Born: 19 June 1891, Carrickmore, County Tyrone
Entered: 07 September 1909, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1924, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1928, Shiuhing, China
Died: 14 May 1957, Mungret College, County Limerick
Studied for BSc at UCD;
by 1915 at Stonyhurst England (ANG) studying
by 1917 in Australia - Regency at St Aloysius College, Sydney
1926-1927 Tertianship at Tullabeg
by 1928 second batch Hong Kong Missioners
◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Requiem Mass at Ricci Hall Chapel
Father Daniel McDonald, S.J.
At the Chapel of Ricci Hall, Catholic Hostel at the University of Hong Kong, a solemn Requiem Mass was offered last Thursday by Father Herbert Dargan, S.J. the present Warden of Ricci Hall, for the repose of the soul of one of his predecessors, Father Daniel McDonald, S.J., whose death occurred in Ireland on 14 May 1957. He was 66 years of age.
Fr. McDonald, a native of Tyrone in Northern Ireland, was educated in Armagh, and was a student of the diocesan seminary in that city before he entered the Society of Jesus. He did his university studies in the National University, Dublin, where he took his degree in science. He spent some years in Australia before his ordination, and was one of the second group of Irish Jesuits who came to Hong Kong, in 1927.
After a period of Chinese studies in Shiu Hing, Kwangtung, he was attached to the Sacred Heart College, Canton, but on the opening of Ricci Hall as a Catholic Hostel of the Hong Kong University he was appointed its first Warden. He held this position from 1929 to 1936.
During the war in China, when the Japanese occupied Canton, a relief party was sent form Hong Kong and Fr. McDonald was put in charge of one of the welfare sections. He remained in Canton under difficult conditions as long as it was possible to continue the work.
After his return to Hong Kong it was clear that the strain had seriously affected his health, and he was sent to Ireland to recuperate. In spite of his hope of one day returning to Hong Kong this was never possible, though his interest in China and in Chinese studies continued to the end. His last appointment was Director of the Apostolic School in Mungret College, Limerick. The news of his death came as a complete surprise, as he was known to be in his usual health up to a few weeks ago.
Sunday Examiner Hong Konh - 24 May 1957
◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Daniel MacDonald entered the Society at Tullabeg, 7 September 1909, a time when there were sixteen novices and 23 juniors. The place was drab and the life was stern. There was a Trappist touch everywhere. Father Michael Browne was the ascetical novice master. MacDonald was small, well proportioned, with a dark, swarthy, Spanish complexion, slightly aquiline nose, and a smile always around the corner of his mouth. He had a likeness to Ignatius Loyola. He enjoyed the noviciate, it gave him idealism, perfection and the means to attain them,
MacDonald began his juniorate studies, showing much dedication and hard work, at the National University 1911-14, gaining a BSc in mathematics and experimental physics. Philosophy studies were at Stonyhurst, 1914-16, and then he was a most popular teacher of science and mathematics, sports master, director of cadets and prefect of discipline, at St Aloysius' College, Milsons Point, 1916-22. He was considered an outstanding teacher of mathematics and also taught science part time at Riverview. MacDonald entered into school life with tremendous zest. He was well spoken about in the Aloysian, and he loved Australia.
He returned to Milltown Park, Dublin, for theology, 1922-26, and to Tullabeg for tertianship the following year. Then he began a twelve year ministry on the China Mission, which had just begun. They were hard times. He began language study during the first six months of 1928 at the Portuguese Mission of Shiuhing. Later he helped set up a language school at Taal Lam Chung and was its first superior. He showed special aptitude for the Chinese language. In response to an appeal from the harassed bishop of Canton, the Irish Jesuits undertook the temporary management of the Sacred Heart School in that city in September 1928, and MacDonald and Dan Finn were the first to bear the hardships of that ministry.
When the Irish withdrew from Canton at the end of 1929, MacDonald became the first superior of Ricci Hall in Hong Kong, a residence for university students. The following year he was acting superior of the mission. He remained at this work until July 1936. During these years he continued to study Chinese, unfortunately with a more than prudent zeal and intensity. He worked from early morning to late at night, deaf to all the remonstrances of those who saw clearly that such concentration must undermine his health. He became quite outstanding at the spoken and written Chinese. But his health so suffered in the process that he was sent back to Ireland to recuperate.
Back in Hong Kong early in 1937, he spent some months on the staff of the Regional Seminary, Aberdeen, while the new language school was being built at Tool Lam Chung in the
New Territories. When the language school opened in July 1937, MacDonald became its first superior. lt was another challenge to get suitable teachers, draw up programmes of study and provide for the new missionaries arriving fresh from Ireland.
In November 1938 Japan invaded South China and captured Canton. MacDonald went with other Jesuits to help the suffering people of the city. His knowledge of Chinese was of immense value to the joint Protestant and Catholic committee, which was sent from Hong Kong.
Unfortunately, the strain of this work once more undermined his health. Finally, in July 1939, he had to withdraw from the Hong Kong Mission and returned to Ireland, still working on a Chinese dictionary, which eventually had to be abandoned.
MacDonald developed a great love of the Chinese language and for the Chinese people. They understood that “Mok San Foo” understood them, and many came to consult him over the years. He was truly inculturated into the Chinese culture.
Upon his return to Ireland he was stationed at Emo from 1940-45, and in the latter year was transferred to Mungret College, Limerick, where he remained for the rest of his life. He had good control of a class, would punish irregularities but never with undue severity. He showed great diligence in preparation of classes, leaving volumes of notes on all his subjects. As at St Aloysius' College during regency, he entered into the life of the students, showing interest in all that concerned them, particularly sports.
After ten years on the teaching staff during which he was spiritual father to the Apostolics, he was appointed superior of the Apostolic School. It seemed an office eminently suited to his gifts of nature and grace and an outlet for his zeal for the missions He was a good community man with a quiet sense of humor and an appealing smile. All enjoyed his company He seemed to be always occupied, yet found time for everyone He worked to the end of his life. No one had any suspicion that he was not well - he kept his troubles to himself. For at least twelve months he had been unwell. but the end came quickly, after two days of considerable pain and suffering resulting from a heart attack.
MacDonald was an idealist who sought perfection. He had an amazing capacity for hard work, was kindly, and had unfailing good humor. This gave him a great capacity for making friends and keeping them.
Irish Province News 32nd Year No 3 1957
St. Francis Xavier's, Gardiner Street, Dublin
The recent death of Fr. Daniel MacDonald, at Mungret, was a big loss to Gardiner Street as well as to his own Community. For the past six years he had spent most of the summer doing Church work with us when one or other of the Community was away on retreat or Villa. His wide experience and quiet gentle manner made him very well-fitted for the many calls the “Domi” man can receive, while his zeal and patience meant that he was at the disposal of Father. Minister for any assignment at the shortest notice. May he rest in peace!
Fr Daniel MacDonald (1891-1957)
On Thursday, 9th May Fr. MacDonald had this concluding paragraph in a letter :
“With regard to vacation I think I should not plan anything yet, until I see how things will work out. I am very tired just now, but please God that will pass as this term is not heavy. So we shall see later, perhaps”.
This letter was answered on Saturday, 11th May, and due in Mungret on Monday, 13th May. On that Monday Fr. Dan had a severe heart attack and died next day, Tuesday, 14th May, just one month short of his 66th birthday. That was how things worked out, and there was almost a prescience of it in Fr. Dan's words - “I think I should not plan anything yet”. He felt very tired, and his friends and relatives saw the fatigue when he was in Dublin for the Provincial Congregation at Easter. Moreover, he just casually referred to pains in his chest, and waived aside any idea of their serious nature or of seeing a doctor.
The remains of Fr. Dan were laid to rest in the new cemetery at Mungret, where he had spent the last twelve years of his life. The respect in which he and his family were held was obvious from the number of very representative clergy of the archdiocese of Armagh who made the long journey to Mungret. For many years unto a ripe old age, Fr. Dan's eldest brother was P.P. of Dungannon and Dean and V.G. of the archdiocese. Another brother died as a C.C. many years ago. A nephew is Adm in Dundalk. One of his sisters, Mother Brigid, practically founded the Mercy Convent in Perth, Western Australia. There are two nieces-one Mother Provincial in the Loretto nuns. So Fr. Dan was one of a family that gave much to the Church and to its missions.
Dan MacDonald and the writer of these lines were among the nine who entered the novitiate in Tullabeg in the autumn of 1909. There were sixteen Novices and twenty-three Juniors. The place was drab, the life was stern. There was a Trappist touch everywhere. Fr. Michael Browne was the Baptist proclaiming the way of the Lord, a saintly ascetic figure. Not far behind him on the narrow path that leads to life was the Socius, Fr. Charles Doyle. The latter was more down to earth, and kept the novices hardy with long and tiring manual works. There is no doubt about it, but that Dan MacDonald, right from the start, was just as solid as a rock, as good as gold and as genuine a colleague as could be found. Small, well proportioned, dark swarthy Spanish complexion, slightly aquiline nose, a smile always round the corner of his mouth, Dan was a miniature Ignatius. Let there be no mistake about it, the sterling qualities he showed all through life were there from the beginning. Whatever he was given to do he put everything into it. The noviceship suited Dan, and Dan suited the Jesuit noviceship. There were no frills and side-shows in that novitiate. It gave this solid lad of the North what he wanted-idealism, perfection, and the means to attain them.
Proceeding from Tullabeg in the autumn of 1911, Dan began his University course at Milltown Park, and concluded it in Rathfarnham Castle in 1914, with the B.Sc. degree. Now this course in Mathematical and Experimental Physics made great demands on him. Coming as he did from a classical seminary and with First Arts in his pocket, he set about his new subjects with zest, At that time our courses were arranged by the late Rev. Dr. Timothy Corcoran. He set many of us along the scientific path because the Colleges and the needs of the modern world were calling out for Science. These courses were tough and meant long hours in the University laboratories. It was a great achievement for Dan and we all admired his tremendous capacity for study. The same spirit of hard concentrated work saw him through his abridged course of philosophy in Stonyhurst. World War I broke out in 1914 and several who were destined for philosophy on the continent were disappointed. The loss of a modern language like French or German is of no small consequence to a student of the calibre of Dan MacDonald.
On his return to Ireland in 1916 Dan set out for Australia and spent six years as a most successful teacher of science and mathematics in St. Aloysius School, Sydney. He entered into school life in Australia with tremendous zest. He mastered the games that were all new to him and won the affection of the boys. As in England so in Australia Dan kept his patriotism in its proper place. Ireland was aflame those years (1916-1922), but happenings at home either in his family or in his native land, were never allowed to interfere with his work for souls anywhere. He loved Australia because it was the mission field of the Irish Province. When in the normal course of events he would have returned for theology after five years teaching, he readily volunteered to remain. In that last year after his day's teaching in St. Aloysius he used to go up river to give Science classes at Riverview College. Having come home ir 1922 he was thoroughly equipped for his return to the mission as a priest in 1927.
Theology and tertianship concluded, Fr. Dan did not return to Australia, but set out for the newly founded mission in Hong Kong. There he laboured for twelve years with one very brief period at home due to health. This heroic pioneering work is best described by the Jesuit colleague who witnessed it.
“As I look back over Fr. MacDonald's twelve years in the Hong Kong Mission the outstanding impression is that he had an exceptionally large portion of the hardships of the mission's beginnings. He, with Fr. Gallagher, was to make our first experiments in formal language study during the first six months of 1928 at the Portuguese mission of Shiuhing. The experience then gained was later valuable when we set up our language school at Taai Lam Chung and Fr. MacDonald became its first Superior.
Though from the start he showed a quite exceptional aptitude for the Chinese language, he could not be allowed more than six months of formal study. By September; 1928, in response to the appeal of the harassed Bishop of Canton, the Irish Jesuits undertook the temporary management of the Sacred Heart School in that city. Fr. MacDonald and Fr. Finn were the first to bear the physical hardships, frustrations, and almost daily humiliations involved in that venture. (It was certainly the most trying work that Ours have undertaken in the thirty years of the Hong Kong Mission, and it was largely due to the extraordinary devotedness of these two Fathers that the Hong Kong Mission continued to administer the school for four years, in the teeth of every difficulty, relinquishing it only after the tragic deaths of Frs. Saul and McCullough which took place a few weeks before the date set for our withdrawal from the work.)
Fr. MacDonald had scarcely completed one year of the beginnings in Canton when he was called to face the beginnings of Ricci Hall, He became its first Superior when it was opened to students on 16th December, 1929 and for the next year he also acted as Mission Superior during Fr. George Byrne's absence in Ireland. It was another difficult beginning because he had to create the traditions of discipline among University students who up to then had known no hostels where rules and discipline were taken very seriously. He won the battle by winning the students' affection and Ricci Hall came quickly to be known as the outstanding hostel of the University.
Fr. MacDonald continued as Superior (or Warden') of Ricci Hall until July, 1936. During all these years he continued to study Chinese with, unfortunately, a more than prudent zeal and intensity. He was at it from early morning to late at night, deaf to al the remonstrances of those who saw clearly that such concentration must undermine his health. He became a quite outstanding adept at spoken and written Chinese. But his health so suffered in the process that in 1936, Fr. Kelly had to replace him as Superior of Ricci and he himself was sent back to Ireland to recuperate.
Back in Hong Kong carly in 1937, he spent some months on the staff of the Regional Seminary, Aberdeen, while the new Language School was being built at Taai Lam Chung in the New Territories. When the Language School opened in July, 1937, Fr. MacDonald became its first Superior. It was another beginning and he had to face all the problems of getting suitable teachers, drawing up programmes of study and horaria for our young missionaries coming fresh from Ireland to begin what from that on became the necessary two years' language study preliminary to missionary work. He also took several classes each day so as to help our young missionaries to profit by the work they had to do under the far-from-expert Chinese teachers.
In November, 1938 the Japanese invaded South China and captured Canton. The sufferings and misery in the city were very great and Fr. MacDonald with Fr. G. Kennedy spent several months in Canton on work for the relief of the suffering. His knowledge of Chinese was of immense value to the joint Protestant and Catholic committee which was sent from Hong Kong for that work.
Unfortunately, it was only too clear that the strain of all this work, together with the unceasing concentration all day long on language study at this time he had several secretaries working with him in the composition of a Chinese dictionary - had once more undermined his health. Finally, in July, 1939 he had to withdraw from the Hong Kong Mission and though at home, he continued to work on his Chinese dictionary, that work also had finally to be abandoned.
With his love of the Chinese language, Fr. MacDonald imbibed also a very great love for the Chinese people, and something of their innate courtesy and even modes of thought. They felt that ‘Mok San Foo’ understood them and even those who spoke not a word of English, and who looked on Europeans generally as unpredictable people, were to be seen coming to Ricci or Taai Chung to consult him in their troubles. As you saw him bow, Chinese-fashion, with beautiful courtesy to even the poorest who came to him, and as you listened to him address them in their own language, even with their own peculiar (shall I call them) mannerisms, you felt that here was one who really had made China, its language, its thoughts, its people, his very own”.
Fr. MacDonald on his return to Ireland was stationed at Emo from 1940 to 1945 and in the latter year was transferred to Mungret College, Limerick. Of his life in Mungret a colleague, who had been a fellow novice, writes :
“Fr. MacDonald spent the last twelve years of his life in Mungret. Whether he realised it ot not, when coming in 1945 that return to his great work in China was not to be, he certainly lost no time in settling down to the life of an ordinary member of the teaching staff. He had taught for six years as a Scholastic in Australia, and during twelve years in the East he had well noted the zeal of Chinese boys, when given the opportunity of a secondary education. It is to be feared that the Irish boy did not always measure up to full standard in that respect, but that did not take Fr. Dan by surprise nor depress him unduly, Pretending to be shocked at their lack of zeal, he would tell them very seriously how different things were in the Orient, how the Chinese lad disliked the end of school term and approaching holidays. It was not for holidays they had come to school, It was for education and more education that was what they were paying for. How different!
In the class room he was not what one would call a driver, but he knew the art of good control and could punish for an offence or irregularity in his own effective way, never with undue severity. His diligence in preparation for classes. was truly extraordinary, as witness the volumes of notes, which he left behind, all written with extreme care in his own delightfully legible handwriting. At the end of the year he would contrive to acquire a store of cast off, half used, exercise books. These would supply the material for the notes of the next year.
But it was not only in the boys' studies that he was interested; he was interested in everything concerning them, particularly in their games. In all Weathers he was a constant spectator of the Sunday outmatch - it was one of the few recreations he allowed himself - and he would be sure to be at Thomond Park to cheer the team on. His experience in Australia had given him a keen interest in several games and no little facility in the important work of training teams.
After ten years on the teaching stafi, during which he was Spiritual Father to the Apostolics, he was appointed Superior of the Apostolic School. It seemed an office eminently suited to his gifts of nature and grace, an outlet for his zeal for the foreign mission field. In the second year of his regime the School increased to the record number of 81.
No terms of praise would be too high for Fr. MacDonald's contribution to community life. Though most indulgent as regards others, he seemed to have set himself against any exemption from common life. His quiet sense of humour could see the bright side of most situations, and a little turn of phrase accompanied with his own genial smile left a very pleasant memory, Recreation in his company was pleasant indeed. He was always occupied and yet he had time for everybody-time, as some one said, to suffer fools gladly.
He literally worked to the end. No one in the community had any suspicion that all was not well with him. He kept his troubles to himself. It is now under stood that he had suffered a good deal for at least twelve months, but through it all he had a smile and a helping hand for everybody. Only on 13th May, when he sent for Father Rector and asked to be anointed, was it realised how serious was his condition. The end came quickly. After two days of considerable pain and suffering, patiently and silently borne, he passed to his eternal reward. May he rest in peace”.
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Dan MacDonald 1891-1957
Fr Dan MacDonald in the words of his contemporaries, was a miniature St Ignatius, both in appearance and character.
Born in the Archdiocese of Armagh, he was educated at the Seminary there by the Vincentians. His family gave many members to the Church. His brother was Vicar and Dean of the Archdiocese, his nephew became Administrator of Dundalk.
For the greater portion of his priestly life he laboured in China, being one of the founder members of the Hong Kong Mission. He became a thorough master in the language, and he was engaged in producing a dictionary in Chinese. So intense was his application, both in schools and on the dictionary, that his health broke down and he returned to Ireland. At his death he was in charge of the Apostolic School at Mungret.
He died in harness, asking to be anointed on the 13th May 1957, and he passed to his reward the following day.