oratory Prize. In 1891 he was called to the Bar in Melbourne and a month later to the Queensland Bar where he practised until 17 August 1903. He taught honours history and mathematics at Xavier College while reading for the Bar.
As a youth he was remembered as energetic, social and popular, and devoted to the Catholic faith, reading “The Imitation of Christ” daily. He was a successful barrister for twelve years, winning public acclaim for his work. He was invited to enter politics, but failed selection for the Queensland parliament twice. He was one of the leaders of the Anti-Federation Party in Queensland in 1900 and addressed many meetings in Brisbane and other towns in the south.
His faith led him to involvement with the Catholic Young Men's Society, the Holy Cross Guild and the St Vincent de Paul Conferences. However, surprise was noted among those who knew him when at the age of 40 he decided to enter the Society of Jesus, 7 November 1903, being impressed with the way the Society worked for the missions and the poor. He also desired to work among Protestants.
He was sent to Tullabeg, Ireland, for his noviciate under Michael Browne. Further studies were made at Louvain and Milltown Park and he was ordained in 1909. Upon his return to Australia he was assigned to the parish of St Mary's, North Sydney, 1909-14. At the end of 1914 he went to Ranchi, India, for tertianship, and returned to Australia in 1915, first to the parish of St Ignatius, Richmond, and then again to St Mary’s. He was a successful director of men's sodalities and associations, and was a good, humane priest.
Soon after, however, at the age of 53, he was appointed a chaplain of the Australian Imperial Forces in 1917. He served with the Second Division Artillery during 1918, and earned a good name for himself because of his devoted service to the wounded and needy. Unfortunately, he was gassed by some of his own men during the engagements at Le Cateau. From this time he developed chronic bronchitis. He also developed a thrombosis in his leg, and was invalided to England in November 1918 and conveyed to Wandsworth Military Hospital. Pneumonia set in and he died soon after. He and the Irish Jesuit Michael Bergin, who served with the AIP but never visited Australia, are the only two Australian Army chaplains who died as a result of casualties in action.
The life of Edward Sydes as Jesuit was short and different from most Australian Jesuits, but his uniqueness bares witness to the variety of Jesuit ministries, and the mystery of God's calling. He was buried in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission grave in a Catholic cemetery in Hammersmith, London. He had qualified for the British War Medal, 1914-18 and the lnterallied Victory Medal that were claimed by his sister, Mary Sydes, 9 January 1923.

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Letters from Fr Edward Sydes SJ to Fr John Ryan SJ. Includes a letter discussing wills of Jesuits with specific reference to members of the Society in Australia.

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

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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.

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