O'Loghlen, Desmond, 1918-2003, Jesuit priest and missioner

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O'Loghlen, Desmond, 1918-2003, Jesuit priest and missioner

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  • Des O'Loghlen
  • Des O'Loghlin

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Dates of existence

03 March 1918-04 September 2003

History

Born: 03 March 1918, County Waterford
Entered: 07 September 1936, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1949, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1954
Died: 04 September 2003, St Ignatius, Lusaka, Zambia - Zambia-Malawi Province (ZAM)

Superior of the Irish Jesuit Mission to Zambia Mission : 27 November 1962
Transcribed HIB to ZAM : 03/12/1969

by 1951 at Paray-le-Monial France (LUGD) making Tertianship
by 1952 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working - fourth wave of Zambian Missioners
Mission Superior Chikuni (HIB) 21 November 1962 - 1969

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Des (as he was known to his fellow Jesuits) died on 4 September 2003 at the age of 85, completely unexpectedly. His mother lived to be 101 and all thought that Des would follow suit. He had gone to the Mina Medical Centre with a touch of 'flu with another member of the community, and then he died.

He was born in Waterford, Ireland, in 1918, attended school at Blackrock College and Ballyfin and then entered the Society at Emo Park in 1936. The usual course of studies, arts, philosophy, theology, brought him to ordination in 1949 at Milltown Park, Dublin. For his tertianship he went to Paray-le-Monial in France, 1950/1951.

The second batch of Irish Jesuits to come to the then Northern Rhodesia in 1951 included Des who came to Chikuni to be Assistant principal of the newly opened Canisius College, 1951-52. He then went north to learn CiBemba for a year and came to Lusaka to work in the Regiment church for a few months before moving to St. Ignatius (1953-l959), doing parish work at Chilanga and Kafue, and being chaplain to Munali Secondary School and Chalimbana Teacher Training College. He became judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese. He moved to Charles Lwanga Teacher Training College to teach for a few months in 1960. He returned to St .Ignatius as Superior and chaplain as above.

He was appointed Regular Superior of the Mission from 1962 to 1969, first residing in Choma and then in Mazabuka in Moreau house. As Des never gave a snap decision but one which was cautiously thought out, where he lived became known as ‘Tomorrow House’. He returned to Lusaka to St. Ignatius in 1970 where he spent the rest of his life. Parish priest there from 1970 to 1977, he then became full time chaplain to the University Teaching Hospital, a devoted priest to the sick and dying. This was from 1977 to 1991 where he also built a chapel in the hospital. Even after retiring as official chaplain, his devotion to the sick took him twice a week to other hospitals in Lusaka, Hill Top, Mina Medical Centre and Mine Hospital etc. At the same time parish work in St Ignatius: Masses, funerals, marriages, occupied his ever busy life right to the end.

Des was a very hospitable person, sincere and genuine in his relationships with others. He was sensitive to the needs of others and had a great serenity about him. He never became upset, was 'unflappable' as the homilist at his funeral described him. He ‘hastened slowly’ and was known to arrive for meals or any other function always 'slightly late'.

He had a marvellous memory for people and occasions, and could be relied upon to remember who was who, and recall when such an event took place. ‘Ask Des’ was always the solution when one was looking for information about the past. In fact after he died, letters, newspaper cuttings, records etc were found in his room, in short, ample material to gladden the heart of the archivist!

He would never be rushed. Once when he was having a cuppa in the sitting room at St Ignatius, someone came to the parish office to see him without an appointment. He continued with his tea even pouring a second cup and was reminded that someone was still waiting at the parish office. He is said to have remarked ‘I am not a fireman’! But, despite that, he was always kind and understanding to all who came to him. He was the perfect example of a gentleman in his graceful old age who had spent 52 years of dedicated priestly service in Zambia and especially Lusaka.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 123 : Special Issue February 2005

Obituary

Fr Desmond (Des) O’Loghlen (1918-2003) : Zambia-Malawi Province

3rd March, 1918: Born in Waterford, Ireland
7th Sept. 1936: Entered the Society at Emo
1944 - 1946: Crescent College, Limerick, teaching, regency
31st July, 1949: Ordained
1950 - 1951: Tertianship at Paray-le-Monial, France.
1951 - 1952: Chikuni, Canisius, assistant principal
1952 - 1953: Chingombe, Kabwe, Mpika, language study
2nd Feb 1954: Professed of four vows
1953 - 1959: Lusaka, St. Ignatius, pastoral work
1955 - 1959: Chaplain at Chalimbana
1956 - 1959: Chaplain at Munali
1959 - 1993: Judicial vicar for Archdiocese of Lusaka
1960: Chikuni, Charles Lwanga, teaching
1960 - 1962: Lusaka, St. Ignatius, Superior,
1962 - 1967: Choma, Regional Superior for Chikuni Mission
1967 - 1969: Mazabuka, Regional Superior for Mission
1970 - 1977: Lusaka, St. Ignatius, Parish Priest
1977 - 1992: St. Ignatius, Chaplain, University Teaching
1992 - 2003: St. Ignatius, Assistant PP, Hospital Chaplain
Sept. 4th 2003: Died in Lusaka, Zambia.

Des had been planning for home leave in 2004 and had gone to visit his brother, Dinnie, who was dying in Durban. On returning to Lusaka, he contracted a chest infection which, indeed, many had picked up. On September 4, he was driven to the clinic, although there was no sign of anything critical. However, his breathing suddenly became very acute and he was anointed. Shortly afterwards, he died.

Clive Dillon-Malone writes:
Des entered the Society after secondary school in 1936 when he was eighteen years old. He went through the ordinary formation of Jesuits: novitiate, juniorate at University College, Dublin, philosophy, regency in Limerick, theology, ordination in 1949, tertianship and final vows in 1954.

It was in the years 1950 and 1951 that the Irish Province of the Jesuits had been asked especially to help the Polish Jesuits in staffing their work in what was then Northern Rhodesia. The Irish Province responded generously and sent eight to ten men in each of these two years in order to lay a solid foundation for their work. Des was amongst the group that came in 1951.

He became Superior of Chikuni Mission in 1962, the year in which the late Bishop Corboy was ordained Bishop of Monze. While the greater part of Des's life was spent in the Archdiocese of Lusaka, he spent seven years as Superior of Chikuni Mission from 1962-1969 in the Diocese of Monze, residing in Choma from 1962-1967, and at the newly-built Moreau House in Mazabuka from 1967-1969. As a result Des, though in many ways a man of cautious bent, was closely associated with the energetic and far-sighted expansion of the early years of Bishop Corboy's tenure in Monze. During those years, many new parishes were established and Jesuits served in those of Mazabuka (1964), Chilalantambo (1967), Chirundu (1967), Nakambala (1967), and St Mary's Monze (1969). Charles Lwanga Teachers' Training College had opened in Chikuni in 1959, Mukasa Minor Seminary in Choma in 1966, and St. Kizito Catechist Training Centre in Monze in 1967. A Jesuit had also become Chaplain of St. Edmund's Secondary School in Mazabuka in 1964.

In Lusaka, the new residence at St. Ignatius was built in 1966. Des presided over a talented and generous group of Jesuits whose achievements he would have been the first to
recognise. He had the vision to encourage a number of younger Jesuits, who saw the need to do further studies, especially in anthropology, sociology, music and linguistics.

Des loved to recall stories of his travels in small aircraft using various remote airfields in different corners of East and Central Africa. He accompanied Fr. General Arrupe during his early visit to Zambia in 1965 and delighted in pioneering meetings with other Major Superiors, meetings which were the remote forerunners of the Jesuit Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM) and the establishing, years later, of the African Assistancy. It was at the end of his time as Superior in July 1969 that the famous meeting took place in Chikuni at which the Jesuits of Chikuni Mission agreed in a cliff-hanger of a vote to be part of the proposed new Vice-Province of Zambia (3rd December, 1969). Des was justly proud of his part in the setting up in 1969 of the Jesuit Novitiate at Xavier House in Lusaka, a novitiate which was soon to cater not only for Zambia and Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), but also for the five countries of the East Africa Region as well as the Nigeria-Ghana Region.

In 1969, Des was assigned to St. Ignatius Parish in Lusaka where he spent the rest of his life. From 1970 -77, he was the parish priest; then followed his long stint as chaplain at the University Teaching Hospital which he finished in 1991. During his time in Lusaka, he was also the vicar for the archdiocese of Lusaka.

He was always a man of caution. No quick decisions, no hasty moves. He looked ahead and planned carefully. Everything he did was done well and conscientiously. If mistakes were made, they were very few. He would go to any lengths to help and would see a problem right through to the very end. Despite his more conservative bent, he remained open to change and could joke about the internet, e-mails and computers which he acknowledged to be out of his reach. His good humour and wit were even more pronounced in his later years.

Punctuality was not one of his greatest virtues. In fact, arriving late for everything seemed to Des to be itself a virtue in view of his appreciation of the value of time. And he adamantly refused to be rushed. There is a true story of how, one day when he was taking his afternoon tea in the recreation room, a member of the community came in and told him that some woman wanted to see him at the reception area of the parish offices. As always, he enquired if she had an appointment and, when the answer to that question was negative, he continued taking his tea. About ten minutes later, the same member of the community returned to the recreation room. Seeing Des still taking his tea, he gently said to him: “I hope, Des, that you understand that there is a woman waiting to see you at the parish reception area”. His comment was: “We're priests, not firemen”.

Des was always available and so anxious to help everyone with his advice and wisdom. Well versed in Canon Law, he had a way of cutting through the legal technicalities and focusing on the persons involved. He felt for people in a special way and his pastoral sensitivity ran through everything he did. His pastoral work spanned three generations, and he had a phenomenal memory for people and places. He would take delight in telling young married couples of having married their parents and having known their grandparents. He touched so many through baptisms, weddings, marriage counselling, funerals, the sacrament of reconciliation and the Eucharist. He was always on call in the parish and his phone was seldom silent.

But perhaps his endless concern for the sick and the dying is what stands out more than anything else in his life. As Chaplain at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Des will be remembered especially for his kindness to the sick and the dying and their families, as well as for his unfailing interest in the medical staff and their formation, especially the nurses and doctors. The Chaplaincy Centre with its Interdenominational Chapel which was the outcome of persistence and determination on his part is a lasting memorial to his far-sightedness in the face of many difficulties. When he retired from being official chaplain there after over twenty years, he continued to visit three smaller hospitals to cater to the needs of all patients without distinction right up to the end. He brought healing to so many on so many different levels. He was a living channel of God's loving care and concern for the suffering and the dying.

Des was a wonderful community member, always ready to share in whatever problems arose. He was a most pleasant, heartfelt and sincere person to live with, and always a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. He was kind, compassionate and gentle in all that he did. He might get angry with people at times for breaking appointments or coming late but it was a momentary frustration. He would always find a way of excusing those involved. He would get so sorry if he felt that he had hurt anyone and would go out of his way to put things right. He was incapable of becoming bitter or holding a grudge.

Des was a man of God and a man of the people. First thing every morning, he would be there in our small oratory with the Lord. Every evening last thing, he would be there in that same small oratory. But his contact with the Lord continued throughout the day in his contact with people. Des loved people and he loved the people of Zambia in particular. After coming to Zambia, he had become a Zambian citizen as a sign of his total commitment. It was his ardent wish to live and die here. He got his wish.

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

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IE IJA

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hierarchical

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

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O'Loghlen, Desmond, 1918-2003, Jesuit priest and missioner

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

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IE IJA MSSN/ZAM

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Irish Jesuit Mission to Zambia, 1946-1969

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O'Loghlen, Desmond, 1918-2003, Jesuit priest and missioner

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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'Loghlen, Desmond, 1918-2003, Jesuit priest and missioner

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IE IJA J/691

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IE IJA

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