File 1 - The Jesuit Mission to Ireland 1596-1626

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IE IJA OLD/1

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The Jesuit Mission to Ireland 1596-1626

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  • 1941; 21 June 1954; 13 February 1956 (Creation)

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4 items

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(20 October 1916-24 November 2004)

Biographical history

Born: 20 October 1916, Caherconlish, County Limerick
Entered: 07 September1935, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 28 July 1948, Milltown Park, Dublin
Professed: 02 February 1953
Died: 24 November 2004, St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin - Zambia-Malawi Province (ZAM)

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

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1951 at Rome Italy (ROM) studying
Transcribed HIB to ZAM : 03 December 1969
Bishop of Monze, 24 June 1962. Retired 1992

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
The diocese of Monze was set up on 10 March 1962, an offshoot of the Archdiocese of Lusaka. Fr James Corboy S.J., at that time a professor of theology in Milltown Park, Dublin, Ireland, was appointed to be the first bishop of the new diocese. This new diocese was three-quarters the size of his own country of Ireland. It had a population of a million people, 16% of whom were Catholic. At that time there were 8 mission stations in the whole area centred at Chikuni. It was a daunting task ahead for the new bishop.

Bishop James was born in Caharconlish, Co Limerick, Ireland in 1916. He was the son of a country doctor who lived on a small farm. There he grew up appreciating nature and farming. He attended Jesuit schools and entered the Jesuits in 1935, followed the Jesuit course of studies, arts, philosophy, regency and theology, being ordained priest at Milltown Park on 28th July 1948. After tertianship, he went to the Gregorian University for a doctorate in Ecclesiology. Later as bishop he attended the Vatican Council and became really interested in theology, something that he continued to study passionately throughout his life.

He returned to Milltown Park to lecture and also take charge of the large garden. He always loved pottering around in the garden of any house he lived in. He became rector there in 1962.

At the age of 43 he found himself appointed to be the Bishop of a newly set-up diocese of Monze in Zambia, where the Jesuits had been working since 1905. So on 24th June he was consecrated bishop in Zambia. For 30 years he was the bishop of Monze. The task before him as he saw it was fourfold: development, pastoral work, health and education. He invited a number of congregations to help him in this task. Monze hospital was set up and run by the Holy Rosary Sisters. The Sisters of Charity and the Handmaids were already in the diocese. Presentation Sisters, Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Sisters of Charity of Milan and others entered into pastoral work, and the teaching and healing ministry. The Spiritans, Christian Brothers and John of God Brothers are the chief male religious groups who came to help in various fields.

As early as four years after becoming bishop, he put into effect a project after his own heart – promoting vocations from the people themselves. So in 1966, he built Mukasa, a minor seminary in Choma to foster and encourage young boys who showed an interest in the priesthood. Boys came here not only from the dioceses of Monze but also from, Livingstone, Lusaka and Solwezi. Over 50 Mukasa boys have been ordained priests and several are studying in the major seminaries.

Another project very close to his heart was the establishment of a local congregation of sisters – Sisters of the Holy Spirit – in 1971. The Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary helped out in this venture. These local Sisters are involved in teaching, pastoral work, nursing and formation work among their own people. The last eight years of his life Bishop James spent in Milltown Park, Ireland on the advice of doctors both here and in Ireland. Whenever anyone visited him from here, his first question invariably was: "How are the Holy Spirit Sisters”?

He regularised the eight mission stations as parishes and set up 13 more parishes. Development was another project close to his heart. With the help of Fr Fred Moriarty SJ Monze became the leading diocese in the country in promoting development

People found Bishop Corboy approachable, kind, caring and simple. He spoke simply (deceptively so, some said). He could explain himself in quite simple language, understood by all. He had to learn ciTonga in which he had a passable skill and even that was spoken simply but correctly. He was unassuming. Often in a crowd, one would often ask 'which is the Bishop?'. He loved to pray the Rosary. He was a very shy man and avoided large social gatherings when he could. Inevitably after doing a confirmation he would say, ‘Gosh, I’d love to stay for the celebrations, but I have some important business to get back to in Monze’.

On 24 October 1991 he was called to State House to receive the decoration of Grand Commander of the Order of Distinguished Service for his work in the Monze Diocese.

He retired as Bishop in 1992, worked for four years at St. Ignatius in Lusaka before returning to Ireland because of his blood pressure. A short time before he died in St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, his nephew, Dr John Sheehan, was with him and thought the Bishop looked distressed and asked if he was in pain. Bishop James replied. "No. God bless you, and good bye"! He died on 23 November 2004, aged 88 years.

Note from Patrick (Sher) Sherry Entry
”Sher is a great loss. Apart from his work, he was a great community man”, said the Bishop of Monze. “He was part and parcel of everything that went on in the community. He was interested in parish affairs. He never stinted himself in anything he did. In community discussions he often brought them back to some basic spiritual principle’.

◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/celebrating-bishop-corboy-sj/

Celebrating Bishop Corboy SJ
The life and work of James Corboy SJ, Bishop of Monze, Zambia, was celebrated with the launch of his biography by Sr Catherine Dunne, in the Arrupe Room, Milltown Park on Thursday 24 January. It was a great occasion described by some there as a “reunion of the diocese of Monze”. Over fifty people attended the launch, including members of Bishop Corboy’s family, who had an opportunity to meet many of those who had known him in Zambia.

The Irish Jesuit Provincial, Tom Layden SJ, warmly welcomed the publication of Catherine Dunne’s book, ‘The Man Called James Corboy’, published by The Messenger Office and sponsored by the Irish Jesuit Missions. He recalled meeting Bishop Corboy, whilst studying for his Leaving Certificate at Clongowes, and he remembered how he spoke about the plight of farmers in Zambia with real concern.

The Provincial said reading the book he was struck by the impact Vatican II made on James Corboy and how its vision of the Church as the people of God was always to the fore in everything he did in the Monze diocese. It permeated his leadership style and his sense of purpose, he said.

He also referred to the fact that James was given the Tonga name of “Cibinda”, meaning a wholesome person who knows where he is going and where he is leading others. Listen here to his talk. (http://www.jesuit.ie/content/onsite/irish-jesuit-podcasts/two-funerals-for-jesuit- bishop)

Two of James Corboy’s nieces, Joanne Sheehan and Ann Ryan, painted an intimate picture of their uncle, especially in his later years at Cherryfield, far removed from his beloved Zambia.

Ann recalled how she and he shared a great love of gardening, flowers and muck! She said he also took great interest in the progress of his great nephews and nieces. Indeed, his great-nephews, Josh and Alan, and his great-nieces, Anna and Alice, were all present and received copies of the book from Catherine Dunne.
Joanne Sheehan told of how there had been Jesuits in the Corboy family for nearly 200 years. She said her uncle “gave his whole life to other people and in that way he was a real Jesuit – a true man for others.” But he only ever claimed a tiny role for his work in Zambia acknowledging the tremendous group of Irish people who had made an enormous contribution to the country besides himself.

Damien Burke from Jesuit Archives provided a recording of Bishop Corboy’s own words from 1962 on the occasion of his consecration as Bishop, along with slides from his early life and time in Zambia. In the recording Bishop Corboy said that “Africa owes a tremendous debt to the Irish people” and thanked everyone for their continued prayers and financial support.
Sr Pius, an 89 year old missionary nun who worked with him in Monze, recalled his attempts to teach them about Vatican II on his return from Rome. “He said that the Council changed his life forever, and he talked about ‘communio’ so often. Something about him touched our hearts as he tried to teach us about the Second Vatican Council – even us ‘noodley’ heads were moved.” She said he valued people and valued particularly the wisdom of women. “We owe him a great debt.”
Sr Catherine Dunne also spoke and read an appreciation of the book from Sr Rosalio of the Holy Spirit Sisters, the order founded by the Bishop with the assistance of Catherine herself.
She said she was encouraged to know the book meant so much to people because, “many’s a time whilst writing it I heard his voice from behind me saying ‘have you nothing better to do with you time?’ I’m glad I didn’t heed that voice now”.
After the launch and a celebratory lunch, Sr Catherine spoke in depth to Pat Coyle of the Jesuit Communication Centre about ‘This Man Called James Corboy”: Listen here : (http://www.jesuit.ie/content/onsite/irish-jesuit-podcasts/the-man-from-monze).

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 37th Year No 3 1962

GENERAL
On April 18th the midday news from Vatican Radio contained the announcement that Fr. James Corboy, Rector of Milltown Park, had been appointed bishop-elect of the newly-created diocese of Monze, Northern Rhodesia.
The bishop of Monze entered the Society at St. Mary's, Emo, in 1935.. and from 1937 to 1941 studied at U.C.D., where he obtained his M.A. Degree in Irish History. He studied Philosophy at Tullabeg and taught at Belvedere 1944-45. His Theology was done at Milltown Park, where he was ordained in July 1948. After his Tertianship at Rathfarnham, he attended the Gregorian University, where he obtained the D.D. in Dogmatic Theology. Since 1952 he has been Professor of Fundamental Theology and Rector since 1959.
The diocese of Monze comprises the mission area assigned to our Province in 1957 and, before its constitution as a separate entity, formed part of the archdiocese of Lusaka.
Bishop Corboy left Ireland on May 31st for Rome and thence to Rhodesia. The consecration has been fixed for June 24th at Chikuni and the consecrating prelates are Most Rev. Adam Kozlowiecki, S.J., Arch bishop of Lusaka, Most Rev. Francis Markall, S.J., Archbishop of Salisbury, and Right Rev. Timothy O'Shea, O.F.M.Cap., Bishop of Livingstone.
The Province and the Mission received with great joy the news of the erection of the diocese of Monze and of the election of its first bishop, who can be assured of the good wishes and prayers of all for a long, happy and fruitful pastorate.

Milltown Park
It was during the same week that news came of the appointment of our Rector, Fr. Corboy, to the newly-created diocese of Monze. Our pleasure at this compliment to Fr. Corboy and at the progress it signifies in the development of Rhodesia was marred only by our regret to be losing so kind and capable a Superior. A special lecture was organised on May 9th, the proceeds of which were presented to the bishop-elect. We are grateful to Fr. Moloney of the Workers' College for speaking on the title “Education for Marriage, 1962”. At a reception afterwards in the Retreat House Refectory, the Ladies Committee and the Men's Committee both made presentations to Dr. Corboy. A dinner was given in his honour on May 23rd and after it several speeches were made. Fr. Patrick Joy, Acting Rector, took the opportunity to assure Dr. Corboy of the continuing support of all those associated with Milltown, including the Ladies Committee. Fr. Brendan Barry, having prefaced his remarks with the words “Egredere de domo tua”, congratulated the mission on the erection of the new diocese and the election of its bishop. Fr. Tom Cooney then rose to voice on behalf of the missionaries their pleasure at welcoming one so young and capable to the government of Monze diocese. In fact he had to apologise for mistaking the bishop-elect a few days previously for a scholastic. In more serious vein, he went on to trace for us the history of the whole question of the Province's responsibility for a mission territory, since the appointment of a bishop has always been the corollary to that issue. He told us that it all went back to before the war, when it still seemed that we could expand in China. When that proved impossible there was question either of a territory in Rhodesia or of educational work in Malaya. Eventually it was Fr. General who decided on our taking responsibility in Rhodesia. Fr. Cooney viewed Dr. Corboy's appointment in the light of all that development and he wished to pay tribute to the constant generosity of the home Province, towards Australia, the Far East and Rhodesia. Fr. Kevin Smyth spoke on behalf of the Faculty, remarking that he was glad to note the departure from usual practice in selecting the bishop not from the canonists but, as he said, from the theologians. To the speeches of the upper community Mr. Guerrini, our Beadle, added his “small voice” on behalf of the scholastics. He proposed his tribute in the form of a thesis. This thesis, he said, was theologically certain, since it met with the constant and universal consent of the Theologians - not to mention the Fathers. There were no adversaries, and he went on to prove his point from the experience of the last few years. Dr. Corboy then spoke. He expressed his attachment to Milltown and of the debt of gratitude he felt towards all who had worked with him in Milltown. He commended the diocese of Monze to our prayers.

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M.A. thesis by James J Corboy SJ, entitled 'The Jesuit Mission to Ireland 1596-1626' at the faculty of Modern History, UCD (2 copies, 248pp each) (1941) with separate bibliography and index (34pp). Also includes letter from Dr R Dudley Edwards, UCD and Fr Jerome Mahony SJ concerning ‘Lord Justice Loftus’ and ‘Carew’ (5pp) (21 June 1954), and letter from Fr Jerome Mahony SJ to Fr Roland Burke Savage SJ that he has completed Menelogy up to 1800 (13 February 1956).

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The Irish Jesuit Archives are open only to bona fide researchers. Access by advance appointment. Further details: [email protected]

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No material may be reproduced without the written permission of the Archivist. Copyright restrictions apply. Photocopying is not available. Digital photography is at the discretion of the Archivist.

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