Born: 10 February 1950, Newcastle, County Galway
Entered: 07 September 1967, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 27 June 1981, Galway Cathedral, Galway
Final Vows: 03 December 1994, Loyola, Eglinton Road, Dublin
Died: 31 January 2020, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin
Part of the St Ignatius, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin community at the time of death.
by 1981 at Fordham NY, USA (NYK) studying
by 1990 at St Joseph’s,Philadelphia PA, USA (MAR) teaching 1 semseter
by 1991 at Austin TX, USA (NOR) making Tertianship
◆ Jesuits in Ireland :
An authentic Jesuit academic
Gonzaga chapel was packed for the funeral Mass of David Tuohy SJ, which took place at 11 am on Monday 3 February 2020. David died peacefully, after a short illness, on the morning of Friday 31 January, just over a week before his 70th birthday. It was an occasion marked by hearty laughter, profound sadness, and deep prayer.
David’s family, fellow Jesuits and many friends were joined by members of the Church of Ireland community including Archbishop Michael Jackson and the Reverend Anne Lodge.
David had indicated some wishes for his funeral. He chose the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus as the gospel reading and his long-time Jesuit friend David Coghlan SJ as the main celebrant and homilist.
It was not the first time that David had asked his Jesuit friend to preach on the Emmaus gospel as David Coghlan explained. “In 1994 when he was taking his Final Vows as a Jesuit David asked me to preach on this gospel and what he wanted me to emphasise was how Jesus, by explaining what he was about, transformed the misguided vision of the two –“Our own hope had been”... In his work with educational leaders, he engaged with them very seriously on what their vision was, what their values were and how they would be actualized in their trust or school structures and educational processes.”
In his opening remarks of welcome, David Coghlan said that during the six months of his illness David spoke constantly in terms of an image from St Luke’s gospel, where the friends of a sick man climb on to a roof of a house and taking off the tiles, lower their friend, who is on a stretcher, down through the ceiling to place him in front of Jesus to be healed. “As David received cards, messages, and reports of love and prayers, he spoke of how he understood that those who were praying for him were holding the ropes and lowering him down to Jesus,” said David. “He was very moved by the prayers and support he was receiving from all over the world. Sometimes he’d apologise for being in bad form, especially when was feeling sick, and in my helplessness, I’d say that there was no need to apologise as I was merely holding the ropes.”
And anyone who spoke at both David’s removal and funeral, including the Jesuit Provincial Fr Leonard Moloney SJ, also attested to the fact that the prayers or presence of his fellow Jesuits, from at home or abroad, throughout his illness was a true source of comfort and support for David – in particular, his Jesuit contemporaries and the Leeson St community. Mary Rickard, Rachel O’Neill and all the staff of Cherryfield nursing home and St James’ hospital were also acknowledged for the wonderful care they gave him in his last months.
David Tuohy was a native of Galway and was schooled in Coláiste Iognáid SJ. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1967 at the age of 17 and was ordained in Galway in 1981. He did his primary degree in botany at UCD under Professor Johnny Moore SJ.
He became a teacher, the first of many careers, and taught in Coláiste Iognáid and Belvedere College. He completed his doctorate in NUI Galway in 1993 and took a post lecturing in UCD, before moving to NUI Galway in 2000. He resigned from that post several years later and became an educational consultant. According to David Coghlan in his homily », David’s time in these universities was foundational and shaped the work he would subsequently go on to do with teachers, school principals, educationalists, and doctoral students.
“His energy and output were enormous,” said David, referencing “the consultancy work with individual schools, boards of management, religious congregations, educational trusts, of which his pioneering work with Le Chéile stands out, research for the Dept of Education, work in Africa with the Loreto sisters, with the Church of Ireland, The Marino Institute, school of nursing... The list is extensive.”
At the end of the Mass, Leonard Moloney SJ also mentioned David’s expertise at board meetings where he as Provincial needed support when complex issues would arise. “David had to give me the odd kick under the table at some of those meetings,” he quipped.
David was also the author of numerous books, articles, and ground-breaking research and reports. His book on Denominational Education and Politics: Ireland in a European Context, published in 2013, was widely acclaimed. His work as an educationalist spanned the continents of Africa, Australia, America, and Europe. He was “an authentic Jesuit academic in the Jesuit intellectual tradition of education in his heart and in his practice,” according to David Coghlan, who added that the central theme of David’s whole apostolic enterprise was “values, leadership, and Catholic education.”
In later years, around 2011 David began working with the Church of Ireland on a number of substantial projects that have borne fruit in the form of key initiatives for giving vigour to Church life in Ireland. He developed a deep friendship with Archbishop Michael Jackson and the Reverend Dr. Anne Lodge. On 1 October 2017, he was made an ecumenical canon in the Church of Ireland.
David Coghlan in his homily told a story that underlined the importance of this ecumenical work for his friend David. “Last week in his dying days when he was telling me again what he wanted me to say at this Mass, and from an apparent sleeping state, he opened his eyes, stretched out his arm and grabbed me to remind me to be sure to mention his ecumenical work.”
In his address at the end of the Mass, Archbishop Michael Jackson certainly did not forget to do just that. In 2015 David was asked by Archbishop Jackson to take part in his Come&C project (“come and see”). This involved facilitating parishioners in Dublin and Glendalough who had taken part in a survey on mission, commissioned by the Archbishop. Over 80% of these parishioners had responded to the survey. They then came together to reflect on it and to plan for the future in terms of a commitment to discipleship in their local parishes, inspired by the gospel vision.
David subsequently co-authored Growing in the Image and Likeness of God, with Maria Feeny which grew out of this work. The book explored discipleship and the five ‘marks of mission’ within the Anglican communion.
Archbishop Michael Jackson spoke about this project in his address at the end of the funeral Mass. “We in the Church of Ireland dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough have so much for which to be thankful on this day of thanksgiving for the life of David Tuohy,” he said. “Because David transformed. He transformed our rather insufficient and inert understanding of our Anglican identity, in which we slumbered somewhat, by taking the five marks of mission of the Anglican communion and bedding them in our psyche and in our spirit.”
Noting that the power to simplify complex concepts was one of David’s key gifts he added, “Forevermore we in Dublin and Glendalough will remember the five marks of mission as the five ‘T’s, that came ready- made from the pen of Dr. Tuohy: Tell, Teach, Tend, Transform, Treasure. And so will the Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom he presented them!”
There was of course more to David than his impressive academic career, As David Coghlan pointed out, he had a wonderful, quirky sense of humour. He often accepted the offer of a gin and tonic by remarking, “I feel a bout of malaria coming on so I need the quinine!” He could turn his hand to anything, according to David, and that included cooking, writing biblical meditations, co-producing musicals, coaching rugby, rowing and show jumping. “And who remembers how he trained to be a soccer referee and was certified by the FAI and had the referees’ black outfit, whistle and notebook?”, David asked adding wisely, “As a player, I wouldn’t have dared give him any backchat!”
David’s entire life was underpinned by a deep connection to his family, his sister Ann, his brother Paul and all the many nieces and nephews around the world with whom he made contact. Paul pointed out in his address at the end of the service that David had probably married or baptised all of the family gathered for his funeral Mass.
Archbishop Michael Jackson finished his tribute to David by saying, “I will miss him terribly, and I have no doubt that many others will also,” a sentiment echoed in the closing words of David Coghlan’s homily. “When the pain and awfulness of today has transformed into the warm and lovely memory of someone beloved, then we may be hopeful, be appreciative of who David is for us and we may let into our hearts the transformative love that God offers us. But that may not happen easily today.”
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Discipleship in ‘the great cathedral of creation’
David Tuohy SJ was the invited preacher at the ordination of four Church of Ireland Deacons, on Sunday 18 September, in Christ Church Cathedral. Archbishop Michael Jackson presided at the ordination of Deacons, Tom O’Brien (St Mary’s, Howth), Rebecca Guildea (Zion Parish, Rathgar), Stuart Moles (St. Patrick’s, Greystones) and Anne Lodge (Raheny Parish). David had conducted a two day retreat for the Deacons in September, in Manresa Jesuit Centre for Spirituality in Clontarf, Dublin, and is involved in ongoing accompaniment of participants in the Anglican Church’s Mission programme, Come and See.
In his homily, he said that the four ordinations challenged everyone present to reflect on their own call to discipleship and the journey it entails. “The first dimension of our journey is inwards, to the depth of our own being, to let God touch and transform our human weakness.” Referencing the first reading in the liturgy – the call of the prophet Isaiah – he continued, “Isaiah saw God in the glory of His heavenly kingdom. We see him in the great cathedral of His creation. Our familiarity with the word of scripture directs us to the drama of God’s presence in our world and our lives. Our discipleship seeks the wisdom that goes beyond the superficial to the drama of God loving and caring for us. We let God open up a sense of wonder that captures our minds and our hearts.”
We are never alone on the journey of discipleship and sharing with a community of believers, all with their differing gifts, marks the second dimension of discipleship, he continued. But this part of the journey can be fraught, with individualism and eogism threatening the harmony of unity. “Our world is characterised by different tyrannies,” he said. “The tyranny of majorities who demand conformity from others in order to preserve their own privilege; the tyranny of minorities who demand special treatment in a way that undermines others. We are flooded with media images that portray irreconcilable differences between communities and individuals caught up in a selfish pursuit of excess privilege,” he said. This being the case, true discipleship, following the example of Christ, “requires a language that speaks of hope, reconciliation, mutual understanding and community in a new and creative way.”
For the follower of Jesus, this language also entails action. And the action, as modelled by Jesus, is of compassionate service. As well as looking after the needs of the poor, the sick, the homeless, the prisoner, David said the disciple of Jesus is also called to challenge a life strangling and pervasive fundamentalism.”To-day, there is a need to engage with the fundamentalism of science, and to let the religious imagination engage with new discoveries in cosmology, medicine and the social sciences, where it will find a creative and loving God. There is the need to engage with the fundamentalism that values the human person only as an economic unit of production, giving rise to the exclusion of certain groups from sharing in a society’s wealth. There is a political fundamentalism that seeks to exclude all aspects of religion from public debate. The call of service is to open people’s minds to the way some philosophies and structures can oppress, impoverish and dis-empower both those who hold these philosophies and their victims, as well as reaching out and ministering to those victims.”
He concluded by acknowledging how the ordination of the four deacons was an encouragement to all present. “As they take on a new role of journeying with and serving the community, we are invited to pray for them. Above all, we are invited to give thanks for their generous response to God, and to give glory to the God who continues to call all of us to work with Him in building up his Kingdom.”
All four Deacons had taken part in the the Mission programme that David is involved in leading. Participants reflect on the Anglican Church’s five marks of Mission and seeing how they apply concretely today in the diocese of Dublin and Glendalough. Those marks are: Tell (Preach), Teach (Nurture friends and newcomers), Tend (Look after with loving care), Transform (the unjust structures), and Treasure (enable and look after God’s creation).
David says that as a Jesuit, being part of this journey with people exploring Mission in the Church of Ireland, has given him a new insight into different ways of organising Church and engaging with Church. “And I’ve found the female clergy and female lay participation with Synods very affirming of the faith of all the people and their lives in a Christian community.”
A Galway farewell
The Month’s Mind Mass for David Tuohy SJ took place in St Ignatius Church, Sea Road Galway (see photo) on Sunday 29 February 2020. David was a native of Galway who lectured for a time in Galway University, and a large crowd, including some of his fellow Jesuits from Dublin, came to mark his passing on Friday 31 January this year. After Mass, all were invited to the Jesuit Community house for tea and sandwiches.
The celebrant and homilist was Martin Curry SJ, also from Galway and a life-long friend of David’s. He told the congregation that it was precisely in the neighbourhood in which they were gathered, right beside Coláiste Iognáid, that David realised he was called to be a Jesuit, and that he was ordained in that very church in June 1981.”Whatever thoughts David had when he joined about what he might do as a Jesuit,” said Fr Martin, “he certainly never imagined the fantastic achievements that he completed in his 53 years.”
Read the full homily below.
The Trumpet Shall Sound
It is very fitting that the Gospel today for Saturday of 1st week in Lent is the call of St Matthew by Jesus. Because it was in this neighbourhood of Coláiste Iognáid and Galway that David recognised his own call to become a Jesuit. He joined the novitiate in 1967, just after school. And he was in fact ordained in this Church by Bishop Eamonn Casey in June 1981.
Matthew was a tax collector for the Romans and as such was an enemy of the Jewish people of his time. David was an ordinary student at the Jes and took part in lots of activities in the school. He spent a lot of his life working in schools and became an expert in the management of schools and educational theory.
We remember his great work with very many groups in the country and in Africa, his time lecturing both in UCD and in NUIG, but perhaps one of his greatest achievements was the setting up of the Le Chéile Trust, where he brought together 11 congregations at first, later 14, and formed them into a legal trust to preserve their ethos and identity as the number of religious diminished to near zero.
The patience and expertise needed to bring all those groups together was enormous. Recently David was trying to set up a similar trust for the Jesuit schools in Ireland, but he was taken from us before that could be finished.
Whatever thoughts David had when he joined about what he might do as a Jesuit, he certainly never imagined the fantastic achievements that he completed in his 53 years. I won’t repeat his history – that was very adequately done by Fr. Coghlan at the funeral. I would like to remember the motivation underlying David’s work throughout his life.
He was really in touch with God, particularly through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. He didn’t talk about it too much, but hearing him expound on his ideas and reflecting on his more recent work with the Church of Ireland you could begin to see the lively faith-base from which he worked. God was with him, and while we sometimes didn’t recognise it, we knew that David’s thinking and energy was coming from a really deep source, which was God’s friendship and grace. This was very eloquently recognised by Archbishop Michael Jackson in his words at David’s funeral.
David’s incredible understanding of difficult concepts, whether in education, spirituality, legal issues, financial issues, or lots of other things, left most of his fellow Jesuits swimming in his wake. Sometimes he couldn’t understand why we were so slow, and it brought out a bit of his impatience, but that didn’t interfere with his friendship and his ability to continue to reach out.
He faced the prognosis of terminal cancer with great courage. They were words nobody wants to hear said to themselves by the consultant, but he didn’t avoid them. He looked the issues squarely in the face – although that was very very difficult – and he decided how to manage the time he had left. A few days before he died, I was with him and we talked about his funeral and the arrangements he wanted.
I was reminded of an incident that happened here in the Jesuit community about March 1975. It was Saturday afternoon, and there was nothing major happening, as we were both in our rooms next door to each other on the top floor of the house. I had found a trumpet in Fr. Sean Mallin’s room and I spent about an hour trying to get a sound out of it. Suddenly, I got a clear blast from it, and there was a huge crash from next door! My door flew open and an amazed David stood there, having just fallen out of bed, laughingly asking what the hell was going on. I reminded him of that just before he died, and we said that now another trumpet was blowing – calling him to the next life. He smiled even through the pain of it all, but he didn’t try to avoid what was going to happen.
It is a month now since his funeral, and the immediate sadness has diminished somewhat. David spent his life telling people about God and his goodness, and the promises he made to each of us – that we would reach eternal happiness with him when the time came. David’s time had come, and we now pray that the happiness promised him will be fulfilled.
We often hear people say that when they die, they hope that they leave the world a better place than it was when they came into it. We can certainly say that about David – we are all better for having known and having shared life with him. And so are thousands of other people as well.
We pray that his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed will rest in the peace and joy of Christ forever.
Martin Curry SJ
Exploring Jesuit Humanism
Conscience, competence, compassion and commitment, not solely as conventionally understood, are the key characteristics of a Jesuit humanism for today, according to Jesuit educationalist Dr David Tuohy SJ.
David Tuohy was the keynote speaker at an education conference in St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Dublin, on Thursday 22 January. It was organised by the Irish Jesuit 1814-2014 Restoration Committee as part of their ongoing activities marking the 200th anniversary of the Jesuit Restoration.
The event was chaired by historian and broadcaster Dr John Bowman. David’s talk, entitled ‘Learning to Love the World as God Loves It: Jesuit Humanism In Education’, was responded to by Dr Anne Lodge of the Church of Ireland College of Education, and Mr Gerard Foley, Headmaster of Belvedere College SJ. All of their talks feature in this podcast.
In his lecture and Powerpoint presentation, David explored the Renaissance foundations of Jesuit humanism, the impact of the enlightenment, suppression and restoration of the Jesuits, and the present modern-day challenges to this Jesuit humanism which underpins Jesuit education.
The lecture unfolded the richness and depth of a Jesuit humanism rooted in the Ignatian vision of each human being as created by God and invited to co-create the world with him. This entails an inward developing of the gifts and talents of the individual (the student) as well as an outward orientation of sharing the fruits of the flourishing talents in the love and service of God and others.
This vision has ramifications for the role of the teacher which cannot simply be that of imparting knowledge to a vacant vessel. Rather and analogous to a good Spiritual Director, the teacher shares knowledge and fosters the assimilation of that knowledge in each individual as food for their intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth and development. The teacher is a ‘compass’ for rather than a ‘dispenser to’ the student.
The historical vicissitudes of half a millennium exact their own pressures on any such vision. David explored this impact on the evolution of the vision right up to the present age. Geo-political alliances today are based almost entirely on economic considerations and the experience of authority has been well and truly superseded by the individual’s authority of experience. These challenges notwithstanding, Jesuit schools and colleges are thriving today. The Jesuit humanism based on Ignatius vision of God’s love for the world and its peoples is as necessary today as at any other time in its challenging history.
In her response Dr Anne Lodge, of the Church of Ireland College of Education, highlighted the importance of the way a Jesuit education really fostered the talents, worth and uniqueness of every single student. In terms of a philosophy of education this student-centred approach which values the goodness of each person was not always the dominant vision. She said that when the Jesuits were counter-cultural they were at their best and she noted that today’s culture often put a skewed emphasis on measurable outcomes for students simply summed up as points in the leaving. The counter cultural vision of Jesuit education was therefore much needed.
Gerard Foley, Headmaster of Belvedere College SJ, outlined some of the ways Belvedere students exemplified in practice the theory being talked about. He spoke about the students’ engagement with homeless people in the annual sleepout. He cited the story of one young student who was teaching English to a migrant as part of a joint project with the Jesuit Refugee Service. After a number of weeks he said he’d changed his whole perspective on economic migrants. Mr Foley told the story of the teacher who was sowing a roof-garden on top of the college. “Without ever mentioning God, he’s been teaching the students about the care of the earth, the power of the seed, the beauty of creation”.
In conclusion he referred to Jim Culliton SJ, a former deputy headmaster of Belvedere who used to stand in the corridor and say to the parents he met, “Celebrate the child you have, not the child you hoped to have”.
David Tuohy, SJ
David Gerard Tuohy was born in Dublin on 10th February 1950 to Matt Tuohy and Peg Power. He grew up in Galway and attended Colaiste Iognaid. He entered the Jesuits novitiate in Emo on 7th September 1967, completed a degree in botany in UCD in 1973 while living in Rathfarnham Castles (the province juniorate), studied philosophy in the Milltown Institute (1973-5), taught in Colaiste Iognaid (1975-77), where he attained the H. Dip. He studied theology in the Milltown Institute (1977-81). He was ordained deacon in the Jesuit church in Galway by the Bishop Eamon Casey, Bishop of Galway on 24th February 1980 and ordained priest, also by Bishop Casey, on 27th June 1981, after which he studied for aeducational administration in Fordham University New York. Over the next few years he taught in Belvedere College (1982-85), worked as a parish chaplain in a parish in Tallaght (1985), taught in Colaiste Iognaid (1985-90), lectured in NUI Galway (UCG as it was then, 1990) and in Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia (1990-1, 1991-2). In between the two periods in Philadelphia, he did his tertianship in Austin, Texas in 1991 under the direction of Joseph Tetlow. He pronounced his final vows on 3rd December 1994 at Loyola, Eglinton Road. Dublin. While a lecturer in UCG (1992-1993) he completed his doctorate in education in 1993 and took a post in UCD (1993-2000), from which he moved to NUI Galway in 2000. He resigned from that post in 2006 and became an educational consultant. During his tenure in UCD he lived in the Milltown Park community (1993-95), and with the foundation of the Dominic Collins community at 129 Morehampton Road in 1995 he was resident there until 2000. After his resignation from NUI Galway he returned to the Dominic Collins community (2006-2017). He spent a sabbatical (2010-11) in Boston College and in Jerusalem. With the immanent suppression of the Dominic Collins community he lived in SFX, Gardiner St (2017-9) and moved to St Ignatius, Leeson St in 2019. He was diagnosed with cancer in August 2019 and after a troubled five months died on 31st January 2020.
While his tenure in the Education Depts of UCD and NUI Galway were relatively short, they were the base from where he shaped generations of teachers and school principals, facilitated school staff days and supervised research dissertations. He taught courses in educational administration and led summer schools for school principals. His book, School Leadership and Strategic Planning (ASTI) went through two editions, the first edition being launched by the then Minister for Education in 1997.
It was after his retirement from his university post to become an educational consultant that he flourished. His energy and output were enormous. He engaged in consultancy work with individual schools, boards of management, religious congregations and educational trusts. His outstanding achievement in this regard was his pioneering work with Le Cheile. A group of small religious congregations each of which had one or two schools wished to form a common trust for their schools. Over several years David facilitated these congregations’ leadership to create a common vision and he led them through the multiple legal complexities of creating the trust as a company, framing a constitution, property ownership, decision making structures and so on. He became company secretary and organised board meetings and AGMs. To date Le Cheile comprises the schools of fifteen religious congregations and fifty-three schools.
He was a prolific writer. His books include, The Inner World of Teaching (Falmer Press, 1999, later translated into Polish), Youth 2K: Threat or promise to a religious culture? (2000, Marino Institute of Education), Leading Life to the Full: Scriptural Reflections on Leadership in Catholic Schools (Veritas, 2005), and his masterpiece, Denominational Education and Politics: Ireland in a European Context, published in 2013. He authored numerous commissioned research reports across a wide range of educational topics for: The Department of Education, The Loreto Education Office, The Marino Institute, The Church of Ireland Education Office, The Loreto sisters in Uganda, Alexandra College. The topics of these reports covered: new programmes at second level, of non-curricular school policies in a school development planning context, the applied Leaving Cert, teacher development, boarding schools, parental values, secondment and the provision of education for refugees in northern Uganda,. He published articles in educational journals: Studies, Irish Educational Studies, The Furrow, Educational Management and Administration and Oideas, and book chapters and delivered papers at conferences, in Ireland, UK, Finland and Australia. He reviewed books on education created podcasts.
He was hoping that if his illness was prolonged and not too debilitating, he would return to a book project on art and education on which he had been working. Before his illness he was working on the constitutions of an Irish Jesuit educational trust where he was bringing his knowledge of the philosophy of Jesuit education, framed as Jesuit humanism, and his experience of establishing educational trusts together.
His work with the Church of Ireland Education Office extended into work with the united dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough and a friendship with Archbishop Michael Jackson. He led a project on developing discipleship in the diocese and co-authored its outcome, Come & C (Messenger Publications, 2019). He was appointed an ecumenical canon of Christchurch Cathedral and preached at the diaconate ordinations in Christchurch. Archbishop Jackson spoke warmly about David’s work in the archdiocese at David’s funeral and co-presided (with the provincial) at the prayers of commendation.
What of David Tuohy the Jesuit and man?
David was an authentic Jesuit academic in the Jesuit intellectual tradition of education in his heart and in his practice. Jesuit documents describe Jesuit scholars as apostles and that the intellectual life is apostolic even when it appears to be secular. The previous Superior General, Fr Nicolas, emphasised the need for Jesuits in the intellectual apostolate to be men of humility, abnegation and patience, free from desires for personal advancement and of competitive rivalry. He referred specifically to the ‘ministry of research’, which he said that Jesuits who teach in higher education should also be involved. He stated that ‘no field can be excluded a priori from the ministry of research: philosophy and theology, but also the sciences dealing with life, human and social science, physics etc’. It was out of this vision and his internalisation of the Jesuit educational tradition that David lived and worked. The central theme of his whole apostolic enterprise was values, leadership and Catholic education.
Underpinning all his work was an incredibly rapacious mind. His ability in maths and statistics was awesome. In his work with the Le Cheile Trust he grasped the legal complexities and was well able to take on the legal profession. Indeed he could challenge any professional. Woe betide a sloppy builder or workman or even a solicitor!
He could never resist a puzzle - sudoku, crossword, jigsaw. He could turn his hand to anything. He organised and supervised building construction, administered the practical running of communities, kept community accounts, mastered legal and insurance complexities and wrote biblical meditations. He co-produced musicals, coached rugby and rowing. He seemed to understand the complexities of every sport – rugby, soccer, baseball, cricket, gridiron. As a junior he trained to be a soccer referee and was certified by FAI and had the referees’ black outfit, whistle and notebook. He was an accomplished cook and he organised the menus and cooked the dinners at Jesuit gatherings.
As a person he was full of love, fun, making and keeping friends easily. He was deeply attached to his immediate and extended family across the world – being in regular contact, visiting them and officiating at their baptisms, weddings and funeralsm,. He researched his family’s history and constructed complex family trees. He enjoyed his pleasures: visiting art exhibitions, fishing with his cousin, playing golf, attending symphony concerts and Agatha Christie murder plays.
David’s journey was not always easy. He could get trapped easily into a cycle of anger and pessimism. Some working relationships were fractious, especially with some superiors. He could be very intolerant of what he perceived as incompetence, narrow thinking and people’s inability to understand structures and roles. Some special projects and work did not develop as he had hoped due to this.
The final few months of his life were very difficult as he fluctuated between periods living in the community with reasonable health and being in hospital with infections and in Cherryfield Lodge (the province nursing home). Over his dying few months since his cancer was diagnosed, he spoke constantly in terms of an image from St Luke’s gospel (5: 17-26). In this gospel story, a group of a sick man’s friends wanted Jesus to heal him, but because the house in which Jesus was speaking was so crowded, they climbed onto the roof, took off the tiles and lowered their friend down through the ceiling in front of Jesus. As David received cards, messages and reports of love and prayers for him, he spoke of how he understood that those who were praying for him were holding the ropes and lowering him down to Jesus. He was graced with a strong faith as his treatment stopped and he grew weaker. He died in Cherryfield Lodge 31st January 2020 a week before his 70th birthday.
David Coghlan SJ