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Troddyn, Peter M, 1916-1982, Jesuit priest
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Dates of existence
23 May 1916-27 November 1982
Born: 23 May 1916, Rathgar, Dublin
Entered: 30 September 1933, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 19 October 1947, Clonliffe College, Dublin
Final Vows: 15 August 1951, St Francis Xavier, Gardiner Street, Dublin
Died: 27 November 1982, University Hall, Hatch Street Lower, Dublin
Older Brother of Billy Trodden - RIP 1984
by 1939 at St Aloysius Jersey Channel Islands (FRA) studying
◆ Irish Province News 58th Year No 2 1983 & ◆ The Belvederian, Dublin, 1984
Fr Peter M Troddyn (1916-1933-1982)
Peter was born in Dublin on 23rd May. 1916. He was the eldest of six children, five boys and one girl. His father, a civil servant, was a native of Maghera in Derry; his mother, née Walsh, was from near Ballina in Mayo. All Peter's uncles, his mother's brothers, were boys at Clongowes in the early years of this century. His initial schooling was under the direction of a Miss Haynes, a devout Church of Ireland teacher, and her two Catholic assistants. This little school was about one hundred yards from Peter's home in Rathgar. There he met, for the first time, one who was to be a fellow-Jesuit and life long friend, the late Fr Dick Ingram.
For a few years after leaving Miss Haynes's Academy Peter continued his education under the Irish Christian Brothers in their schools in Synge street, then a penny tram-ride from his home. In the autumn of 1929 his parents made a decision which was to affect his whole life. Peter and his two brothers, Billy and Gerald, entered Belvedere College.
Athair Diarmuid Ó Laoghaire writes of Peter as a boy at Belvedere:
“While he did not play games, he was a faithful member of the Cycling Club and an enthusiastic, talented photographer. He was active, too, in the Debating Society and in An Cumann Gaelach, of which he was a founding member. One memory of him is abiding: from his arrival in the school, he was an inveterate “asker of questions”. In this the child was father of the man; to the end Peter's keen intellectual curiosity was a noted characteristic: Over the years I myself have frequently witnessed his struggles with abstruse mathematical, Theological and even historical problems. He was all his life a seeker and searcher for truth.
In February 1933, Peter's father died. This proved to be a turning point in Peter's life. It was decided that he should sit for the Civil Service Examinations for Junior Executive Grade and at the same time complete his Leaving Certificate Course at Belvedere. Shortly after his , 17th birthday he passed both examinations with honours. However, during the Summer months which followed, he made up his mind to become a Jesuit and he entered our Novitiate at St Mary's, Emo, on 30th September 1933. He was one of seven Belvederians to do so in that year.
His noviceship came to an end on 1st October, 1935, when he made his first vows. He spent the three following years in the Juniorate at Rathfarnham Castle. He graduated from the National University, receiving his BA (Hons) in Maths 2014 Maths Physics. He was one of three to do so in 1938; the late Fr Dick Ingram and Fr Ted Collins of Hong Kong made up that distinguished trio.
While in the judgement of his contemporaries he would have benefited from further studies at the University, it was decided that he should start his philosophy course at the French House in Jersey. Here he spent one golden year, a year he often spoke of with affectionate appreciation. Everything appealed to him, the stimulating lectures of the Professors, the congenial company of the French scholastics, the climate, the diet and the all-round liberating régime. Here too, was kindled his love for France and things French. In later years he would return to France to carry on, for over twenty years, a hidden apostolate in a Paris suburb.
The outbreak of the Second World War on 3rd September, 1939, brought about the recall of Peter and his four fellow Irish Scholastics to Tullabeg. Philosophy as an academic discipline appealed to him and he excelled in it. And, as in the he played a full and useful part in all the activities of his fellow philosophers', games apart.
For two years, from 1941, he taught mathematics in Belvedere, edited the Belvederian and presided over the Senior Debating Society. He also obtained his Higher Diploma in Education. Then he spent one year at the Crescent teaching and prefecting and refereeing rugby matches for the very young boys! In addition, he was in charge of the new school hall, where his practical knowledge of electricity was a decided asset! In both Colleges he won the hearts of many a youth by his patience and his kindly interest in their boyish affairs.
He arrived in Milltown Park in Autumn of 1944 to commence his studies. Here his health began to deteriorate. He was rushed to hospital and underwent major surgery on 29th July, the eve of the Ordination Day 1947. He recovered slowly and was ordained privately at Clonliffe College by the late Archbishop John C. McQuaid on 19th October, 1947. He offered his first Mass in the Convent Chapel attached to Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross.
But illness dogged him. He was unable to complete his Theology and retired to do light work in 35, Lower Leeson Street, and to Clongowes in the summer term of 1949. In the autumn of . that year he began his Tertianship. This final year of formation proved a trial for him, but he persevered until ill health forced him to retire once more, this time to Milltown Park where he took his final examinations successfully just before Christmas 1950.
Fr Peter arrived as a member of the Community attached to St Francis Xavier's church, Gardiner Street, in January 1951. On 15th August of that year Peter, he made his final profession. During the next eleven years Peter held posts of varying importance. He was for a time Assistant to the Province Treasurer, he preached frequently in the Church and during the Novena of Grace and always to appreciative audiences. Fr Daniel Shields takes up the story: “I was in the St Francis Xavier Community during the years when Fr Peter was in charge of the building of the present St Francis Xavier Hall. He was faced with many problems, not least, the financial problem, How was he to raise the large sums required to meet not only the building costs, but also the cost of installing modern theatre and stage equipment, seating, etc. Fr Peter with the expertise of a Rothschild banker came to the rescue. He devised a system of weekly “draws” which were so attractive and so widely supported, that the money so raised financed the entire undertaking. When the Hall was completed, Fr Peter recruited a group of voluntary helpers. These included skilled carpenters, painters, engineers, light and or sound experts and even a tailor! Fr Peter became the friend and Father of each. They came to him with all their problems, not least their religious problems. It is unbelievable the trouble he took in finding real solutions to a wide variety of such problems.
Fr Peter then turned is attention to providing accommodation for the members of the Pioneer Club, who had formerly been housed in the original Fr Cullen's Pioneer Hall in Sherrard street. He purchased a fine Georgian house on the East side of Mountjoy Square and had the entire building renovated, decorated and equipped to a high standard, The proceeds of his Weekly Draws' helped to finance this project also. The St Francis Xavier Hall and the Pioneer Club - Fr Cullen House - stand today }s monuments to Peter's financial genius, to his foresight and above all to his loyalty to his fellow co-operators and friends.
An tAthair Proinsias 0 Fionnagáin re- calls another activity of Peter's which, as has been mentioned, started in 1951: 'He undertook annually pastoral work at Gonesse, a parish north of Paris. There he won the trust and the approval of the Curé who invited him back year after year down to 1969. For two years he continued his summer pilgrimage, first at Milly-la-Forêt and then in Brittany, whither the Curé, for reasons of health, had retired. For the next three years, Fr Peter was too occupied with editorial problems to undertake any trips abroad. During his own time in France, Fr Frank met some of Peter's former fellow philosophers from his Jersey days. They all spoke of his gifts of mind and heart.
On the Status, 1962, Fr Peter found himself transferred to Clongowes as a teacher of Maths. He was then in his forty-seventh year, had been out of the classroom for seventeen years and was in very indifferent health. It proved to be a mistake. After two years it was my pleasure to welcome him as a member of the Jesuit team then manning the young College of Industrial Relations. He stayed with us until the Spring of 1966 when at the request of his old friend, Fr R Burke-Savage, he joined the Leeson Street Community as “Collaborator in Studies”. Incidentally, his religious Superior was none other than his erst- while companion at Miss Haynes's Academy forty years before - the late Fr Dick Ingram.
An tAthair Proinsias resumes: On his appointment in 1967 to the editorship of Studies - it might have been thought that he had neither sufficient experience nor. qualifications for that important position. His Provincial, Fr Brendan Barry, how ever, judged him to be eminently qualified and how splendidly justified was Fr Barry's judgement!
Peter proved to be an editor to the manor born. His was a fastidious sense of good English. The Autumn issue of Studies, 1968, left no doubt as to the accuracy of his judgement concerning the changes taking place in Ireland in the euphoria of the prosperous 'sixties. “Post-Primary education, now and in the future - A Symposium” - proved a brilliant success. Over 5,000 copies of this issue were sold. On this occasion Fr Peter showed himself to be a peritus among the periti.
For six more years, Studies under Peter's editorship maintained the highest standards of readable scholarship. In deed, the very excellence of succeeding issues concealed the nagging financial problems and worries and the wretched health that continued to affect the conscientious Editor. He continued the unequal struggle until the Spring of 1974, when he felt obliged to lay down his pen and vacate the Editor's chair.
His association with University Hall and with its students, which had begun in the Spring of 1966, now continued, Fr Jack Brennan writes: ‘Peter was happy in the Hall ... Surprisingly, perhaps, in such a private person, he enjoyed time spent with the students. He was extremely patient in listening to them. His advice was sure and often took pragmatic turns that sprang from his wide knowledge of fields in which they were concerned. His tolerance was of a high degree, and, occasionally he would inter cede in a caring way on behalf of a student who was in 'hot water'. For him the faults or failings of another were never the whole story. His sense of loyalty - often involving a considerable amount of work on his part - towards the students as well as towards his family being able to share some of his good and friends was striking. Confidentiality was also a key quality of his.
One very close to him all his life writes: “A thing that always struck me about Peter was his kindness to the domestic staff in the Houses in which he lived. I used to notice this whenever I came to visit him. They would speak of him very appreciatively and tell me about the many good turns he did them”. Fr Shields concurs with this: “The staff of St Francis Xavier's Hall looked on Peter as their friend. And when he left the Hall, they were lonely and upset, Meeting me, they would say, ‘Father, when is Fr Troddyn coming back?’" Such touching appreciation needs no comment. Nor did this characteristic escape Fr Jack Brennan's observation; “The domestic staff at the Hall held Fr Peter in high regard; they were glad to be able to attend to his simple wants with real affection”
There is one virtue which this very private person could not conceal from those few who knew him intimately. Peter was a genuinely humble man - a man who, with St Paul “in labours, in knowledge, in long suffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Spirit, in charity unfeigned, in the word of truth", showed himself a true Minister of God'. He had to carry the cross of poor health for most of his working life with the humiliations, misunderstandings and frustrations attached to it. His judgements and opinions did not always receive the consideration they deserved. Apart from St Francis Xavier's Hall and Fr Cullen House, his plans and dreams were seldom actualised. These apparent “failures' provided him with opportunities for the practice of humility and consequent self effacement. He was always more ready to blame himself than to question the wisdom of others.
Some final thoughts occur to me. Personal friendships meant a great deal to him, not for what he himself could get abut for the joy he felt at being able to share some of his good his advice or practical knowledge with someone, however lowly, in need. This must have helped him to a more correct appreciation of God's gifts to him self and of his duty as a Christian to help other members of the Body of Christ.
From his many serious illnesses, Peter grew in self knowledge and also in awareness of the care which the sick and convalescent needed. He demanded high standards of care for anyone ill and showed his concern and displeasure if he thought that those who were sick were neglected in even the smallest way. His genuine concern was shown clearly in daily visits, in all weathers, for three and a-half years until her death, to an aged aunt in Our Lady's Hospice. The staff and other patients admired his faithful kindness and concern for her welfare.
If I or other contributors to this obituary have said very little about Peter the Jesuit, it is because we have no reason to stress what was obvious to us all. As has been well said: “Peter was a Jesuit in the authentic lgnatian mould”. Ever an avid reader, he kept in touch with “Jesuitica” and like so many of his generation found it difficult to accept some manifestations of the new “pluralism”.
May the good Lord, who is gentle and lowly in heart, welcome Peter into the new home prepared with exquisite care for all who love and serve his heavenly Father.
Edmond Kent SJ
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Type of relationship
Troddyn, Peter M, 1916-1982, Jesuit priest
Dates of relationship
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Place access points
- County Laois (Queen's) » Emo » St Mary's (Emo)
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Hatch Street Lower » University Hall SJ
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Great Denmark Street » Belvedere College SJ
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Rathgar
- County Wexford » New Ross » Craywell » Mountgarrett Lane » Christian Brothers School
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Rathfarnham » Rathfarnham Castle
- County Dublin » Dublin City » St Stephen's Green (Dublin) » University College, Dublin
- France » Paris
- County Offaly (King's) » Ballycowan (Bar.) » Tullabeg » St Stanislaus College
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Drumcondra » Clonliffe Road » Holy Cross College (Dublin)
- County Dublin » Dublin City » Lower Leeson Street » St Ignatius House of Writers
- County Kildare » Clane » Clongowes Wood College SJ
- England » Lancashire » St Aloysius College
- France » Brittany
- France » Île-de-France » Gonesse
- France » Essonne » Milly-la-Forêt
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