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Born: 10 April 1857, Dunmore, County Galway
Entered: 08 September 1885, Loyola House, Dromore, County Down
Ordained: - pre Entry
Professed: 15 August 1902
Died: 02 August 1940, Coláiste Iognáid, Sea Road, Galway
by 1888 at Leuven Belgium (BELG) studying
Came to Australia 1889
◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
James Rabbitte was a diocesan priest when he entered Loyola House, Dromore, in 1885 for the novitiate, and then went on to Louvain to revise his theology. In 1889 he was sent to the Australian Mission, where he taught at St Patrick's College and did some pastoral work until 1893, followed by some time at St Aloysius' College. He then taught at Riverview, 1896-98. He returned to Ireland in March 1898, teaching mainly in Galway, with a period of time as province archivist, living at Gardiner Street.
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 15th Year No 3 1940
Father James Rabbitte
1857 Born at Dunmore, Co Galway10th April. Educated at St. Jarlath's Tuam and Maynooth College
1880 Ordained at Maynooth for the Ahdiocese of Tuam. Served as Curate at Roundstone, Inishbofin, and Ballyhaunis
1885 Entered the Society at Dromore 8th September
1887 Louvain, Recol. Theol.
1888-1897 Australia - Worked in St Patrick’s Melbourne, St. Aloysius and Riverview, Sydney Was “Cons. Dom,” in all three Colleges.
1898-1899 Crescent, Doc., Cons. Dom.
1900 Galway, Miss Excurr Oper
1901 Crescent, Minister, etc
1902-1904 Crescent, Doc., Oper
1905 Belvedere. Doc
1906-1908 Crescent, Doc., Oper
1909-1910 Tullabeg, Praef. Spir., etc
1911-1922 Galway, Doc., Oper
1923-1929 Gardiner St., Cust. Archiv. Prov.. etc
1930-1931 Galway, Praes. Coll. Cas., Oper
1932-1940 Galway, Cens. lib., Conf. dom
Died at Galway, Friday, 2nd August, 1940. Was 31 years Mag according to Catalogue of 1919
As will be seen from the above catalogue of dates, Father Rabbitte spent nearly half of his life in the Society at St Ignatius', Galway, where, in 1936, he celebrated the Golden
Jubilee of his entrance into the Society, and where he quietly passed to his reward on 2nd August of the present year, 1940.
A quiet man, Fr. Rabbitte lived a retired life, but he had many qualities that endeared him to those who came his way. Intimate with few, he had a host of friends - no enemies. He had an astonishing love of children, and even in his last years of life when he had no direct contact with the boys in the College he seemed to know most of them personally, and, of course knew most of their fathers unto the third generation. He was a keen and accurate observer, and was a lifelong student of History and Irish Archaeology. Both of these subjects were arenas in which a moderate iconoclast can do a lot of good, and Fr. Rabbitte was a moderate iconoclast. As a critic, he was undoubtedly severe, but at the same time he was just and always very courteous. Over a controverted point he would “sit as a refiner of silver”, and when, at length an article left his crucible for publication, one could rest assured that it bore little, if any, of the dross of fable under the guise of History. It was perhaps this desire for absolute accuracy that prevented Fr. Rabbitte from writing more, and it may be that his undoubted aversion to speaking Irish may have had its roots in that same trait of character.
But if we ask ourselves what struck us most in Fr. Rabbitte's ordinary life, I should answer without hesitation the regularity of his religious life. He rarely accepted, and still more rarely
sought exemption from Common Life. Up to the very end he never missed a visit to the Blessed Sacrament after his breakfast or his lunch, even though such a visit meant a weary journey up the stairs to the Domestic Chapel. During the last few years, after a stroke or fall had deprived him of the sight of one eye, he was (more praise to him for it) a little careful of himself. He never wore spectacles, but during Mass would use a large magnifying glass. During this period he found Community Recreation. a little trying, and asked to be exempted. When the community went into the Dometic Chapel for Litanies Fr. Rabbitte was sure to be there before, having come down from his room above in time.
His great anxiety after the stroke in June of 1938 was that he should be enabled to celebrate his daily Mass. God granted his request, and Fr. Rabbitte had the happiness of saying Mass almost to the end. His last Mass was on the Sunday before he died, and apparently he had some premonition of his coming illness, for he turned to his faithful server after Mass and said, “I shall not say Mass to-morrow”.
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Notes compiled by Fr James Rabbitte SJ (Custodian of the Province Archives, 1924 - 1930), on the history of the Society of Jesus in Ireland. Some inserts in the hand of Fr Edmund Hogan SJ. Includes lists of:
– Superiors of the Irish Mission (7pp);
– residences of the Old Society in Ireland (1p);
– ‘Summary of Work Abroad’ (1p);
– Summary of literary works by Jesuits of the Old Society (5pp);
– schedule of Jesuit writers and professors (5pp and 6pp);
– distinguished preachers (1p);
– those who suffered for the faith (2pp);
– aliases/variants on surnames (2pp);
– ‘Vestiges of the Old Soc(iety)’ (5pp);
– names of writers (arranged alphabetically) and of their works (c60pp) and
– some Jesuit schools of the Old Society (6pp).
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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.