File 203 - Letters from Irish Fr Provincial to the Austrian Provincial concerning the unification of the Irish and Austrian Missions in Australia

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Letters from Irish Fr Provincial to the Austrian Provincial concerning the unification of the Irish and Austrian Missions in Australia


  • 11 July 1900 & 6 October 1900 (Creation)

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(17 March 1846-15 May 1913)

Biographical history

Born: 17 March 1846, Tipperary Town, 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


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.

◆ The Xaverian, Xavier College, Melbourne, Australia, 1913


Father Patrick Keating SJ

The news of the death of Fr. Keating came as a shock to us in Kew. Schools change fast, and there are few of the boys of his time amongst us this year, but his passing stirred up again in many of us the very kindly feeling that accompanied his presence when he was amongst us before.

Fr Keating was born in Tipperary, in 1846. He left his native land for the United States when still young, and found his home for a time in Illinois; but he returned to Ireland as a student of Clongowes, of which his brother at that time was Rector. Some old Xaverians will remember Fr Thomas Keating as he came to Australia later, and was on the staff of Xavier for a few months of 1887, teaching classics in the Honour Class till within a couple of days of his death.

According to contemporary accounts, Fr Keating was very prominent in school life at Clongowes, leading in class and sports. He was a good all round athlete, and to his early training must have been due the fine physical development which he retained to his later years. He was a good rifle shot, and kept up his interest in everything touching on school life to the end.

His studies took him to France, Germany, Austria and Rome, and he had many interesting recollections of life in those places. He was present in Rome during its bombardment by the Garibaldians, which resulted in the breach of the Porta Pia and the spoliation of the States of the Church. In 1883 he came to Australia, and was a master in Riverview till 1990, when he was appointed Superior of the Society of Jesus in Victoria and New South Wales. In 1894 he was transferred to Ireland, as head of the Irish and Australian Province, and after seven years spent in that office he returned to Australia to be Rector of Xavier in 1901. In 1908 he was sent to North Sydney to take up parish work at Lavender Bay, wliere he had as his assistant Fr Corish, who had been minister here with him for some years. The good work done by these two old Xaverians there was such as those who knew them both could expect. The same' kindly spirit accompanied Fr Keating. always, finding everywhere the same return. He liked his work, and him self was liked by young and old. So it was with a feeling of distress that he received the cabled order to return to Riverview as Rector. But the buoyancy of his spirit soon showed itself, and, as was his way, he entered heart and soul into his work there. During the illness of Fr Brown he was called upon to take up again the burden of Superior, until he was relieved after a few months by the appointment of Fr Ryan.

As he was settling down now to work, as he hoped, undisturbed, he was taken ill on May 12, and died early on the morning of the 15th. His death was the occasion of most generous expressions of a kindly feeling on all sides, induced as was evident, not so much by his position as by his personal qualities.

Fr Keating was a man of many parts as we knew him. His unfailing kindliness and courtesy made everyone feel at home with him; and, what is" after all perhaps the best test of a character, those who lived on closer terms with him, felt that in parting with him they had lost a friend.

May his soul rest in peace.

◆ Our Alma Mater, St Ignatius Riverview, Sydney, Australia, 1913

Father Patrick Keating SJ

At the last Old Boys' dinner I promised to say something about Father Keating in this “Alma Mater”. At that time his death was too poignantly near to allow (so it seemed) of any direct emotional expression in English verse or of elaborated and transposed elegy in one of the classic tongues; and I stipulated for mere personal reminiscence. in pedestrian phrase. And then, as I came to carry out my promise, I felt a certain disgust with what I was trying; it was not worthy of the dead man, and all that I owed him, and who was I to utter my school-boyish reminiscences: among others so better called to speak? So, at. the risk of exhausting all the editors' kindness - and patience, I destroyed what was beguin, and I waited and waited, until at last I have, perhaps, fallen between two stools - the Pindaric ode and the Boswellian note-book - missing both.

I first came under Father Pat Keating in the year 1885. It was my happy chance to spend the five best years of my boyhood under two Keating brothers. At old St Kilda and St. Aloysius', in Bourke Street, I had for two years sat under Father Tom, that gentle ascetic with the full head of silvery hair, and beneath it a face like that of a kindly Moltke, and the shrewd fold of the eyelids; Father Pat had the same, but whereas his eyes never missed anything (I remember well!), Father Tom's often seemed to be gazing within. But how could there be two Fathers Keating? I wondered and wondered - for a boy is slow to catch such a likeness: he knows father and uncle, but has no idea or fancy of how they were boys and brothers together, how much less then will he imagine his masters as standing in human kindship to each other or anyone at all? - and it was months before some better-informed schoolmate, who had preceded me from St Aloysius', amazed me with the truth. My amaze was further excusable in as much as there was twenty years between the brothers, and Father Tom had seemned such a very old man. How different Father Pat!

To live at a boarding school has this advantage, that one meets one's masters outside the class-room, adi comes into touch with their personality. I was probably just at the right age to undergo the influence, and absorb the charm of a personality when I met Father Keating and that, perhaps, has helped to make ineffaceable the impression I received from him. But time and favouring occasion are of no avail unless the personality, unless the man is there. And Father Keating was unique.

Distinction is a subtle thing: unmistakable to perception, intangible to analysis and definition. Everyone, I think, who uses and understands the word must have, in his mind's eye, some persons, and pre-eminently one, to make his idea of distinction palpable to his thought and fancy. For me, Father Keating always was and shall be that man; easily the most distinguished personality that I have ever met, a standard whereby to test and judge all others. To come into his hands, at that age and at that conjunction of things, was to be initiated to a quite new range of human possibilities. It is not always nor altogether an easy and flattering thing, such initiation. One feels oneself rebuked, by the unspoken contrast between what the other is and one's own crudeness; so at least it was with me, and it is another proof of Father Keating's rare qualities of gentleness and sympathetic comprehension that he bore for a long time with the wily discourtesies of what was, after all, only a distorted admiration. At last he had it out with me, man to man, and that made me his friend for ever. It showed me, behind all that perfection of word and manner and bearing that might have been the envy of any diplomat or man of the world, the simple and affectionate humanity that was always there, in Father Keating, for those who wanted it or appealed to it.

It is curious how, when one reflects upon one's impressions of Father Keating, one never thinks of him in terms of this or that; it is always the man and the personality that lives before one. Not that one abstracts from the things he was, but they do not force themselves to the front. Thus, Father Keating was of course Father Keating, and a priest of the Society, and one never knew him otherwise and yet even that seems, as it were, absorbed into the nature of the man that one remembers. And so with the rest. He was a fine athlete, and it was a sight, regularly expected, regularly recurring, to see him lift a leg-ball right out of the cricket-ground; but it seemed all to be done by the way. Just so, for all his fine knowledge of the classics (and how much else!) one hesitates to call him a scholar; that name seems to be better reserved for smaller men who have chosen the one-sided development of a single faculty. And yet the classics will help me to express, to some degree, what I feel. I remember how he enjoyed doing Horace; and there was a certain Horatian felicity and perfection of style about everything he did. I think he was aware of it, and it was a pleasure to him; but the thought never came and never can come to one that he tried after it; it was all so natural, so himself, Even so, the word “gentlemanly”, would be all too common, in fact all too shoddy for Father Keating's exquisite ways. It was just that: he was unique, he was hirrself.

When I first knew him, Father Keating was in his early prime, only just forty. I had three years with him; then during my University years I saw him continually. Then we went our ways in life (and his took him far), and after 1894 many a year went by without our meeting; when, one day, a letter arrived, in his well-known hand, telling me that he had discovered my whereabouts and asking me round to St. Xavier's. I found him there, just a little stooped and his hair whitening, but otherwise the same as ever. I was looking at the bookshelves as he came into the room, and he asked me what had caught my notice. It was the life of Coventry Patmore, and I remarked what a great poet he was: “But not as great as Homer, surely”! said Father Pat. He showed me where his old copies of Homer and Horace stood, but regretted that parish work left him but little time for such reading, Then, I remember, some incident of his morning's round led him to remark on the lack of politeness in our youth: “I remember I had a lot of trouble with you”, he said, turning to me with a smile. I confessed that I had been something of a cub and that I had deserved to catch more than I did catch.

I was Father Keating's guest twice after his return to Riverview. One noticed, just now and then, a little sign of approaching age: a slight uncertainty of vision, where the eyes had once been so keen; a slight uncertainty of movement, where the hands had once been so precise. But old age had not yet overtaken him, and it seemed as if he yet had many a happy year before him. I was thinking to myself: “It's too bad, you haven't been up to Riverview for some time now”, and planning to get a day free in a fortnight or so, when, one morning, the paper opened on his portrait and I knew that I should not see him in this life again.

We were a small class in those days at Riverview, Steve Burke and myself; Harry Fitzgerald was with us for a while, but I think we always regarded him as an outsider; we had gone through St Kilda and St Aloysius' side by side, and come up to Riverview together. Our little class was tended by three teachers, Father O'Malley, Father O'Connell, and especially Father Keating. And now they are all gone: Steve is dead and Father O'Connell and Father O'Malley, and now, at last, Father Keating. Life begins to get lonely when one thinks of the best days of one's boyhood and finds none of those who were an intimate part of them to share or stimulate one's memories. And for me a great part of what is dear and precious in life was carried away as I saw his coffin borne out of the church, and whispered to myself just the simple farewell, “Good-bye, Father Pat”.


The Late Father Keating

In setting out to write this little sketch of Father Keating, we are fortunate in having his autobiography at hạnd. It was begun at Xavier College, Kew, Melbourne, during his rectorship of that College, on a piece of notepaper, and on the last sheet we find the last entry, recording, his entrance into office as Rector of Riverview, in January, 1912. A feeling that it was perhaps too intimate to expose to the gaze of all who may read has prevented its inclusion; its substance is our guide in what will follow. Father Keating often used to say, in his characteristic way, that one should leave one's things in order and not cause people unnecessary trouble, even at the end; and we have no doubt that it was sheer good nature that urged him to leave us his life in miniature.

Father Patrick Keating was born at Tipperary, in Ireland, on the 17th March, 1846; of an excellent Catholic family which had the distinction of giving three of its members to the service of God, in religion. His elder brother, Thomas, like himself, became a Jesuit; a sister is a Sacred Heart nun in America. In 1850, a little boy of four years old, he went to America with his parents, to live at Elgin, Kane County, Illinois. His first education was obtained at a private school at Elgin; in 1861 he was sent by his parents to the Jesuit College, at Clongowes Wood, Co. Kildare, Ireland. After four years at Clongowes, in 1865, being then nineteen years of age, he entered the Irish Jesuit novitiate, taking his vows two years later, in 1867. He spent the next two years studying thetoric at St. Acheul, Amiens, and in 1868 went to Rome to study philosophy at the Roman College. He was in Rome during the Session of the Vatican Council at which the dogma of Papal Infallibility was declared, and in the same year, 1870, the Italian army entered Rome through the breach in the Porta Pia, after the famous siege.

It must have been a stirring time! We have heard Father Keating describe the walks the philosophers would take in the city during the siege. There was one poor fellow who had both legs blown off by a shell. Father Keating and his companions took pity on him, and told him he should resign himself to the misfortune God had sent him. “But how can I?”. he cried, “what can I do without legs?” Then they carried him to his home. There must have been many such scenes, and one can easily imagine the charitable “Mr” Keating of those days, often rendering such assistance.

The Roman College was appropriated by the government - it is still in use as a caserna, or military barracks and the philosophers moved to Maria-Laach, in Rhein Preussen. Here Father Keating completed his third year of philosophy. During his stay at Maria Laach the Franco-Prussian War was going on, and we have been told some interesting stories of the community at the German house, where Frenchmen and German would fraternise, forgetting or trying to forget national animnosities, while their compatriots were killing each other almost within view of the College. In 1871 he returned to Ireland to act as Prefect of the Lower Line at St Stanislaus' College, Tullamore, and to teach the classes of rhetoric and poetry till 1877. In this year he went to study theology at Innsbrück, in the Tyrol. After two years at Innsbrück, he was sent to complete his theology course at St Beuno's College, North Wales, and here he was ordained, in 1880, on September 21st. He next returned to Clongowes and taught for a year, going to his tertianship ini 1882.

During most of his “third year:, he acted as Socius to the Master of Novices in Milltown Park, Dublin. He spent the last three months of the year of the tertianship at Hadzor House, near Worcester. In 1883 he came to Australia with Fathers Sturzo and Edward Murphy, and taught at Riverview for seven years. In 1889 he was appointed Rector of Riverview, and in 1890 Superior of the Australian Mission. In 1899 he was recalled to Ireland to act as Provincial of the Irish Province. In 1901 he returned to Australia as Rector of Xavier College, Kew, Melbourne. In 1908 he took charge of St Francis Xavier's Parish, Lavender Bay, North Sydney. In 1912 he succeeded Father Gartlan as Rector of Riverview, entering on his office early in January.

During this, his second rectorship of Riverview, he again won the respect of all. The boys thought him a little strict at first, but his sterling character soon won their admiration and affection. We who lived intimately with him then had an opportunity of noticing more closely his salient characteristics. There was a great spirit of exactness and neatness; a kindness extended to all; a strong sense of duty; a tender devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and a great desire to beautify and adorn the chapel, and all connected directly with it. There was renovation and improvement in many quarters, but the chapel got most of it, and nothing seemed too good for God's own house. Under his orders, Brother Girschik made a fine cedar vesting press for the Sacristy, and we know that it was his intention to complete the Chapel furnishing before all else. We were hoping to have him with us for many years when God saw fit to take his to Himself, after a little more than a year of office.

On Monday, May 20th, he took the mid-day meal with the Community, and chatted after dinner in his usual cheerful way. During the afternoon he told Father Pigot that he felt unwell, and he was advised to rest himself. In the evening his illness took a serious turn, and next morning we were grieved to hear that he was very ill. He had developed a cerebral hemorrhage, and the doctors said that the only chance of recovery lay in his immediate removal to the hospital, and con stant skilled attention.

He showed the greatest resignation and sweetness throughout. He often used to say, when in health, that he would be ready to go “on the last journey at any moment”, and this was literally true of him. When Father Corcoran went to his room early on the Tuesday morning, he said, quietly, “Well, Father Minister, I will be going home before you, after all. I believe I am going there now”. Father Corcoran was on the eve of his departure for Ireland, his homeland, and the remark was characteristically supernatural.

He was taken to Lewisham Hospital that morning, and edified all by his patience, even joyfulness, at the call of God. When he was brought to his room in the hospital, he looked round quietly and smiled, and said, “Everything is so nice and neat; so it's here it is to be”. When told by the Sister that he might die, he said, “Yes, but I received the last Sacraments two days ago, and am ready”. He passed away gently and unobtrusively - his death was like his life - in complete peace and resignation, early in the morning of Thursday, the 22nd May. He really was “going home”,' and why should he be sad?

On Friday evening the remains were brought to the College, where an escort was waiting at the avenue gates to welcome all that was left of one whose death had made a void in the hearts of many in Riverview. The Rosary was recited by all, and when the Chapel was reached we said the Vespers for the Dead, and then during the evening many a boy, and many a master, would say a prayer for the soul of their dear Rector. Next morning we sang a short Requiem Mass, and then the remains were conveyed to St Mary's, Ridge Street, North Sydney. Here an immense concourse of members of the clergy and laity had assembled to take part in the Solemn Office for the Dead and Requiem. His Grace the Archbishop presided. Very Revs T O'Reilly PP, VF, and J P Moynagh PP, VF, acted as deacons at the Archbishop's throne. The chanters at the office were Revs L Chatelet SM, and T Hayden. The Mass was celebrated by Rev E Corish SJ, the deacon being' Rev J HealySJ, and the sub deacon Rev Father Ignatius CP, (an old Stonyhurst boy). Among the clergy: present: were Right Rev Monsignor O'Haran DD, PA, Right Rev Monsignor. O'Brien DD, Right Rev Monsignor Coonan PP, VG,. and Venerable Archpriest Collins PP, Very Rev P B Kennedy OFM, Revs H E Clarke OFM, R Piper OFM, F S McNamara OFM, M P Kelly, OFM, Very Rev P Treand MSH, Revs E McGrath MSH, F Laurent SM, Ginsbach SM, Very Rev Father Francis CP, Revs P Tuomey DPH, W McNally, E Brauer, P Walsh, T Barry, W Barry, T Phelan PP, J Kelly, J Roach, R O'Regan, J Rohan, R J O'Régan, R Darby, P Nulty, A O'Farrell, M Rohan, J J O'Driscoll, T Whyte, P Murphy.

Representing: the Society of Jesus there were present the Community of Riverview College, also Fathers J Colgan, J Brennan, P McCurtin, E Sydes, J Forster, R O'Dempsey, R J Murphy, T Cahill, T Fay, T Carroll. There were also representatives of the Marist. Brothers and Christian: Brothers; De la Salle Brothers, Sisters of the Little: Company of Mary, Sisters of Charity, Sisters of Mercy, Loreto Nuns and Sisters of St Joseph. Many prominent members of the Catholic laity were present, including a large number of Riverview ex-students. One seemed to recognise old Riverview boys everywhere, and all ages were represented.

Among the laity present were the President of the Ex-students Union, Mr A W M d'Apice BA, LLB, Hon Thomas Hughes MLC, Messrs T J Dalton KCSG, James Dalton KSG (Orange), T Mac Mahon, C. Brennan MA, C G Hepburn, F W T Donovan, T McCarthy, P Minahan, I B, Norris BA, LL, Lieutenant-Colonel Fallon, J Lane Mullins, B A McBride, G E Flannery, BA, LLB, P J ODonnell, G B Bryant, C Moore, Roger Hughes BA, A Deery, P Moore, Bryan Veech, A Moran and very many others. All the great public schools were represented at the church or at the funeral, the Headmasters' Association being specially represented by the Rev C J Prescott MA (Newington College), Brother Borgia (St Josephs College), and Mr Lucas (Sydney Grammar School).

After the last Gospel His Grace the Archbishop: delivered a touching panegyric based on the text from St Luke, “Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when He cometh, shall find watching”.. His Grace referred to the shock which such a sudden death must give to all, and to the temper of consolation to be found in our Holy Faith, and the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, by which we believed that we could help our suffering departed friends by our suffrages to God, that their purging pains might be shortened, and they might soon enter into the life of bliss, a life which Father Keating had “richly deserved”, we might hope with assurance, by his many good deeds. We should all be ready like him, at the call of our: Maker, to render an account of our stewardship. After His Grace the Archbishop had pronounced the last absolutions, the funeral procession proceeded to Gore Hill Cemetery. The cortège was headed by a detachment of cadets from St Joseph's College, Hunter's Hill, St Aloysius College, North Sydney, The Sydney Grammar School, and the Church of England Grammar School,
The cadets from Riverview College formed the immediate guard of honour to the hearse, and: the detachment marched with reversed. arms, while muffled side-drums rolled a plaintive accompaniment to the marching. Major J Lee Pulling, of the Church of England Grammar School, was in command of the military escort, and was assisted by Lieutenant Murphy, of St Aloysius College Corps, and Lieutenant Loughnan, of Riverview, while Staff-Sergeant Major Harvey represented the Fifth Brigade.

The cortege was a very long and representative one, many, who had attended the long church service walking in the funeral procession to the graveside, as a last tribute of respect.

At the graveside the Rev J Corcoran SJ, performed the burial service, at the termnation of which the Riverview choir chanted the “Benedictus”. The guard of honour saluted our departed Rector by presenting arms, and then rested on reversed arms, while the bugler of St Joseph's College Corps sounded the “Last Post”.

Father Keating was a man of great culture and charming personality. He was a master of the Latin and Greek languages, and conversed fluently in French, German, and Italian, As one can see from the life account we have given, he spent many years of his life in various parts of Europe, as well as America and Australia, and perhaps this contact with diverse types of men gave to him much of the urbanity which was to many his greatest charm. One remembers the interesting way he would chat about his stay in Rome during the siege of 1870, of the Vatican Council, of his life at Maria-Laach, and the almost constant habit he had of breaking off into snatches of foreign popular airs.

The charm of his personality seems to have been felt by all who knew him. Among the very numerous letters and telegrams which came to the College for several days after his death, there were many from old boys, from parents of present boys of the college, from those who had found in him a strong guide and a warm friend. But perhaps what impressed one most was the obvious effect of his personality on those who had not known him so intimately as his confrères, his pupils, or his clients. From headmasters of the schools, from mernbers of the legal and medical professions, from the clergy, from men of commerce, came a continual stream of letters, in which one and all attested their conviction of his sterling worth. Mr W A Purves MA, headmatser of the 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 an entirely charming a gentleman. I think such personalities as his have a strong influence in maintaining friendly relations among us all, and while in a sense one cannot mnourn the second and better birthday of a good man, one cannot but miss him sorely”.

In a letter from the Rev Ashworth Aspinall MA, headmaster of the Scots College, we find these words: “It was my privilege to meet him 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 loss of one who so muclı honoured the teaching profession”.

The letters received from old pupils were characterised by a note of warm affection, Everyone who knew Father Keating intimately loved him. At the Annual Dinner of the Old Boys' Union, held shortly after his deatlı, several told of incidents illustrating all those things that went to make up “dear Father Keating's” character - how he had reproved one for his good, and almost crushed him with sarcasm; how he had encouraged another, how he had entered into the sports of the boys to gain their hearts, how he had shown sympathy with the sorrows of the new boy whose heart ached with thoughts of the home he had left. The homesickness of one new boy seemed incurable. Father Keating, Rector of Riverview at the time, won his affection and it was lifelong and cured his homesickness by chaffing him about his untidy hair, and brushing it for him in quite fine style with his own hair brush! Perhaps the occasion may excuse the writer for telling of Sunday mornings he remembers himself, when Father Keating's room would be invaded by an army of small folk - Father Keating always loved the little ones and a judicious selection would be made from the throng. We would go off bird-nesting, and the two hours before dinner-time would pass in a flash. Everyone would enjoy the walk, Father Keating himself most of all. It was difficult to say why one liked him so much; perhaps it was the simplicity of his view which suited the young ones. He seemed, like them, to have an insight into the things which are more real because invisible and intangible, the really beautiful things which Plato imagined to be stored away in some ideal place where all is perfect and without spot.

Looking back one sees that those early days of companionship were indeed a time when the common things of nature.
“did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream”.

Further intercourse with Father Keating at a more mature age has strengthened this feeling; the key to his charm lay in the simple child-like, single view of all, which gave a zest to life. One felt in his presence the value of living, and the joy; the supernatural became evident in his cheerful, bright view of all eventualities, actual or possible. It did one good to know him, and one felt a participation of the strength which the supernatural view of all things gives, a strength proof against all vicissitudes, against the onslaught of external or internal foes, an unutterable security which seemed to be his reward for his perfect life; and which radiated in some way from Father Keating to all those who had the privilege of knowing him.



Lines to Father Keating, Scholar and Priest

Was it from wells of ancient classic lore
He drew his cultured sweetness, and the store
Of high and holy thoughts that made his life
So gracious, yet so firm-amid the strife
Of warring creed and class - that if the world
Had crashed, and all its fragments wildly hurl'd
Thro' space, his soul had still stood unafraid?
Perchance 'twere so! But something he displayed,

Ne'er caught from Greece or Rome's most glorious days,
That, more than classic culture, won the praise
And love of men. For now, the Light of Old
Is but a lonely star, that sternly cold,
Keeps from the frighted herd of clouds apart,
Or stoops to let them pass with scornful heart,
And glimmers thus thro' life, and dies at death.
Not thus was he! His was the mighty Faith.
Unclouded, glad, and simple as the sun,
That saw and met life's sorrows one by one,
The weariness—the sadness—and the crime,
The “tears of things” but straight, o'erleaping Тіmе,
Reached out to Heav'n with hands of eager prayer,
And caught and flung the mantle of God's care
O'er all the world-and what before was night
And night's wild storm-lo! now was Peace and Light.


◆ Our Alma Mater, St Ignatius Riverview, Sydney, Australia, Golden Jubilee 1880-1930

Riverview in the ‘Eighties - A McDonnell (OR 1866-1888)

Father Pat Keating (whose brother, Fr, Tom Keating was then at Bourke St.) was a most remarkable man in many respects. A scholar in every sense of the term, he was a man of a most striking personality. Strikingly handsome, he was an all round athlete. It would be hard to find a game requiring strength and skill, which he could not play well. He used to play as a member of our team when the teams of the most formid able cricket clubs about Sydney visited Riverview. Being an all round expert at the game, he used to surprise these strangers, as the following incident will show. A match was being played against one of Sydney's best clubs, and the visitors won the toss. Father Keating went on as one of the bowlers. I was sitting near, and just to the rear of Father O'Connell, who was sitting next to the club's scorer and Secretary. Their admiration of Father Keating's bowling was freely expressed. As the bowler at the other end was also of good quality, the visiting team was out in a short space of time, and Father Keating was one of the opening batsmen. When he proved himself as expert with the bat as he had with the ball the visitors applauded heartily; but when he drove a ball from the visitors' best bowler far into the bush beyond the boundary, the gentlemen with the scoring book jumped to his feet and shouted: “By- that - parson can play cricket”. We did not laugh-aloud..because “language” was bad form; but I noticed that Father O'Connell's back underwent some decided convulsions for some time after.

Father Keating was a man of untiring energy. His day began before five in the morning, and he was still at work at ten o'clock at night, and this year in and year out. His was the first Mass celebrated, and for several months, I, with another boy, served this Mass. Father Keating always acted as prefect of the late or “voluntary” study—from nine to ten pm, and many a knot he solved for me when construing. It was he who awakened in me the admiration for Cicero which I have ever since retained. Though a man naturally of a quick and violent temper, no one could believe such to have been the case except on his own admission. He had so far trained himself in this respect that no one ever saw him exhibit the slightest annoyance or impatience, in word or action, although his face might flush. Some of the wilder spirits used to try to annoy him, but they never succeeded. He succeeded Fr Dalton as Rector at Riverview, and after he had been called by his Order to serve in the United Kingdom he was again made Rector at Riverview, and held that office until his death, which came alas too early, and we may well say we shall never see his like again. He united in himself so many great and admirable qualities, and such high attainments in the intellectual sphere, and yet he was the most humble and approachable of men. A great priest, a great scholar, a cul tured gentleman, a sterling friend, a model of the highest type of manhood, a great member of a great Order, the death of such a man leaves this world much poorer.

◆ The Clongownian, 1913


Father Patrick Keating SJ

A cablegram received yesterday at St Francis Xavier's, Upper Gardiner Street, an nounced the death at Riverview College, Sydney, Australia, of the Very Rev Patrick Keating SJ. Although his field of duties during the greater part of his full and laborious life lay outside Ireland, there are still very many amongst us to whom the announcement of his death will cause a pang of bitter regret. Among the older generation, to whom he was a familiar figure, whether in his schooldays at Clongowes, or in the later years as Master there, and in Tullabeg, his name will come back as a fresh and invigorating memory. Prominent in his class, first in games, first in the affection of his school-fellows, such was he during his earlier years, and his later life did not belie the promise of his vigorous youth.

He was born in the town of Tipperary, and from there his family proceeded to America while he was yet very young. Later on he returned to pass his schooldays in Clongowes. He entered the Society of Jesus immediately after his course of rhetoric, and having gone through the full course of studies of literature in France and philosophy in Rome and Ger many, he was called back to Ireland to take up the work of teaching for six years before proceeding to his final theological studies. These were made in Austria and in England. In the year 1883 he volunteered for missionary work in Australia. His name and fame are well known in the Commonwealth. He directed with signal success the destinies of the important College of Xavier in Melbourne, and, later, Riverview, Sydney. Having been for many years Superior of the whole Australian Mission, he was recalled to Ireland to undertake the government of the Irish province. Having accomplished the work with conspicuous success, to the general regret of his friends in Ireland he was recalled to the broader field of his labours, and directed by his gentle and effective sway the Xavier College, Melbourne, before he was sent to undertake again the direction of the great Riverview College, overlooking Sydney Harbour. This position he occupied for some time past, and his later letters from there, received in Dublin during the week, gave his friends no indication either of weakened health or failing powers.

Thus the cable yesterday came as a great shock to his brethren. Father Keating was a man of varied parts. In a remarkable degree his gentleness, prudence, and knowledge of men were evinced in all his dealings and intercourse with others. He seemed particularly suited to the work of conducting retreats to the communities, but his labor lay mostly in other fields. It was, however to those who knew him most intimately, who enjoyed his confidence and friendship, to those who shared with him the intimacy and amenities of community life - it was to his brethren in religion to whom the charm and worth of his character were best known. His death is a serious loss to the Australian Mission as well as to the whole Jesuit Order in Ireland.

“Freeman” May 16th, 1913.

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A file of copy letters from Irish Fr Provincial Patrick Keating SJ to the Austrian Provincial concerning the unification of the Irish and Austrian Missions in Australia.

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