Piazza della Pilotta



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15 Name results for Piazza della Pilotta

Connolly, Michael J, 1906-1994, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/489
  • Person
  • 20 January 1906-01 January 1994

Born: 20 January 1906, Ballinagh, County Cavan
Entered: 21 September 1926, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1936, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1943, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Died: 01 January 1994, St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin

Part of the Cherryfield Lodge community, Dublin at the time of death.

Early Education at St Patrick’s College Cavan and St Patrick’s College, Maynooth

by 1938 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) making Tertianship
by 1939 at Rome Italy (ROM) studying

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 86 : July 1996


Fr Michael Connolly (1906-1994)

20th Jan. 1906: Born Ballinagh, Co. Cavan
Secondary studies: St. Patrick's College, Cavan
Third level studies: St. Patrick's College, Maynooth - H. Dip in Ed
21st Sept. 1926; Entered Society at Tullabeg
28th Sept. 1928: First Vows at Tullabeg
1928 - 1930: Philosophy at Milltown Park
1930 - 1933: Regency in Belvedere College
1933 - 1937: Theology at Milltown Park
31st July 1936: Ordained a Priest in Milltown Park by Bishop Alban Goodier
1937 - 1938: Tertianship, St. Beuno's, Wales
1938 - 1939: Gregorian University, Rome
1940 - 1941: Milltown Park - Studies in Economics
1941 - 1961: Tullabeg - Professor of Ethics and Anthropology,
1947 - 1953: Rector
1953 - 1961: Prefect of Studies
1961 - 1969: Rathfarnham Castle - Tertian Director
1969 - 1993: National College of Industrial Relations - Lecturer in Philosophy of Person, Treasurer, Coordinator of Missions, Retreats and Novenas
1993 – 1994: Cherryfield - Prays for the Church and the Society
1st Jan. 1994: Died at St Vincent's Hospital

Michael Connolly spent the last twenty five years of his life as a member of the Jesuit community at the National College of Industrial Relations (Sandford Lodge). Those of us who knew him in those years remember his strong and faith-filled presence in the community. Michael in these years had left behind the years in Tullabeg as teacher of philosophy and superior of the Jesuit community, and no longer was the tertian instructor. So, we knew him as an energetic and active Jesuit, giving of his best to the community and apostolate in the twenty five years or so that made up this phase of his life. Michael's love for the Society was evident in the way he participated so fully in many community and Province events during these yeras, and discussed the issues of the day with concern and energy. He wasn't slow to argue his point, and would put difficult questions to you when necessary. He found great freedom in these years to rediscover aspects of Ignatian spirituality and Jesuit life. He had great energy for tackling difficult reading material. He always approached the liturgy of the word with a scholarly knowledge of the text, which he wanted to share at a concelebrated liturgy.

Of course we joked, too, about his approach to life. As a bursar, Michael took the financial side of the community very seriously. He lived a very frugal life himself. He would be the one at night to turn out electric lights when others wouldn't be bothered to ask who was going to pay the bill. Even with the community hog, it was recounted that Michael would usually look for a monthly account of masses and stipends, before dispensing with the monthly allowance! Kevin Quinn. a renowned economist, had the theory that all communities needed some kind of a "slush fund" out of an experience at the NCIR of buying Sultan, an expensive dog, and then having to request Michael Connolly for the full amount of the purchase.

In the final years of his life, Michael had a great determination to go on living life to the full, and not be deflected by emergency visits to the hospital nor special nursing at Cherryfield. No sooner had he recovered from one of these set-backs than he was taking steps to be back in his room and resuming duty.

The changes that took place in Michael's long association with the College - from Catholic Workers' College to College of Industrial Relations to National College of Industrial Relations - show how Michael's links with the College spanned the best part of forty years. Michael's serious approach to his topic as a teacher meant that he would be well prepared. He probably lacked the imaginative flair to be a memorable teacher. Yet, his conversation and his ability to meet with students and teachers meant that he played an important role in the vision of the Jesuits at NCIR to be a presence in the world of work at a key phase of the development of an industrial society in the Republic of Ireland.

Michael Connolly was born on the 20th January 1906 in Ballinagh, Co. Cavan. He received his secondary education at St. Patrick's College, Cavan, and then went on to St. Patrick's College, Maynoth for his arts degree and Higher Diploma in Education with a view to ordination in the diocese of Kilmore. However, Michael decided to enter the Society of Jesus, and went to Tullabeg in 1926. He went on to Milltown Park for two years of philosophy, and then did regency at Belvedere College from 1930 to 1933. This time at Belvedere was a time that Michael looked back on with a lot of satisfaction. It gave him the opportunity of learning to be a teacher, and to be involved with the pastoral care of the students, and to be interested in all their activities. He also liked to mention that he was the editor of the Belvederian during those years. Theology at Milltown Park followed, from 1933 to 1937, with ordination at Milltown Park on the 31st of July 1936 by Archbishop Alban Goodier. The ordination retreat given by Alban Goodier made a deep impression on Michael, He often spoke about it in later years when talking about preaching and giving the Spiritual Exercises. Michael went to St. Beuno's in Wales for his tertianship.

The next important event in Michael's life was the Provincial's decision to send him for the biennium in Rome, specializing in moral philosophy. This was a vote of confidence in Michael's abilities at his studies. However, looking back in his later years Michael regretted that he had not been informed earlier in his formation that he was to specialize in this field. He felt that he might have been better able to be competent in these disciplines were he to have worked at them over a longer period. Among his fellow students at the Gregorian was Bernard J.F. Lonergan - the great Canadian philosopher and theologian. His room was beside Michael's. Michael often recounted how with the onset of the signs of war in Italy in 1939, Lonergan spoke about the certainty of the direction events were taking, and of the way war would shape their lives. Michael had to leave Rome after a year's study - again, something he felt made it hard for him to feel competent at teaching in the specialized discipline of moral philosophy.

Michael was sent to Tullabeg to teach philosophy in 1939. This was to be his home until 1961. He taught moral philosophy and was rector of the community from 1947 to 1953. He also gave retreats in the summers. He acted as visiting confessor to some of the religious communities in the mid-lands, going out on his bicycle to visit them.

During the 1950's the Catholic Workers' College was beginning and Michael came to Ranelagh every Thursday - to teach courses in social ethics and on the philosophy of man (or of the person, as it would be called today). During these years Michael was a member of the European Jesuits in the Social Sciences, which met every two years, and which later took on the title of Eurojess. He was glad of the opportunity to meet at these gatherings some of the experts in Catholic Social Teaching: Oswald von Nell-Breuning and Leonard Janssens.

The next major turning point in Michael's life was his appointment as tertian director in 1961. He was to hold this position until 1969 when the tertianship at Rathfarnham was closed. Michael prepared for his post as tertian instructor by visiting Auriesville, New York, and other tertianships in the United States. Tertian Instructor was a demanding job. The whole shift in emphasis in Jesuit formation during those years with the 31st Congregation and the Second Vatican Council meant that Michael found it hard to meet all the expectations of young Jesuits. For those in the Juniorate at Rathfarnham, Michael could also be a bit demanding: Michael had a more orderly life than the Juniors and their late night arrival at Rathfarnham might disturb the quiet of the tertians' corridor. Among the tertians at Rathfarnham was Ignacio Ellacuria, who was one of the Jesuits murdered in El Salvador in November 1989.

Michael was appointed to the Catholic Workers' College in 1969, The Workers' College was later to change to the College of Industrial Relations and more recently to the National College of Industrial Relations. Michael was appointed bursar and also taught courses in the philosophy of the person.

During his years at what is now the NCIR, Michael was also the director of the Jesuit Mission band. He responded to requests for Jesuits to give Missions and retreats. He also gave retreats himself. Right down to his eighty-fourth birthday, Michael continued to give retreats and missions.

Frank Sammon SJ


Albert Cooney remembers Michael and some of his outstanding gifts: In Belvedere during my Regency I first met Michael, a confident, self-assured young man with a quiet sense of humour. He was liked by the boys, and they trusted him and confided in him. Often I remember saying to one of the boys: “Better talk that over with Mr, Connolly”. The Bicycle Club went to Pine Forest and the Glen of the Downs, and Michael found wise and entertaining stories to amuse the boys.

I next met him when I returned from Hong Kong. He was Rector in Tullabeg, courteous and affable - one of the best Rectors I have met in the Society and I have been in many houses all over the world.

When I was in Malaysia I mentioned to our Provincial the possibility of Michael coming to Malaysia where he would find interesting and useful work, and learning a language would not be necessary as in Hong Kong. Michael heard no more of that proposal. That's the Michael I knew. We kept in touch up to the end when he died here. I cannot say that his road of life was paved with friends. But they were many and true. He will remember us all now where there is Peace and Rest in the sunlit uplands of Eternity. His epitaph could be: 'He never spoke an unkind word about anyone'.

Michael was a conscientious and hard-working Jesuit. In his later years he had remarkable will-power to keep going, despite emergency visits to St. Vincent's hospital.

Michael had wide-ranging interests. He was interested in the life of priests and liked to be informed about developments in the places where Jesuits were working. He also had a keen interest in the Missions: his brother was superior-general of the Columbans.

Through his work in social ethics and in Catholic Social Teaching, Michael developed an interest in the co-operative movement. For many years he administered the funds of the Finlay Trust - a small fund established to foster the co-operative movement,

Michael Connolly's life touched each decade of this twentieth century, His faith helped guide his steps through these decades. He often felt himself not quite properly equipped to face the challenges and tasks he was asked to take on as a Jesuit. Nevertheless, in later life he had mellowed, and seemed to be able to smile wryly that life never works out exactly as we would plan it. Yet he would always want to be a man of the “magis” of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. We thank the Lord for having given him to us during these decades as our companion.

FitzGerald, Edward, 1918-2003, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/560
  • Person
  • 05 April 1918-01 November 2003

Born: 05 April 1918, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1936, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1950, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1954, Sacred Heart College SJ, Limerick
Died: 01 November 2003, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Miltown Park, Dublin community at the time of death

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1954 at Rome, Italy (ROM) - studying

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 123 : Special Issue February 2005


Fr Edward (Eddie) Fitzgerald (1918-2003)

5th April 1918: Born in Dublin
Early education at St. Gerard's, Bray and Clongowes
7th Sept. 1936: Entered the Society at Emo
8th Sept. 1938: First Vows at Emo
1938 - 1942: Rathfarnham -Studied Classics at UCD
1942 - 1945: Tullabeg- Studied Philosophy
1945 - 1946: Mungret College, Limerick - Regency(Teacher)
1946 - 1947: Belvedere College - Regency (H Dip Ed UCD)
1947 - 1951: Milltown Park - Studied Theology
31st July 1950: Ordained at Milltown Park
1951 - 1952: Tertianship at Rathfarnham
1952 - 1954: Sacred Heart Church, Limerick - Ministered in the Church
1954 - 1956: Gregorian University, Rome - STD
2nd Feb. 1954: Final Vows, Sacred Heart College, Limerick
1956 - 1967: Milltown Park - Professor of Dogma, Liturgy
1967 - 1973: Mungret College, Limerick - Teacher
1973 - 1980: Milltown Park - Lecturer in Theology at M; Spiritual Director (SJ)
1980 - 1984: Sullivan House - Lecturer in Theology at MI; Spiritual Director (S.J.)
1984 - 1985: Tullabeg - Director Spiritual Exercises
1985 - 2003: Milltown Park - Chaplain at Eye & Ear Hospital
1994: Assists in Cherryfield Lodge
1997: Spiritual Director (S.J.)
1st Nov. 2003: Died at Cherryfield Lodge.

Fr. FitzGerald was admitted to Cherryfield Lodge in September, 2003, when cancer of the bone was diagnosed. There he received palliative care, remained in good form and was free from pain. In the last week he began to weaken, but his death on Saturday afternoon was quite unexpected.

Noel Barber writes:
When I think of Father Eddie Fitzgerald and look for a biblical character to reflect his personality, I think of Nathaniel, who makes two fleeting appearances in John's gospel but appears nowhere else in the NT. Nathaniel's quality without guile' conveys so much about the character of Eddie Fitzgerald who was indeed without guile, highly intelligent, modest, one of the least self-centred people I have ever met, ever willing to do whatsoever required doing, a man of prayer and solid piety, above all a man of prayer. He loved prayer: to love prayer is to love the one to whom one prays and with whom one journeys. One found him regularly in the early hours of the morning in our community oratory.

At his death, those to whom he was near and dear were unashamedly caught up in their loss, sorrow and pain. He was a much loved, and significant figure in his community, family, in the Eye and Ear Hospital where he ministered and in many other places. In losing him we lost something of ourselves. In his case, the manner of his death softened the pain of loss. Death cut prematurely the relentless advance of his cancer. The palliative care he received in Cherryfield Lodge kept him in good form, free of pain and with his many interests undimmed. He had just completed Declan Kiberd's Inventing Ireland and had cheered on the Irish rugby team - albeit in vain – against Australia. The sudden death spared him much and for that we were all grateful. This truly good man without guile was born in Dublin into a distinguished legal family 85 years ago. He was educated at St. Gerard's, Bray and Clongowes and entered the Jesuits in 1936 followed by his brother, John, the next year Having completed his novitiate he studied Classics at UCD where he took a first class primary degree followed by an MA. He then studied Philosophy in Tullabeg. Before going on to study Theology, he taught for two years, the first in Mungret and the second in Belvedere. I was a small boy in Belvedere at the time. He did not teach me but I recall that he was noted for his kindness, which the Belvederians exploited with characteristic wickedness. He was ordained at Milltown Park in 1950 with his brother, John. After his theological studies in Milltown he was sent to Rome where he obtained a doctorate in Theology. It seemed then that he was destined for an academic life for which his ability and interests well equipped him. Not only was he a competent scholar, he was an excellent lecturer. Allied to his mastery of his subject was a keen interest in his students, a kindness and of course a totally unpretentious disposition, a characteristic not found universally amongst the professorial class. To his colleagues as a student and young priest he was companionable, supportive, always kindly and obliging. The orderly aspect of religious life appealed to him; he was a natural rule follower to whom obedience came easily as did simplicity of life. Intellectually he became progressively more liberal but by temperament and style of life he remained to the end conservatively monastic. At times he seemed a little ashamed of his opinions and would apologise profusely for holding outrageous views, views, it must be said, that often seemed far from outrageous to his companions.

After twelve years lecturing on Theology he fell ill: he had a breakdown and this experience developed his already considerable capacity to help others, and to feel for them in their sickness. He then taught in Mungret College before returning to lecture in Milltown, to be the Spiritual Director there and then to the Jesuit university students. All the time he gave retreats, and was spiritual director to several groups of religious sisters. In these tasks he gave great satisfaction to all but himself. He was never able to savour his own ability, gifts and attainments while ever keen to observe and appreciate those of others. Within the community he was a gem: interested in and supportive of all: ever willing to help in every way he could. Any notice asking for a priest to supply here or there would have his signature at once. He was, of course, tense and somewhat strained, could build up a steam of exasperation and let fly against something “ghastly”, a favourite word of his in an exasperated state. That exasperation could, at times, be exasperating. But to all of us who lived with him he leaves a most benign and lovable memory.

At the age of 64 he was appointed Chaplain to the Eye and Ear Hospital, Adelaide Road where he remained until the end of this summer when cancer of the bone was diagnosed. There he flourished; it gave him an outlet for his pastoral zeal and he was at his happiest in serving the sick with absolute devotion and total commitment. The work revealed all his fine qualities and he won the hearts of staff and patients alike. Of course, when he spoke of the hospital, he spoke never of the good he did but of the good the Hospital did to him, giving him those happy years. Typically, he was ever aware of the goodness of others to himself but discounted his goodness to them.

At this time he developed an apostolate to dying Jesuits in Cherryfield Lodge. He spent hours praying with and for his colleagues in the final stage of their lives, supporting them as they left this world. This he did unstintingly. His presence there is sorely missed

He accepted his cancer easily and in the final weeks his talk was all about the excellence of the care he received, the goodness of the staff and the great kindness of all who visited him. He faced death as he faced life in steadfast faith and firm hope. So while his sudden death left his family, community and friends stunned it must have been a delight for him. One moment he was sitting waiting for his supper, then in a blink of an eyelid he was facing the Lord he served so well. Now he has been received into that place of peace and joy that was prepared for him from before the foundation of the world.

Healy, James, 1929-1989, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/508
  • Person
  • 01 July 1929-11 December 1989

Born: 01 July 1929, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1946, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 28 July 1960, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1964, Chiesa del Gesù, Rome, Italy
Died: 11 December 1989, Milltown Park, Dublin

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1963 at Rome, Italy (ROM) studying

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 82 : September 1995


Fr Jim Healy (1929-1993)

1st July 1929: Born in Dublin. Schooled in Clongowes
7th Sept. 1946; Entered Society of Jesus Emo,
1946 - 1948; novitiate
1948 - 1951: Rathfarnham, juniorate: BA (UCD) in French and English
1951 - 1954: Tullabeg, philosophy
1954 - 1957: Regency: 1954-'56 Clongowes, 1956-57 Belvedere
1957 - 1961: Milltown Park, theology
1960: Ordained a priest,
1961 - 1962: tertianship Rathfarnham
1962 - 1964: Rome, biennium in moral theology.
2nd Feb. 1964: at the Gesù, final vows before Fr. Vicar General John L. Swain.
1964 - 1989; Milltown Park, professor of moral theology (after 1978 his area was referred to as practical theology). Meanwhile, 1968-'77, he served as the first President of Milltown Institute. He took two sabbaticals, 1977-78 and 1988.
11th Dec. 1989 Jim died suddenly in class at Milltown Park.

Last Monday at 12.15pm I had my last conversation with Jim Healy, before he and I turned in to the last class of the day - and I am glad to say that it was a piece of light-hearted banter. I don't have to tell you how I felt on coming out of that class and receiving the news of his death,.

Since then, inevitably, my mind has been turning back to the time when I first came across him. It was some time in the school year 1943-144, when we were both boys in the same school. I was a very insignificant newcomer, and he was one of the stars of the school. In that year the school had entered the rugby Junior cup for the first time ever, and was indeed to win the cup, beating Belvedere 13-3 in the final. Jim was one of the main scorers on that team. Looking back over the school magazine yesterday, I came across this account of their first match:

"O'Hara broke away from the line-out with James Healy and Dick Muldoon in attendance; his pass in to James Healy was beautifully timed. James shook off several pursuers and scored between the posts, adding the extra points himself. Practically the same performance was repeated a few minutes later, when James Healy, backing up splendidly, scored once more."

Last Monday Jim scored between the posts and converted once again.

I have used the phrase “the last class”. It is a phrase with a ring to it. People who have never been to boarding-school can have no idea of the joy at the end of term and at the last class, especially in the Spartan days of a previous generation. For a small boy it was the very threshold of heaven. Perhaps it is not too fanciful to regard the parable in today's gospel, Mt 25:31 ff., as a kind of last class which the Lord will give to all of us at the end of the term in this world. This gospel passage is one of the most telling in the New Testament about the content of that last class and that last examination. It will focus, as we see, on how we serve one another, and the people of Milltown Institute and Milltown Community have no doubt but that, on that criterion, Jim passes with flying colours. Jim himself is the last one who would like this homily to become a panegyric of his virtues and achievements. As Jim's successor in the presidency of Milltown Institute, I am more conscious than most of how much the Institute owes to him, its first president. As the present president said the other day, it was Jim who gave the Institute its shape. It is indeed his monument. Fr. Rector has already spoken of his life. It is of his death, and of the Christian approach to death, that I would like to speak.

For most of us the notion of our death is only a shadowy concept. Only in the death of friends, and in the death of those we love, does it become something of an experience. This is why such deaths can be very special moments of revelation to us, occasions when God says something personal to each one. I am asking myself what might God be saying to us today, and I suggest that it has something to do with the Christian attitude to death,

There is only one freedom, namely, to come close to an understanding with death. So wrote Camus. He went on: “To believe in God is to accept death. When you have accepted death, then the problem of God has been resolved; not the other way round”. Most of us run away from the thought of death. We insulate ourselves against it by stigmatising it as morbid talk. Certainly Jim Healy did not do that.

He had known for a number of years that death was on the cards for him, Those of us who lived close to him can testify to the magnificent Christian faith by which he came to terms with his lot and could face life with cheerful good humour. The great moral theologian, St. Alphonsus Ligouri, has written that to accept death willingly is more efficacious than any other mortification. The best testimony to a life of faith and unselfishness is the grace of peace in the face of death. The poet might speak of 'the dreadful outer brink of obvious death.' It takes faith to look death in the eye and to disarm him of his menaces. Such an attitude is the fruit of a life well lived. The best signs of grace here below come ordinarily, not in dramatic displays of piety or mortification, but in the bits and pieces of a life lived in unassuming loyalty and dedication, in cheerfulness and concern for others, and when such a life is lived on the brink of obvious death, then these signs are indeed signals of resurrection.

By the fact of Jim Healy's death, I, and my brethren in the community, my colleagues in the Institute and its students, are moved by a deep sense of loss. We will miss him sorely. In this way we know that we share in something of what his family must feel, and to them we extend our profoundest sympathy. But I have to say that looking at the lessons of Jim's last years, and in particular at the way he faced death, I realise that we must not allow that sense of loss to linger in grieving but to be turned into thanksgiving for a life well lived and into a desire to follow him in his Christian hope.

Jim Healy taught many people many things during his life. I am sure that the students in the classroom with him last Monday will never forget the experience. But really the last lesson of Jim's life was not what he taught them in that final half-hour, but the lesson he has for all of us on how the Christian faces death. This really was Jim Healy's last class.

Ray Moloney

Humphreys, John, 1943-2014, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/846
  • Person
  • 30 April 1943-10 October 2014

Born: 30 April 1943, Limerick City
Entered: 07 September 1961, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 21 June 1974, Gonzaga College SJ, Dublin
Final Vows: 15 May 1981, Coláiste Iognáid, Galway
Died: 10 October 2014, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

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

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1970 at University of Warwick, Coventry (ANG) studying
by 1975 at Rome, Italy (DIR) studying
by 1997 at Cambridge MA, USA (NEN) Sabbatical

◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/loss-leader-john-humphreys/

Loss of a leader: John Humphreys
Last Friday, 10 October, the Irish Jesuits lost one of their great servants. John Humphreys, aged 71, had been unconscious for two days, and increasingly sick with a brain tumour for five months. John was a Limerick man, a passionate fan of Munster rugby. His father, 25 years older than his mother, had died in 1953, leaving 10-year-old John as man of the house. He learned to manage the burdens of responsibility in a calm and kindly style, and as a result was landed with them all his life, as captain of Clongowes, beadle of scholastics during his years of study, Socius (companion and close advisor) to three Provincials, and Rector of several houses. When he was taken sick he was in his ninth year as rector of St Ignatius, Galway, charged with the thankless task of raising two million for school buildings.
John’s administrative gifts would not explain the grieving crowds who packed Gardiner Street church for his funeral. John was loved, and will be terribly missed. His style was upbeat, encouraging and giving. He was a humble man, a quiet listener, ready to learn from his mistakes. A Jesuit friend remembers him as good company at table, not saying much, but smiling at the craic and adding to it.
The source of this warmth became particularly clear in his last months of life. When he learned that his cancer was probably terminal, he lived with it, and his increasing sickness, with good humour nourished by his prayer. He asked a friend to seek out the text of a prayer which touched him, and described his spiritual state:
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve. I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things. I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy. I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 158 : Winter 2014


Fr John Humphreys (1943-2014)

30 April 1943: Born in Limerick,
Early education at Sacred Heart College, Limerick and Clongowes Wood College
7 September 1961: Entered the Society at Emo
8 September 1963: First Vows at Emo
1963 - 1967: Rathfarnham - Studied Science at UCD
1967 - 1969: Milltown Park - Studied Philosophy
1969 - 1970: Warwick University - Studied Philosophy
1970 - 1971: Clongowes - Lower Line Prefect: Regency
1971 - 1974: Milltown Park - Studied Theology
21st June 1974: Ordained at Gonzaga Chapel, Dublin
1974 - 1976: Gregorian, Rome --Studied Theology (Residence: S. Roberto Bellarmino)
1976 - 1981: Galway – Teacher
1978 - 1979: Tertianship in Tullabeg; Vice-Rector; Teacher
1979 - 1981: Rector; Teacher; Province Consultor (1978)
15 May 1981: Final Vows at Galway
1981 - 1987: Milltown Park - Rector; Delegate for Formation; Province Consultor
1987 - 1996: Loyola - Socius; Vice-Superior; Province Consultor
1991 - 1996: Socius; Province Consultor. Chair of Board Crescent College Comprehensive
1996 - 1997: Sabbatical – Weston Jesuits, New England
1997 - 1999: Clongowes - Chaplain; Pastoral Care Corordinator; Chair, Vocations Vocations Promotion Team
1998: Acting Socius
1999 - 2002: Loyola - Superior; Socius; Prov. Consultor; Provincial Team; Chair Vocations Vocations Promotion Team
2002 - 2005: Dominic Collins - Province Consultor; Prov. Assistant for Strategic Planning; Delegate for Child Protection; Revisor of Province Funds
2005 - 2014: Galway - Rector; Revisor of Province Funds; Province Consultor; Child Protection Delegate; Spirituality Delegate; Chair Coláiste lognáid Board
2008 - 2014: Galway - Rector; Director of Spirituality Centre; Revisor of Province Funds

Fr. John Humphreys was admitted to Cherryfield Lodge on 19th May 2014. He settled in well though his condition deteriorated over time. He died peacefully in Cherryfield on 10th October 2014.

“Past all grasp God-throned behind death with a sovereignty that heeds, but hides, that bodes but abides”. Hopkins stretching words about the mystery of death and God.

I remember my mother told me one time whenever John's father, Louis, would tell a funny story – long before be got to the punch line he would get into helpless fits of laughter and tears were running down his face, so that everyone around started laughing with him and you mightn't get the punch line at all, but it didn't matter. And the same was true of John. The abiding truth of John was that you just felt better in his company - his humanity and palpable goodness made those with him feel good about themselves. An extraordinary gift!

When Sir Thomas More heard about the sudden death of Bishop John Fisher at the hands of Henry VIII because he had refused to bow to his bullying: More said: Ah, Fisher, a lovely man. An amazing number of people would say just the same of John Humphreys: a lovely man.

Karl Rahner, the German 20th century Jesuit theologian, was asked in an interview how could a modern man become or remain a Jesuit. And part of his answer was: my reason is not because the Society of Jesus still has a significant influence within the Church or in the broader world. Rather, it is because I still see around me living in many of my companions a readiness for disinterested service carried out in silence, a readiness for prayer, for abandonment to the incomprehensibility of God, for the calm acceptance of death in whatever form it may come, for the total dedication to the following of Christ crucified.

It could be a pen-picture of John's life-of many others too as Rahner says – but John is the focus today : disinterested service – John was the Provincial's (three of them in fact – Philip Harnett, Laurence Murphy & Gerry O'Hanlon) Socius, or right hand man or consigliere for many years - I used to refer to him as 1A - the servant of us all in the Irish province of the Jesuits – enormously competent; painstaking, generous, good-humoured, compassionate, including his hidden & committed labour in the not-easy area of child-protection. Readiness for prayer: John's faith in Christ Risen was the constant and the anchor in his life, and his abandonment and calm acceptance were astonishing when he suddenly became ill in April and was soon diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour, which claimed his life within 6 months - John's dealing with this was for us Jesuits an embodiment of the P & F in the Spiritual Exercises where Ignatius writes that we were all made to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord, and everything else in creation was made to help us do this - and so we should neither prefer a long life to a short life, sickness to health - John lived this freedom or detachment as it's sometimes called. Mary Rickard, our Province Health Supremo who with John's doctor-niece Sally masterminded John's care, said of his time in Cherryfield, where he was so lovingly cared for, that he was no trouble - So easy to look after – and he just slipped away last Friday afternoon - no trouble - he died as he lived.

However, unlike yourself or myself, John wasn't perfect in every way. My mother again was a source of information on his earlier years - reminding me that she asked John once when he was about eight, how do you say what time is it in French - John replied grumpily claratelle - my mother (a French teacher) tried to correct him, but John wouldn't budge - his father had told him it was claratelle. And claratelle it was. As stubborn as a mule. Loyal to the end. Then shortly afterwards he got his appendix out and he completely changed, she said, and became the delightful John we all knew! John and I use to play Mass too when we were about 10 - though he claimed that I was always the priest and he was the server. Well, that all certainly changed in later life! But he could be fussy and get a bit ratty too - on holiday he once rebuked me for not getting to the washing up. I replied any time I go to it you have it half-done already - it was so strange seeing him completely passive in our most recent holiday last July in Alison & his late-cousin Seamus’ Glandore house.

As you well know, John had a great sense of humour - his great friend Tom told me that John's own father had named a horse Bundle of Fun after John when John was only an infant! he was always ready for a party and dance - Louis told me he burned up many a dance-floor at weddings, had a spontaneous awareness of beauty and beauty responded; he was a charmer ! Always happy for a sing-song -- now he was no Pavarotti and would never have got into OLCS, but he was totally involved, with his head and feet going steadily to rhythm right to the end in the Cherryfield masses. We'd often speak in authentic Limerick accents when together - and he'd get great mileage if I told him I was listening to two men talking at the traffic lights in Limerick one time : and one said the doctor told me to take it easy; Geez, replied the other fella, you'll find that very hard you've done feck all for the last 40 years !

He loved Galway - spending two sustained spells there in the Jes both in the 70s and for the last eight years in many roles-where he has been loved and hugely appreciated, and where he will be, like in so many other places, greatly missed.

John was matured and purified by his life's experience: his father died when he was about 10, his mother (my godmother) was very unwell in her latter years, his lovely sister Reena, and only sibling, died 18 years ago after a long illness and her husband Paddy, 10 years ago – their legacy is the delightful family of his nieces and nephew, Sally, Louis and Judith, whom he dearly loved. And now John, just over the Biblical three score and ten. He had his difficult moments too: having an academic stumble in Warwick University in his earlier years, where he went full of Lonergan philosophy to the uncomprehending English - there he found that so many conversations ended with: Oh, how very interesting – but after all, who's to say?! And all his time of shepherding Jesuit scholastics in Milltown Park was no bed of roses.

I think that this purification made him such an attractive person to so many people - there was nothing threatening or intimidating about John - he was a great listener -- and when he had positions of responsibility he was just so human, so humble, so understanding, so compassionate.

The readings: Wisdom 4: 7-15; 2 Tim 4; 6-8; Mt 5: 1-12 - speak for themselves, perhaps most eloquently Paul's own farewell.

Fr Pedro Arrupe, the then General of the Jesuits, meeting with the provincials of the Philippines some years ago, was trying to clarify the main characteristic to be sought in Jesuits who are making final vows (sjs take final vows a few years after ordination) and thrashing it around for a while someone eventually said 'disponibilité' ie availability, freedom from possessiveness, or a sustained freedom from selfishness and self-concem. Arrupe nodded vigorously and said, that's it. John was available. The late Fr Michael Sweetman was a boy in Clongowes when Fr John Sullivan was there and Sweetman wrote about him: ‘he had wiped out selfishness so completely that you could not fail to see what, or rather Who, was in him.

There was nothing else there: he was all goodness, all Christ.' I think that's not a bad description of John. There wasn't a bone of selfishness left in him. I think Ignatius would have been pretty pleased.
And when you come to think of it isn't that what the Christian life is all about too !

So, while John's death is profoundly sad for us all, it's not tragic, though leaving us all bereft -- he did live over the three score and ten: the psalmist says our span is 70 and 80 for those who are strong - though we thought John was strong! We have all been enormously enriched by him. He was sublimely ready to go. He was just serenely waiting for the call in the last few months. So while we grieve as we must, we grieve not as vague agnostics, but like John himself as followers of Christ Risen, recognising as Paul Claudel wrote that Christ has come not to explain suffering, but to share it and to fill it with his presence.

There is, of course, no way in which anyone's life, not to mention that of a person of John's calibre and influence, can be remotely captured adequately in a homily or a panegyric - it can just be hinted at. But we are surely called to give profound thanks for John, for his life, his companionship and his service. And his swift departure is a call to all of us to get our own lives more into perspective, to shed some of our illusions and foolish obsessions and preoccupations – we are so easily seduced by the ephemeral and unimportant. John's death can teach us how to walk more lightly through life – to live in a less cluttered way - to attend to what is essential & important – to live more nobly and more generously – in the words of St Paul, to live a life more worthy of our vocation. And more in the spirit of inner freedom & serenity that John embodied. Helmut Thielicke, the German Lutheran theologian wrote: “Because of the Resurrection everything is now different: we do not know what is to come, but we do know who is to come. And if the last hour belongs to us, we do not need to fear the next minute”. And in conclusion St John of the Cross pithily: 'In the evening of our lives we will be judged on love'. It's an exam in which I think John will do rather well.

Peter Sexton

Johnston, Henry A, 1888-1986, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1482
  • Person
  • 17 October 1888-04 September 1986

Born: 17 October 1888, Downpatrick, County Down
Entered: 12 November 1906, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 24 October 1920
Final Vows: 01 February 1924, Xavier College, Kew, Melbourne, Australia
Died: 04 September 1986, St Joseph, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Australia

by 1915 at Stonyhurst England (ANG) studying

Older brother of Thomas Johnston - RIP 1990

◆ Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University online :
Johnston, Henry Aloysius (1888–1986)
by J. Eddy
J. Eddy, 'Johnston, Henry Aloysius (1888–1986)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/johnston-henry-aloysius-12703/text22903, published first in hardcopy 2007

Catholic priest; Catholic theologian

Died : 4 September 1986, Kew, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Henry Aloysius Johnston (1888-1986), Jesuit priest and seminary rector, was born on 17 October 1888 at Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, son of Henry Johnston, clerk, and his wife Kate, née Woods. A younger brother also became a Jesuit. Henry was educated at Mungret College, Limerick, and entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Tullabeg College in 1906. He studied at the Royal (National after 1909) University of Ireland (BA, 1910; MA, 1912), gaining first-class honours in ancient classics in his masterate while also teaching at St Stanislaus College, Tullamore (1910-11). In 1912-14 he taught at Clongowes Wood College, Kildare. After reading philosophy at St Mary’s Hall, Stonyhurst, England (1914-16), he returned to Ireland to teach at Tullabeg (1916-18) and then studied theology at Milltown Park, where he was ordained priest on 24 October 1920. Back at Tullabeg, in 1922 he completed a doctorate in theology for the Gregorian University, Rome, although the degree was not conferred until 1963.

Responding to a call from Corpus Christi College, the recently established seminary at Werribee, in 1923 Johnston travelled to Victoria, and, after teaching at Xavier College, Melbourne, took up his appointment in 1925. Essentially a professor of philosophy, he also taught liturgy and music, and on occasion scripture and moral theology. In 1930 he became rector of the college, remaining so until 1947. Almost four hundred student priests came under his influence. Noted for his professional poise, practical equanimity and unshakeable self-confidence, he was a rigid, seemingly aloof disciplinarian: he treated all students alike and set an example of impeccable priestly behaviour. Industrious and orderly, without being pettifogging, he had a passion for detailed knowledge and accuracy.

The years at Werribee were the highlight of Johnston’s life in Australia, but his work extended beyond them. He taught (1949-53) at Canisius College, Pymble, Sydney, and then served as parish priest and superior (1954-56) at St Mary’s, North Sydney. In 1957 and again in 1961 he was tertian instructor at Sevenhill College, Clare, South Australia, and between those appointments taught Greek, Latin and history at Loyola College, Watsonia, Melbourne. From 1962 to 1966 he served as parish priest and superior at Immaculate Conception Church, Hawthorn. After further stints of teaching at Werribee (1967-70) and Watsonia (1970-73), he worked (1974) with the Marist Brothers at Campion College, Kew. He spent 1975-77 at the provincial’s residence, Hawthorn, before returning to St Mary’s (1978-82) as chaplain to the nearby Josephite Sisters.

Incisive of mind and tenacious of purpose, Johnston was a formidable Irish gentleman, scholar and cleric. A passion for knowledge and accuracy also informed his work as a polemicist, a writer of apologetic tracts, and a radio personality. His somewhat steely smile and halo of tightly curled white hair gave him a special aura. He maintained an iceberg calm and relentless logic at all times. Yet, although he appeared reserved, even cold, he could be counted on for sympathetic advice. He had a respect for individuality, if within strictly defined boundaries. His popular publications included Plain Talks on the Catholic Religion (1936), A Critic Looks at the Catholic Church (1944) and A Seed That Grew (1956), a history of North Sydney parish. Father Henry Johnston died on 4 September 1986 at Kew and was buried in Boroondara cemetery.

Select Bibliography
Corpus Christi, no 1, 1962, p 46, no 2, 1967, p 163, no 3, 1974, p 25
Jesuit Life, no 22, 1986, p 27
private information and personal knowledge.

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Henry Johnston was a most remarkable man. It was not that he had any single great achievement his achievements were doing everything he undertook well. He possessed the characteristics of many Northern Irishmen and had an acute, incisive mind and a remarkable tenacity of purpose that showed itself in every undertaking, whether it was the mastery of some subject of study, the conduct of a parish, or a game of tennis or golf.
He said that as a young man he had developed a stomach ulcer. It is hard for those who knew him well to believe that any ulcer would have the temerity to attack his innermost regions but in any case, his physician prescribed a rigid diet of food that he obediently and equally rigidly observed for the rest of his many years. His breakfast of a poached egg and a cup of milk was never changed and seemed almost symbolic of his life. He invariably had an afternoon rest and retired at night at 10.00 pm and nothing, absolutely nothing, was allowed to interfere with this practice.
He was a man who was nearly always logically right, but was often psychologically wrong. He did not show much compassion or feelings for people or situations. He would inform unenlightened celebrants of the Eucharist of the number of rubrics they had broken during their celebration. Then was surprised when they expressed their disapproval of his criticism. This he could not understand - he thought that they would want to be enlightened.
Johnston accepted every challenge with zest and proceeded to meet it. He regretted not learning to play the piano because he believed he would have been good at it! Every moment was spent in profitable work. When his abstemious meal was finished and there was still someone reading in the refectory he practised his shorthand, taking down what was read, writing with his finger on the table. Even at the community recreation he was continually checking conversation by referring to a dictionary or encyclopaedia, or some other reference book, even if it was only the railway timetable. He had a passion for knowledge and accuracy.
Through the years he had passing interests. At Werribee he was an avid ornithologist, so cats, because of their known proclivities in this area, were a discouraged species. But this could scarcely be believed by the scholastics who had observed - some would say suffered from -his feline preferences when he was at Pymble and Watsonia. No one ever knew Henry Johnston to be flustered or to lose his calm in any situation. He was a great polemicist, not only in his written defences of the faith, but also on the Catholic Evidence platforms in Melbourne and Sydney. He argued with an iceberg calm and relentless logic, and mostly with a rather deadly smile. He pushed the sale of his books and pamphlets with the persistence of a second hand car salesman because he knew they were good for the buyer. He had a Pauline respect for the goods he passed on.
Johnston entered the Jesuits, 12 November 1906, and was ordained, 24 October 1920. He was later sent to Australia, and from 1925, spent 27 years at the regional seminary at Werribee, seventeen as rector, 1930-47. These years probably mark the highlight of his life. He taught, at various times, most theological subjects. He had an MA in classics from the National University of Ireland, and a doctorate in theology from the Roman Gregorian University that he used to good purpose in writing “Plain Talks on the Catholic Religion” and “A Critic Looks at the Catholic Church”. His last unpublished work was a refutation of the validity of Anglican Orders.
Johnston's impact on priests ordained for the dioceses of Victoria and beyond was incalculable. In his years at Werribee, nearly 400 priests came within the sphere of his influence, about 100 of whom predeceased him. Johnston had a great respect for the priests of Corpus Christi. He followed their progress with interest and never failed to write a congratulatory and encouraging letter to every student on the occasion of a priestly silver jubilee.
One of his great strengths as rector was that he had no favourites among the students. They stood in awe of him. Undemonstrative to a marked degree, he appeared to be reserved and distant even cold. But if one brought a personal problem to him one was assured of a sympathetic hearing and sound advice. He is recorded as saying that he found it very hard to say “no” to people. There were those who thought he should have found it easier with the passage of time because he had had so much practice at it. T
he spirituality he fostered among the students was based on their becoming men of God. In his prayer life, his disciplined commitment to both his priesthood and religious vocation, and his devotion to the Mass and to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, he clearly showed the seminarians the way. Johnston made himself an authority on many subjects. One such discipline was the Sacred Liturgy. He took his usual pains to master the subject and did all in his power to instil into the students a practical knowledge of, and a reverence for, the liturgy. He embraced the post-conciliar liturgy with equal enthusiasm. His faith in the Church and his transparent obedience had no limits.
He held high office among the Jesuits for many years, as rector of Canisius College, Pymble, 1949-53, and Loyola College, Watsonia, 1958-60, as well as parish priest of North Sydney, 1954-56, and Hawthorn, 1962-66. He also gave talks on the Catholic Hour in Melbourne, and was frequently requested to give spiritual retreats. In later years he taught theology at Werribee, 1967-73, and from 1978-82 he was chaplain to St Joseph's Convent, Mount St, North Sydney. His Final residence was a hostel, St Raphael's, Kew. Johnston succeeded John Fahy as tertian instructor in 1957, and was heavily involved in retreat giving and spiritual direction. Over 56 years, he preached 306 retreats to every sort of person, from school children to bishops. His spirituality was traditional, centred on Jesus Christ, acknowledging the need to surrender oneself to God, but also strong on the need for the discipline of human passions. He was intellectual, logical and precise in his directions, without sentimentality or affection.
He believed that joy in the spiritual life was not gained without humility and effort. Perfection in all human activities enabled God to be generous, but imperfections 'might be the beginning of the path to hell for a religious.
He Liked to emphasis the military metaphor in spirituality. The spiritual quest required a “state of war” with oneself He taught that the good Jesuit needed detachment (indifferences, obedience, humility and charity : “I must strip myself of everything and know myself in my nothingness”. 'We naturally love notice, praise, esteem. We must convince Ours that this is not wise or good”. The cross appeared to be all important in Johnston's spirituality.
He did not believe that human friendship was important if Christ was a friend, and that the necessity of human friendships could be exaggerated. In his own life he was experienced as remote and austere, but the depth of his learning and the breadth of his experience with people gave him the ability to give logical and sensible solutions to problems both spiritual and human. The apparent correctness of his advice appeared to make up for his lack of human warmth, at least with non-Jesuits.
The virtues of fear and love were both presented in his talks, but they were presented in such a cold manner that fear became the predominant message He taught that the good Jesuit was one who was interested in prayer, obedience, hard work, and reverence towards others. The preaching of joy in life, or the idea of malting allowances for human weakness did not appear in Johnston’s dictionary. Other Jesuits respected him, but they could not accept his joyless spirituality and lack of human approachability. He was not believed to be a model for younger Jesuits. lt would be hard to meet his like again and no one would be in more complete agreement with this than Johnston himself.
He was remarkable priest, an outstanding spiritual director, a dedicated religious, who encouraged and inspired by his example, a noted scholar, and a leading apologist.

Note from George Collopy Entry
When Henry Johnston had to attend a conference in Rome, he was appointed Acting Parish Priest at St Mary’s, Sydney, and he was later confirmed as Parish Priest.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 61st Year No 4 1986


Fr Henry Johnston (1888-1906-1986) (Australia)

Fr Johnston's requiem Mass was Melbourne. Archbishop Little presided, bishops along with Jesuit and diocesan priests, many of them former students of Fr Johnston's. Under the headline, “One of our best-known priests”, Fr William Daniel, Superior of the Jesuit Curia of the Australian Province, paid a fine tribute to Fr Johnston in this statement to the press:

As a Jesuit in Australia, Fr Johnston filled many offices, but is best remembered for his 27 years as a professor in the seminary at Werribee, Victoria.
Born in Downpatrick, Ireland, he was of two brothers to become Jesuits. Both men had considerable talents and that characteristic Northern Ireland acuteness of mind and tenacity of purpose.
Henry Johnston, SJ was in his time a great polemicist. He debated matters of faith on the Catholic Evidence Guild platforms in Sydney and Melbourne. During the 1930s and 1940s he conducted the Question Box and gave talks on the Catholic Radio Hour in Melbourne. He published pamphlets in abundance, but his only books were “Plain talks on the Catholic religion” (a book unequalled in time for clarity and the exactness of its teaching), "A critic looks at the Catholic and Catholic Church”, and a history of the parish of North Sydney.
No one ever knew Fr Johnston to be ruffled or angered by controversy. He approached every undertaking, whether it was a debate or a game of tennis or golf, with an iceberg calm and the application of logic. Urbanity marked his words and actions. Uncharity was as alien to him as a display of emotion or yielding of position.
He professed sacred scripture, philosophy and moral theology, and indeed everything else as need arose. He and the concelebrants included seven
was rector in several Jesuit houses of celebrated in St Patrick's cathedral, study, parish priest in two large parishes, and instructor of tertians ... Fr Johnston retained an extraordinarily youthful intellect, and accepted every new task as an enjoyable challenge, whether it was in sacred studies,liturgical music, or golf. He was not happy until he had mastered each new skill. He carried on his labours, writing and lecturing, right up until his last few days, when he suffered impairment of sight and eventually its loss.
It is no exaggeration to say that Fr Henry Johnston is a legend among the clergy of Victoria, so many of whom he helped to form. His achievements and foibles are still spoken of at many a clergy gathering. His life was one of dedicated service and scholarship. His last years of acceptance of his failing one faculties were borne with the same calm had marked the course of his long life.

Under the heading, “Fr Johnston: men tor to hundreds of priests, laity”, another Australian newspaper article describes Fr Johnston:
The late Jesuit Fr Henry Johnston its influenced at least four hundred priests and countless lay people - non-Catholic - during his eighty years in the Society of Jesus and 66 years as a priest.
Dean F M Chamberlin, homilist at the requiem Mass, said that in 1923 Fr Johnston came to Australia, where he exercised a remarkable influence for two-thirds of the present century.
On his arrival he taught English and Latin at Xavier College, Kew, Melbourne. He had already won example. bachelor's and master's degrees with first-class honours in Ancient Classics at the National University of Ireland, followed by a doctorate in sacred theology at the Gregorian University, Rome.
In 1925 he took up an appointment to the professorial staff of the regional seminary at Corpus Christi College, Werribee, and was to remain there for a period of 24 years, 18 of them as period of 24 years, 18 of them as rector for three successive terms. In the early 1940s, when the professor of moral theology and later the professor of sacred scripture both fell ill, he calmly and successfully professed both these courses for a period of four to five years. Later he was to return to Werribee 1967 through 1969, to profess natural theology, rational psychology, sacred scripture and biblical history. By the time he left Werribee for a second time, he was in his 82nd year. .
Fr Johnston's finest and happiest years were spent among diocesan priests and seminarians. It was for this reason that the Jesuit fathers asked that someone from among the diocesan clergy should act as homilist at his requiem.
Students stood in considerable awe of this markedly undemonstrative, reserved and distant man, but came to know that they could always expect a sympathetic hearing and sound advice when they confided their problems to him. He is recorded as saying that he found it very difficult to say “no” to people. There were those who thought he should have found it easier with the passage of time, he gained so much practice at it!
That our futures were in our own hands was underlined by his parting words at the end of the scholastic year. “No one”, he used to say, “is expected back”. His repeated exhortation was that each of us should strive to become a homo Dei. If we have failed to scale the heights, it was through no failure on his part to present them both by word and example.
By his prayer life, by his disciplined commitment to both his priesthood and his religious vocation, and by his devotion to the Mass and to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, he clearly showed us the way. His clarity of thought and inexorable logic were frightening to the student whom he left foundering in his wake - as the homilist had reason to recall more than 45 years later.
He made the utmost use of time and brought his self-discipline to bear on studies, so that his intense application gave him knowledge of subjects in which he lacked formal training. Although he had no musical training, he made himself self an authority on Gregorian chant, and was professor of sacred music during his years at the seminary.
Likewise he made himself an authority on sacred liturgy. He took his usual pains to master the subject, and did all in his power to instil into the students a practical knowledge of and a reverence for the liturgy. He embraced the postconciliar liturgy with equal enthusiasm. His faith in the Church and his transparent obedience had no limits.
He showed the same tenacity in the pursuit of his hobbies - if indeed they can be called hobbies - whether of astronomy or of golf, which latter he took up when in his sixties. He studied the instruction manuals written by the experts and practised the shots - some say for as long as twelve months - before playing a formal round. Came the day, and to the amazement of his playing companions, he parred the first three holes, On receiving their congratulations, he drily observed: Well, that's what you're supposed to do, isn't it? Said the homilist: I can hear him saying it.
He was parish priest and superior at St Mary's, North Sydney, in the mid-1950s, and was appointed parish priest of the Immaculate Conception parish, Hawthorn, Melbourne, in 1962, when he was in his 74th year, and brought to the administration of that parish in the subsequent five years a zeal and enthusiasm which would have done credit to a man half his age. He was an outstanding example of a dedicated pastor.
After that he had various responsibilities within the Society of Jesus, and served as chaplain to the Marist Brothers noviciate at Macedon, and later still to the Sisters of St Joseph, Mount Street, North Sydney, relinquishing this latter post in his 95th year.
Over a period of years he suffered the disability of failing eyesight, which must have been a severe trial to a man of his academic and literary bent.

Kelly, James, 1921-2000, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/626
  • Person
  • 07 September 1921-07 April 2000

Born: 07 September 1921, Geashill, County Offaly
Entered: 07 September 1940, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 29 July 1954, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 03 February 1958, Wah Yan College, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Died: 07 April 2000, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Loyola, Eglinton Road, Dublin community at the time of death.

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03/12/1966; HK to CHN : 1992; CHN to HIB : 1993

by 1949 at Hong Kong - Regency
by 1963 at Rome, Italy (ROM) studying

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Father James Kelly, S.J.

Father James Kelly, SJ, died in Dublin on 7 April 2000 after a long illness.

Born in Ireland in 1921, Father Kelly came to Hong Kong in 1948. After studying the Cantonese language first in Guangzhou and then in Hong Kong, he spent one year teaching in Wah Yan College, Robinson Road before returning to Ireland to complete his ecclesiastical studies.

Ordained a priest in 1954, Father Kelly returned to Hong Kong in 1956 and was first assigned to teach in Wah Yan College, Kowloon. In 1958 he began to teach theology in the Regional Seminary, Aberdeen.

From 1962 to 1964 he did further studies in Rome and then taught theology for a short time in the Philippines before being recalled to heavy administrative responsibilities in Hong Kong. However, he gave theology courses when invited in Holy Spirit Seminary, Aberdeen until 1982. Owing to ill health he returned to Ireland in 1995 where he remained until his death.

Father Kelly had a keen interest in Scripture the subject he taught most frequently and his courses were much appreciated by his students. He also had a practical turn of mind and undertook many administrative tasks in a competent way. He had a lively inquiring mind and was a man of many interests. He was a devoted priest and a kind and understanding guide to all who looked to him for spiritual direction.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 30 April 2000

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 23rd Year No 3 1948

Frs. Casey G., Grogan and Sullivan leave England for Hong Kong on 2nd July on the ‘Canton’. On the following day Fr. Kevin O'Dwyer hopes to sail with Fr. Albert Cooney from San Francisco on the ‘General Gordon’ for the same destination.
The following will be going to Hong Kong in August : Frs. Joseph Mallin and Merritt, Messrs. James Kelly, McGaley, Michael McLoughlin and Geoffrey Murphy.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 105 : Special Edition 2000


Fr James J (Jimmy) Kelly (1921-2000) - Honk Kong Province

1921, Sept 7: Born in Geashill, Offaly
Early education: St Columba's, Tullamore

1940, Sept 7: Entered the Society at Emo
1942, Sept 8: First vows at Emo
1942 - 1945: B.A. studies at UCD
1945 - 1948: Tullabeg, studying philosophy
1948 - 1950: Hong Kong, studying Cantonese
1950 - 1951: Wah Yan College, teaching
1951 - 1955: Milltown Park, studying theology
July 29th 1954: Ordained priest at Milltown Park
1955 - 1956; Tertianship at Rathfarnham
1956 - 1958: Wah Yan College, teaching
1958 - 1962: Regional Seminary, teaching Scripture
1962 - 1964: Gregorian, Rome, studying Dogmatic Theology
1964 - 1965: Philippines, teaching Scripture
1965 - 1995: During this long period he held various posts:
Regional Treasurer, Professor of Sacred Scripture, taught Church History in Seminary, Assistant Warden, Ricci Hall, Province Revisor.
1995 - 2000: Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

While in Hong Kong, Fr. Kelly suffered from arthritis and the start of Parkinson's Disease. Jimmy lived his mission to Pray for the Church and the Society deeply and, up to a week before he died, he could be found praying at 5.30 a.m. In his last days he was relieved to be dispensed from praying the Prayer of the Church. He went quickly downhill and died as he had lived, quietly and without drawing attention to himself.

Joe Foley writes ...

Jimmy Kelly was born into a strongly nationalist family in Geashill, Offaly on 7th September, 1921. He was always proud of the fact that he came from a nationalist background and that he was of rural origin.

Most of Jimmy's life was spent in Hong Kong, but even before he went on the missions, he had an interesting time in Ireland. He was completely at home in the bogs of the midlands and while studying philosophy in Tullabeg he thoroughly enjoyed joining the late Fr Frank Shaw, SJ on shooting expeditions in the bogs, with which he was very familiar. Jimmy could be described as a handyman and was very much in demand as a stage-hand when we put on our amateur productions in Tullabeg. I suspect that one of his most enjoyable moments was when, in one play - it was Seán O Casey, I think - the script called for “gunfire, off stage”, and Jimmy proudly produced gunfire that was not only realistic, but was actually real!

He went to Guangzhou (Canton) China in 1948. The plan was that he would spend two years studying Cantonese. However, the change of government in China changed all that. Jimmy, together with the other seven scholastics who were studying Cantonese, went to Hong Kong in the summer of 1949 to continue his language studies. The following year he taught in the afternoon section of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, then in Robinson Road. He returned to Ireland for theology in 1951, was ordained priest in Milltown Park and did his tertianship in Rathfarnham Castle, He was back in Hong Kong in 1956. He taught and was Prefect of Studies in Wah Yan College, Kowloon. He was then assigned to teach scripture in the Regional Seminary for South China in Aberdeen, Hong Kong.

Scripture became one of Jimmy's main interests, which stayed with him all his life. From 1962 - 1964 he did doctoral studies in Rome. Those were the early days of the Second Vatican Council and Jimmy struck up a friendship with Robert Kaiser, one of the chief English-speaking correspondents of the Council. He also renewed acquaintance with Fr Malachy Martin, SJ whom he already knew well, since Malachy was one year ahead of him in the Society. Jimmy thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in all the “goings-on” at the Council and had a grandstand view of what was happening. At the same time negotiations were under way for the transference of the Diocese of Hong Kong from the Italians (the PIME) to the Chinese Diocesan Clergy. We in Hong Kong knew nothing of this at the time, but Jimmy must have kept a close and very discreet eye on the situation - with very great enjoyment.

Once again the change of government in China impacted on Jimmy's life. The flow of seminarians from South China came to an end and what had been the Regional Seminary for South China now became the Hong Kong Diocesan Seminary, staffed by local Chinese Clergy. Thus, on his return from Rome in 1964, instead of continuing teaching scripture, he returned to Hong Kong in 1965 and for the next 30 years he was engaged in a great variety of ministries: Secretary to the Superior of the Mission; Socius to the Provincial of the Vice-Province; Assistant Warden in Ricci Hall (The University Hostel); Professor of Scripture in the Seminary College. However, his main work was as Treasurer of the Vice-Province, a job he devoted himself to, with apparently endless energy. Those who are expert in financial matters testify that Jimmy did an outstandingly good job as Treasurer, He got the finances into excellent shape, and to this day tributes are paid to the very fine job he did.

While making the finances of the Vice-Province (and later Province) of Hong Kong his first priority, Jimmy also found time to engage in much pastoral work. He taught scripture in the Seminary College, and was also "ordinary confessor" for many years to a group of Irish Columban Sisters. Their appreciation of his many years of faithful service was shown by the attendance of a large number of the Sisters at his funeral in Gardiner St. Jimmy also said Mass regularly in the Catholic Centre, in downtown Hong Kong. He was also available to a number of people who came to him for advice and counselling. His sympathy and understanding were much appreciated by those who turned to him for help.

Thus, Jimmy led a very full, active life, in spite of poor health. Many years ago he underwent major surgery for cancer and subsequently was troubled by many different aliments, including diverticulitis and Parkinson's. When he felt it was wise to do so, he returned to Ireland and spent the last five years of his life in Cherryfield Lodge. He often spoke to me of how grateful he was for the great personal care and attention he received during those years.

Jimmy has now gone to his well-deserved rest, leaving behind memories of a very quiet, unassuming, hard-working, devoted Jesuit. He did not wear his heart on his sleeve, but deep devotion to the Lord was abundantly evident, and a source of inspiration to all who knew him. May he rest in peace.
JG Foley, SJ


Harold Naylor writes ...

Jimmy is a man to whom the HK Jesuits owe much. For nearly three decades he looked after the HK finances carefully, prudently and successfully. He built up a fund for the aged and sick, and brought all financial matters up to date with the latest of the decrees of the General Congregations on Religious Poverty.

In 1993, he felt his days in Hong Kong were up and he returned to Ireland, where he lived at Cherryfield Lodge. He kept abreast of life in Hong Kong, and the financial world. Since he took over as Procurator, after Fr. Howatson's stroke in 1964, he had made himself ready in all matters of investment and world finance.

He came to Hong Kong with a distinguished group of scholastics, like Hal McLoughlin and Frank McGaley who are still with us. Desmond Reid in Singapore is also a strict contemporary. It was 1948 when he with three other scholastics and two priests went to Canton to learn Cantonese. With the communist advances in 1949, they came to Hong Kong and continued their language studies as guests of the French MEP priests at Battery Path. He then taught a year at Wah Yan, and he returned to Wah Yan, Kowloon, for two years from 1958 when he was Form Master in Form Five to George Zee, and also Prefect of Studies,

Called to teach at the Regional Seminary, he put himself to New Testament Studies, and then went to Rome for his Biennium at the Biblical, which he finished in 1963. Jesuit withdrawal from the Aberdeen Seminary in Feb 1964 then saw him at the Theologate in Baguio, but this only lasted a few months. The summons came to be Procurator at Ricci Hall.

He continued to teach courses at the Aberdeen Seminary for some years. His health was bad. He was a cautious and accurate man, but also compassionate and warm, and approachable when in a good mood. He kept up serious reading, especially in Scriptural studies, and had a clear and well founded theological opinions, which tended to be conservative.

We offer sympathy to his sisters Mary (O'Sullivan) and Bridie (Comiskey), many nephews, nieces and friends, not to speak of those who knew him so well in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Harold Naylor SJ

Kelly, James, 1935-2019, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/858
  • Person
  • 15 November 1935-07 December 2019

Born: 15 November 1935, Dalystown, County Westmeath
Entered: 07 September 1954, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 10 July 1968, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 10 September 1981, Luján, Argentina
Died: 07 December 2019, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Milltown Park, Dublin community at the time of death.

by 1969 at Jerusalem, Israel (PRO) studying and teaching
by 1974 at Larkspur. CA, USA (CAL) parish and teaching
by 1975 at Millbrae. CA, USA (CAL) parish and teaching
by 1975 at Auriesville. NY, USA (NYK) making Tertianship
by 1976 at San Francisco. CA, USA (CAL) working and studying
by 1977 at Quito, Ecuador (ECU) teaching
by 1978 at Arica, Chile (CHL) teaching
by 1979 at Asunción. Paraguay (PAR) and Buenos Aires, Angentina (ARG) teaching
by 1992 at Genoa. Italy (ITA) writing

◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/putting-the-priestly-ministry-first-james-kelly-sj/

Putting the priestly ministry First: James Kelly SJ
At the funeral Mass for Fr James Kelly SJ, celebrant Fr Bill Callanan SJ respected the wishes of the deceased and refrained from delivering a eulogy. James’s “frequently expressed desire” for this, Bill explained, did not derive from a false humility. He explained: In my view it stemmed rather from James’ deeply felt sense of his priestly ministry, and of the central place held by the preaching of the Word of God in it. All too often, in James’ view, in funeral allocutions the preacher places his or her main emphasis on the merits or demerits of the deceased. This approach has often resulted in dwelling on the biographical details of their life history, singling out their successes and lauding their accomplishments. The result tended to be that little time was given to the message of the gospel which related most directly to those present, – What is the meaning of death for the Christian? Faithful, then, to James’s wishes, Bill’s homily took the Gospel reading about the resurrection of Lazarus and reflected on the meaning of death for the Christian, especially under the sign of hope in the resurrection. You can read the full homily here » A few words of biography – and indeed of eulogy – are in order. A Westmeath man by birth and upbringing, Fr James became something of a citizen of the world in the course of his Jesuit life. After entering the Society in St Mary’s, Emo, in Co Laois, he studied Classics in UCD and Theology in Milltown Park. But shortly after his ordination at Milltown Park in 1968 he began an itinerant academic career, studying and lecturing in Biblical studies in various parts of the world. He firstly studied scripture at the École Biblique in Jerusalem, the Pontifical Biblical Institute and then the Franciscanum in Rome. Over the following years he lectured and did parish work in various Californian cities before, in 1977, beginning a lengthy period, mostly as a lecturer in Scripture, in Latin America. He worked in Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina during this time. After his return to Ireland in the mid-1980s, James lectured in biblical languages in the Milltown Institute, but he also spent periods as a writer in Genoa, Italy.
In all of this active life of scholarship, James took very much to heart the call to bring the good news to all who came his way. He had a deeply apostolic vision of priestly life. In all respects he was a good scholar, a fine priest, and a faithful Jesuit.

Early Education at Ballinagore NS, St Jarlath’s, Tuam, Co Galway; St Finian’s, Mullingar, County Westmeath

1956-1959 Rathfarnham - Studying Classics at UCD
1959-1962 Tullabeg - Studying Philosophy
1962-1965 Clongowes Wood College SJ - Regency : Teacher; Studying CWC Cert in Education
1965-1969 Milltown Park - Studying Theology
1969-1974 Jerusalem, Israel - Studied Scripture at École Biblique; Studies and Lectures at Pontifical Biblical Institute; Prepared for STD at Franciscanum (Jerusalem and Rome)
1974-1975 Larkspur, CA, USA - Assists in St Patrick’s Church
1975-1976 Millbrae, CA, USA - Assists at St Dunstan’s; Lectures one course at University of San Francisco
1976-1977 San Francisco, CA, USA - Parish work and Studying Spanish at Saint Veronica’s, Alida Way
1977-1978 Quito, Ecuador - Lecturer in Scripture at Catolica Università del Ecuador
1978-1979 Arica, Chile - Courses in Religion at Arica Antofagasta
1979-1980 Asunçion, Paraguay & Gesu Nazarone, Corrientes, Argentina
Mendoza, Argentine – Pastoral Work at Residencia, San Martin (Summers)
1980-1983 Asunción, Paraguay & Buenos Aires, Argentina - Lectures in Scripture in Asunción, Paraguay; Lectures for half year in Collegio Maximo de San José,Buenos Aires, Argentina
1983-1992 Milltown Park - Teacher of Hebrew & Greek in Milltown Institute; Chaplain in Milltown Parish, Dublin
1992-1996 Genova, Italy - Ministers in Church; Writer at Chiesa del Gesù
1996-1998 Gardiner St - Writer (6 months in Gardiner St; 6 months in Genoa, Italy)
1997 Orlando, FL, USA - Assists in Parish at St James Parish (3 months)
1998-2005 Crescent Church, Limerick - Assists in Church; Director of Sodalities BVM & St Ignatius
1999 Teaches Italian (adults) at Crescent College Comprehensive SJ, Dooradoyle; Writer
2003 Assists in Church; Teacher of Hebrew to adults;
2005-2019 Milltown Park - Teacher of Biblical Languages at Milltown Institute; Writer

Kelly, William, 1931-2000, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/559
  • Person
  • 01 October 1931-21 August 2000

Born: 01 October 1931, Limerick
Entered: 07 September 1949, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1963, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1967, Chiesa del Gesù, Rome, Italy
Died: 21 August 2000, Staten Island, New York NY, USA

Part of the Milltown Park, Dublin community at the time of death.

by 1966 at Rome Italy (ROM) studying

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 105 : Special Edition 2000


Fr William (Billy) Kelly (1931-2000)

1931, Oct1st: Born in Limerick
Early education at St. Ignatius College, Galway.
1949, 7th Sept: Entered the Society at Emo
1951, 8th Sept: First vows at Emo
1951 - 1954: Rathfarnham - Arts at UCD
1954 - 1957: Tullabeg - Philosophy
1957 - 1960: Coláiste lognáid, Galway - Teacher
1960 - 1964: Milltown Park - Theology
1963, July 31st: Ordained priest at Milltown Park
1964 - 1965: Tertianship at Rathfarnham Castle
1965 - 1968: Rome - Studied Canon Law
1968 - 2000: Professor of Canon Law at the Milltown Institute; working at the Dublin Diocesan Marriage Tribunal
2000, Aug 21st: Died Staten Island, New York

Billy suffered from angina and had heart surgery a number of years ago. He spent part of his summer each year on supply in a parish in the U.S.A. It was while he was there that he suffered a heart attack and died at Staten Island on 21st August 2000.

Michael Hurley SJ gave the homily at the funeral mass for Fr. Billy Kelly, at Milltown Park on Monday September 4 2000...

Euge, euge!

My reason for making the unusual choice of the parable of the talents (Mt 25:14-17, 19-23) as our gospel reading this morning is precisely because the text I wanted to have for my homily occurs in it and not just once but twice. Some of you will have noticed that I shortened the passage and omitted all reference to the servant who received one talent and buried it, hid it in the ground. I did so of course because I didn't want us distracted with questions about the meaning of the parable as a whole, much less with questions about the treatment of the servant who had received the one talent. I wanted us to concentrate and focus all our attention and interest on those great, glorious evangelical words which I am taking as my text: Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord, come and share the joy, the happiness of your Lord.

I can think of no more appropriate words for this occasion. These were surely the words which the choirs of angels and the whole court of heaven were singing on Monday afternoon last - and it was probably in the afternoon about 3 o'clock rather than in the evening about 8 o'clock - when Billy made his surprised entry. As we'll be reminded once again at the end of this Mass, the funeral liturgy explicitly invites us to imagine the angels and saints leading and escorting and welcoming Billy into paradise, into the holy city, to the bosom of Abraham, to the supper of the Lamb, to meet our Lord and his Mother, to sit down at table with them at the banquet feast which is heaven. Figuring prominently of course among the welcoming party will have been Billy's father and his mother to whom he was particularly devoted especially as he was an only child; and Billy's favourite saints but he was so private a person that we don't know their names and also his favourite Jesuit friends who have gone before him to prepare a place for him. Some of these however we do know. Denis Flannery will certainly have been in the front row, Denis, Billy's contemporary and missionary in Zambia on whom he lavished such tender loving care the year before last in Cherryfield when Denis was dying; and Dicky Butler, his headmaster when he was a young Jesuit scholastic in Galway( 1957-60). Dicky was so kind that Billy broke the strange resolution he made after his mother's death; never to visit Galway again . When Dicky died he did go back to attend the funeral. Dicky, it is not perhaps inappropriate to recall, was a fellow conservative. He did read The Tablet but only, as Dicky himself would tell you good humouredly, to find out what they were up to in the enemy camp!

But what were the angels singing on Monday afternoon- and what are they still singing? Well what I hear them singing and what I invite you to hear are the words of my text from Matthew's gospel: 'Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord, come and share the joy of thy Lord'. All the words of this refrain are of course important but the first are of some particular interest, especially if we consult the Latin and Greek versions which the angels will surely know and with which many of you will be quite familiar. The “Well Done” of the English version is of course “euge” in the Latin and “eu” in the Greek. So in the Greek and the Latin the first word of the Scripture text for my homily this morning is none other than the first syllable of that dreaded word 'eulogy': dreaded at least in the context of a funeral liturgy not only by canonists and bishops and by Billy himself both personally and professionally because he was so completely self effacing, he had so sadly convinced himself he didn't deserve any praise or recognition.. But that of course was in his previous earth-bound existence when the thought of a eulogy especially by the likes of me would have appalled him. In heaven however life is changed; he no longer sees as in a glass darkly. An evangelical, heavenly eulogy is different. And all we on earth are trying to do this morning is what we do every day at mass : joining our voices with those of the angels, joining in their hymn of praise, in their eulogy of God and his blessings and his gifts which of course is what all our merits and talents and all Billy's merits and talents really are.

Billy was greatly loved and widely loved. He was a charmer and everyone was very fond of him. Mgr Gerry Sheehy rang me on Tuesday afternoon to express his sympathy. “Billy”, he said, “Billy was loved here in our place. We were devastated at the news of his sudden death”. Mgr Sheehy was speaking about the offices of the Marriage Tribunal in Archbishop's House here in Dublin. Billy worked there most Fridays of the year. In between the perfectionist in him agonised over judgements he had to prepare: he was so careful and painstaking and he laboured under the handicap of not being able to type and finding it difficult to put pen to paper - writing was never his forte.

Billy was certainly a good and faithful servant of his Lord' in the work of the Marriage Tribunal. But what Mgr Sheehy said about the Marriage Tribunal was of course reechoed here in the Milltown Institute. The death notice in the staff room spoke tenderly of Billy as “a dear friend as well as colleague and in the first reading from the Book of Wisdom the Registrar, feeling like all of us the grievous loss which Billy's death is and finding it difficult not to identify with the 'unwise, was clearly making her own both personally and officially their sentiments about Billy's death “looking like a disaster”.

Billy had taught canon law here since 1968. It was not the subject he would personally have chosen for specialisation had he been given the choice. But he wasn't, and being an obedient as well as a faithful servant of his Lord he accepted and made himself an expert in this forbidding, despised field. After doing doctoral work in Rome he became a competent and devoted teacher here. He was always well prepared for class and at a critical period in the Church's history when canon law was in disrepute he succeeded in engaging the interest and indeed the affection of his students many of whom are here present today. He was a popular teacher especially with his non-Irish, his foreign students.

In the Milltown Institute Billy was also the founder and first director of the Spiritual Studies Programme and outside the Institute he was much in demand for consultancy work. So very many of Billy's professional colleagues and students past and present are sadly but also happily joining in the angels' refrain: Well Done Good and Faithful Servant.

Voices from the USA and elsewhere join the chorus too, Every Summer for the past 17 years Billy has done a supply in the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Staten Island, New York. The Pastor reports that the appearance in the parish in mid June this year of another visiting priest raised fears that Billy was not coming this time and a deluge of callers to the Presbytery were greatly relieved to hear their fears were in vain. On Saturday the former pastor, Bishop Ahern, was to have presided at a funeral mass in the parish but was prevented at the last minute. The present pastor Mgr Francis Boyle presided instead and, preaching the homily, spoke in glowing terms of the esteem in which Billy was held. I had the opportunity of speaking on the phone with the Pastor and with the parish secretary, Rosemary: they both spoke very highly of Billy. Rosemary was probably the last person to see him alive - on Monday about 1 p.m. in a local store buying, I'm afraid, the inevitable : cigarettes! She had offered him a lift back to the presbytery but he declined, preferring to walk. Rosemary and all in the Blessed. Sacrament parish of Staten Island happily join the angelic chorus as they sing to Billy: Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.

What about the Milltown Park Jesuit Community? Billy lived here from 1960 to 1964 while he studied theology and incidentally had to suffer me as one of his teachers. Then after his tertianship as it's called in the Jesuit curriculum vitae jargon and after doctoral work in Rome Billy came back to live here again while he carried on his teaching and consultancy work in the field of canon law. No man is a hero to his valet; no Jesuit is a hero in his own community. But like the Marriage Tribunal and the Milltown Institute and the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Staten Island we too can truly say: Billy was well loved here. We too join with the angels in saying: 'Euge, eu , well done good and faithful servant enter into the joy of our common Lord'. Billy will be sorely missed here in the Milltown Park community for his kindness, his readiness to listen, for his shrewd advice, for his outspoken honesty, for the spirited exchanges he loved to stimulate. His death leaves a void, a void which can never be filled.

What became very clear to us here in the community, what today's congregation confirms is Billy's huge capacity for friendship, his wide circle of friends lay and clerical, men and women.. He was of course a man of broad interests (particularly well informed on world affairs) and of exquisite taste---not least in music. More significantly however he was utterly generous in giving his time, his gifts, his expertise, in giving himself to others, face to face or on the phone. He was generous - some of us thought to a fault. He spent hours and hours, days and days helping people in trouble, extricating them from the difficult situations in which their own imprudence or the entanglements of canon law had got them involved. His personal compassion and his professional epieikeia combined to make him a great benefactor. He spent himself and was spent for others.

But Billy's most remarkable and most endearing gift was what I would call his magnanimity: his capacity to put people themselves first, to put their isms very much in second place if any place at all. This magnanimity, as I saw and experienced it, is a spiritual gift analogous to that of forgiveness. In principle forgiveness enables us to love the sinner, the offender without ever condoning the sin, while indeed hating the sin, the offence. This is of course much easier said than done and as a result much more often said than done. Billy's magnanimity was somewhat similar to forgiveness: it meant he could have close friends whose views he did not share, whose views indeed he rejected. He didn't suffer fools gladly but he could and did suffer gladly some of us who differed from him. It is said of St John (St Polycarp tells the story) that he fled the baths in alarm one day on finding the heretic Cerinthus there. “Let us flee”, John is said to have cried out. “let us flee lest the baths collapse since the enemy of truth is here”. Unlike St John - in this at least - Billy had no fear that the community quarters here in Milltown would collapse because I was there and others like me who differed from him. Billy and I coexisted amicably and indeed affectionately, if at times furiously. He was no great ecumenist and he had no great love for Northern Ireland. He would never visit there though he did once allow himself to be driven through to get the boat at Larne. But despite my ecumenism and despite my concern for reconciliation in Northern Ireland, despite what he was prone to see or affected to see as my ecumania or my Protestantism and unionism, Billy and I remained good friends! It is with great sadness but also with great happiness that I join the angelic chorus as they sing their evangelical, heavenly eulogy: Euge, serve bone et fidelis-well done good and faithful servant, well done, Billy, come and share the joy of our Lord.

Those who make the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius hear Christ in the meditation on the Kingdom addressing them in these words: 'It is my will to conquer the whole world and all my enemies. Therefore whoever wishes to join me in this enterprise must be willing to labour with me, that by following me in suffering, he may follow me in glory”. Billy made these Spiritual Exercises and that meditation which comes at the beginning of the Second Week. He heard that call and answered with great generosity wishing indeed with God's help to 'distinguish himself in the service of Christ his Lord and King. But he heard the call not just once away back in 1949 when he made his first Long Retreat with Donal O'Sullivan as a Jesuit novice in Emo . He heard it daily ever since and answered it - less emotionally perhaps but no less generously. So the angelic chorus which sang him into heaven on Monday were simply indicating the fulfilment of the promise made by Christ the King: Billy having followed him in labours and in suffering as a Jesuit for fifty one years would now follow him in glory; would now share his joy, his peace : “Well done, good and faithful servant... Come, take possession of the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (cf Mt 25:34).

Michael Hurley, SJ

McGarry, Cecil, 1929-2009, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/788
  • Person
  • 01 January 1929-24 October 2009

Born: 01 January 1929, Galway, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1946, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 28 July 1960, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1964, Chiesa de Gesù, Rome, Italy
Died: 24 October 2009, Arrupe, Mwangaza, Jesuit Spirituality Centre, Lang’ata, Nairobi, Kenya - Africa Orientalis Province (AOR)

Father Provincial of the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus : 25 July 1968-8 March 1975
Father General's General Assistant: 1977-1984

Transcribed HIB to AOR: 25 April 1989

by 1963 at Rome Italy (ROM) studying
by 1985 at Nairobi, Kenya (AOR) teaching - Hekima

◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/the-irish-jesuits-under-cecil-mcgarry-sj/
The Irish Jesuits under Cecil McGarry SJ
Cecil McGarry was Irish Provincial at a very difficult juncture in the history of the Society. In other words, it was upon his shoulders that the implementation of the renewal of religious life in accordance with the Second Vatican Council was placed. This took more specific form in the
32nd Jesuit General Congregation. Under Fr Arrupe’s leadership it called Jesuits to a faith that does justice: it was with this message that Cecil inspired his Province. The photo is of Cecil and Fr Arrupe conversing during one of the latter’s visits to Ireland.
From Chapter 7 of To the Greater Glory: A History of the Irish Jesuits by Louis McRedmond (Gill and Macmillan, Dublin, 1991) :
The Provincial on whom the burden primarily fell of bringing the Irish Jesuits safely through the aftermath of Vatican II was Father Cecil McGarry, who came to office in 1968. To guide him he had the emphasis of the documents approved in 1965 and 1966 by the 31st General Congregation of the Society, which had elected Father Arrupe, as well as the exhortations which very quickly came from the new General himself. The Congregation chose two themes to stress, both of them conciliar. The first was an insistence on returning to the Society’s origins, which meant developing a heightened awareness of its Founder’s intentions. The second theme was the need to adapt the Society’s organisation and activities to enable it better to cope with the intellectual, social and spiritual problems of the age. From the outset of his generalate Father Arrupe urged the Society to press on with this process of modernising itself in the spirit of Saint Ignatius (which involved inter alia Ignatian ideas of mobility and flexibility), in order that Jesuits might be able more easily to move into new areas of apostolic opportunity and need. And so ’Jesuits throughout the world began the task of integrating the decisions of the Congregation with their personal endeavours for renewal. As General, Father Arrupe indicated that he expected action. He said, “I do not want to defend any mistakes Jesuits might have made, but the greatest mistake would be to stand in such fear of making error that we would simply stop acting.” (1) Father McGarry acted promptly, to the great benefit of the Society in Ireland and to the admiration of Jesuits from other Provinces (2) which were slower to move.
It cannot have been easy. The Provincial discharged his unenviable task with courage, conviction and, it may reasonably be supposed, a degree of pain known to himself alone. While there were Jesuits in every age group who rejoiced to see the Congregation decisions implemented, what the Provincial had to do caused unhappiness to a number of older Fathers settled in their ways and harbouring no doubts concerning the work undertaken by the Irish Province in their lifetime. Also distressed were some younger men who had thrown themselves with enthusiasm into tasks given them in the recent past. If the Province was to adapt to new priorities some of the established activities would have to be curtailed, not least because of the fall in numbers which all orders began to suffer in the 1960s: eight Irish scholastics left the Jesuits in the year that Father McGarry took office, (3) which meant the intake of novices – averaging seven a year (4) – did nothing to balance the natural losses through death and retirement. This imbalance was unlikely to improve. The Provincial did not act arbitrarily: he initiated internal discussions in each house to establish what the community was doing, and what it felt it should be doing. It would be no more than a small exaggeration to say that there were as many opinions as there were Jesuits. (5) But only the Provincial could make the ultimate decisions, and these involved abandoning some cherished commitments.
Perhaps his most distasteful duty was deciding where manpower could be saved. Suppression of a boarding-school was likely to bring maximum results, if only because it took so many men to provide supervision and administration as well as teaching. If a school had to go, Mungret was more vulnerable than Clongowes. (6) In the first place, there would still be a substantial Jesuit presence in Limerick between the community serving the public church and those attached to the Crescent (now the Crescent Comprehensive). Secondly, Mungret had already lost its apostolic school, which was half the reason for its existence. The Vatican Council had been the remote cause of this happening. The Council seemed to require philosophy and theology to be integrated in seminaries. Father Redmond Roche, Superior of the Apostolic School, could not see how this was to be guaranteed for the future, given the vocations crisis and an already evident shortage of competent lecturers. The vocations crisis also meant that institutions doing similar work, such as All Hallows in Dublin, were adequate to the need. The Apostolic School was accordingly suspended in 1967. The lay school, by contrast, was reaping the benefits of Father Kerr’s rectorship. Demand for places constantly exceeded those available and the disappearance of the Apostolic School actually helped by removing an ambiguity from the overall purpose of Mungret. How far Clongowes was protected by its venerability as the first house of the restored Society in Ireland, or by its fame and continuing prestige, or (as was hinted sotto voce) by the fierce loyalty of its past pupils who would have made a far greater clamour if suppression were mooted than came from those of Mungret, must remain matter for speculation. One thing is certain. Father McGarry was not a man to flinch from any decision, however unpopular, if he believed it to be right. When he chose Mungret rather than Clongowes for suppression, it can be taken for granted that he did what he had prayerfully concluded to be his duty. Of course, there were many to say he was wrong: their arguments ranged from nostalgia to the new-found status of the lay school at Mungret and its long-established fecundity in vocations. But the critics who spoke thus were spared the responsibility of making the decision.
There were positive decisions also. In 1966 the State had proposed a scheme of ’free’ – i.e. fully State- supported secondary education. Although it involved a reduction of 20 per cent in their income, (7) Coláiste Iognáid in Galway and the Crescent in Limerick entered the scheme. Now came the further proposal that the Crescent should become the keystone of a large comprehensive school of the kind outlined above in the account of developments at Gonzaga. At Dooradoyle in Limerick, under the inspired guidance of the Jesuit historian and Limerickman, Father Thomas J. Morrissey, this experiment in Irish education took off with dynamic vigour as a non-feepaying co-educational school to meet ’the diverse needs of the bright and the dull, the affluent and the deprived’. (8) Personal initiatives received much encouragement, such as Father Michael Sweetman’s protests against inadequate housing for the poor of Dublin: (9) a stand which inspired more than one young Jesuit to become involved in activity for social reform and in time would result in the services provided by Jesuits today to the socially deprived in the suburban housing estates and the high- rise flats of the modern capital. The teachings of the Vatican Council were promoted by public lectures at Milltown Park which attracted overflow audiences in the late 1960s and early 1970s. (10)
In the context of service to the Church, it may be that no single development of recent years will turn out to have been as significant as the generous support given by Father McGarry to the Irish School of Ecumenics founded by Father Michael Hurley of the Milltown community in 1970. (11) This small but vitally important postgraduate institute offers university degrees, nowadays from the University of Dublin and formerly from the University of Hull, to students from various Christian Churches and from Third World as well as European countries who study theology together, gain firsthand experience of one another’s pastoral routine and return to their duties in their own communions as informed witnesses to the hope and possibility of Christian Unity. The School functions under the patronage of senior representatives of the Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches. The facilities of Milltown Park have been made available to the School from the outset and its international character was confirmed by the attendance of then General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Dr Eugene Carson Blake, at its formal inauguration in Milltown, where he delivered the opening address. International Consultations on such topics as Mixed Marriages and Human Rights have confirmed its repute. It has developed a Centre for Peace Studies which underlines its significance not only for the ecumenical movement in contemporary Christendom but also for an Ireland still disrupted by violence and tensions in the North which have deep roots in the religious division of the past.
The emergence under Jesuit auspices of this independent educational body, together with the attainment by the Milltown Institute of pontifical university status, can stand for the quality of Cecil McGarry’s leadership of the Irish Province. But it may well be that his ultimate memorial will be the option for the poor exercised today by Father Peter McVerry and other Jesuit champions of the homeless and deprived. Much of this began only after Father McGarry’s term as Provincial ended in 1974 but it was his determination to give the Province a new direction, in obedience to the General Congregation and to Father Arrupe, that made possible an Irish Jesuit emphasis reminiscent of the old Mission dedicated to the poor of the Liberties and the dispossessed of the penal towns and countryside.

Tributes to Cecil McGarry SJ
A number of tributes to Cecil McGarry SJ have come in in recent days. They are all fired by deep warmth towards the man who did so much, as Provincial from 1969-1975, to
steer the Irish Province in the heady years after the Second Vatican Council, and who rose to equally large challenges in Rome and in Kenya until his death on 24 November last. An excerpt from Louis McRedmond’s history of the Irish Jesuits, To the Greater Glory, provides valuable context for understanding Cecil’s contribution to the Irish Province. And below you can read Michael Hurley’s personal recollections of Cecil, acknowledging the immense debt he owed him for his commitment to ecumenism. Also a short note by Paul Andrews, recognising Cecil’s iconic status in the 1970s.

When in 1964 Cecil McGarry returned from Rome to Milltown Park to teach theology, the faculty and the community were still recovering from a major crisis. Kevin Smyth who taught apologetics had on 9 April that year left the Society because of faith difficulties. Paddy Barry who taught canon law had done the same and for similar reasons on 26 January 1961. And in 1962 on 11 October Des Coyle who taught dogmatics had died; his colleague, Ned Hannigan who taught moral had predeceased him, dying on 15 February 1960. So in the space of four years four members of staff had gone, two still in their 40’s, the other two in their early 50’s and, most disturbingly, two of them for faith reasons. In 1964 as faculty and community we needed new courage, new confidence. Cecil’s arrival was providential, a godsend.
That very academic year Cecil’s name appears as one of the speakers in the Spring 1965 session of the Milltown Park Public Lectures. These had begun in January 1960 on ‘theological subjects of topical interest’ and, with literally hundreds coming to attend on the Wednesday evenings in Winter and Spring, they were helping to boost our spirits. Cecil’s subject, ‘collegiality’, could hardly have been more topical and indeed controversial. Vatican II’s document on the Church had just been approved, on 21 November 1964 but the Council’s discussions on primacy and collegiality had been tense.
In June of that same year, 1965, Cecil gave a paper on ‘The Eucharistic Celebration as the True Manifestation of the Church’ at the Glenstal Ecumenical Conference which was residential and interdenominational. . This was just the second such Conference and Cecil was giving some of the fruits of his doctoral research. The topic he had chosen for his thesis had been ‘The Catholic Character of Anglican Ecclesiology, 1945-1963’.
During the rest of his time in Ireland and indeed for the rest of his life Cecil maintained his interest in ecumenism and encouraged others to do likewise. Two notable examples took place during his time as Provincial (1968-1975). The first was the interdenominational service in Gonzaga chapel on 15 April 1970 on the occasion of the presentation to the Church of Ireland, in the person of its Primate, Archbishop George Simms, of a volume of essays to mark the centenary of its disestablishment. Cecil identified himself fully with the event by agreeing to preside and preach and he succeeded in securing the acquiescence (sic) of Archbishop McQuaid who was known to have serious misgivings about ecumenism..
The second example was the formal inauguration of the Irish School of Ecumenics at Milltown Park in that same year, on 9 November 1970, as an interdenominational third –level institute of research and teaching. Cecil had agreed to be the Catholic Patron. In advance he had advised Archbishop Conway of Armagh and had obtained the acquiescence of Archbishop McQuaid. Louis McRedmond, in his A History of the Irish Jesuits,(p.310), suggests that, in the context of service to the Church, no other single development of recent years may turn out to be as significant as this.
And the very last engagement of Cecil’s Dublin years was also ecumenical: in April 1975 he preached in St Patrick’s Cathedral with ‘Vatican II: Ten Years After’ as his theme; he was whisked from the pulpit to the airport to fly to Rome to begin his term of office at the Jesuit GHQ as one of Fr Pedro Arrupe’s Assistants.
I have sometimes found myself thinking that ‘without Cecil McGarry there would be no Michael Hurley’. His support for ecumenism in the teeth of episcopal discouragement if not opposition was really crucial: for some bishops an individual priest or religious was an ecclesiastical nobody. And in that internationally traumatic year of revolts, 1968, Archbishop McQuaid had requested that a forthcoming Milltown Park Public Lecture of mine on Original Sin be cancelled and that I be removed from the diocese. The Provincial was ready to acquiesce but Cecil as my Rector intervened and reached a compromise: my lecture would not take place but I would stay on in the Dublin diocese.
May Cecil rest in peace.

Paul Andrews SJ
For Irish Jesuits who lived through the tumultuous years round 1970, Cecil McGarry was an iconic figure, determined, courageous, a harbinger of change and not expecting everybody to love him for it. Becoming a Jesuit was not easy for him: suspected TB interrupted his noviciate, and after nearly a year in Cappagh he had to restart the process. He was not enthused at being sent to study theology in Rome, but he landed there with the fathers of the Vatican Council, which swept him off his feet with the vision of a renewed church.
The students whom he lectured on return to Milltown loved the fresh air he breathed into its fusty atmosphere, and were dismayed when Rome interrupted Brendan Barry’s reign after three years and made Cecil Provincial. It was not easy to instil the Province with the vision of Vatican II, especially when the incumbent archbishop, landing in Dublin after the Council, had announced “No change”.
Cecil used Encounter Groups to loosen up relationships between Jesuits. He set up a Secretariate to facilitate change in a Province unused to it and appointed some young rectors.
Cecil made mistakes, and was heavily criticised, but he so learned from his failures that he was able to lead the Province through six stormy years, and hand over a shaken-up and partly rejuvenated group to enjoy the calmer waters of Fr Paddy Doyle’s Provincialate.


Funeral of Cecil McGarry SJ
Over 500 people gathered in St. John the Evangelist Church in Nairobi to bid farewell to Cecil McGarry SJ on Saturday, November 28th 2010. The Chapel in Mwangaza Spirituality
centre where Cecil worked, lived and died was too small for the numbers expected. The funeral service was moved to the neighbouring parish Church. Religious sisters formed the majority of the congregation and over 30 concelebrants participated. Fr. Provincial of Eastern Africa, Fr. Orobator Agbonkhianmeghe presided and Hekima College Choir led the singing. Cecil’s sister Doreen, his nephew Andrew and wife Trish were present and John K. Guney SJ represented the Irish Provincial at the ceremony and gave the homily. Cecil was buried in the Jesuit cemetery in Mwangaza retreat centre where another Irish Jesuit, Fr. Sean O’Connnor is at rest. Cecil got a great send-off, and the crowds present at the Mass and at the burial service were an indication of the impact he made in Eastern Africa over the past 25 years.

Homily given by Fr. John K. Guiney SJ at Cecil McGarry’s funeral Mass St. John Evangelist Church, Nairobi, Kenya
28 Nov. 2009
Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-9 Psalm 5: 6-8
1 Cor. 9: 16-19
Mt. 5:1-12a
We come together today to mourn, to thank God and to celebrate the life of a very special man.
Cecil McGarry was born in Ireland in 1929. He was a man who loved God, loved the Church and loved the Society of Jesus with all his heart. He was a companion of Jesus for 63 years. He served Christ’s mission in the spirit of the readings we have just heard; he served with all his heart, no half measures and with a passion, perseverance, determination and love that gave outstanding witness to all around him even to those who disagreed with him or opposed him. Words like visionary, courageous, prophetic with a wonderful gift of discernment, wise, manager of change, stubborn and controversial, are descriptions of Cecil by his friends and many others.
An African companion who knew Cecil well wrote me after his death a wonderful testimony to Cecil and his way of living:
“John, a giant has gone to the Father. He was of such stature, spiritual and intellectual that it was difficult to take him for granted. He evoked strong feelings of admiration or even of opposition. He did not care much what people thought of him. Once he was sure a decision was for the Kingdom, he never flinched or wavered. It had to be accomplished effectively and completely. He was of such inner strength. I found out that I could only admire him but could hardly imitate him. He was highly gifted intellectually; he was energetic and dynamic, so much so that he could hardly accept himself, when, in the last couple of years, he was reduced to an almost passive life. And yet, he held on serving to the last: what he could do he did. Whenever I found time, it was to him that I used to go to ‘talk’. We thank God for the great gift of Cecil, to the Society and to the Church, especially to the Church in Kenya and to so many persons who sought his ‘hekima’ (wisdom).”
What were the benchmarks of Cecil’s journey that made him the man he was?. He made a huge impact not only in his Province but also in the universal Society, as Assistant for formation to Fr. General from 1975-84 and in his adopted Province of Eastern Africa.
Cecil joined the Society in 1946 in the midlands of Ireland. One year later, he was asked to leave because of ill health. His dream was shattered; the event was a real dark night of the soul. It was to be the first of many major formative experiences of being tested and called to trust always in Divine Providence. After months of treatment for spinal T.B. he re-applied to the Society and was readmitted.
His peers recall that right through his formation Cecil was Beadle, that is to say, the leader of the scholastics/students. He was perceived somewhat like the prophet Jeremiah who, as we heard today, was gifted with leadership and an ability to discern and articulate God’s ways with people and events in a courageous manner.
In the early 1960s – an era of tremendous change, questioning and upheaval in the world – he was sent to Rome for his postgraduate studies in Theology. The experience of being in Rome during the time of Pope John XX111, Vatican 11, winds of change and renewal blowing through the corridors of the Catholic Church, and the election of the prophetic Pedro Arrupe as General of the Society in 1965, were all crucial formation events for Cecil.
These events and persons were to mark Cecil’s life journey and mission for the rest of his days. He returned to Ireland to teach theology and was soon appointed a very young Rector of the Milltown school of Philosophy and Theology. Immediately he began to work on renewing the formation of the theologian student community. He established small communities of scholastics with emphasis on sharing of life, personal responsibility, accountability and the development of internal structures of guidance and religious values, rather than mere conformity to external institutional rules.
He moved the Institute from a stand-alone Jesuit institute of studies to become a consortium of religious orders where all religious, including women religious and lay men and women, were allowed to pursue their academic and spiritual formation.
He promoted the school of Ecumenics, Peace and Reconciliation, which played a critical role during the growing conflict in Northern Ireland and continues to do so through healing processes for the whole of the island.
At the age of 39, he was appointed as Provincial, one of the youngest men ever to hold the role in the Irish Province. Inspired by the spirit of Vatican 11 and of the 31st Jesuit General Congregation, he moved immediately to update the communities and structures of Jesuit life in Ireland, which had developed shades of monasticism and introspection. He encouraged Jesuit life in Ireland to return to the spirit of its Ignatian sources. He explored with others the explicitly defined mission of the Society of Jesus after the 31st General Congregation as the service of faith of which the promotion of justice is an absolute requirement. This twinning of faith and justice was the source of tremendous zeal, energy and controversy in the Province and indeed in the whole Society. He set up commissions to reflect on different sectors of Jesuit works and invited lay partners, who were experts in planning, change and management, to work with Jesuits to bring about renewal through reading the signs of the times in accordance with the founding charism. Each year, Provincial renewal programs brought in men and women like the American Jesuit psychologist, Jim Gill, to help people to talk to one another but above all to give Jesuits skills to listen to one another, grow in self awareness and build unity of minds and hearts.
The decisions from this process were many – for example, moving the novitiate from the country to the city, an emphasis on the human and social sciences in studies for scholastics and young priests, the closure of some schools, the immersion of some communities among the poor and a more participative and consultative management style of the Province. He encouraged and facilitated British and Irish Province collaboration and cooperation around formation programs. This was groundbreaking given the historical political and cultural conflicts over the years and the outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland at that time. Cecil believed that in conflict situations the people who must first reach out to join hands across the divide are companions of Jesus.
The responses and reactions to Cecil leadership were manifold. Many of you here today in leadership know that making decisions is not easy but dealing with the reactions can be even more difficult to manage. Some of the reactions were earthshaking and memories (both positive and negative) of his term of office live on in the Irish Province to this very day. The majority, especially, the younger generation, had great appreciation, believing that Cecil enabled the Society of Jesus to enter the 20th.Century and prepare for the 21st. They felt affirmed, trusted and were given responsibility at a young age. Some others were highly critical.
Amidst all this Cecil persevered, convinced that renewal according to the spirit of Vatican 11 and to the spirit of Jesuit Congregations was absolutely essential to apostolic efficaciousness of the Company in Ireland. He lived in a real way the beatitude we read today ‘’blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’’. Thank God the Province had a man of courage to live this beatitude, because it is still being blessed by his vision, discernment, planning and courageous decisions.
Following his six-year term as Provincial, he was sent to Rome to become Assistant for formation in the universal Society. He worked with the same dynamism, zeal and decisiveness in a diversity of contexts, cultures and even creeds of formation. His goal was always the renewal of the Society according to Vatican.11, the Jesuit congregations and in accordance with the spirit and charism of the founder. The formation of ‘men for others’ was the mantra and the end product was always to have men with an inner freedom ready for apostolic service anywhere in the world. His work as always evoked great support and also controversy.
Two of his most painful moments were:

  1. The assassination of the Companions in El Salvador which we commemorated in November on the 20th. anniversary. He had been with that Jesuit community immediately before the killings as a special delegate of Fr. Arrupe and they were deciding whether it was safe to send scholastics for regency to El Salvador. 2. Perhaps his most painful moment was the Papal intervention in the Governance of the Society after Fr. Arrupe suffered a stroke. In the true spirit of St. Ignatius he took this with a gracious obedience and holy silence.
    Then God beckoned him for service in Africa.
    I do not dare to say much of this period of his life because each one of you here today has your own homily on Cecil in your heart. I have a number of memories after reuniting with him in Eastern Africa after he and I left Ireland. I remember him on his bicycle as he negotiated the matatus (buses) on Ngong Rd. and I was fearing for his life. I remember him going to the Pallotines in Galapo, Tanzania, to get completely immersed in learning the rich Kiswahili of that country. I remember his excitement about working with Sr. Maura and the Emmanuel Sisters. I remember sharing survival notes with him during his recovery from his brain haemorrhage at Marjorie’s place.
    But what I can say is this; in Africa Cecil found his real spiritual home. Yes, he was a resource person to Congregations and Bishops Conferences; he was teacher, dean, rector, but above all he wanted to be and was a Pastor- a shepherd of souls. IN Eastern Africa, he lived the quintessence of Ignatian and Celtic Spirituality -he became an ANAM CHARA as we say in Gaelic, a Soul Friend to numerous people and communities. He enabled so many people to discover and follow the will of God and to find peace. The presence of so many women here today is evidence of the way he enabled and empowered women to seek and find God’s will.
    In finding his real spiritual home in Eastern Africa he wanted to be buried among the people he loved so much. We pay tribute to his family, Doreen, Andrew and Trish, who are with us today to represent all his family, for supporting and loving him in mission and setting him free to serve the God he loved so much and allowing him to be buried in his adopted country and Province.
    I invite you all to join in the old Irish blessing for those who have passed on before us – “Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis” (may Cecil’s faithful soul be at God’s right hand). AMEN.

◆ Irish Jesuit Missions :
As in “Jesuits in Ireland “ : https://www.jesuitmissions.ie/news/87-irish-jesuit-dies-in-kenya

Irish born Jesuit, Fr.Cecil McGarry, died in Nairobi on November 24th.2009. John K. Guiney attended his funeral and gave the homily at the Requiem Mass.
Cecil served Christ’s mission with all his heart, no half measures, and with a passion, perseverance, determination and love that gave outstanding witness to all around him, even to those who disagreed with him or opposed him.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 142 : Spring 2010


Fr Cecil McGarry (1929-2009) : East African Province

Paul Andrews writes:
Why was it that, from the Juniorate on, we saw Cecil as a future Provincial? It is a clear memory, this agreement among the brethren that here was a man made for leadership. It was not just that whisper of a miracle which enabled him to resume his novitiate, interrupted when the doctors initially told him: “With a tubercular abscess on the spine you will not be able for the Jesuit life”. In his revealing memoir Seduced (in Call and Response, Frances Makower's collection of vocation stories), Cecil recalls his conversion experience:

“The heart of my novitiate vision had been a companionship that required a radical availability to God and his will. Reluctantly I came to see that God could be calling me to live that availability to him as a layman and possibly with impaired health for the rest of my life. It was one thing to understand that this was the real meaning of what I had committed myself to during the Spiritual Exercises, quite another to accept it now in quite changed circumstances. I could never forget the moment I did so, during a sleepless night in Cappagh Hospital. It was a moment of great pain but profound consolation, in which I accepted that my life was God's gift to me and that it was for him to determine its course; my part was to be available to his will”.

Whatever the reason - the blessing of John Sullivan's crucifix or a faulty diagnosis – repeated X-rays showed no sign of the tubercular abscess, and Cecil returned to Emo to start his novitiate all over again. The experience left him visibly stronger. He was his own man among us overgrown schoolboys. His background was not untypical: middle child of a civil servant father and a mother of deep but unobtrusive faith; impressed by his glimpse of Jesuit teachers in his three years in Belvedere; intelligent but not academically ambitious; a good companion - even to old age when, on leave from Kenya, he would join a Jesuit group in Kerry. God had touched him in some special way. The fact that in all the houses of study he was appointed beadle of the scholastics - a sort of tribune between the authorities and the plebs – reflected the confidence in him felt by both parties; responsible, perceptive, strong, not a yes-man. Even his formal relationships were softened by his genuine charm, thoughtfulness and sense of humour: in any discussion of the Jews' disdain for tax-collectors, he liked to remind us that his father was the head of all Ireland's taxmen.

Yet his path was not a smooth one, even after the health crisis in Emo. At the end of his studies he was happy to be fingered as a future master of novices, and destined for a course in Rome in ascetical and mystical theology. But the shakers and movers in Milltown wanted a canonist, and Cecil's destiny was changed to a doctorate in Canon Law, a devastating blow: “Canon or Church law held no interest for me, and the last thing in the world I wanted was to spend my life teaching in a seminary”. When Visitor John McMahon changed this to a Roman course in systematic theology, the relief at escaping from legal studies was tempered by the prospect of becoming a seminary professor at a time when the divine science in Milltown was at its nadir. Cecil could not have realised that windows were being opened in Rome, and the fathers of the Vatican Council were coming together, bringing a vision of a renewed church, a vision which swept Cecil off his feet.

The students whom he lectured on return to Milltown loved the fresh air he breathed into its fusty atmosphere, and were dismayed when Rome interrupted Brendan Barry's reign after three years and made Cecil Provincial. It was not easy to instil the Province with the vision of Vatican II, especially when the incumbent archbishop, landing in Dublin after the Council, had announced "No change". Cecil listed the hard questions that he faced: “Were we not doing good things in the Irish Province? Undeniably. But were they the better things? Were they the most needed in Ireland at the time? Were they serving the more universal good? Were they the works that others were not doing? Fidelity to our own Constitutions, and to Pope John's signs of the times, required that we ask such questions. Pedro Arrupe's convictions and vision had become mine”.

But they were, initially at least, in conflict with many existing attitudes in the Province. This resistance surfaced most painfully at the 1970 Provincial Congregation, which overwhelmed Cecil with deep desolation, discouragement and doubts as to whether he could continue trying to lead people where they did not want to go.

Instead he sought another way forward: to facilitate new spiritual experiences in the Province, that would free men from fear and help them to communicate at a deeper and more personal level. So he used Encounter Groups to loosen up relationships between Jesuits. He sought help from other provinces to introduce individually directed Spiritual Exercises, and to encourage greater familiarity with our Constitutions. He received huge help from Eoin McCarthy, the consultant who visited every house in the Province, listened to almost every Jesuit in residence, and wrote a perceptive report which is still worth reading. Cecil set up a Secretariat to facilitate change in a Province unused to it. He gave enthusiastic support to the Irish School of Ecumenics during its difficult early years. As chairman of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors of men, he reached a new level of communion with other Religious, which bore visible fruit in the Milltown Institute, financed and managed by a partnership of about ten congregations. He appointed some young rectors, three of whom left the Society shortly afterwards. Cecil made mistakes, and was heavily criticised, but he so learned from his failures that he was able to lead the Province through six stormy years, and hand over a shaken-up and partly rejuvenated group to enjoy the calmer waters of Fr Paddy Doyle's Provincialate.

The 32nd General Congregation in 1974 gave Cecil a new direction, when it elected him one of the General's four Assistants ad providentiam, Fr Arrupe's counsellor and companion in government.

That companionship was sorely needed at a time when Pope Paul VI reprimanded the Congregation for discussing the question of Grades in the Society, and openly wondered whether he could continue to trust us as before. It became clear that the Society did not enjoy the confidence of the central authorities of the Church during the remaining years of Fr Arrupe's generalate. Our commitment to a service of faith that does justice was alien to some Jesuits, who had the ear of high Vatican officials. This came to a head when Pope John Paul II, after refusing Arrupe's resignation and seeing him, in consequence, disabled by a stroke, dismissed his Vicar General, suspended the Constitutions, and appointed Fathers Dezza and Pittau to do their best as an interregnum. All that Arrupe and Cecil had worked for seemed to be ashes.

Three years later, after the election of Fr Kolvenbach as General, Cecil was asked to help in the establishment of Hekima, the East African theologate in Nairobi. He was Hekima's first dean of studies and professor of Systematic Theology from 1984-1994. Then he became its rector from 1995 to 1998. He was frequently called upon to assist the Kenyan bishops and to advise them as a resource person in many important seminars and conferences. In 1994 he played an important role in the first African Synod in Rome (he shared in the pain that the synod would not be held in the continent), where he was a member of the synod's secretariat. Cecil was also involved in the development of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, as consultant as well as a professor of theology.

After a sabbatical, Cecil moved to Mwangaza retreat house near Nairobi, where he directed the Exercises from 1999 until a few weeks before his death. A brain haemorrhage in 2001 had brought him to death's door, but he fought his way back to full ministry. He gave spiritual direction to numerous lay people, Religious, priests and bishops, and assisted many religious congregations in their efforts towards renewal and growth.

The flame we saw as Juniors still burned strongly, uncomfortably. “How”, he asked, “does one continue to feel with the Church, and to love it - such integral aspects of the Jesuit way of life - when the Spirit of Jesus seems to have been arrested and confined, as Jesus himself was in his time? My response can only be: I love Christ in this Church because I cannot love him apart from his Church. He lives in this body, in which I too am a sinful part”.

Cecil has left us an agenda (Seduced, page 77): “Many of the most burning issues in the Church community are resolutely excluded from the agendas even of synods of bishops by papai authority. Are the bishops not to be trusted? What is the true meaning of collegiality? Should we not search for truth, wherever it leads, confident that it will set us free? Truth about such issues as the place and role of women in the Church, sexual morality, obligatory celibacy of the clergy in the Church of the West, the demands and limits of collegiality and inculturation. Is there no danger that we are forgetting the stricture of Jesus: You load on people burdens that are unendurable, burdens that you yourselves do not move a finger to lift (Luke 11,46)? Is open dialogue, so treasured in the early Church and by Vatican II, to be entirely abandoned? Why do we not believe any more in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but only in that of central authority? Is this the way to foster loyalty, participation and love within the Church? Is this the way the Church of Rome should preside over the whole community?”

The legacy of this remarkable man, this great lover of the Society, is not merely in his massive accomplishments, but in his passion for a renewed Church and a renewed Society, in his unrealised dreams, and the work in progress, waiting for us to carry on.

From a letter of the Provincial of Eastern Africa (Nov. 24, 2009) to the Province of Eastern Africa (to which Cecil belonged):

Brothers: Greetings of Peace!
I have just received the sad news of the death of Fr Cecil McGarry at Pedro Arrupe Community, where he lived and worked for over 10 years. As you know, Cecil's condition had deteriorated rapidly due to a relapse of his prostate cancer, which compromised his kidneys.......

Cecil came to the Eastern Africa Province in 1984, as part of the team chosen by Fr Arrupe himself to found Hekima College, the first theologate of the African Assistancy. He was Hekima's first dean of studies and professor of Systematic Theology from 1984-1994. Then, he became its rector from 1995 to 1998.

Cecil's availability to serve the Church and the Society of Jesus in Africa took him beyond his full-time job at Hekima College. For many years he was frequently called upon by both AMECEA (Association of Members of the Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa) and the Kenyan Episcopal Conference to assist the bishops and to advise them as a resource person in many important seminars and conferences. He played a very important role in the first African Synod in Rome in 1994, where he was a member of the synod's secretariat. Cecil was also involved in the development of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), as consultant as well as a professor of theology. Moreover, at our province level, Cecil assisted our provincials with the governance of the newly established Eastern Africa Province, as well as with his availability to listen and give good advice to many companions,

After a well-deserved sabbatical, Cecil was assigned to continue his apostolic mission in retreat ministry at Mwangaza. He devoted his entire life to this ministry from 1999 until a few weeks before his death. All this time, Cecil guided the retreats of many people, gave spiritual direction to numerous bishops, priests, religious and lay people. and assisted many religious congregations in their efforts towards renewal and growth.

Cecil lived an exemplary life, fully devoted to the Society's mission, the formation of Ours and the apostolates, Not infrequently, he was likened to Pedro Arrupe, for the depth of his courage and the breadth of his vision as a Jesuit. The fruits of his presence among us will last a long time. The occasion of his death is a time to give thanks to God for a life well lived. As we say goodbye to Cecil, our companion, the example of his life inspires us to recommit ourselves more deeply to our Jesuit religious life as servants of Christ's mission.

I would like to take this opportunity to express our deep appreciation to the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, for the presence of Cecil among us for so many fruitful years. In the person of Cecil they shared with us one of the best Jesuit companions they had. We are deeply grateful to the Irish Province for sending us fine Jesuit companions who have witnessed to the universal mission of the Society and for giving their constant support to our province's apostolic initiatives all these years. We pray in a special way for the Irish Province, so that the Lord may reward their generosity and steadfast commitment to the universal mission of the Society.

I would also like to thank the superior, members, nursing staff and support staff of Pedro Arrupe Community, and the collaborators and staff of Mwangaza, who cared for Cecil with so much love and affection during the time of his illness. Their care and love for Cecil with so much love and affection during the time of his illness will remain a blessing to the Society of Jesus in Eastern Africa....

A. E. Orobator, S.J., Provincial of Eastern Africa

McPolin, James, 1931-2005, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/607
  • Person
  • 04 June 1931-09 October 2005

Born: 04 June 1931, Limerick City
Entered: 07 September 1948, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 04 September 1962, Kaiserdom Sankt Bartholomäus (Frankfurter Dom), Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Final Vows: 02 February1966, Chiesa del Gesù, Rome, Italy
Died: 09 October 2005, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

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

by 1962 at Sankt Georgen, Frankfurt (GER I) studying
by 1965 at Rome, Italy (ROM) studying
by 1979 at Gonzaga Spokane WA, USA (ORE) teaching
by 1990 at San Salvador, El Salvador (CAM) working
by 1997 at Zomba, Malawi (ZAM-MAL) teaching
by 2001 at Cambridge, MA, USA (NEN) Sabbatical
by 2002 at Venice, CA, USA (CAL) working

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
James McPolin was born in Limerick and educated at the Jesuit Crescent College. In 1948 he entered the Society at Emo and followed the standard course of studies of the Irish province. After a year’s theological studies at Milltown Institute he transferred to Frankfurt a.M. for his final years of theology.

Jimmy as a scholastic always gave the impression of youth and energy. He was deeply interested in sports of all kinds and persuaded those of us studying philosophy with him to build a basket-ball court on which he tutored the ignorant among us in the rules of the game. He sailed through his Jesuit studies effortlessly and we were not surprised when he was sent to the Biblical Institute in Rome for a Doctorate in Sacred Scripture. Thus he lectured in Scripture for 23 years at the Milltown Institute, Dublin, alternating semesters for 3 years with the Biblicum in Rome. Subsequently he also taught scripture at Gonzaga University, Spokane, at the University of Central America (UCA, El Salvador) and at St. Peter’s Seminary in Zomba, Malawi. His textbook on St. John’s Gospel is still very popular with students of scripture.

He was elected as the representative of the Irish Province for the 32nd General Congregation of the Jesuits in Rome in 1975 and was deeply involved in drafting the document of that Congregation on the formation of our young men. He acted as the Irish Provincial’s delegate for formation for many years.

After serving as Dean of the Theology Faculty at Milltown Institute for four years he was appointed as President of the whole Institute. During this time he was transferred to a small community of scholastics living in poor quarters in the centre of Dublin city. During his seven years in that community he showed great concern for the difficulties of the poorer neighbours. His cycling to work every day to and from his office at Milltown, 6 km away, surprised many of his academic colleagues at the Institute.

In 1989 he moved to San Salvador in Central America where he worked as assistant priest in the Jesuit Parish, eventually becoming the Parish Priest. When he first arrived in San Salvador he was invited to visit the University community for a meal and spend the night with them because of the curfew. In fact there was some urgent business in the parish which prevented him from accepting the invitation. That was the night in which the six Jesuits in the University community together with their housekeep and her daughter were murdered by the army. Jimmy thus narrowly escaped sharing their fate.

On his return from San Salvador in 1996 he joined the small group of Jesuits who were teaching at St. Peter’s Seminary at Zomba, Malawi. He first studied the local Chi-Chewa language and then settled into teaching scripture for five semesters.

He had a very good relationship with the Malawian seminarians: he always greeted his class with the word “Wawa” which is a term of great respect in Chewa and which invariably elicited a loud response. He set himself up as coach of the football team and could be seen at half-time surrounded by a ring of players whom he harangued in a good natured way. He also endeared himself to the teaching staff by the jokingly provocative way he would express some outrageous opinion during meals at our ‘round table’ which would immediately spark a lively discussion.

His deep commitment to the Faith and Justice agenda proposed for Jesuits by GC 32 was very obvious in his homilies at the daily Liturgy – he would illustrate his point by telling stories from “a certain parish where I served”. He was referring to the San Antonio Abac parish in El Salvador where he served as parish priest and where one of his predecessors and several young people on retreat had been shot by the military a few years before.

When he returned to Ireland he joined the Belfast community for a year and contributed to their efforts in the reconciliation between opposing factions in Northern Ireland. This was followed by a year’s sabbatical at Cambridge, Mass. and then by three years in the parish at Venice, California where his fluency in Spanish was appreciated by the many hispanic parishioners.

A series of strokes starting in 2004 forced his return to the Irish nursing unit at Cherryfield and he died there on 9 October, 2005.

◆ Irish Jesuit Missions : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/remembering-james-mcpolin-sj/

In his homily at the funeral of James McPolin SJ, Michael O’Sullivan recalls a life dedicated to faith and justice in El Salvador, in Malawi and here in Ireland. He also remembers
Jimmy as a dedicated and innovative president of the Milltown Institute.
About two years ago Jimmy said to me that he felt most alive and of most use during the years he was in El Salvador (1989-96) – despite the awful suffering among the people and the deadly danger that shadowed his own life. He went there straight after his term as President of Milltown Institute (1983-89). He did so because of his commitment to and companionship with the God whose love makes the promotion of justice an absolute requirement.
Jimmy had hardly arrived in the country when six Jesuits, a woman (Elba Julia) and her daughter (Celina), were murdered by an army death squad at the Jesuit residence on the grounds of the University of San Salvador. The Jesuits were murdered because of their commitment to the faith that does justice; the women, who had taken refuge with the Jesuits after their home had been damaged by gunfire, were killed so as to leave no witnesses. Jimmy could have been among the dead that night, 16 November 1989, given that he had deferred accepting an invitation to stay with the Jesuit community at the University until he had spent more time among the ordinary people. (2) Afterwards his concern to see justice done in the case of his dead Jesuit companions and the two women was viewed by him as a way also of promoting justice for the people of the country. In a letter to members of his family in Ireland in 1990 he wrote: “The future of justice is obfuscated by the fact that the trial of the soldiers for the killings is being impeded by false evidence of the military and by the collusion of the American Embassy and Government.” (3)
You may be aware of the memorial bell on the Milltown avenue in front of the Irish School of Ecumenics building. It was put up in honour of those who were killed that night. One of the dead Jesuits, Amando Lopez, had studied theology at Milltown, and was ordained to the priesthood in this chapel. You can see him in the 1965 ordination photo on the corridor outside this chapel. Another of the dead Jesuits, Ignacio Ellacuria, had done part of his Jesuit formation in Dublin as an ordained priest. The memorial bell will also always be a reminder of the third president of the Institute and the values that took him to El Salvador at that time.
Jimmy also narrowly escaped death at a subsequent date when he found himself under the table while army bullets were sprayed around the room. He was the pastor of San Antonio Abad parish, where a predecessor, and several young people on retreat, had been slain by the army in 1979. I stayed with Jimmy and the Jesuit community at San Antonio Abad during part of my time in El Salvador in 1991 and 1992. One day he asked if I would like to see the new houses he was having built for the poor. We headed toward a four wheel drive vehicle. Remembering that Jimmy did not drive in Ireland, and knowing I did not feel like handling such a large vehicle there and then in San Salvador, I asked him who would be our driver. He told me he would drive. He proved to be a very able driver, having become such out of his desire to serve the poor more effectively.
To understand the development of Jimmy’s commitment to economically poor and politically persecuted people it is necessary to know that in 1974-75 the Jesuits worldwide committed themselves to the work of justice as integral to the service of faith and that Jimmy was one of two Jesuits elected by his Irish colleagues to represent them in Rome where that decision was taken. Then in 1980 I asked him as a leading scripture scholar to review a book that was generating a lot of interest at the time, namely, Jose Miranda’s Marx and the Bible. (4) He told me later that reviewing this book led to a quantum leap in his Jesuit commitment to what had been decided in Rome some years earlier. Viewed from the perspective of spirituality as an academic discipline it can be said that his quantum leap of faith was facilitated by the practice of an intense reading experience. Other kinds of practices would evoke, express and enhance his conversion.
In that year, 1980-81, some of us here at the Institute – students at the time – thought the Institute should take an initiative to stop the intended tour of apartheid South Africa by the Irish rugby team. We held an all night vigil at the premises of the IRFU and collaborated with others in organising and taking part in protest marches on the streets. Jimmy, who was the Dean of Theology at the time, was one of very few academic and administration staff to join us. He also went on a placement to Brixton, England, around that time to work with marginalised black people. This commitment to black people reappeared strongly after his years in El Salvador when he went to live and work in Malawi (1997-99). One of his former Malawian students told me that Jimmy was a friend of the poor and oppressed, and that he lived what he taught from the Bible. This was also true of him in Ireland.
During his years as President of Milltown Institute he accepted an invitation from Seamus Murphy, now a member of the Philosophy Faculty, to live in inner city Dublin as a member of the Jesuit community called after Luis Espinal. Espinal was a Catalan Jesuit who had been murdered in Bolivia for his commitment to the faith that does justice. The Espinal community, which had been brought into being in 1980, the year of Espinal’s martyrdom, by Seamus, Kevin O’Higgins, the former Dean of Philosophy, and myself, when we were students at Milltown, and which was joined almost immediately by John Moore, then a Professor and Head of Department at UCD, was committed to simple living, was a friend to the flat dwellers in the local Dublin Corporation estates, and was a meeting place for social action groups. Jimmy used to cycle to and from Milltown in those years. He also participated regularly in protests outside the U.S. embassy against U.S. foreign policy in Central America, protests in which some staff and students at the Institute took a prominent part.
In line with how he understood and lived his faith and scholarship a defining characteristic of his Presidency was the way he enabled the teaching of liberation and feminist theologies to progress in the Institute. He welcomed me on the staff in 1986 and I am grateful to him for the support he gave me to teach these theologies. Una Agnew, the first female head of a programme at the Institute, and now Head of the Dept. of Spirituality, remembers his commitment to improving the situation of women, while Dominique Horgan, now the Archivist, remembers how he initiated the Adult Religious Education programmes, of which she was the first Director. This commitment to adult religious education is also reflected in the fact that during his years as President he taught scripture at the People’s College, which was located near the Espinal community. He did so there in order to reach out to people who at that time would not come to places like Milltown because of their social class, feelings about the Catholic Church, or educational attainment. Jimmy was a great success with such groups.
After his years in Malawi, following his term as President of the Institute, and his years in El Salvador, Jimmy went to Belfast to be in solidarity with those struggling for peace and justice there. During that time he also wrote a series of very fine articles on scripture texts for readers of the Sacred Heart Messenger. Then, given his language skills, and feeling for Latino peoples, he went to California to be a pastor in a parish with a very large Latino population. While there he suffered a stroke, and had to return to Ireland. More strokes followed. He died on October 9th. May he rest in peace, and may we be inspired by the way he lived the Institute motto to bring scholarship to life. Amen. Alleluia!

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 128 : Special Issue June 2006


James (Jimmy) McPolin (1931-2005)

4th June 1931: Born in Limerick
Early education at Crescent College, Limerick
7th September 1948: Entered the Society at Emo
8th September 1950: First Vows at Emo
1950 - 1953: Rathfarnham - Studied Arts at UCD
1953 - 1956: Tullabeg - Studied Philosophy
1956 - 1959: Belvedere - Teacher (Regency)
1959 - 1960: Milltown Park - Studied Theology
1960 - 1963: Frankfurt am Main, Germany - Studied Theology
4th September 1962: Ordained at Frankfurt, Maine
1963 - 1964: Tertianship at Rathfarnham
1964 - 1967: Biblical Institute, Rome -D.S.S.
2nd February 1966: Final Vows in Rome
1967 - 1976: Milltown Park -
1967 - 1970: Professor of Sacred Scripture / Rome in alternate semesters
1970 - 1976: Milltown Park - Professor of Sacred Scripture; Superior of Scholastics
1976 - 1977: Betagh House - Professor of Sacred Scripture at Milltown Park
1977 - 1978: Milltown Park - Professor of Sacred Scripture
1978 - 1979: Gonzaga Univ., Spokane, WA, USA - Professor of Sacred Scripture
1979 - 1983: Milltown Park - Professor of Sacred Scripture; Dean Theology Faculty
1983 - 1990: Espinal community -
1983 - 1990: President, Milltown Institute; Lecturer in Sacred Scripture, Writer
1987 - 1990: Superior
1990 - 1998: El Salvador - learning language and parish work
1998 - 1999: Malawi - Lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St. Peter's Seminary
1999 - 2000: Belfast- Ecumenical and Reconciliation Ministry
2000 - 2001: Sabbatical - Faber House, 42 Kirkland Street, Cambridge MA
2001 - 2004: Venice, California - Associate Pastor, St. Mark's Church
2004 - 2005: Gardiner Street - Residing in Cherryfield
9th Oct 2005: Died at Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Father Jimmy McPolin was admitted to Cherryfield Lodge on April 5th, 2004 for respite care following a stroke in the USA. While his mobility was poor at times he was self caring for the first six months. Then he was admitted to St. Vincent's Hospital on four occasions, having suffered more strokes. His condition deteriorated over this time and in the last six months to a year he needed full nursing care. In that time his mental state also deteriorated. He was unable to converse and was unaware of his surroundings. However, he did appear to know some of the staff.

Michael O'Sullivan writes:
Jimmy was a fellow Limerick man and past pupil of the old Crescent College. I did not meet him, however, until I went to Milltown to study Philosophy in 1974. I found our first meeting painful. I was struggling to come to terms with life in the Milltown of that era after three years in the company of many women friends at UCD, and he, in his role as “Superior of Scholastics”, did not understand that. But he changed. He was an architect of the Formation document at GC 32 with its focus on “the integrated character of apostolic formation”. He also got in touch with his “inner child” and would express this, for example, by dressing up as Santa Claus at the Christmas staff party in Milltown Institute in an effort to lighten up what could be an over sombre atmosphere. His preference to dress in grey rather than the customary clerical black meant that on one occasion at least he was taken for a Protestant minister. This happened when he visited my mother, who did not know him at the time. When she answered the door to him and lie asked her if she was Mrs. O'Sullivan, she replied that, yes, she was, but that she was a Catholic!

In a conversation with Jimmy about two years before he died he said to me that he felt most alive and of most use during the period he was in El Salvador (1989-96) - despite the awful suffering among the people and the deadly danger that shadowed his own life. He went there after his term as President of Milltown Institute (1983-89). He did so because of his commitment to and companionship with the God whose love makes the promotion of justice an absolute requirement. Jimmy had hardly arrived in the country when six Jesuits, a woman (Elba Julia) and her daughter (Celina), were murdered by an army death squad at the Jesuit residence on the grounds of the University of San Salvador. The Jesuits were murdered because of their commitment to the faith that does justice; the women, who had taken refuge with the Jesuits after their home had been damaged by gunfire, were killed so as to leave no witnesses. Jimmy would have been among the massacred that night, 16 November 1989, had he not chosen to spend time among the ordinary people before accepting an invitation to stay with his Jesuit companions at the University. (Jimmy shared this with me in El Salvador in 1991. He had also said this to his family in Ireland, according to his niece, Gráinne) Afterwards his concern to see justice done in the case of these companions and the two women was viewed by him as a way to also promote justice for the people of the country. In a letter to members of his family in Ireland in 1990 he wrote: “The future of justice is obfuscated by the fact that the trial of the soldiers for the killings is being impeded by false evidence of the military and by the collusion of the American Embassy and Government”. (The source for this quote is his niece Gráinne who had also spoken with other members of his extended family.)

Jimmy also narrowly escaped death on another occasion when he found himself under the table while army bullets were sprayed around the room. He was the pastor of San Antonio Abad parish, where a predecessor, and several young people on retreat, had been slain by the army in 1979. I stayed with him and the Jesuit community at the parish during part of my time in El Salvador in 1991 and 1992. One day he asked if I would like to see the new houses he was having built for the poor. We headed toward a four wheel drive vehicle. Remembering that Jimmy did not drive in Ireland, and knowing I did not feel like handling such a large vehicle there and then in San Salvador, I asked who would be our driver. He told me that he would drive. He proved to be a very abie driver, having become such out of his desire to serve the poor more effectively.

To understand the development of Jimmy's commitment to economically poor and politically persecuted people it is necessary to remember that in 1974-75 we committed ourselves at a global level to the work of justice as an integral part of the service of faith and that Jimmy was one of the two delegates elected by his peers to go to the 32nd General Congregation where that decision was taken. Then in 1980 I asked him as a leading scripture scholar to review a book that was generating a lot of interest at the time, namely, Jose Miranda's Marx and the Bible. ((At that time I was co-editing a magazine on faith and justice issues.) He told me later that reviewing this book led to a quantum leap in his Jesuit commitment to Decree 4 of GC 32. Viewed from the perspective of spirituality as an academic discipline it can be said that his leap of faith was facilitated by the practice of an intense reading experience. Other kinds of practices would evoke, express and enhance his conversion.

In the academic year, 1980-81, some theology students at Milltown Institute were strongly of the view that the Institute should take an initiative to stop the intended tour of apartheid South Africa by the Irish rugby team. We held an all night vigil at the premises of the IRFU and collaborated with others in organising and taking part in protest marches on the streets. Jimmy, the Dean of Theology at the time, was one of the very few academic and administration staff who joined us. He also went on a placement to Brixton, England around that time to work with marginalised black people. This commitment to black people reappeared strongly after his years in El Salvador when he went to live and work in Malawi (1997-99). One of his former Malawian students told me that Jimmy was a friend of the poor and oppressed, and that he lived what he taught from the Bible. This was also true of him in Ireland.

During his years as President of Milltown Institute he accepted an invitation from Séamus Murphy to live in inner city Dublin as a member of the Jesuit community called after Luis Espinal. Espinal was a Catalan Jesuit who had been murdered in Bolivia for his commitment to the faith that does justice. The Espinal community, which had been brought into being in 1980, the year of Espinal's martyrdom, by Séamus, Kevin O'Higgins, and myself, when we were theology students at Milltown, and which was joined almost immediately by John Moore, then a Professor and Head of Department at UCD, was committed to simple living, was a friend to the flat dwellers in the local Dublin Corporation estates, and was a meeting place for social action groups. Jimmy used to cycle to and from Milltown in those years. He also participated regularly in protests outside the US embassy against US foreign policy in Central America, protests in which some staff and students at the Institute took a prominent part.

In line with how he understood and lived his faith and scholarship a defining characteristic of his Presidency was the way he enabled the teaching of liberation and feminist theologies to progress in the Institute. He welcomed me on the staff in 1986 and I am grateful to him for the support he gave me to teach these theologies. Una Agnew, the first female head of a programme at the Institute, and now Head of the Dept. of Spirituality, remembers his commitment to improving the situation of women, while Dominique Horgan, now the Archivist, remembers how he initiated the Adult Religious Education programmes, of which she was the first Director. This commitment to adult religious education is also reflected in the fact that during his years as President of the Milltown Institute he taught scripture at the People's College, which was located near the Espinal community. He did so there in order to reach out to people who at that time would not come to places like Milltown because of their social class, feelings about the Catholic Church, or educational attainment. Jimmy was a great success with such groups.

After his years in Malawi, following his term as President of the Institute, and his years in El Salvador, Jimmy went to Belfast to be in solidarity with those struggling for peace and justice there. During that time he also wrote a series of very fine articles on scripture texts for readers of the Sacred Heart Messenger. Then, given his language skills and feeling for Latino peoples, he went to California to serve in a parish with a very large Latino population. While there he suffered a stroke, and had to return to Ireland. More strokes followed. He died on October 9h. May he rest in peace, and may we be inspired by the way he lived the Institute motto to bring scholarship to life. Amen. Alleluia!

From the homily by Derek Cassidy at the Funeral Mass in Gardiner Street:
I have no doubt in my heart or mind that this virtuous soul, at whose invitation we gather today in faith and prayer, is residing easily and comfortably in the hands of our God. It is also unquestionable that Jimmy's illness looked like a disaster and we watched as the person we knew and loved was leaving us over these past twelve months or so, we were stunned and amazed how one who so loved God and who was such a devoted friend and servant of His was so afflicted: God certainly put Jimmy to the test.

But in his own words, writing in his well-received and celebrated tome on “JOHN”, Jimmy reflects for us “the suffering of Jesus is an expression of love, for the Good Shepherd is on His way to lay down His life for His friends out of love” - not like the hired shepherd who would run away from suffering.

Wisdom concludes that “they who trust in the Lord will understand the truth, those who are faithful will live with The Lord in love; for grace and mercy await those He has chosen”. That is a verse that Jimmy took on as his leit motiv. He is one who trusted and who lived a faithful life, and now that Jimmy has gone home to the God who chose him, grace and mercy will embrace him. As he wrote in his book, “Jesus' death is a pass(ing) over to the Father, so that Death and Resurrection are inseparable; and the light of the Resurrection penetrates suffering and gives it meaning”.

St Paul confirms our Faith for us in the reading we have just heard. Because of the resurrection, death has no more power over us. We learn this message as we continually enter the waters of our Baptism and let the grace we received there be at work in our lives calling us ever more deeply into the Mystery of Life.

Writing in the introduction to his volume on John, Jimmy alerts us to the fact that the sign of the Fourth Evangelist is that of the Eagle, and reflects for us that this is because John had the MOST penetrating GAZE into the Mystery of God Made Man - of Jesus. We each have our own special memory of Jimmy. Mine centres around Jimmy's own gaze into my eyes - he had a way of looking into my eyes that invited trust and response in care. I often imagine to myself that this is a very Jesus-like gaze, as He (Jesus) looked at the Rich Young Man and loved him.

O'Brien, Michael G, 1927-1997, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/537
  • Person
  • 29 September 1927-19 December 1997

Born: 29 September 1927, Kilrush, County Clare
Entered: 07 September 1945, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1959, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1963, Chiesa del Gesù, Rome, Italy
Died; 19 December 1997, St Joseph’s, Shankill, County Dublin

Part of the Sacred Heart, Limerick community at the time of death.

by 1962 at Rome, Italy (ROM) studying
by 1964 at Heythrop College, Oxford (ANG) teaching
by 1979 at Mount Street, London England (ANG) working

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 97 : Special Edition Summer 1998


Fr Michael G O’Brien (1927-1997)

29th Sept. 1927: Born in Kilrush, Co. Clare
Early education: Christian Brothers and Mungret College
7th Sept. 1945: Entered the Society at Emo
12th March 1948: First Vows at Emo
1947 - 1950: Rathfarnham, Arts at UCD
1950 - 1953: Tullabeg, Studied Philosophy
1953 - 1956: Mungret College, Teaching
1956 - 1960: Milltown Park, Studied Theology
31st July 1959: Ordained Priest at Milltown Park
1960 - 1961: Rathfarnham, Tertianship
1961 - 1963: Gregorian University, studied Ethics
1963 - 1967: Heythrop College, Lecturing in Ethics
1967 - 1970: Milltown Park, Lecturing in Ethics/Moral Theology
1970 - 1974: Mungret College, Teaching
1974 - 1978: Tullabeg, Retreats/work in Church
1978 - 1993: London, Farm Street Church work
1993 - 1997: Limerick, Sacred Heart Church work.
19th Dec. 1997; Died aged 70.

Michael was first admitted to Cherryfield Lodge in March 1996 following surgery. He was again admitted to Cherryfield in January 1997 in a confused and restless state. He was assessed by Doctor Cooney at St. Vincent's Hospital and diagnosed as suffering from a severe from of dementia. He was transferred to Crinken Nursing Home in July 1997, where he died peacefully on 19th December 1997. May he rest in the peace of Christ.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephes 2, 10).

This text of St. Paul came to mind as I reflected on the strange contrast between Michael's early life as a professor of philosophy for seven short years (Heythrop 63 - 67 and Milltown Park 67 - 70) and the nineteen years of his later life as a dedicated Church-father first in Tullabeg (74 - 78) and later in Farm Street (78 - 93). His Jesuit superiors had judged him capable of teaching philosophy and presumably saw this as his life work as a Jesuit. But "we are God's workmanship" and God had other plans for Michael, After only seven years of faithful but stressful teaching, and after a dark-night of depression, God transformed him into the “Wounded Healer” who exercised such a fruitful ministry for four short years in Tullabeg and then for fifteen years in Farm Street. His apparent failure as a professor of philosophy must be seen as God's tempering of his chosen instrument: “Designer infinite - must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?” In the dark hours of his depression Michael must have heard Christ's words to St. Paul addressed to him: “My grace is enough for you, for my power works best in weakness”, and with St. Paul he must have found the grace to reply: “gladly therefore will I rejoice in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest on me”.

There is convincing proof that Michael did have considerable academic ability. Joseph de Finance S.J. was the director of his doctoral studies in the Gregorianum (61 - 63). De Finance was the highly regarded Professor of ethics in the Gregorian University for twenty five years. In 1991 Michael presented to the Milltown library an autographed copy of his translation of de Finance's final work entitled: “An Ethical Enquiry”. This is a large volume of five hundred closely reasoned pages. In a prefatory note to the translation de Finance expresses “his deep gratitude to Fr. Michael O'Brien, SJ whose translation, faithful but not slavish, is marked by a concrete, figurative style which gives easier access to the ideas. Thus he has achieved his purpose which is and must be first of all service to the student”.

From this commendation of his director we can legitimately conclude that Michael was well equipped to teach the course of ethics assigned to him. If he proved less than successful as a teacher of ethics in Heythrop and Milltown the reason can be found in the academic turbulence that followed the conclusion of Vatican II. By now Thomistic Philosophy had lost its pride of place even in seminary schools and the “philosophia perennis” had lost its perennial vigour. In the academic supermarket it had passed its 'sell-by' date!

Michael as a product of an older tradition would have still seen philosophy (especially ethics) as the “Handmaid of Theology” - but the handmaid had become restive and even insubordinate since John 23rd had encouraged a more open dialogue with the modern world. Had Michael begun his teaching twenty or even ten years earlier I feel he might well have been a respected and successful professor.

The controversy that followed on Paul VI's Humanae Vitae with its forthright condemnation of contraception, must have made Michael's work as a regular preacher and confessor more difficult. Joseph Fuchs, Professor of Moral Theology in the Gregorian, and Jim Healy and others in Ireland had advocated a more liberal approach and felt that “legitimate dissent” was justified. Michael, on the other hand, regarded fidelity to the teaching of the Magisterium as the very touchstone of orthodoxy. He always remained a totally committed defender of the papal decisions. In his work as a preacher and confessor he must have helped wavering penitents to remain faithful to that decision even if he must also have had to share the pain of others who found the official teaching a burden too heavy to bear.

For the people of the midlands who came to him in the old church at Tullabeg as for the Londoners who came to him at Farm Street, Michael was a good shepherd and a wounded healer. Again and again they pay tribute to his gentleness, his unassuming friendly manner, and his being a good listener. He was like the Servant in the prophecy of Isaiah (50): “The Lord had given him the tongue of those who are taught that he might know how to sustain with a word him that is weary” and “had woken his ear to hear the cry of the broken-hearted”. Again like the servant he was open-hearted in his welcome for the prodigal son or daughter: “the bruised reed he would not break and the dimly burning wick he would not quench”.

To quote a few of the testimonies from grateful parishioners received by his rector after his death:
“Ten years ago my life was in a mess. Fr, O'Brien helped me to rebuild my life”. A lady from East Anglia told of his kindness to her husband who suffered from Alzheimer's for many years. A man spoke of his patient attention to his wife during her long illness and how she always felt the better of his visits. A teacher who used to prepare children for their First Communion recalled his lovely way with the children who used to look forward to his visits.

Michael was admitted to Cherryfield in January 1997 in a confused and restless state. I joined him on many walks by the Dodder or to Palmerstown or Marley Park. He showed little interest in what attracted my attention - the trees, the flowers, the ducks in the river. His interest was in the people we met, always ready to say a friendly word and get into conversation if possible. He wanted to help people. He had told me he used to spend his free days from Farm Street, in one or other of the London Parks. Though he was naturally rather shy and reserved he seemed to have developed an apostolate of friendly affability towards strangers, winning their confidence and lending them “a listening ear”. I feel sure that many of Michael's walks in the London Parks became “Emmaus Walks” when he “sustained with a word the weary or the lonely”.

I visited Michael often in his last months in St. Joseph's, Crinken. There was a profound pathos in the sensitive concern he still showed towards fellow patients only a little more in need of healing than himself. The severe form of dementia that had been diagnosed in the summer had progressively withdrawn him from normal human contact. Now Michael was finally “in the hands of God” - “the initiative was totally with God”, for he was, in the beautiful Irish expression, a “Duine le Dia” - a person plunged into the mystery of Christ's death and resurrection but like the baptised infant unaware of his life hidden with Christ in God.

He was not able to share “the deeply spiritual experience to know oneself completely in His hands” that Fr. Arrupe spoke of. But in these last mysterious weeks of Michael's life the Divine Artist was putting the final touches to the masterwork which he had begun at Michael's baptism in the church in Kilrush seventy years before.

May he rest in peace.

Edward Fitzgerald, SJ


During his fifteen years on the church staff at Farm Street, Michael O'Brien was loved and respected by many people for his approachability and evident care of them, his prayerfulness and regularity in the church, and his humorous homely ancedotes which were a feature of his straightforward and direct sermons. He was prepared to put himself out for people, and they sensed it. Our non-Catholic doctor spoke warmly of the many visits Michael paid some years ago to his elderly mother in St. George's Hospital before she died. Michael was very regular in his habits and that meant people in need could easily contact him. Often in the church or its environs saying his Rosary. Regularly at the church door to greet people after every Sunday Mass or Holy Day of Obligation, but standing back very modestly when the Parish Priest was around. Michael had a deep affection for the poor. It was very hard for him not to give. He gave not only money (perhaps unwisely at times) but also his time and his attention, sometimes at risk to his own safety.

Throughout my years as Superior and Parish Priest I found Michael a great and dependable support, and a wise and good friend. Farm Street was a residence made into a small parish only in the 1960's. Few Catholics actually lived within the rather grand parish boundaries. Most of the congregation, regular or casual, came from outside, and many more were tourists staying in the twenty or so prestigious hotels in Mayfair. But Michael tried to make Farm Street as much a parish as possible, organising First Communions and confirmations, catechism classes, old people's functions, days of prayer and other devotions. Much of this was for the less affluent residents, such as the families of Indian or Philippino caretakers or hotel workers, quite a few of whom were Irish and warmed to him in a special way. But Michael was blinded as far as class or nation or prestige went. All were just people to be served with respect and devotion.

Michael means a lot to me personally because it can be said that he was instrumental in saving my life, or saving me from serious injury, by happening to be in a certain spot in place of me. I was taking my turn as “duty priest” (to be called to the door on request), but had just left for the church to prepare to say the mid-day Mass. So Michael was called to the door in my place. A deranged man stabbed him in the neck. He was saved from fatal injury by his old-fashioned clerical collar. My new-fangled strip of plastic wouldn't have done the job. Michael was obviously very shaken by the incident and had several weeks of convalescence after he came out of hospital. But he remained very matter-of-fact and modest about it all.

For all his gentleness, devotion to duty and sensitive concerns for others, there was a shadow side to Michael. He suffered from scruples, especially in sexual matters. He agonised about the confessional, while being meticulous about his duties there. I think it was because of this scrupulosity that he had to give up lecturing in Ethics some years before, which was the reason for his coming to us, a welcome acquisition to Farm Street. In my time as Parish Priest he suffered from debilitating bouts of scruplosity which led to a breakdown, hearing inner voices, having to be withdrawn for several months from pastoral work of any kind and only gradually and with great care being nursed back to assisting with Holy Communion, then to saying Mass, then even to being able to preach and hear confessions again. This must have been very humbling for a man to whom priestly ministry meant so much, Incidentally, I was very impressed with the care Phil Harnett showed at this time when he visited us in his capacity of Irish Provincial and very sensitively arranged for Michael's eventual return to Ireland, but without rush or fuss, sensibly planned and monitored, respecting Michael's dignity as a Jesuit, as a priest. Michael deserved no less for the many years he had given to Farm Street.

Anthony Nye, SJ

O'Connor, Charles E, 1920-2014, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/851
  • Person
  • 12 December 1920-03 February 2014

Born: 12 December 1920, Ballybunion, Co Kerry
Entered: 07 September 1938, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1952, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1955, Canisius College, Chikuni, Zambia
Died: 03 February 2014, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Milltown Park, Dublin community at the time of death

Transcribed HIB to ZAM 03 December 1969; ZAM to HIB : 31 July 1982

by 1955 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) Regency
by 1970 at Fulham, London (ANG) studying
by 1990 at Biblicum, Rome, Italy (DIR) Sabbatical

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 155 : Spring 2014


Fr Charles E (Charlie) O’Connor (1920-2014)

Jim Corkery's homily at funeral Mass, 5 February 2014

It is a privilege for me, for Conall as the Rector of Charlie's community and for Tom Layden as his Provincial, to play a special role in this Eucharistic celebration today, to give thanks for Charlie's long and fruitful life. Such a privilege sometimes falls these days to Jesuits around our age in relation to someone we affectionately call an older Father; and with Charlie it has been, for us, a particular blessing to accompany him in later periods of his life: a blessing because he is so open, so trusting and willing to disclose himself, so human.... Charlie is (I don't say “was”) a Jesuit companion who lets you get to know him; and he wants to know you too. His legendary humanity, his openness to young people - particularly to the young Jesuits who lived in Hatch Street while he was there from 1993 to 2007 - stand out in my mind and make it unsurprising that, since his death two days ago, emails have come in from Joe Palmisano in the U.S. and José de Pablo in Brussels, to bid him farewell and to say how much they appreciated and loved him.

Charlie, “unphony” to the hilt, loved to see and to know people as they really are. In the words of the First Letter of John, chosen for today, we are told that we shall see God as he really is (1 Jn. 3:2). Charlie will relish that. A man of friendships, most assuredly of friendship with God nourished over the years through his praying of the Gospels – he “drank them in” - Charlie knew the Father through the Son; and if he came to the Father through the Son during his life, he did so fully two days ago when he left for the place that the Son had prepared for him (John 14:2). He will relish his encounter with God in Christ. Charlie, who loved to see others as they really are, will rejoice to overflowing on seeing God as he really is.

You see, as we live, so we pray! Charlie lived above all in friendships – you are all testimony to that here this morning. From his fourteen years in Zambia as a young priest through to the final years of his life, it was person-to-person encounter that meant the most to Charlie, Catherine knows this very deeply after four and a half decades of companionship with him, where together they laboured, and laughed, and simply were...in their shared companionship with the Lord. All of you, Charlie's friends and relatives, have been friends-with-him-in-the Lord. His theology - and he had a lively, curious, theological mind! - never allowed him to put God in one place and those he loved in another. He brought his friends to God and God to his friends.

All of you here today have our own special memories of Charlie; I encourage you to keep these alive. I hope – I know you will - recognize in what I say about his gift for friendship something of your own personal experience. Charlie had wide and varied friendships, but he was the same Charlie, the one, recognizable, unphony Charlie in them all. In the Hatch St. Jesuit community, where I arrived with him in 1993 and spent the next twelve years with him there, we 'made memories.' And a thing he particularly liked – perhaps more so in the latter years when he was getting older and I had a special responsibility of care for him - was to disappear sometimes from the house to a place of no distractions (often the Conrad Hotel across the road and never without a glass of wine, I admit!) and to talk without interruption about the things that really mattered to him. It was in such conversation that he opened himself up to me...and did a good job of prising me open too! As I said, he loved seeing people as they really are; and he will be overjoyed at seeing God as God really is!

So, we will miss this good man, with his humanity, his deep spirituality, his gift for befriending, his love of creation (just think of the garden in Wicklow, or the fire there in winter-time) and his mischievous laughter. He told me once that he had lived in my home-town, Limerick, for a while when he was young - and had hated it! I got him to admit, however, that while he didn't like Limerick, he certainly liked limericks. The words “there was a young fellow from...” would always send him into chortles of laughter, his ears cocked for the naughty finishing line!

Where is all that now, we may ask, as his life has ended and he has gone from us? It's only natural that, remembering his love of life, we wish him the fullness of life now. But we wonder how it is for him. From our scripture readings today - without at all being able to imagine what Charlie is experiencing now - we do know, as has been said, that he will “see God as he really is”. We can be sure that, as he nears the heavenly Jerusalem, he is where God dwells with his people and that every tear is wiped from his eyes, his sufferings are ended, and there is no more death or mourning (Apoc. 21: 1-4). We know that our hearts need not be troubled (John 14: 1) because Jesus, in whose footsteps Charlie (literally!) walked many times, has gone “to prepare a place for him” (John 14: 2)...and there he looks on Jesus as he really is. So, even though we cannot be with Charlie any longer, we can be consoled by these promises in the readings. The words of the funeral liturgy will shortly remind us that “the ties of friendship do not unravel with death”. This touches into something of the deeper meaning of our faith in the resurrection of the body and it assures us that Charlie's going to God does not mean that he is sundered from us.

To Catherine, in particular, I say: the care that Charlie had for you, and the care and devotion that you showed him to the end, do not unravel with death. The jewel of your friendship goes with him to God and, as he sees God's face, he does not lose sight of yours. So, while the loss of him is sad, you are not lost from him, nor he from you. No fragment of genuine love is ever lost. In that sense, we all remain, each in our own way – whether through Zambia, or the LRA, or the prayer group, or the Holy Land, or the ecumenical group, or spiritual direction - with Charlie, who is “with Christ” (Phil. 1:23). May he rest in peace! May he enjoy, may he delight in, seeing God as he really is! Amen.

Power, Edmund, 1878-1953, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/363
  • Person
  • 02 March 1878-03 August 1953

Born: 02 March 1878, Kilcullane, Herbertstown, County Limerick
Entered: 01 October 1896, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 28 July 1912, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 25 February 1915, Chiesa del Gesù, Rome Italy
Died: 03 August 1953, Milltown Park, Dublin

by 1901 in Saint Joseph’s, Beirut, Syria (LUGD) studying oriental language
by 1908 at Valkenburg, Netherlands (GER) studying
by 1910 at Oran, Algeria (LUGD) studying
by 1910 at Hastings, Sussex, England (LUGD) studying
by 1915 at Pontifical Biblical Institute Rome, Italy (ROM) teaching

◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
Note from J Austin Hartigan Entry :
After Noviceship he made studies at Tullabeg, and then Eastern languages at Beirut with Edmund Power.

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - Studied at St Patrick’s Seminary Thurles and St Patrick’s College Maynooth to 1st Divinity before entry

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 28th Year No 4 1953

Obituary :

Father Edmond Power 1878-1953

When Father Power went to his reward, on August 3rd, the Irish Province lost one of its most venerable and distinguished sons. Studying, teaching and writing with unflagging energy till the end, he had done much, in a long lifetime, for that scholarly defence of the Faith which, as the Holy Father said at our fourth centenary, is what the Church chiefly asks of the Society. The funeral of “this eminent Jesuit scholar”, to quote the papers, was marked by sympathetic tributes from the highest dignitaries of Church and State in Ireland. All felt that there had gone from us a learned and holy man who could hardly, if ever, be replaced. Fr. Power had, in fact, in a laborious life devoted to some of the most difficult branches of scholarship, brought his great gifts to a readiness and ripeness which made him indeed a master in Israel." Happily, in the most important contribution which be made to the recent “Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture” be was able to leave to the Church a fitting memorial of his great achievements.
Father Power was born at Kilcullane, Herbertstown, Co. Limerick, in 1878. From his sturdy farming ancestors he derived a wiry vigour which stood him in good stead during the rigours of a student's life passed for the most part under the trying conditions of Eastern and Roman climates. His deep piety too owed much to his remarkable family - seven of his sisters became nuns, two of his brothers priests, one of whom was till his retirement Parish Priest in California, the other Archdeacon of the Cashel diocese. One sister and one brother “stayed in the world”, and Fr. Power had the happiness of seeing a nephew ordained last year. He treasured the memory of his father, who instilled into his children a great devotion to the daily rosary, and who was a weekly communicant at a time when few felt prepared. His saintly mother may well be remembered by her words in time of trial : “What is this life worth, except to serve God”. Fr. Edmond was not the slowest to learn and live that lesson.
He was a talented child, who learnt the alphabet in one lesson at the age of three - a foreshadowing of what he would do later when faced with the four hundred cuneiform characters of the Assyrian ‘alphabet’. When he left the National School to attend the Christian Brothers, Limerick, he was intended for law. But his vocation to the priesthood brought him to Thurles Seminary where in one year he won a place at Maynooth. There he studied Philosophy for two years, 1894-6, and three weeks Theology, before entering the noviceship. Well-meaning and revered counsellors had urged him to wait till after ordination. But he was determined “to get the real Jesuit spirit” by doing the full course, thereby showing the high esteem he had of the Society, and which he expressed on his death-bed. “A year or two”, he said, “what does it matter? You all know what I think of the Society”. He was remembered at Maynooth as the student who was always in the chapel.
He stayed in Tullabeg for his juniorate, 1898-1902, gaining one of the most brilliant degrees on record at the Royal University in Ancient Classics. During three of these years, he taught his fellow juniors. In 1906 he went to the University of the French Jesuits at Beirut. His chief study was Arabic, ancient and modern, which he admitted he found much more difficult than the Hebrew which he also studied, along with Syriac, Aramaic, Assyrian, Coptic and the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. His doctorate thesis was on a medieval poet of Arabia. During these years he gained that living familiarity with the East which graced his widely-read articles on Palestinian Customs as illustrating the Bible. A year's teaching at Clongowes was followed by two years philosophy at Valkenburg, and theology with the exiled French Jesuits at Hastings. His way of passing the summer, even most of the one after ordination, was to study in the British Museum, His preparation for his work could hardly have been more apt or thorough.
In Tertianship at Tullabeg, he was highly appreciated as the author of skits and humorous poems performed at the concerts given to the Novices on festive occasions. His wit was indeed always quick, though his charity restricted its play. He was called to Rome in 1914 to begin the twenty-four years of Professorship at the Biblical Institute which made him a well-loved figure to hundreds of students from all parts of the world. His chief subjects were Arabic, Syriac, Biblical Archaeology, the physical and historical Geography of Palestine, all demanding highly specialised skill. He was for a time editor of the scientific organ of the Institute “Biblica”, and contributed regularly the Bibliography which covered all fields of Scripture studies. He also edited the more ‘popular’ “Verbum Domini”, where articles in his elegant Latin often appeared. His learned research articles gained him the name of high erudition even with those who could not accept some of his conclusions. Perhaps the finest publication of his Roman period was the study of the religion of Islam in Huby's Christus. Some of his work, especially his identification of the site of the House of Caiphas, brought him into controversy with the great Dominican scholars of Jerusalem. When the dust had settled, the new Dictionnaire de la Bible entrusted the subject in question to Fr. Power.
Returning finally to Milltown Park in 1938, at the age of sixty, Fr. Power began an Indian summer which was to be perhaps the most fruitful period of his life. In 1941 he added exegesis of the New Testament to his classes on the old, and took on the duties of prefect of studies. His lectures were clear and solid, and he shirked no amount of repetition to drive home what had to be known - a trait very welcome to students heavily burdened with examinations. The project of a complete English commentary on the Bible found in him an enthusiastic supporter, and his scholarship and industry made him a valued contributor. Nor only did he fulfil his own engagements punctually, but he took up tasks where others defaulted. It is hardly too much to say that without him the Commentary would not have been published for many years more, nor would it have reached the standard it did in the time. To the remuneration of the 200,000 words he wrote, the publishers added a substantial sum in recognition of the special part he played in its production. The relentless energy he put into this work was astonishing in so frail and stooped a frame, racked as it was by the paroxysms of a cough which had been chronic since his early days in Rome. He wore out at his work, but it was well done.
He was fully conscious during his last illness, which lasted only a day, and he died in sentiments of tranquil hope. Priests wept unashamedly at his graveside. None could recall a harsh or an uncharitable remark from his lips, but all remembered his patient and humble obedience, the fervour of his Mass, office and beads, his courageous devotion to duty. Many regretted the loss of a prudent kind and understanding confessor and his friends inside and outside the Society, in many parts of the country, mourned a sympathetic and self-effacing companion. It was well to have known this model of work and prayer. He had joined the Society with the clear purpose of serving God there perfectly. His merciful Judge knows how loyally he kept his word.

Irish Province News 29th Year No 1 1954


of the late Father Edmund Power
It was only a few days ago that I heard from Fr. Sutcliffe, S.J. of the death of Fr. Edmund Power, S.J., our colleague for the past ten years in the production of A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, and I should like to express on behalf of the other contributors and myself our deep sorrow at your loss and ours. I said Mass for him the day after I heard the news and am making a 30-day memento, which is the same as we always do for the brethren of our own Community.
Fr. Power's part in the production of our Commentary was in valuable and can hardly be overestimated. From our first approach to him early in 1944, be was an enthusiastic supporter of the project, and so far as I can gather, he devoted the greater part of the next seven years to writing a series of articles and commentaries, the learning, balance and breadth of which are amongst the greatest adornments of our work. Indeed, without bis amazing industry and energy it is difficult to see how we could ever have completed our task. His helpfulness and willingness to undertake assignments unfulfilled by others showed the breadth of his character, and none of the many great calls we made on him but was cheerfully taken up and completed to our great satis faction. Both from his and our point of view, it was providential that in his last years we were able fully to utilise those great stores of learn ing and experience that he had built up in the course of a most distinguished career.
My own personal contact with him was unfortunately limited to one personal flying visit to Milltown Park in 1945, where I was most hospitably received and entertained. I always received the greatest personal consideration from him at every time and I was always struck by his humility in consulting and sometimes deferring to a much younger and less knowledgeable person. I should appreciate very much receiving a copy of his obit card and of his obituary notice.
Bernard Orchard

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father Edmund Power 1878-1953
Fr Edmund Power was born of farming stock near Herbertstown County Limerick. His early years of farm life gave him a strong body, which stood him in good stead during his arduous years of study.

He was educated by the Christian Brothers in Limerick. He went first to Maynooth, and when he had finished the Philosophy courses, he entered the novitiate at Tullabeg. He did his studies abroad and was ordained in 1912.

He was then sent to the Biblical Institute, where he spent the next 24 years. He contributed to many learned magazines, including “Studies” and “Christus”. He took a major part in th compilation of the Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture.

He returned to Dublin in 1938 to teach Old and New testament Studies at Milltown Park. His many virtues made him much beloved. He died there on August 3rd 1953.

Shields, Bernard Joseph, 1931-2005, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/722
  • Person
  • 25 March 1931-03 April 2005

Born: 25 March 1931, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1948, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1962, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February1966, Chiesa del Gesù, Rome, Italy
Died: 03 April 2005, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong - Sinensis Province (CHN)

Transcribed HIB to HK : 03 December 1966; HK to CHN : 1992

by 1957 at Cheung Chau, Hong Kong - Regency studying language
by 1965 at Rome Italy (ROM) studying

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Father Bernard Joseph Shields S.J.

Father Joseph Shields of the Society of Jesus, died in his sleep on 3 April 2005, he was 74.

Father Shields was born on 25 March 1931 in Dublin, Ireland and was a much-loved volunteer staff member of the Sunday Examiner. He will be sorely missed. He was ordained a priest on 31 July 1962 in Dublin.

There will be a Requiem Mass to be celebrated by Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun at Christ the King Chapel, Causeway Bay, on 16 April at 10am with vigil prayers on the previous evening at the Hong Kong Funeral parlor, North Point. The Jesuit community will welcome visitors from 5:30pm. He will be buried at St. Michael’s Catholic Cemetery, Happy Valley.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 10 April 2005

Mourning a quiet Jesuit

“I first met ‘Father Joe’, as we fondly called him, in the early 1980s at Holy Spirit College,” reminisced Chan Sui-jeung. “I was looking for research materials on Judaism and he directed me to Matteo Ricci’s dairy, a copy of which was in the college library.” Chan said that their common interest in classics and Chinese history led them into the first of many long conversations.

Chan related that he next came into contact with the Irish-born Jesuit, Father Bernard J. Shields, about 10 years later at the office of the Sunday Examiner. Father Joe did the proofreading and I came as a volunteer,” said Chan. “Office space was at a premium. At times we even shared the same desk!” He said that the always thorough and meticulous “gentle priest with the unusual turn of phrase” was a great asset to the editorial staff, especially when the chase was on for the “right turn of phrase.”

Chan said their quiet moments together produced stories about Father Joe’s student days under the late Father Edward Collins SJ, how he had assisted in sorting Father Turner’s manuscript on Tang Dynasty poetry and his three or so years in Taiwan at the Fu Jen University, where he had met distinguished Jesuit scholars like Father Fang Chi Yung and Father Simon Chin. Chan also noted that he learned to complement his Cantonese language skills with a “quite acceptable Putonghua.”

His long-time friend pointed out a little known fact about Father Joe. “He was a considerable authority on history and the works of Giuseppe Castiglione. When one of the animal heads of the Yang Ming Garden in Beijing went on sale in Hong Kong, it was Father Shields who informed the auctioneer that their historical write up was inaccurate.”

Born on 25 March 1931, he attended Christian Brothers and Jesuit schools in Ireland and joined the society in 1948, taking first vows in 1950. Three years at University College Dublin gave him a first class honours degree in Latin, Greek and ancient history. He came to Hong Kong in 1956 and returned home for theology studies and later ordination in Milltown, Dublin, on the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, 31 July 1962. He then studied Sacred Scripture in Rome and returned to Hong Kong in 1973. He taught at the diocesan seminary in Aberdeen, the Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Anglican Theological Seminary.

He was also a mentor in Hebrew at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and took students to visit the synagogue in the Mid-Levels on more than one occasion. Chan said,

“I had plans to introduce him to the well-stocked library at the Jewish Community Centre.”

He recalls him as humble, soft-spoken with a gentle smile, popular and loved. Shy and retiring by nature, Father Shields nevertheless stood up and spoke boldly when interviewed on television while participating in a street rally in Hong Kong, on 11 April last year, in defence of his much loved brother and sister Catholics on the mainland.

Chan has fond memories of wine, beers and cheese in the newspaper office at the end of a hard day, when the then editor, Maryknoll Father John Casey, would jokingly accuse Father Shields of being “un-Irish” for taking “water only” during the sacred office ritual.

Father Bernard Joseph Shields died in his sleep on Sunday, 3 April. His three sisters came from Ireland to attend his funeral, celebrated by Bishops Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and John Tong Hon with some 35 priests, at Christ the King Chapel, Causeway Bay, on 16 April. Approximately 400 people came to celebrate his life and mourn his passing. Fellow Jesuits, Fathers Robert Ng and John Russell paid tribute to him at the Mass. He was buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Happy Valley.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 24 April 2005

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
He was born in Dublin in 1931 and educated at Belvedere College SJ. His father was Professor of Economics at University College Dublin, bequeathing to his son a love of scholarship and books.

He joined the Society in 1948 and followed the usual course of studies, including a Degree in Classical Latin and Greek, and he was sent to Hong Kong for Regency in 1956.

He wanted to master Cantonese spending two years at Cheung Chau and was then sent to Wah Yan College Hong Kong, teaching for a year before returning to Ireland for Theology at Milltown Park, and he was Ordained by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid in 1962. He then made Tertianship, and after that was sent to Rome for a Doctorate in Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute.

The intention was that he would remain in Rome to teach, but then he was invited by the Chinese Provincial Frank Borkhardt to teach instead at the Theology Faculty of Fujen Catholic University in Taiwan. To prepare for this he undertook Mandarin studies at the Jesuit language school of Hsinchu for 18 months.

1973 He returned to Hong Kong teaching Scripture at the Regional Seminary at Aberdeen, and he also became its librarian for many years. On return he was also briefly Master of Novices in Cheung Chau.
1977 He was invited to teach Theology at Chung Chi College where he taught New Testament Greek and Studies.

Over his time in Hong Kong he also taught at Lutheran Theological Seminary, Shatin, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, SKH Ming Hua Anglican Theological College.

He also served as Socius to the Regional Secretary for Macau-Hong Kong, William Lo (1991-1996).

Light-hearted and willing to help in any way he could, he also proof-read the Sunday Examiner, as well as normal priestly ministries, such as the Adam Shcall residence once a month.

He was scholarly and keen on accurate information. He was also modest and well mannered, eschewing argument or controversy, preferring to be a conciliator, seeking understanding and peace.

He was especially dedicated to the Church’s Mission in China and its people.

Simpson, Patrick J, 1914-1988, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/405
  • Person
  • 10 April 1914-08 August 1988

Born: 10 April 1914, Wimbledon, Surrey, England / Derry, County Derry
Entered: 07 September 1932, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1944, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1950, Chiesa de Gesù, Rome, Italy
Died: 08 August 1988, St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin

Part of the Milltown Park, Dublin community at the time of death

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1939 in Vals France (LUGD) studying
by 1947 at Heythrop, Oxfordshire (ANG) studying
by 1948 at Rome Italy (ROM) - studying

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 21st Year No 4 1946

England :
On September 26th Fr. Simpson went to Heythrop to do special studies in Sacred Scripture.

Irish Province News 63rd Year No 4 1988 (Final Edition)


Fr Patrick Simpson (1914-1932-1988)

10th April 1914: born in Wimbledon, England. Schooled at Dominican convent-school, Wicklow, and 1927-32 in Clongowes, his home then being in Derry.
7th September 1932: entered SJ. 1932 4 Emo, noviciate. 1934-38 Rathfarnham, juniorate (at UCD, Latin and Greek to MA). 1938-41 philosophy: 1938-39 at Vals, France; 1939-41 at Tullabeg. 1941-45 Milltown, theology (31st July 1944: ordained a priest). 1945-46 Rathfarnham, tertianship. 1946-47 Heythrop College, Oxfordshire, England: private study of Scripture. 1947-50 Biblical Institute, Rome: study.
1950-88 Milltown, professor of Scripture (1950-60: Parat se ad exam. laur.). 1983-88 Ecclesiastical Assistant to Christian Life Communities (CLC). 8th August 1988: died in St Vincent's hospital, Dublin

It is difficult to write competently or fairly of anyone, even of those with whom we have lived for a long time in close contact. Our perceptions, even of ourselves can be so superficial. Only God can write our biography or autobiography (!). So we are shy to write of Paddy Simpson, but we must do what we can.
We can speak confidently of his wide and deep knowledge and of his willingness to share that knowledge. From his earliest days in the Society we have a picture of him holding forth endlessly, whether to one or to many, on a variety of topics, all the while standing tirelessly on the corridor. Coming into the refectory of a morning you would hear his voice. For Paddy there was no such thing as being off colour before breakfast. He could speak, naturally, of his own speciality, scripture, but also of so many subjects, sacred and profane. Again, he could talk of many practical things with technical knowledge, not least the subject of motor bikes.
In his piety he was not demonstrative. The rosary as a method of prayer did not appeal to him. Yet he surprised many by his enthusiasm for the charismatic movement, and he was much in demand among charismatics in Dublin, and attended Jesuit international charismatic conferences on the continent. He also took an active part in the Christian Life Community.
Although essentially an intellectual, he did not suffer from intellectual snobbery, and he took great pleasure, with no trace of condescension, in talking to and also helping ordinary people and admiring their views and insights. He was a ready learner. He appreciated intellectual honesty and could be blunt in speaking of what he regarded as humbug or pretentiousness.
Looking back over his life I cannot recall any pettiness. He accepted "leg pulling" cheerfully. I never saw him in a huff, or even angry. He may have suppressed hard feelings, but one never got the impression of such suppression or any resultant tension. He was patently honest and sincere, and freely acknowledged the worth of others, even when otherwise they did not appeal to him.
I am sure he had his disappointments, one of which, surely, must have been that he never finished his doctoral work in Rome. Despite his brilliance and capacity and quick understanding, he had great difficulty in protracted study, and apparently took no great joy in writing. A retentive memory and an analytical mind helped him greatly in his reading, An undoubtedly disorderly room, but a very orderly mind. It was always noted in community meetings or Milltown Institute meetings that his remarks were always worth heeding, and the result of clear and unprejudiced thought. He bore no ill-will if his views were not accepted. Many will recall too his cogent views on Six-County affairs.
It is well said that Paddy is remembered with affection - the expression used by the members of the Half-Moon swimming club at Ringsend by whom he was always accepted as one of themselves, and whom he greatly helped. He himself was a man of loyalty and affection, not least towards his own family as we saw in his great concern for his brother who suffered long before dying of cancer about five years ago.
Another aspect of him that always amused and caused gentle chaff was his joy in preparing his itineraries, whether at home or abroad - how to avail of all possible short routes, at the least possible cost. It was said, true or not, that he got more joy out of planning a journey than out of the journey itself.
We cannot speak of his spiritual life, but it was noted that he seemed to have not a few who sought his aid and advice, and we may be sure that he was generous in his sharing with others.
It was hard for him to admit that he had had a small stroke, although for a year or two he had been talking of getting old, and indeed he showed signs of it. In the end when speech had failed, one could not be sure of contact, except for one occasion when he gave his beautiful smile. We miss him in Milltown, but thank God for His eternity where all who are missed will be found.