O'Reilly, Michael J, 1909-1975, Jesuit priest

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O'Reilly, Michael J, 1909-1975, Jesuit priest

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  • O'Reilly, Michael Joseph

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Dates of existence

29 April 1909-05 December 1975


Born: 29 April 1909, Kanturk, County Cork
Entered: 20 September 1926, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 13 May 1942
Final vows: 02 February 1945
Died: 05 December 1975, Kilcroney, County Wicklow

Part of St Francis Xavier's, Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin at time of his death.

Early education at Mungret College SJ

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 51st Year No 1 1976

Gardiner Steet
Towards the end of October, Fr Michael O'Reilly suffered a stroke. He spent some weeks as a patient at the Bon Secours hospital, Glasnevin, and made marked progress. Afterwards he went to stay at the St John of God convalescent home, Kilcroney, Bray. It was there that the Lord called him to Himself on 5th December: may He reward him! He is very much missed by both the Sisters and the patients at St Joseph's, Portland row, where he had been a most dependable and devoted chaplain for the past few years.

Obituary :

Fr Michael O’Reilly (1909-1975)

Michael O’Reilly had just entered his 50th year in the Society when his death occurred on 5th December 1975. He was always somewhat over-intense in his application of the Rules of the Society, of the Church and of his own life. As a result he broke down in his university studies and again in philosophy. To his credit he came back to both, after an interval, and completed them. With these interruptions he arrived at Milltown Park for theology three years behind his contemporaries.
He passed a rather quiet type of life: never spoke about him self or his relatives, never got involved in arguments. He did have very strong views about the Society and the Church, and his loyalty to both was unquestionable. Many modern tendencies in the Society and the Church gave him anxious moments, and it might have been better if he had expressed his feelings more openly instead of keeping them within himself.
The closing years of his life brought a good deal of satisfaction and contentment to him, for he became chaplain to Portland Row convent and found work for which he was ideally suited. That he was a success was witnessed by the many tributes paid to him and by the praise expressed by the parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes church, under whose jurisdiction he worked.
He was a dedicated Jesuit and an exemplary religious.

Irish Province News 51st Year No 2 1976

Gardiner Street
On Friday, 5th December, 1975, at 10 am, Fr Michael O’Reilly died quietly and peacefully at St John of God's convalescent home, Kilcroney, Bray. He had been moved there the previous Friday from the Bon Secours hospital, Glasnevin. The Mass for Fr Michael was concelebrated here on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and among the concelebrants from various houses were three of his fellow-novices - Frs Johnny McAvoy, Paddy Kennedy and Michael Connolly. Fr Dermot O'Connor directed the choir, and the large congregation was a tribute to the esteem in which Fr O'Reilly was held by the people of the locality, many of whom had experienced his gentle compassion in their trials.

Obituary :

Fr Michael O’Reilly (1909-1975)

More about Father Michael O'Reilly (died 5th December 1975)

An tAthair Proinsias Ó Fionnagáin has sent us this tribute to his memory:
Michael might have become a valued schoolmaster in the Society's best traditions or indeed a professor in either the profane or sacred sciences, for which he was amply fitted by his high intelligence. The man however was a perfectionist, and during his scholasticate, that was his undoing. In his juniorate he was strongly influenced by Fr Michael Browne, the saintly
spiritual father at Rathfarnham, and by the rather overpowering Rector, Fr John Keane.
Michael admired, somewhat uncritically it should be said, the versatility of Fr John Keane for whom he entertained a lifelong veneration, Wiser (but less intelligent) juniors could smile indulgently at Fr Keane when he recounted how he read a whole book of the Aeneid or Odyssey as he wheeled his bicycle up the long hill by Rockbrook and Killakee towards the Featherbed. Unfortunately, Michael took too seriously the quixotic rector's literary enthusiasms and autobiographical asides. During his first Christmas vacation at Mungret in his regency, he read the complete Anabasis, having during the previous months taught himself Greek grammar: but I prefer to pass over in silence other such hardships as he inflicted on his tired head,
In spite of a “broken head”, Michael could relax and did so whenever he mastered his natural shyness. He had a delightful sense of humour. A ridiculous coincidence of circumstances could arouse his mirth and then his laughter was somewhat evocative of Fr Michael Browne's. Once during our years as regents together we went for a summer course in Irish to Ring, There for the first time perhaps I really came to appreciate his sense of fun. Of two very incompetent professors, he could mimic to the life the fuddy-duddy attempts of one to impart a knowledge of phonetics, and reproduce the falsetto declamations of the other who professed to read Irish poetry de la bonne façon.
He was a tower of strength to his contemporaries in times of illness or death, and he had the capacity of pronouncing a solid judgment when his advice was sought. He had the common touch - a trait not so well known to some who were repelled by his apparent aloofness. In the late 1940’s, for instance, when he was conducting a retreat at Castleblayney he paid a visit to my old home some two miles away from the convent. A couple of times along the road he had to make enquiries as to which way to take when he was passing the two crossroads between the convent and my mother's house. As chance had it, he fell in with a couple of the local “characters”. His exchanges with these latter were were eventually repeated to my mother, who was congratulated on the order of affable priests her own son had joined! For long after, the characters', since called to their reward, made kindly enquiries for Fr Michael.
Undoubtedly many modern tendencies in the Society and the Church gave him anxious moments. But it should be stressed, in justice to his memory, that he was no “hard-liner”. He was too faithful and intelligent a son of Holy Church to blame Vatican II. His constant complaint - and he spoke frankly to me on the subject - was the massive ignorance of too many Catholics and priests of what Vatican II was really all about. For Michael the trouble was that journalists and travelling theologians (the “two thousand-dollars-a-lecture men”) got a noisy publicity-start of Vatican II, that set them off on a rip-roaring trail of disturbance and confusion. He had a point.
I am sure his spell in purgatory must have been one of the shortest known to the welcoming angels of paradise. When I received the news of his death, my first instinct was to pray to him.


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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-


O'Reilly, Michael J, 1909-1975, Jesuit priest

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IE IJA J/345

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