Power, Cyril, 1890-1980, Jesuit priest

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Power, Cyril, 1890-1980, Jesuit priest

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23 March 1890-19 March 1980


Born: 23 March 1890, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1907, St Stanislaus, College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1923, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 08 December 1926, St Ignatius, Leeson Street, Dublin
Died: 19 March 1980, Mater Hospital, Dublin

Part of the Clongowes Wood College SJ, County Kildare community at the time of death

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

Studied for MSc at UCD and MA (Cantab) at Cambridge University

by 1916 at Stonyhurst England (ANG) studying
by 1920 at St Edmund’s House, Cambridge, England (ANG) studying

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Cyril Power entered the Society at Tullamore in 1907. After tertianship in 1926, Power was on loan to the Australian Mission to teach moral theology, ethics and canon law at Werribee until the end of 1929. He returned to Ireland, and in October 1930 was made rector of Milltown Park, and then professor of moral theology for many years. As a professionally trained mathematician, he was eventually allowed to return to Clongowes where he spent twenty years teaching mathematics, and looking after the farm, which was what he had always wanted to do.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 9th Year No 3 1934

On 14th May the following notice was sent by Father Socius to all the Houses of the Irish Province. : “Rev. Father Provincial (Kieran) has been ordered a period of rest by his doctor, and in the meantime, with Father General's approval, Father Cyril Power has been appointed to act as Vice-Provincial.”

Irish Province News 55th Year No 2 1980


In Memory of Fr Cyril Power SJ, by Francis McKeagney (OC 1976)

They've all gone home now.
Just you and I, old man,
And the workmen shovelling clay,
The grave a foot too wide, a foot too deep they say.

To here,
This sheltering graveyard corner
With the Castle peeping through the trees,
You have come
Theologian, farmer, mathematician, Sir.
I remember most a cap,
“The demon on wheels”,
Nights, teeth out,
The class formulae
‘Wake up, man! Cos 2A?’
‘I bet he died with his pipe in his mouth’
Somebody said for something to say.

Your silence stood larger than any words said.

I suppose a modest black cross
Will be placed in due course
R. Pater C. Power, S.J.
Obiit March 19, 1980
And questions wait like prayers for answers
Inside the iron gates.

But it is time to leave.
A last few fading traces of snow whiten the hour.
A quiet quiet pervades the journey's end,
Rest a while, kind Sir, morning can't be far.
From somewhere in the maze of time's enormous corridors
I offer you this tiny flower,
Perhaps it might catch even a single sunbeam
And open slightly
In a remembered colour of you.


Irish Province News 55th Year No 3 1980


Fr Cyril Power (1890-1907-1980)

Fr Cyril Power died in the Mater hospital on the 19th March, just a few days before completing his ninetieth year. Of those ninety years he had spent 47 in Clongowes as a student, scholastic and priest. He entered the Society in 1907, doing his noviceship under the famous (or as some would think today, infamous) Fr James Murphy. This Mag Nov frequently said to his novices that he would make life so hard for them in the noviceship that never again for the rest of their lives would they feel anything hard; and he acted on his say. Yet, wonder of wonders, Fr Power used to recall with almost boyish glee the many rather harsh (to modern eyes anyway) penances meted out for trivial mistakes or accidents. The penances were so bizarre - outrageous, we might almost say - that they afforded continual fun to all save the actual recipient. But then he had his turn for a laugh too.
From the noviceship in Tullabeg Fr Power proceeded to University College, Dublin, where his mathematical genius continued to reveal itself; and in 1914 he secured his MSc, winning at the same time a studentship to Cambridge. For two years he taught mathematics in Rathfarnham to his fellow scholastics. From Rathfarnham he went to Stonyhurst to study philosophy. In 1917 he returned to the boys for two years. In 1919 he took up his studentship at Cambridge, studying mathematical physics for two years: he gained a brilliant MA (Cantab). For the next four years he studied theology in Milltown Park, being ordained priest in 1923. Finally he returned to Tullabeg for tertianship (1925-26).
His first appointment as a formed Jesuit was to teach moral theology and canon law in Archbishop Mannix's seminary, Werribee, Australia. From there he was summoned home in 1930 to teach moral theology in Milltown, where he became Rector (1930-38) and a Consultor of the Province (1931-39). From the professor's chair, he was sent to manage the 700-acre farm of Clongowes, which he did very successfully for the next 24 years, teaching senior mathematics all the time and continuing to teach it till a few months before his death.
Such in brief are the bald facts of Fr Cyril's life. All they tell us really is that he was a brilliant mathematician and an able theologian.
But he had even better qualities, the most obvious and praiseworthy being his genuine modesty - humility would be a better word. The writer of this obituary was pretty closely associated with him for over fifty years. Never by word or act did he show the least pride in his brilliant academic career.
He spoke to everyone on level terms, and seemed quite unconscious of his intellectual ability. He never did the heavy, if I may be excused the telling expression. In fact it was difficult to get him to talk seriously at recreation, as he rightly considered that it was not the time for treating of serious topics. He was an inveterate leg puller, and seemed to take life lightly, seeing the funny side of most people and things. The possession of these qualities made him, as one would expect, a pleasant companion and an enemy of pessimism and gloom.
Of course, behind all this lighter side of Fr Cyril there was the man of solid faith and simple piety (his great devotion was to the rosary). Being a very balanced and common sense person, he was to a great extent free from prejudice, and in Milltown Park, as rector of eighty scholastics of ten or twelve nationalities, was noted for his just, equal treatment of all.
As a professor he worked a perpetual miracle every day by being extremely clear in the worst of Latin. He wasn't a Latin scholar. Though his clear and quick mind made him shine in the exact sciences, he was no linguist. But it was as a teacher of mathematics that he really found his métier. He was a patient and understanding master, being ready to repeat again and again the explanation of a problem till all his pupils understood. No wonder he was liked and admired by his boys. Yes! we in Clongowes have lost in him a well beloved member of our dwindling community, and the Province has lost one to whom it owes much.

◆ The Clongownian, 1980


Father Cyril Power SJ

On March 19th, Fr Cyril Power died just four days before his ninetieth birthday, having spent forty-six years of his life in Clongowes as a boy, scholastic and priest. Few, if any, in its one hundred and sixty-six years of existence spent so much of their life. living and working in the school.

Father Cyril entered the Society of Jesus from Clongowes in 1907. He went through the various stages of Jesuit formation: novitiate, university, philosophy, teaching and finally theology. Being a brilliant mathematician, when he finished his MSc in the National University, he won a travelling studentship to Cambridge. He then taught mathematics to his fellow scholastics for some two years, and later returned to his alma mater to continue teaching maths to the boys.

After the completion of his studies, sacred and profane, he was sent to profess moral theology and canon law in Archbishop Mannix's seminary at Werribee, Melbourne, Australia. After five years there, he was summoned home to take the chair of moral theology at Milltown Park, the Irish Jesuit theologate. He became Rector of the house the following year and, in this difficult post, he spent the next eight years. In 1939, he took on the management of the Clongowes farm and held that position for the next twenty-four years, at the same time teaching senior level maths. He continued to teach mathematics up to a few months before his death.

Such, in brief outline, is the story of his life. It tells us only of his great intellectual ability as mathematician, philosopher and theologian but he had even better qualities. He was a humble man, never showing in word or act pride in his intellectual superiority. He shunned the light. He offered his solid knowledge in things philosophical and theological only when asked and one could always rely on his reply.

He seemed quite unconscious of his great mental powers. He had a light and humorous approach in ordinary conversation. He was a natural leg-puller and whenever he was around at recreation, there was always fun and laughter. Behind it all, there was well hidden, a deep and simple piety - his great devotion was to the Rosary and, as one would expect, a profound faith.

How we miss him from our community



Fr Cyril Power SJ

We were all deeply saddened to hear of Fr Power's death. It falls to my lot to write an appreciation for a man who, throughout the years, has written the appreciations of many others in the pages of the Clongownian.

Fr Power's life was a long and eventful one, the greater part by far being spent in Clongowes, serving God, the community and the boys. Up to a few short months ago, six of us had the privilege of being taught maths by him in the Castle. When we have long forgotten the maths, we will remember Fr Power's dedication and determination in coming to teach us at the age of 89. Fr Power faithfully gave and corrected six (!) themes a week. We had eight maths classes every week and, in four terms, Fr Power did not miss more than five days though at times his health was far from good.

How can one describe or do justice to such a varied and long life ranging from a distinguished post-graduate career in physics in Cambridge to a professorship of moral theology in Australia; from Rector of Milltown Park to farm manager in Clongowes! As recently as a few weeks ago, Fr Power maintained his keen interest in the College even to the point of being able to suggest a tactic for the Senior XV to adopt against 'Rock!

Fr Power was an integral part of Clongowes, more so than any of us would have realized. Our one regret is that Fr Power did not live to celebrate his 90th birthday with us in Clongowes. After forty years, we bid a sad farewell to a grand old man.

Dara Ryan, Rhetoric


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

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


Power, Cyril, 1890-1980, Jesuit priest

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