O'Connell, Denis, 1923-2004, Jesuit priest

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O'Connell, Denis, 1923-2004, Jesuit priest

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  • Dinny O'Connell

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Dates of existence

19 February 1923-18 October 2004

History

Born: 19 February 1923, Westport, County Mayo
Entered: 07 September 1942, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1956, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1959
Died: 18 October 2004, Crossna, County Roscommon - Nazareth House, Sligo - Zambia-Malawi Province (ZAM)

Part of the Coláiste Iognáid Galway community at the time of death.

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

Transcribed HIB to ZAM : 03 December 1969

◆ Companions in Mission 1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Fr Denis O'Connell (known to all as 'Dinny') was born in Westport, Co Mayo. After primary school, he went to Clongowes Wood College, run by the Jesuits, until he finished his secondary education. The attraction to religious life was already there for he went to the Cistercians for a short time but turned back to the Jesuits he knew from school, and entered the novitiate at Emo Park in 1942. He followed the normal course of studies of university, philosophy, regency at Belvedere and on to theology at Milltown Park Dublin, where he was ordained priest on 31st July 1956.

He came out to Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia) in 1958 and went to Chikuni to learn CiTonga, the language of the people. After a year at Charles Lwanga Teacher Training College he came to Monze (1962/63) where he worked in the parish. Pastoral work was to be his vocation for the rest of his life. A big step from here took him to the large urban parish of St Ignatius in Lusaka where he worked for six years (1964–1970). Nakambala on the Sugar Estate in Mazabuka held Dinny for eight years, again working with the people.

During that time he oversaw the building of Christ the King church, the second church on the estate along with St Paul's.
After thirty years of fruitful, patient work in Zambia, he returned to Ireland to continue his pastoral work, first in the archdiocese of Dublin for three years and then in the west at Clarinbridge and Lisdoonvarna in the diocese of Galway where he did pastoral work and chaplaincy. After nine years at this he went north to Sligo to Nazareth House as assistant hospital chaplain. He returned to Galway from Sligo on the 18 October 2004, staying with a priest friend at Crossna, Co Roscommon on the way, but died peacefully in his sleep while staying there.

These are the facts of Dinny's life, a pastoral priest at all times. What of the man himself? Outwardly he was a very laid-back person, easy going in the sense that very little disturbed him much. Always associated with him was his pipe and his hand basket in which he carried the essentials for his pastoral work as he moved around. The pipe brings to mind a story about him while he was on a sabbatical in the United States. A quiet evening smoke in the room where he was a guest activated the sprinklers in the ceiling and drenched the room.

As a pastoral worker and chaplain, he was most faithful to the work at hand, proceeding quietly and with no fuss, almost unnoticed. He had an easy way of talking to the elders, putting them at their ease, whether visiting their homes or attending at their bedside in hospital. He loved to walk on his own by the sea if it was nearby or along a river bank and for him this was also a time of prayer. He loved a good chat with friends once he had the pipe lit and glowing.

He was not adverse to recounting stories or events about himself. One that springs to mind is the time when he was traveling to Lusaka with a Jesuit colleague, a colleague who would quickly speak of spiritual matters. ‘Dinny’, the colleague said, ‘I admire you’. ‘Huh! why's that?’ said Dinny. ‘Well’ was the reply ‘you are a man of few talents but you use them to the best of your ability’. Dinny's talent was the quiet, unobtrusive ability to get his pastoral or chaplaincy work done and his easy manner with people.

Before he died, Dinny donated his body to the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway for medical research. After the evening service in St Ignatius Church, the body was taken away so that at the Mass for Dinny on the following morning in Dublin, his body was not present.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 123 : Special Issue February 2005

Obituary

Fr Denis (Dinny) O’Connell (1923-2004) : Zambia Malawi Province

Feb. 19th 1923: Born in Westport, Co. Mayo
Early education at CBS, Westport, and Clongowes Wood College
Sept. 7th 1942: Entered the Society at Emo Park
Sept. 8th 1944: First Vows
1944 - 1947: Rathfarnham - Studied Arts at UCD
1947 - 1950: Tullabeg - Studied Philosophy
1950 - 1953: Belvedere College - Teacher
1953 - 1957: Milltown Park - Studied Theology
July 31st 1956: Ordained at Milltown Park
1957 - 1958: Rathfarnham - Tertianship
1958 - 1959: Chikuni - Studying local language; Spiritual Director
Feb. 2nd 1959: Final Vows at Chikuni Mission
1959 - 1960: Teacher Training College Chisekesi – Teacher; Spiritual Director
1960 - 1963: Sacred Heart, Monze - Prefect of Church
1963 - 1964: Sacred Heart, Monze - Mission Bursar; Prefect of Church
1964 - 1970: St. Ignatius Church Lusaka, - parish priest
Dec. 31st 1969: Transcribed to Zambia / Malawi Province
1970 - 1971: Chikuni, Canisius community - studying Chitonga
1971 - 1973: St. Mary's, Monze, - parish priest, minister
1973 - 1974: Chikuni, Canisius community - PP Fumbo
1974 - 1975: Ireland
1975 - 1980: Mazabuka, Nakambala- assistant PP
1980 - 1983: Mazabuka, Nakambala- superior, PP
1983 - 1984: Toronto-sabbatical
1984 - 1987: Kalomo - PP
1987 - 1988: Loyola House, Dublin - pastoral work
1988 - 1990: Arklow, Co Wicklow - pastoral work
1990 - 1991: Galway - pastoral work in Galway Archd.
1991 - 1993: Lisdoonvarna, Stella Maris Convent chaplain
1993 - 1999: Galway - assistant director of Mission Office.
1999 - 2003: Sligo, Nazareth House -asst. hosp. chaplain
2003 - 2004: Galway - Assist in church
Oct. 18th 2004: Died in Co. Roscommon

On October 9th Denis left Galway to visit friends in Sligo. He planned to be away for about a week. On Monday 18th he left a message for John O'Keeffe to say that he was with friends near Lough Key and that he planned to return to Galway on Wednesday 20th. On the evening of the 18th a message was received in Galway from the PP of Crossna, Co. Roscommon, to say that Denis did not come to tea as expected and that on going to his room he found him dead. He had gone to take a siesta.

Tom McGivern writes in the ZAM Province News Oct. 2004:

Dennis O'Connell (known to all as “Dinny”) was born in the west of Ireland, in Westport, County Mayo, on 19 February 1923. After primary school, he went to Clongowes Wood College run by the Jesuits, until he finished his secondary education. After school he tried a vocation with the Cistercians for a short time but turned back to the Jesuits whom he knew from school....He came out to Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia) in 1958 to Chikuni where he studied Chitonga. After a year at Charles Lwanga Teachers' Training College, he went to Monze (1962-63) where he worked in the parish. Pastoral work was to be his vocation for the rest of his life. From Monze he took a big step to the large urban parish of St. Ignatius in Lusaka where he was parish priest for six years (1964-1970).

After Lusaka he moved again to the South where he worked for a while out of Chikuni and later in Monze. Then, for eight years (1975-1983) he worked at Nakambala in Mazabuka. During that time he oversaw the building of Christ the King church, the second church on the Sugar Estate after St. Paul's. His final years in Zambia were spent as parish priest in Kalomo (1984-1987). After thirty years of fruitful, patient work in Zambia, he returned to Ireland to continue his pastoral work. First he worked in the Archdiocese of Dublin for three years and then went to the West to the Diocese of Galway. There he did pastoral work and chaplaincy in Clarinbridge and Lisdoonvarna. After nine years at this he moved north to Sligo to Nazareth House as assistant hospital chaplain. In the latter part of last year he moved back to the Jesuit community in Galway where he was assisting in the church. Returning to Galway from a visit to Sligo on 18 October, he stayed with a priest friend at Crossna, County Roscommon. He died peacefully in his sleep while staying there.

These are the facts of Dinny's life. What of the man himself? Outwardly, he was a very laid-back person, easy going in the sense that very little disturbed him much. Always associated with him was his pipe and his hand basket in which he carried the essentials for his pastoral work as he moved around. The pipe brings to mind a story about him while he was on his sabbatical in the States. A quiet evening smoke in his room above the Downtown Chapel in Portland, Oregon, where he was a guest, activated the smoke detector in the ceiling and set off the sprinkler system, drenching the room.
As a pastoral worker and chaplain, he was most faithful to the work at hand, quietly, no fuss, almost unnoticed. He had an easy way of talking with elders, putting them at their ease, whether visiting their homes or attending their bedside in hospital. He loved to walk on his own by the sea or along a river bank. For him it was a time of prayer. He loved a good chat with friends once he had the pipe lit and glowing.

He was not adverse to recounting stories about himself. One that springs to mind was a time when he was traveling to Lusaka with a Jesuit companion, a companion who would quickly speak of spiritual matters. “Dinny”, the Jesuit said, “I admire you”. “Huh! Why's that?” asked Dinny. “Well”, was the reply. “You are a man of few talents, but you use them to the best of your ability!”
Dinny's talent was his easy, welcoming manner with people and his quiet, unobtrusive pastoral ability.

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830- (1830-)

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-

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O'Connell, Denis, 1923-2004, Jesuit priest

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Irish Jesuit Mission to Zambia, 1946-1969 (1946-1969)

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Irish Jesuit Mission to Zambia, 1946-1969

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O'Connell, Denis, 1923-2004, Jesuit priest

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Zambian Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1969- (1969-)

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Zambian Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1969-

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O'Connell, Denis, 1923-2004, Jesuit priest

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IE IJA J/688

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