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Born: 18 February 1909, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland / Castleblaney, County Monaghan
Entered: 01 September 1927, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1941
Final vows: 02 February 1945
Died: 07 March 2011, St Francis Xavier's, Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin
Early education at St Macartan's College, Monaghan
Tertianship at Rathfarnham
by 1927 at Berchmanskolleg, Pullach, Germany (GER S) studying
by 1956 at St Albert’s Seminary, Ranchi, India (RAN) teaching
by 1976 at Nantua, Ain, France (GAL) working
by 1979 at Belley, France (GAL) working
◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/fin-again/
The country, the Society of Jesus, the Irish Province and the Gardiner Street community combined beautifully and joyously to celebrate the first Irish Jesuit to reach the venerable
age of one hundred years. Forty Jesuits gathered on 18 February to toast Proinsias O Fionnagain, our “great gift of grace”, as Derek Cassidy, Superior of the Gardiner Street community, said in his warm, welcoming words. What were the messages and gifts? Read more: President Mary McAleese sent a moving letter and a cheque which topped €2500. From Derek Cassidy a card for one hundred Masses. Fr Provincial read a letter from Fr General who mentioned, among many compliments and accomplishments, the fact that Frank’s piano playing has not led to arthritic fingers. John Dardis also read from a poem composed by Fr Tom McMahon before he died, for this special milestone in Frank’s life and the life of the Province. Then the man himself spoke: in Engliish, Irish, French and Latin we heard lovely lines from St Paul and Cardinal Newman. The emotions must have been bubbling away inside, but the voice, apart from a faltering pause, was clear and strong. Then a lovely surprise: Mrs Bridie Ashe and her staff (who pulled out all the stops with the balloons, banners and photos all over the house of Frank wearing the Lord Mayor’s chain of office) presented a beautiful sculpture of St Ignatius, brought from Spain.
The beginning was memorable. All forty diners were upstanding when Frank made his entrance, led by Tom Phelan playing the bagpipes. Tears were wiped from eyes as the musical melody harmonised the room, and Frank took his place between Derek Cassidy and John Dardis, and opposite his nephew who had flown in from Berlin for the party. Next month there will be another celebration for family. Finegan, fin, the end, is again and again and fin-again!
Our first centenarian, An t-Athair Ó Fionnagáin
Wednesday 18 February sees a unique birthday. For the first time an Irish Jesuit has turned a hundred. In the face of Fr Proinsias Ó Fionnagáin you see a man prone to gratitude, with a wardrobe full of memories: of a Spartan early life in Monaghan during World War I; of noviciate in Tullabeg – Frank is the last survivor of that house. He was a teacher of classics in Crescent, Galway and Clongowes; and of philosophy in Ranchi, India. He is a writer, pianist, historian, archivist and librarian, and by his researches contributed heavily to the beatification of Dominic Collins. In 1975, as he qualified for the old age pension, he volunteered for the French mission, and dressed in beret and clergyman served two under- priested areas, Nantua and Belley, for seven years before returning to research and the Irish Mass in Gardiner Street. We thank God, as Frank himself does, for the blessings of his first hundred years.
Jesuit who taught saint turns 101
The Jesuit priest who taught Saint Alberto Hurtado English, Fr Frank Finnigan SJ, celebrated his 101st birthday on Thursday 18 February. He is the first Irish Jesuit to live to
such an age. As well as receiving the birthday wishes of his fellow Jesuits in the Gardiner St Community, he also got a congratulatory telegram and cheque from President McAleese. Fr Finnegan’s student Alberto Hurtado was a Chilean Jesuit who died in 1952 and was canonised on 23 October 2005. After joining the Jesuits he came to Ireland and stayed with the Jesuits in Rathfarnham where Fr Finnigan taught him. Fr Finnegan is a fluent Irish speaker. Also, he was a teacher of classics in Crescent, Galway and Clongowes, and a teacher of philosophy in Ranchi, India. He is a writer, pianist, historian, archivist and librarian. His researches contributed heavily to the beatification of Dominic Collins.
Oldest-ever Irish Jesuit goes to God
Yesterday, 7 March, Fr Proinsias Ó Fionnagáin died peacefully in his room in Gardiner Street. Last month he had been touched and delighted to receive a message from President
McAleese, congratulating him on his 102nd birthday. He was the first and only Irish Jesuit to reach 100, and up to recently he thought nothing of walking across the city from Drumcondra to Milltown. In the last few days he had been rising later in the morning. On Sunday he celebrated a public Mass in Irish in Gardiner Street church. Then his strength faded rapidly, and yesterday he went to the Lord peacefully in his own bedroom. While he is remembered by many Irishmen as a teacher of Greek and Latin, he had also given years of his life as a missionary in India and a Curé in France. May he rest in peace.
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List of Jesuits ordained in the archdiocese of Malines and Jesuit preachers and confessor in the archdiocese of Malines, 1607-1794. Taken from Archivum Hibernicum XXIII (1960)
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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.