Born: 05 March 1925, Edenderry, County Offaly
Entered: 07 September 1943, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1957, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1961, Mungret College SJ, Limerick
Died 04 July 2017, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin
Part of the Clongowes Wood College, Naas, County Kildare community at the time of death.
Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ
by 1977 at St Ignatius College Prep San Francisco CA, USA (CAL) Sabbatical
◆ Jesuits in Ireland :
Paddy Crowe SJ – a quality educator
Paddy Crowe SJ died peacefully on Tuesday morning, 4 July, in the wonderful care, love and compassion of the staff at Cherryfield Lodge Nursing Home, Milltown Park, Dublin 6. At his funeral mass in Milltown Park Chapel on 6 July, former community member and friend Bruce Bradley SJ gave the homily. He was buried in the Community Cemetery in Clongowes, Clane, Co. Kildare.
Born on 5 March 1925 in Edenderry, Co Offaly, Paddy was the oldest boy in a large family. He was educated at Clongowes Wood College SJ in Co Kildare before entering the Society of Jesus in 1943. Early on, it was thought he would make a good professor of philosophy, but he had a more active interest in schools. He soon found himself working in education under various roles. At Clongowes Wood College SJ, for example, he became teacher, prefect, rector, and eventually headmaster.
He served as Director of Education Policy and Education Delegate for the Irish Province and worked at several other schools, including Crescent College SJ and Mungret College SJ in Co Limerick, and Belvedere College SJ, Gonzaga College SJ, and Greendale School in Dublin. Referring to his personality, Fr Bradley said: “He was an extrovert and had such a sense of humour. He was bravely adventurous, who loved to travel, have new experiences and make new friends”.
“Educational value,” Paddy said once, “is based largely on personal contact of good people with the young.” Fr Bradley, who worked with him for many years, noted: “In all the schools where he served, he was demanding and firm, but fair. He lived in the continual tension between the old and the new, always reading, questioning, and seeking to move on”.
One of his former students commented: “You always knew where you stood with Fr Crowe”.
Paddy was consultant to Fényi Gyula Jesuit High School, the only Jesuit school in Hungary, founded in 1994. He was heavily involved in the University of Scranton (USA) Scholarship Scheme, which led in time to his honorary doctorate in education, of which he was justly proud.
Later from 1998 to 2009, he returned to Clongowes where he lived among his Jesuit community; acted as spiritual father for students; assisted in a local parish and ministered to the Holy Family Sisters. His mind remained very alert as his physical health deteriorated. As one friend said of him: “He was a great man to have a conversation with but a terrible man to play scrabble with”. He also retained a great interest in computers and loved using up-to-date devices.
His passing is deeply regretted by his family, Jesuit companions, friends, former colleagues and his many students, some of whom posted warm tributes on Facebook. Fr Bradley concluded: “As Paddy arrives at last at the father’s house, we can rejoice with him and for him. Paddy, go without fear. Amen”.
Early Education at Edenderry NS; Knockbeg College, Carlow; Clongowes Wood College SJ
1945-1948 Rathfarnham - Studying Arts at UCD
1948-1951 Tullabeg - Studying Philosophy
1951-1953 Crescent College SJ, Limerick - Regency : Teacher
1953-1954 Clongowes Wood College SJ - Regency : Teacher; Third Line Prefect; Studying for CWC Cert in Education
1954-1958 Milltown Park - Studying Theology
1958-1959 Rathfarnham - Tertianship
1959-1960 Clongowes Wood College SJ - Lower Line Prefect; Teacher
1960-1965 Mungret College SJ - Prefect of Studies; Teacher
1965-1976 Clongowes Wood College SJ - Prefect of Studies; Teacher
1976-1977 St Ignatius Prep. San Francisco, CA, USA - Sabbatical
1977-1978 Loyola House - Province Special Secretariat
1978-1979 University Hall - Vice Superior; Province Special Secretariat; Director Province Education Policy
1979-1984 Belvedere College SJ - Working in Education; Director Province Education Policy
1980 Headmaster; Teacher; Education Delegate; Colloquium
1984-1987 Campion House - Education Delegate; Director Colloquium
1985 Manager Gonzaga College SJ; Chair Board Gonzaga College SJ; Vice-Superior
1987-1992 Loyola House - Superior; Education Delegate; Director Colloquium
1990 Central Province Admin; Asst Education Delegate; Chair Board Gonzaga College SJ
1992-1995 Clongowes Wood College SJ - Rector; Provincial Team
1995-1998 Belvedere College SJ - Principal of Junior School
1997 Chair Board Cherryfield Lodge
1998 - 2017 Clongowes Wood College SJ - Assists in Clane Parish of St Patrick & St Brigid
1999 Chair Board of Greendale School, Kilbarrack, Dublin
2001 Spiritual Father to Third Line
2006 Ministry to Holy Family Sisters, Clane, Co Kildare
2009 Prays for the Church and the Society at Cherryfield Lodge
◆ The Clongownian, 1977
Father Patrick Crowe SJ
It is doubtful if anyone has had such a varied experience of responsibility in Clongowes as Fr Crowe, our first Headmaster, who left us last summer. He was Third Line Prefect 1953-54, Lower Line Prefect '59-60, Prefect of Studies '65-68, Rector '68-71 and finally Headmaster from '71 to '76. For eleven years, then, his office, if not regal, was at least consular in the Roman sense: he was one of two holding “imperium” in our little state. Anyone in a position to make a “before-and-after” assessment of that period in Clongowes must agree that the many changes which took place have amounted to a transformation. These range from unlocked notice-boards and study. halls to new buildings, from boys distributing their own letters to voluntary Mass on week-days, from entrance exams to self-service in the refectory, from a catering committee to a School Council, from monthly breaks to women teachers, from an integrated staff lunch to a stand-by generator, from cups for tennis, choir and orchestra to work for the poor and aged of the district and the handicapped children in Stewart's hospital, from masters' classrooms to parents' meetings, from social evenings to an O Level year, from boys telephones to a crowded programme of holiday engagements in the college. The degree of Fr Paddy's involvement in these changes varied, of course, from agonising personal decision to mere encouragement of other people's energy and initiative. But the work of any man in government or administration is judged, for credit or condemnation, by what actually took place during his term of office. By that test our first Headmaster when he comes back to visit Clongowes - which we hope he will do very often - will be able, with all the confidence and gratification of Christopher Wren in St Paul's, to look around and see everywhere monuments to his vision and efficiency. His devotedness to visiting the sick and attending funerals will endure in the grateful memory of very many parents and past pupils, the community and teaching staff, and all whom, in a favourite phrase, he liked to call the “Clongowes family”.
◆ The Clongownian, 2017
Father Paddy Crowe SJ : A Quality Educator
Fr Paddy Crowe SJ died peacefully on Tuesday morning, 4th July, 2017 in the wonderful care, love and compassion of the staff at Cherryfield Lodge Nursing Home, Milltown Park, Dublin 6 and was buried in the Community Cemetery in Clongowes, Clane, Co. Kildare. Paddy spent much of his life in Clongowes, first as a pupil and then as teacher, prefect, rector as well as being the first headmaster. At his funeral mass in Milltown Park Chapel on 6th July, former community member and friend Bruce Bradley SJ gave the homily
Herbert McCabe, the English Dominican theologian of Irish descent and a near contemporary of Paddy's, wrote in his book, “Faith Within Reason”, published posthumously in 2007: “The whole of our faith is the belief that God loves us; [...] there just isn't anything else. Anything else we say we believe is just a way of saying that God loves us”. And the corollary of that is that everything we hear in Scripture is the message of God's love. The whole of salvation history, the account of God's interaction with us from the beginning of time, through different epochs, across diverse cultures, expressed in a variety of human literary forms and devices, all of that history recorded in the complex collection we call 'the Bible', carries the same message, finally summarised in St John's heartbreakingly simple phrase of just three words at the end of the New Testament: “God is love”.
Herbert McCabe's fellow-Dominican, the great Flemish theologian Edward Schillebeeckx, prefaced his book on the Church with a memorable anonymous quotation: “People are the words with which God tells his story”. In the Word of God we read at a funeral, we seek to cast light on the human life we are celebrating and to discern the working out of God's love in that life. It's not difficult to see that the leit-motif of Paddy Crowe's story, the leading theme, was education. On one occasion, speaking in this instance about Clongowes - but the remark has much wider application when referred to himself - Paddy said: “We think Clongowes is a good school and to it we are willing to give our time, our energy. our humanity, our lives”. Education, the eliciting of potential and the nurturing of gifts and talents in young lives, is, properly understood, above all a work of creative love. And that is the work to which Paddy gave himself, directly or indirectly, for much of his long, dedicated life.
Clongowes, of course, where he went after the local national school and a period in Knockbeg, looms large in his story. The oldest boy in a large family from Edenderry, to which he remained always attached, he was there as a student in the war years from 1938 to 1943. The records - as is often the case - hardly presage the distinguished career in education that lay ahead of him, although he was clearly an able first division student and produced excellent Leaving Certificate results. He was a prominent and able debater from the beginning and in his second year - perhaps a little harder to imagine but accurately reflecting the interest he always had in music - he was praised for his portrayal of the shy and petite Germaine in the comic opera “Les Cloches de Corneille!”
His keen, enquiring intellect
Having joined the Jesuits straight from school, in the course of his formation he was at one stage envisaged as a future professor of philosophy. That points to his keen, enquiring intellect but it was almost certainly a misreading of his temperamental inclinations and he was destined to more active work in schools for almost all of his life. He served as Third Line Prefect in Clongowes from 1953 to 1954, as Lower Line Prefect from 1959-60, as Prefect of Studies from 1965 to 1968, as Rector in the old days of the Rector Magnificus from 1968 to 1971, as Headmaster from 1971 to 1976, as Rector again from 1992 to 1995 (though by then, as he discovered somewhat to his disappointment, with headmasters now in place to lead the school the role had gone down a bit), and, finally, for the years from 1998 to 2009, as a member of the community and carrying out some duties inside and outside the school, but without the burdens of office which he had carried for so long and at a time when his health was beginning to decline.
“But Clongowes was far from the whole story. Apart from the valuable work he did in other Jesuit schools in Ireland - the Crescent in Limerick; Mungret, where he was Prefect of Studies for five years before moving to the same role in Clongowes; Belvedere, where he served as Headmaster for four years at the beginning of the eighties, after his long stint in Clongowes, and later as Principal of the Junior School in the mid nineties; and Gonzaga, where he was manager for a time - he was also Education Delegate to the Provincial in the 1980s, giving him oversight of all the schools and those who worked in them. In addition, he was heavily involved in these years in promoting what was known as the Colloquium, which brought Jesuit and lay teachers together to talk about their shared aspirations - the kind of dialogue he had come to believe in more and more. It partly explains, too, his great interest in psychology. And I have not mentioned the many organisations and projects and committees beyond the Jesuit sphere to which he made substantial contributions, often in leadership roles, to promote an educational vision and foster its practical application to the actual life of classrooms; or his chairing of the board in Greendale Community School in north Dublin for several years from 1999; or his heavy involvement in the Scranton University scholarship scheme, which led in time to an honorary doctorate in education, of which he was justly proud; and so on. And that list, long as it is, is not exhaustive.
Paddy thought a lot about education and, over his time of leadership in Clongowes, he delivered reflective, well-crafted addresses at the annual past pupils' dinner, expounding his own developing understanding and the need for change. One such speech even made the front page of The Sunday Press! His first administrative appointment was to Mungret in 1960 and he would remain in school leadership continuously until 1976, almost two decades, which finally left him exhausted. This was a period of huge change in ireland and further afield. Paddy was keenly aware of such change and worked hard, reading and consulting widely, to keep abreast of it. in his speech to the Clongowes Union, in the autumn of 1969. he made what must have been one of the earliest references to computers in such a context - computers, as we know, would prove a lifelong passion and his room in Cherryfield became something of a computer graveyard, as latest model succeeded latest model in the relatively confined space, all identified and ordered on-line by Paddy himself! In that speech he also spoke, in the same sentence, of the government's pivotal Investment in Education report and the all-important decree of the Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 'The Church in the Modern World'. The introduction of free education in Ireland, followed by the points system, gradually transformed the system here, asking new questions of Clongowes and all the Jesuit schools. The Church's role in education, as has become so familiar to us now, was beginning to be called into question. Les évènements in Paris in 1968 took place as he was making the transition from Prefect of Studies, in which he had been, in the words of “The Clongownian”, “the architect of aggiornamento”, to the heavier responsibilities of Headmaster.
Personal contact of good people
“Educational value”, he said once, “is based largely on personal contact of good people with the young”. Paddy himself was one such good person and he sought this kind of contact to the extent that he could. Over time, his direct manner, which could be intimidating, softened considerably. In all the schools where he served, he was demanding and firm but fair. One former student was quoted as saying that you always knew where you stood with him. He was never afraid to confront but colleagues and parents found him accessible and often became his good friends. A notable part of his legacy in Clongowes was the effective abolition of corporal punishment, which took full effect after he left. In Belvedere he put an end to streaming just before he completed his term, a no less important change for the atmosphere and culture of a school. Schools, boarding schools especially perhaps, have a tendency to be somewhat conservative places and Paddy was well aware that his modernising policies were the subject of criticism inside and outside the school. He confronted the challenge directly at the Clongowes Union Dinner in 1974. “Meeting many of the older men here”, he said, “sets me thinking of all the things that have changed”. Having listed some of the changes, he asked: “How did it happen? If you like simple answers to complex questions, take your choice: ‘they’ have gone permissive, soft, have no backbone, will not stand out against the rot... As we see it, things began to happen, matters were forced on our attention - we began to listen to others, began to accept an enormously changed world, began to reflect more on what we were trying to do and what in fact we were doing. The Catholic school could easily become a place of comfortable conformity, he had said a year earlier.... Priests and religious do not wish to stay in their schools for this ... We are at the end of Phase | Catholic Education in Ireland. The response of 1814 does not answer the needs of 1973”.
He ended one of his addresses by quoting the inspirational Jesuit General of the time, Father Pedro Arrupe, whose “Men for Others” address in Valencia would soon make its impact on all Jesuit schools: “If our schools are to perform as they should, they will live in continual tension between the old and the new, the comfortable past and the uneasy present”. Paddy, destined to lead schools in a period of extraordinary change, always wanted them to live in that way. That was where he tried to live himself, always reading and questioning and seeking to move on.
Bravely adventurous There is so much more to be said but time does not allow and, despite what you might think, this is not, in the end, intended to be a lecture on the educational career of Paddy Crowe or a mere personal eulogy. Through these - often lonely and taxing - endeavours (and he could get down and discouraged), Paddy was working out his vocation, responding to God's call, telling God's story through his own life. In this very inadequate sketch, I have stressed the educational component and the richness of what he achieved, for particular reasons. From our present vantage-point, Paddy's life easily seems to fall into what we might almost think of as two “halves”. There have been more recently what seem - and certainly seemed to him - like the long years of decline, which weighed so heavily on him, despite the devotion - and even, we have to say, the forebearance! - of Mary Rickard and Rachel McNeill and the staff who cared for him in Cherryfield, since he went there actually less than a decade ago. Even before that, in his last years in Clongowes, as the extrovert that he was, with such an appetite for life and involvement and activity, as a man who was so bravely adventurous and loved to travel and have new experiences and make new friends, as a man used to being in authority and exercising influence and in control, he felt himself”'beached” and on the sidelines and found this very painful. Who knows what heroism he practised, behind the mask of failing powers and old age, as he went, increasingly and inscrutably silent, through all this? And so it is appropriate to correct the balance and beware of forgetting his achievements in the many earlier decades of his life. That's my first reason for laying such emphasis on them now, as the trajectory of that life comes more clearly into focus.
The second reason for thinking about those achievements, which perhaps brings us closer to what Paddy's inner experience was like, is that I think he did not always believe in all the good he had accomplished himself. And, for all his extroversion and his capacity to encourage others and promote development around him, there was a depressive side which showed at times and he was prone to self-doubt or at least to doubt the extent to which his efforts were appreciated by others. For him, on a superficial level at least, the measure of success - and perhaps of approval - was always further worthwhile employment. And when, in the judgment of others though not his own, he was past that, he found it harder to cope.
I began by quoting Herbert McCabe and I want to end with him. Paddy, full of humanity, longed for acceptance and emotional connection with others. In him I sensed that the emotion was often masked behind the brusque, direct, sometimes even abrasive manner. He was hardly aware of this or the degree to which it conditioned some of the responses he evoked in others. I think, to the extent that I knew this or have any right now to make such a surmise (and we lived and worked together in a variety of capacities over many years), in some measure it affected his spirituality and his search for a closer felt relationship with God. The uncertainty of the prodigal son in the parable in Luke's gospel at the reception he might expect from his father when he returned home, the journey on which we are all embarked, sometimes, judging by what he would say himself, seemed to infect Paddy's efforts to pray and to find rest in prayer. Herbert McCabe, interpreting that wonderful, utterly seminal parable in his posthumous book earlier referred to understands the essence of the story of the prodigal not to be the father's forgiveness of the son, but the father's welcoming and celebrating the son's homecoming with a feast. The love shown in this by the father is, for McCabe, analogous to God's love for us, sinners that we are. “His love”, he writes, “does not depend on what we do or what we are like. He doesn't care whether we are sinners or not. It makes no difference to him. He is just waiting to welcome us with joy and love”. As Paddy arrives at last at the Father's house and the banquet of which Isaiah writes so eloquently (Paddy would appreciate that!), the good fight finished (and he was always a fighter) and his race run, we can rejoice with him and for him that he knows the truth of the parable of the returned prodigal and the heavenly Father's welcome now. Now he can say with the psalmist that, through all his endeavours and all his struggles, “I was always in your presence; you were holding me by your right hand” (Psalm 73 1721,23). In the words Pope Francis, a man after Paddy Crowe's heart, likes to use for such a moment, we say to him: “Paddy, avanti senza paura! Go without fear! Amen”.