O'Dempsey, Robert, 1858-1930, Jesuit priest

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O'Dempsey, Robert, 1858-1930, Jesuit priest

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15 August 1858-01 March 1930


Born: 15 August 1858, Enniscorthy, County Wexford
Entered: 12 November 1883, Milltown Park, Dublin
Ordained: - pre Entry
Final vows: 15 August 1898
Died: 01 March 1930, St Aloysius College, Milson’s Point, Sydney, Australia

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

Came to Australia 1892

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Robert O'Dempsey was educated at Clongowes, 1871-77, and did ecclesiastical studies in Rome. He entered the Society as a priest at Milltown Park, 12 November 1883. He taught at Belvedere 1886-89, Clongowes, 1889-90, and Mungret, 1890-91, before a year of theology at Milltown.
O'Dempsey was sent to Australia in 1892, and taught for a few years at St Aloysius' College Bourke Street, at Xavier College, 1895-97, Riverview, 1897-98, and St Patrick's College, 1900-01.
He became engaged in parish ministry at Richmond, 1901-03, Hawthorn, 1903-12, Lavender Bay, 1912-22, as first parish priest, and Norwood, 1922-23, He was superior for that year. Later he went to St Aloysius' College, as spiritual father and director of sodalities.
O'Dempsey was a friend of the Sydney archbishop and Monsignor O'Haran. He had a remarkable knowledge of Latin and Greek, and was a notable cricketer. As a pastor he was most devoted, regularly visiting the sick and members of die parish, showing much gentleness and sympathy. He was recognised as a lovable priest.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 1st Year No 2 1926
Residence. SS. CORDIS, SYDNEY :
In 1878 Archbishop Vaughan handed over the Parish of North Shore to the Society. The church was exceedingly small, had very little church furniture and the Fathers were obliged to hire a Presbytery at 16s. a week. The Residence S.S. Cordis completed by Fr D Connell in 1923. The parish now numbers some 3,000 souls. It has two splendid primary schools, with an attendance of about 740 children. These schools. the Brothers' residence and the hall capable of holding 1,000 people, owe their existence to the energy of Fr Corish. In 1924 there were 45,000 Confessions heard, and about 50,000 Communions given. Attached to the church are two Sodalities, a Catholic club, a debating club, an athletic club a tennis club, and a branch of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Irish Province News 5th Year No 3 1930
Obituary :
Fr Robert O’Dempsey
On the 15th August 1858 Fr.O’Dempsey was born in Enniscorthy. He was educated at Clongowes, and entered the Society at Milltown as a priest, on the 12th Nov. 1883. The second year's novitiate was made at Dromore. From 1885 to 1891 he was prefect or master at either Clongowes, Belvedere or Mungret, then repeated theology at Milltown, and in 1892 went to Australia. For the next nine years his time was divided between the Colleges of St. Aloysius Kew, Riverview and St. Patrick's. 1901 brought a change, he became Operarius, spending two years at St. Ignatius, ten at Hawthorn, ten at Lavender Bay, one at Norwood, where he was Superior and Consultor of the Mission. 1923 saw him Spiritual Father at St. Aloysius' where he remained until his happy death on Saturday, March 1st 1930.
The following sketch of his work and character, by one who knew him well, will show what manner of man Fr O’Dempsey was :
“During the last years of his life Fr O'Dempsey was in charge of the Star of the Sea Church, Milson's Point, Sydney. He did not spare himself, even when old age and ill-health had wasted his body. 6.30 found him, every morning in his confessional. He said Mass at seven and returned to hear confessions until breakfast. He spent at least four hours every day visiting his district. Daily he taught catechism in the state school. Wednesday evening he gave to the St. Vincent de Paul. On all Thursdays he had evening devotions. On Saturdays confessions from 4-6 and 7-9. Sunday was a particularly heavy day. Mass and short sermon at seven, Sermon at ten, Sunday school at three, and devotions at 7.30. A hard week for an old man, and yet what struck one was his unchanging light-hearted and good humour. He had a fluent knowledge of Italian and heard a large number of confessions in that language .
He was an eloquent and forceful preacher, and, even to the end, spared no pains in preparing his sermons.
He was a wonderful man in a community. Never was he out of sorts in recreation, and his humour and great fund of stories made the hour after dinner a real relaxation. His deeply spiritual life and sound judgment fitted him perfectly for the position of Spiritual Father, which he held during his residence at St. Aloysius' College, to which the Star of the Sea is attached. He will be greatly missed.


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IE IJA J/1890

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