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Mission Superior Zambia (N. Rhodesia)

Byrne, Thomas, 1904-1978, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/82
  • Person
  • 30 November 1904-03 August 1978

Born: 30 November 1904, Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin
Entered: 31 August 1922, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1933, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1941, St Mary’s, Emo, County Laois
Died: 03 August 1978, Coláiste Iognáid, Galway

Older brother of Patrick Byrne - RIP 1968

by 1935 at Aberdeen, Hong Kong - working
Father Provincial of the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 15 August 1947-30 July 1953.
Mission Superior, Hong Kong, 09 May 1957
Father General's English Assistant (Substitute), at Rome Italy (ROM) 1962

◆ Hong Kong Catholic Archives :
Death of Father Thomas Byrne, S.J.
R.I.P.

Father Thomas Byrne, Superior of the Hong Kong Jesuits from 1957 to 1960, died in Ireland on 3 August 1978, aged 73.
Father Byrne was born in Ireland in 1904. He joined the Jesuits in 1922 and was ordained priest in 1933. In 1934, the Irish Jesuit Province lent him to Hong Kong, where he taught Philosophy (1934-1936) and Dogmatic Theology (1936-1939) at the Regional Seminary, Aberdeen. He returned to Ireland in 1939 to complete his Jesuit training.

After a period as Master of Novices, he was appointed provincial Superior of the Irish Jesuit Province.
He returned to Hong Kong as Superior of the Hong Kong Jesuits in 1957. In 1960, he was summoned to Rome to be Assistant to the Jesuit Superior General (1960-1963). In his last years he was assistant priest at St. Ignatius Church, Galway, Ireland.
Sunday Examiner Hong Kong - 11 August 1978

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
Educated at O’Connell’s School Dublin, he Entered the Society in 1922 at Tullabeg. He obtained a BSc and MSc and then did Philosophy at Milltown Park. He then went straight from Philosophy to Theology
In 1936 he was sent to the Regional Seminary at Aberdeen as Professor of Dogmatic Theology.
In 1939 he returned to Ireland to make Tertianship and was then sent to Tullabeg to teach Philosophy.
In 1945 he was appointed Master of Novices
In 1947 he was appointed Provincial of the Irish Province
In 1957 he was appointed Superior of the Hong Kong Mission

During his term as Provincial (1947-1953) he sent many Jesuits to Hong Kong, and then in 1951 he started the Irish Jesuit Mission to Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). He also saw the needs in Singapore and Malaysia and sent Jesuits to work there - like Kevin O’Dwyer, who built St Ignatius Church in Singapore; Patrick McGovern who built St Francis Xavier Church in Petaling Jaya, and also Liam Egan, Gerard (Geoffrey?) Murphy and Tom Fitzgerald. He opened the Novitiate in Cheung Chau in 1958, starting with 10 Novices.

In 1960 he was brought the Roman Curia as the English Assistancy Assistant to Father General, and held this role until 1965.
In 1965 he returned to Ireland and teaching Theology at Milltown Park.

He was an intellectual. His social contribution in public committees included the housing Authorities and Discharged Prisoners Society.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 53rd Year No 4 1978

Galway
The death of Fr Thomas Byrne on August 3 came as a great shock. He became unwell after dinner on August 2. When the doctor saw him, he ordered him into hospital immediately. His heart condition worsened that evening, and he died on the morning of August 3, R.I.P. The funeral Mass was on August 5. Dr Eamonn Casey, Bishop of Galway, presided. The Provincial, Fr Patrick Doyle, the Rector and Parish Priest, Fr Robert McGoran, and Fr Bernard Murray, were the chief concelebrants. Very many members of the Province travelled to Galway to pay their last respects to Fr Byrne.
Herewith is a tribute by Fr McGoran to Fr Byrne in the September issue of the Parish Newsletter
“Hardly had we recovered from the sense of loss at the death of Fr Jack Kerr, when God took to himself a second member of our Parish team, Fr Tommy Byrne. Although Fr Byrne had had a rather severe operation last February, he appeared to be holding his own in recent months - although everyone noticed that he had slowed down a great deal. However, for a week or two before his death he was visibly failing; yet he remained faithful to his parish duties right up to the eve of his death.
During his eight years here in Galway, Fr Tommy endeared himself to all the parishioners, and many felt his death as the loss of a close friend, and one who felt for them in their cares and difficulties. He was untiring in his visitation of families and utterly devoted in ministering to the sick and the aged. He took a keen personal interest in the families entrusted to this care and had a very special way with children. He was a kindly and encouraging man and seemed able to forget his own ailments in his solicitude for other people”.

Another tribute is paid by Fr Desmond O'Loghlen in the July/August issue of the Jesuits in Zambia News. Sincere thanks to him for it.
“Fr Thomas Byrne did not spend long in Africa, only three months. Nevertheless the occasion of his death calls for grateful remembrance of his lasting contribution of the Jesuit Mission effort in Zambia, To this end we may make use of a report on the Chikuni Mission written in 1967 for the Sociological Survey of the Society. (It should be borne in mind that at that time the Lusaka Mission and the Chikuni Mission had not yet amalgamated to form the Vice Province, but were still separate, attached to the Polish and Irish Provinces respectively).
Fr Thomas Byrne Irish Provincial at the time) arrived to visit Northern Rhodesia (as it then was) in April 1952. He spent about three weeks in Africa, met the Apostolic Administrator (Very Rev Adam Kozlowiecki SJ) and the Regional Superior (Very Rev Marian Folta SJ) and saw all the Irish Jesuits in the country. Fr Byrne was the Provincial, who, in 1950, had taken the generous step of Officially pledging the Irish Province to help the Mission. On his initiative nine new members, (eight priests and one brother) joined the Mission in 1950, and eight more in 1951 (five priests, two scholastics, and one brother) and others followed yearly. From this visit of Fr. Provincial, in consultation with the Apostolic Administrator and the Regional Superior, emerged the main lines of development followed by the Irish Jesuits for the next ten years, through the establishment of the Chikuni Mission in 1956 up to the establishment of the Diocese of Monze in 1962.
Plans were made to continue the pastoral and educational work already built up around Chikuni by Frs Moreau, Zabdyr, Prokoph, and others. Three new stations had been already started at Chivuna, Kasiya, and Fumbo. Plans were also made for pastoral coverage of Mazabuka, Monze, Choma, Kalomo, with an eventual westward thrust to Namwala. Provision was made for Irish Jesuits to work in Lusaka.
Fr Byrne again visited the Mission in 1963, now as Assistant of the English Assistancy, and took deep interest and evident satisfaction in the progress of the work, which owed so much to his earlier initiative. At this time he explored views about the possible union in one Province of the Jesuit Missions in Zambia and Rhodesia. However, this project was halted by the declaration of UDI to the south of us, and subsequent developments.
In December 1969, when the Zambia Vice-Province was established, Fr Thomas Byrne was an honored guest at an informal gathering in Dublin to mark the occasion. We can trust, now that he is in Heaven, his interest and his benign influence will continue to benefit the work in Zambia. May he rest in peace”.

Obituary :

Fr Thomas Byrne (1904-1978)

On August 3rd Father Tom Byrne died at Galway, where for nearly eight years he had been engaged on Parish work. This period in Galway was the peaceful, retired conclusion to an exceptionally active, varied and front-line work as a Jesuit.
Father Tom Byrne was born at Dun Laoire on November 30th 1904. He entered Tullabeg as a novice on August 31st 1922. Having pronounced his First Vows on September 1st 1924 at Tullabeg, he passed through the rest of the scholasticate training in Ireland: from Rathfarnham he studied Science at UCD (1924-1927); 1927 to 1934 were spent studying Philosophy and Theology at Milltown Park, where he was ordained priest on July 31st 1933. He completed his Tertianship at Rathfarnham: 1939-1940.
From the end of his Tertianship in 1940 to his commencement of parish work in Galway in 1970, Father Tom Byrne was a “specialist” in one form or another. He was Lecturer in Sacred Scripture and Dogma in the Regional Seminary, Hong Kong: 1934-1939. He lectured in Philosophy in Tullabeg 1941-1945; 1953-1957. He was Master of Novices in Emo for two years (1945-1947). He was Provincial in Gardiner Street from 1947 to 1953: and it was by his enterprise and decision that the “mission” in what is now part of the Vice-Province of Zambia was begun by the opening of the Irish Mission at Chikuni: eight priests and one brother reached Chikuni from Ireland in August 1950. They began at once to work in the Mission Church at Chikuni, to open “mission stations” further afield, and to staff Canisius College which rapidly developed to become a splendid Secondary School. For many years after our arrival at Chikuni there was only one other Secondary school in “Northern Rhodesia” (now Zambia): the Government Secondary school Munali in Lusaka.
Father Byrne visited us within a few years of 1950 and continued generously to send brothers, scholastics and priests, so that Ireland's commitment in what is now the Vice-Province of Zambia developed rapidly.
After his second period as Lecturer in Tullabeg - after being Provincial - (1953-1957), Father Tom Byrne went to be Superior in the Hong Kong Mission. He remained in this Office until 1960 when he went to Rome for five years as English Assistant, substituting for Father J Swain who was Vicar General (1960-1965).
Father Tom Byrne was Prefect of Studies and Spiritual Father in Milltown Park from 1965 to 1968. There followed two years in Tullabeg as Spiritual Director of the Sisters there (1968 to 1970). In 1970 he moved to take up the parish work in Galway which occupied the last eight years of his work-filled life.

One of his many admirers - Father Harold Naylor, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, writes:
“As a philosopher in Tullabeg I remember being impressed by the vigour of the religious observance of ‘Tommy’ who was then professing Psychology. He was the first at Morning Oblation at 6 am. I met him again in 1977 in Galway and found the same man I had always known, with alert mind and zealous heart. Assistant to the Parish Priest in St Ignatius, he was always ready to hear confessions and take calls at the door to help people. I noticed something else which is not common in Jesuits of over forty - he had great hope in the future of the Church and of the Society. He had well assimilated the thrust of the Second Vatican Council, and made his own the content of the last two General Congregations. He was at home in the new Church, and the modern Society and had no nostalgia for the past. He could appropriate to himself our new life style and see every advantage in it. I sometimes wondered if this was not partly due to what he taught on obedience of the intellect, and to a real self abnegation, seeing the Will of God in everything and having the real spirit of Ignatian indifference ...”
See also the special tributes included in the contributions from Galway, tributes from Galway and Zambia.

Irish Province News 54th Year No 1 1979

Galway

Fr Thomas Byrne RIP
We are greatly indebted to an unnamed contributor to the Hong kong Vice-Province Letter/August, 1978, for the following account of Fr Thomas Byrne's life. Sincere thanks to him. The account arrived too late for inclusion in the October issue of the Province News,
Fr Thomas Byrne, Superior of the Hong Kong Mission from 1957 to 1960, died on 3rd August, after a few hours of illness, aged 73. The following account of his life has been contributed by one who knew him well.
Though he is a major figure in the history of the Hong Kong Jesuits, Fr Thomas Byrne spent in all only eight years here. For information about his pre-Jesuit years, his forty-five Jesuit years in Ireland, and his three years in Rome, I have had to rely on vague memories and hearsay. Much must be left vague, and some details may be inaccurate. .
He was born on 30th November 1904, and was educated at O’Connell’s School, Dublin. In 1922, he entered the novitiate at Tullabeg, where he had as contempararies R Harris, C Daly, and G Casey. As a junior, he did a brilliant BSc. He later - during his philosophy at Milltown Park, I think tried for a travelling studentship (in Philosophy?), but was beaten, to the surprise of many, by the Clonliffe student who, as Fr. Boyland, was to leave the Dublin Archdiocese to become a Carthusian.
Mr. Tommy Byrne, already destined for a professorial chair, did no “colleges”, and went straight from philosophy to theology. He came, I think, to regret this gap in his formation, especially when appointment as a major superior made him responsible for the well being of many schools.
He was ordained priest on St Ignatius Day, 1933. In 1934, the Regional Seminary, Aberdeen, found itself critically short of staff. The Irish Provincial, Fr L Kieran, lent Fr Byrne to Hong Kong, on the understanding that, when the Seminary could spare him, he should return to Ireland to do his tertianship and then settle down there as a professor, probably of philosophy. He came to Hong Kong, by ship of course, with Fr H Craig and two scholastics, F Cronin and T Sheridan, and for his first two years taught philosophy in the Seminary.
Since he had not come as a permanent member of the Mission, it was taken for granted that he should not even attempt to learn Cantonese - another gap in his formation that he was to regret in later years.
In 1936, he became professor of dogmatic theology in the Seminary. It was in that year that I first met him. I still feel gratitude for the warmth of the welcome he gave me on my arrival in Hong Kong. By then he had developed to the full his aptitude for giving lengthy analysis of any subject that might turn up - the state of the world, the calling of a bridge-hand, St Jerome’s outlook on bishops, or his own outlook on his duties as minister. This may suggest that he had turned into a bore. The suggestion is false. He was interested in your views as well as in his own, and he was unaffectedly delighted when you knocked him off his perch. This made all the difference.
He went to Ireland for tertianship in 1939, making no secret of his wish to return to Hong Kong if possible. However, when his tertianship ended, the course of World War II had made immediate return impossible. After tertianship, Fr Byrne went to Tullabeg to teach philosophy. In 1945 he was appointed Master of Novices.
He was appointed Provincial of the Irish Province in 1947. By then the world was beginning to settle down after the confusion and frustration of war and its aftermath. The time called for initiative, and Fr Byrne was ready to initiate. In the course of his provincialate the Manresa Retreat house and the Workers' College (now the College of Industrial Relations) were opened, and the Irish Province accepted a new mission in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Not since the legendary days of Fr Sturzo had any Irish Provincial added so much to the work of the province.
I myself left Ireland soon after Fr Byrne's appointment. I therefore know little about his administration or his dealings with individuals. I do remember an aged fountain of ideas. Fr R Devane,
saying rather sadly: “At last there is a Provincial who will listen to me; but I am too old now". There are rumours that scholastics were put off by Fr Byrne's highly characteristic habit of gazing into the middle distance and musing on the nature of things or giving gnomic advice. Presumably they felt inhibited from knocking him off his perch - unfortunate but inevitable.!
At the end of his term as Provincial, Fr Byrne returned to Tullabeg, and seemed likely to spend the rest of his days there. Then in 1957, to the surprise of the most highly skilled forecasters, he was appointed Superior of the Hong Kong Mission. He returned with delight; an eighteen-year-old dream had come true.
Neither Hong Kong nor Singapore was in great need of initiative. In Hong Kong, the two new Wah Yans had been built shortly before, and it would have been difficult to find staff for new works. In Singapore, the plans laid in the earlier 50s were moving towards fulfilment. In Malaysia, however, things were still tentative. The cancellation of a government invitation to undertake a major work faced the Superior with the decision: to go forward or to retreat. Fr Byrne decided to go forward. Perhaps nothing in his superiorship interested him more deeply than the problems of Petaling Jaya. A grasp of the geography of Kuala Lumpur and its environs became necessary for anyone who wanted to understand his conversation.
In Hong King, Fr Byrne’s main task was to encourage the work that was being done by individuals and institutions. For himself, he took up the work of public committees - the Housing Societry, the Discharged Prisoners Aid Society and so on. In Ricci Hall, where he lived, he quickly made many friends among the students. Equally quickly he made himself a welcome guest in all Jesuit houses. When he had to act as Superior he was unmistakably the Superior. At other times, like a famour duke, “he never remembered his rank unless you forgot it”. In spite of recurring bad health - stomach trouble and phlebitis - he enjoyed life, and he wished others to enjoy life. The brilliant frivolity of Fr J B Wood’s speech of farewell at the end of Fr Byrne’s Superiorship was a tribute to the friendliness and personal equality that he had made characteristic of his period of authority here.
He was Superior for only three years. In 1960 he was summoned to Rome as Substitute Assistant for the English Assistancy. Of what happened at that high level I know nothing except that Fr Byrne seemed to enjoy it.
He returned to Ireland after the 31st General Congregation, but his interest in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia never waned, as returning visitors from these parts will testify.
He spent his last years as curate in St. Ignatius' Church, Galway, and it was there that I last met him. He was unchanged - full of interest in the Vice-Province and better informed about it than I was - ready to speculate about the state of the world and of all things in it, and full of philosophical interest in the future of the Jesuit parish in Galway,
No hint had been received here that his health was failing. The news of his death came as a shock, and to many it meant, not “a former Superior has died”, but “a cherished friend is dead”.

Cooney, Thomas, 1896-1985, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/102
  • Person
  • 02 December 1896-17 July 1985

Born: 02 December 1896, Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary
Entered: 22 May 1920, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1928, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 15 August 1937, Holy Spirit Seminary, Aberdeen, Hong Kong
Died: 17 July 1985, Chikuni College, Chisekesi, Zambia - Zambiae Province (ZAM)

Transcribed : HIB to ZAM 03 December 1969

Studied BSc Engineering at Royal College of Science, Merrion Square 1915-1919 before entry, and awarded a 3 year “Exhibition of 1856” thereafter which he did not complete.

Awarded a B.Sc. honoris causa by the N.U.I. in 1936.

by 1930 Third wave Hong Kong Missioners
by 1935 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) making Tertianship
Mission Superior of the Irish Province Mission to Hong Kong 09 November 1935-1941

by 1952 in Australia

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280 :
He was educated by the Christian Brothers at Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary. Afterwards he attended University taking a BSc (Engineering) from the University of London and a BSc (Hons) from University College Dublin.

1922-1929 After First Vows he studied Philosophy and Theology at Milltown Park Dublin, and was Ordained in 1928.
1929-1945 He was sent to Hong Kong, where he became Rector of the Seminary (1929-1945) and became Superior of the Mission (1935-1941). This also included a break to make his tertianship at St Beuno’s, Wales (1934-1935)
He lived through the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong (December 1941-August 1944). He left for Macau for a short time and then moved to Australia as his health had broken down.
1945-1953 He taught at St Ignatius College Riverview where he related well with everyone and was an efficient Prefect of Studies. Many people sought his counsel. He taught general Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry and achieved good examination results. His students felt his interest in them and found him very supportive and encouraging.
1953-1985 He went to the Irish Province Mission in Zambia and remained at Chukuni until his death. From 1955-1970 He was the Mission Bursar. When the Teacher Training College at Charles Lwanga was to be built in the late fifties, he was the one who looked after the construction of a dam. before the spillway was ready there was an exceptionally heavy rainfall that caused the dam to fill rapidly, so that there was a danger the dam wall would be swept away by the pressure of water. Every morning during those critical days, he was down early to scrutinise the rising levels of water.

He had a real fondness for animals. He rarely took a holiday but loved a visit to a game park.

He was a gentleman in every sense of the word, and he had an extraordinary gift for making people feel welcome at Chikuni, carrying the bags of visitors, making sure they were looked after and would try to e present when they left to wish them a good journey.

He was a very dedicated and painstaking teacher of Mathematics and Science at Canisius College and was appreciated by his students - no nonsense was ever tolerated in his classroom!

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
On 17 July 1985 in his 89th year, Fr Tom Cooney went to his long awaited reward. He was born on the 2 December 1896 in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, Ireland. He attended the Christian Brothers school in Carrick-on-Suir and won a scholarship to the university in his last year at school. He was a brilliant student and took his B.Sc. from London and a B.Sc. from Dublin, getting honours in the latter. He was a mechanical and electrical engineer.

He first learned about the Jesuits from the Encyclopaedia Britannica which did not speak too highly of them in that particular edition but Tom decided to join them. While an engineering student in Dublin (1915-1919) he used a lot of his spare time in the making of bombs in the Dublin Mountains as his contribution to the final struggle for independence.

He joined the Society in 1920 and, after the usual studies, he was ordained a priest in Milltown Park on 31 July 1928. He was appointed superior of Hong Kong while still in tertianship and arrived out there in 1929. While there, he was Rector of the Major Seminary and also acted as Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University in Hong Kong. He lived through the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong and left for Macao for a short time before moving on to Australia (1946-53), as his health had broken down. He had a hard time persuading the Japanese that being Irish was not English, but he succeeded and so was not interned.

In Riverview College, Sydney, he taught for seven years, being completely fulfilled in the job. He often said that he liked the Australian boys. He was heart and soul in the effort then being made to overhaul the curriculum. In the senior Mathematics and Physics classes he was able to bring promising pupils to their full potential.

When the Irish Jesuits came to Zambia in 1950, the Provincial, Fr Tommy Byrne, was on a visit in 1952 and was being asked for more men especially for one or two senior men. He thought of Fr Tom in Australia and wrote to him that evening inviting him to come, extolling the excellence of the climate (it being the month of May!) and describing it as a veritable paradise. Fr Tom flew to Johannesburg and from there took the three day train journey to Chisekesi, arriving on 15 February 1953 in the middle of a downpour of rain which did not let up for two weeks. His transport got stuck in the Magoye river on the way to Chikuni and for a fortnight after his arrival he could be seen at midday sloshing his way in wellingtons and umbrella across the campus to the dining room. More than once he was to exclaim, "This is what Tommy Byrne called a pleasure resort"!

From 1953 to his death, he always lived at Chikuni both as a teacher at Canisius Secondary School and as procurator of the mission for many years. No big decision was taken on the mission without sounding out the advice and experience of Fr Cooney. When the Teacher Training College at Charles Lwanga was to be built in the late fifties, Fr Cooney was the one who looked after the construction of the dam. Before the spillway was ready, there was an exceptionally heavy rainfall which caused the dam to fill rapidly, so that there was danger of the dam wall being swept away by the pressure of water. Every morning in those critical days an anxious Fr Cooney was down early to scrutinize the rising level of the water.

He had a fondness for animals. Though he rarely took a holiday, a visit to a game park was an occasion he would always rise to. The instant memory people have of Fr Tom is the sight of him walking in the evening with his dog. His favourite one was a collie called Pinty.

Fr Cooney was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He had an extraordinary gift for making people feel welcome to Chikuni and would carry the bags of visitors, making sure that they were looked after and he would try to be present when visitors left, in order to wish them a safe journey.

He was a devoted, dedicated, painstaking teacher at Canisius, something which the pupils appreciated and realized that no nonsense was ever tolerated in his classroom. In the early years, when Grades 8 and 9 were usually 'fails' in the Cambridge examination, he would tell his pupils, "Gentlemen, Grade 8 is a fail and Grade 9 is a first class fail"!

He was a good Jesuit and had a great devotion to the Mass and the Divine Office. His kindliness and welcoming traits reflected that inner appreciation of the person of Christ which flowed out in his attitude to people. He was so willing to help others. Fr Tom was lent to the mission for two years but stayed 32 years until his death.

A strange thing happened on the day Fr Tom was laid to rest in the Chikuni cemetery. "Patches", his last dog, died on that same day.

◆ Biographical Notes of the Jesuits in Hong Kong 1926-2000, by Frederick Hok-ming Cheung PhD, Wonder Press Company 2013 ISBN 978 9881223814 :
He lectured (Electrical Engineering) at the University of Hong Kong, as he had graduated from University of London in that subject. During the war years (1942-1945) he went to Macau teaching at Luis Gonzaga College. He was Rector of the South China Regional Seminary in Aberdeen, Hong Kong in 1931. In 1936 he was responsible for obtaining a large telescope from Ireland which he used in the Seminary for the education of the seminarians. His idea was that Hong Kong would join the Jesuits in Shanghai and Manila in astronomical observation and meteorological work.
In 1953 he was Mission Superior in Zambia where he died.

Note from Joseph Howatson Entry
He came to Hong Kong as Regent with Seán Turner who was a different personality and whose whole world was words and ideas. Travelling with them was Fr Cooney who was bringing the Markee telescope

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 60th Year No 4 1985

Obituary

Fr Thomas Cooney (1896-1920-1985) (Zambia)

Born on 2nd December 1896. 22nd May 1920: entered SJ, 1920-22 Tullabeg, noviciate. 1922-25 Milltown, philosophy. 1925-29 Milltown, theology. 1934-35 St Beuno's, tertianship,
1929 to Hong Kong. 1930-32 Ricci Hall, minister and lecturer in university. 1932-34, 1935-37 Regional Seminary, Aberdeen, rector. 1935-41 Superior of the Mission. 1941-43 Wah Yan Hong Kong, teaching. 1943-45 Macau, Mission bursar, teaching.
1945-53 Australia, Sydney, Riverview, teaching.
1953-85 Zambia, Chikuni: teaching till c 1982; 1955-70 Mission bursar; confessor to community and local Sisters. Died on 17th July 1985 in Monze hospital.

In the last few years Fr Cooney's declining health gave plenty of scope to Ours at Chikuni to exercise true fraternal charity. In spite of a heavy workload they all rose to the challenge magnificently. One of those who knew him since 1953 writes:

On 17th July 1985 in his 89th year, Fr Tom Cooney went to his long-awaited reward. He was born on 2nd December 1896 in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, Ireland. He attended the Christian Brothers' school in Carrick-on-Suir and won a scholarship to the university in last year at school. He was a brilliant student and took his BSc (Engineering) from London and a BSc from Dublin, getting honours in the latter.
He first learned about the Jesuits from the Encyclopaedia Britannica which did not speak too highly of them in that particular edition, and Fr Tom decided to join them. While an engineering student in Dublin during the years 1915 to 1919, hę used a lot of his spare time experimenting with the making of bombs in the Dublin mountains.
In 1920 he joined the Society of Jesus and after philosophy and theology in Milltown Park, Dublin, he was ordained a priest on 31st July, 1928. He completed his Tertianship at St Beuno's in Wales during which year he was appointed Superior of the Mission in Hong Kong. From 1929 to 1946 he worked in Hong Kong, being among other things Rector of the Major Seminary. He lived through the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong and left for Macao for a short time before moving on to Australia as his health had broken down. Seven years he spent in Australia teaching at the Jesuit college at Riverview.
The Irish Jesuits had been asked to come to the then Northern Rhodesia to help their Polish fellow-Jesuits there. Fr Tom was asked to join them in 1953. From 1953 to his death, he lived at Chikuni both as teacher at Canisius Secondary School and procurator of the mission for many years. No big decision was taken on the mission without the advice and experience of Fr Cooney. When the Teacher Training College at Charles Lwanga was to be built in the late fifties, Fr Cooney was the one who looked after construction of the dam.
Before the spillway was ready, there was exceptionally heavy rainfall which caused the dam to fill rapidly so that there was danger of the dam wall being swept away by the pressure of water. Every morning in those critical days, an anxious Fr Cooney was down early to scrutinise the rising level of the water.
He had a fondness for animals, Though he rarely took a holiday, a visit to a game park was an occasion he would always rise to. I suppose the instant memory people have of Fr Tom is the sight of him walking in the evening with his dog. Among the many dogs that trailed at his heels over the years, his favourite one was a collie called Pinty.
Fr Cooney was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He had an extra ordinary gift of making people welcome to Chikuni, would carry the bags of visitors, making sure they were looked after, and would try to be present when visitors left to wish them a good journey.
He was also a very devoted and pains taking teacher at Canisius. The many pupils who have had him for maths and science appreciated this talent but at the same time realised that no nonsense was ever tolerated in his classroom. His dedication and 'being an elder' (he was fifty-seven when he first came to Chikuni) offset any discipline he would insist on. In the early years in Chikuni, when Grades 8 and 9 were “fails” in the Cambridge examination, he would tell his pupils: “Gentlemen, Grade 8 is a fail and Grade 9 is a first-class fail.”
Of his spiritual life one can say only what one saw. He was a good Jesuit and had a great devotion to the Mass and the Divine Office. His kindliness and welcoming trait reflected that inner appreciation of the person of Christ which flowed out in his attitude to people. He was ever willing to help others.
To end this brief appraisal: a rather strange thing happened on the very day Fr Tom was laid to rest in Chikuni cemetery - 'Patches', his last dog, died.
May Fr Tom's soul now rest in peace.

Meagher, Daniel Louis, 1911-1980, Jesuit priest and missioner

  • IE IJA J/245
  • Person
  • 18 August 1911-14 April 1980

Born: 18 August 1911, Dublin
Entered: 14 September 1931, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1944, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 15 August 1968, Sacred Heart, Monze, Zambia
Died: 14 April 1980, Mater Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya - Zambia Province (ZAM)

Part of the Chivuna, Monze, Zambia community at the time of death.

Older brother of Paddy Meagher - RIP 2005
Cousin of John P Leonard - RIP 2006

Mission Superior Lusaka Superior of the Poloniae Minoris Jesuit Mission to Lusaka Mission : (POL Mi) 11 August 1955
Superior of the Irish Jesuit Mission to Chikuni Mission: 01 January 1957

Transcribed HIB to ZAM : 03 December 1969

by 1951 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working - third wave of Zambian Missioners
Mission Superior Lusaka (POL Mi) 11 August 1955
Mission Superior Chikuni (HIB) 01 January 1957

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them’ (Shakespeare, Twelfth Night). These words in some way could be applied to Fr Louis (nobody called him 'Daniel'). In human qualities Fr Louis was very ordinary. He saw himself as a great 'chancer' (his own word), meaning that he was willing to try his hand at anything, though not highly gifted for anything in particular. In fact, he found the studies in the Society extremely difficult but he realized that they were a preparation for the works of the Society like preaching and retreat giving. His tremendous determination and great sense of mission carried him through these difficulties so that at the end of his training he was better equipped to carry on apostolic works than many others more talented than he was. He had ‘greatness thrust upon him’ as he was appointed superior of the Irish Jesuits in Zambia a few years after arriving there.

He had come to Zambia in 1950, one of the original nine Irish Jesuits appointed to come to Chikuni Mission. The appointment came as a shock to Louis but he faced up to the situation as he had faced up to all the difficulties in his life. He was also appointed Vicar General of the Monze diocese where he was so highly appreciated by all.

After school at St Finians and Belvedere, he entered the Society at Emo in 1931. For regency he taught at Clongowes Wood College and then proceeded to Milltown Park where he was ordained in 1944. Afterwards he went to the Crescent, Limerick, to teach there until he came to Zambia in 1950.

In the early 60s, he began to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis which crippled him increasingly until his death. It was in this that Louis ‘achieved greatness’ in the way he bore his illness for nearly 20 years. He could laugh and talk as if he had not a care in the world. He was an 'Easter person' who by word and deed reflected the good news of the victory of the Cross and of the joyfulness of the Resurrection. It is possible to resign oneself to suffering but it is a very different thing to bring sunshine into the lives of others at the same time. This calls for great faith, hope and charity. Louis retained a warm and appreciative interest in everyone to such a degree that all considered themselves to hold a special place in his heart.
He had a happy interest in the life of the secondary school at Chivuna and helped the community there through his visiting, his counselling, his concern for each one's welfare, for their academic achievements as well as their prowess in sports.

Finally when arthritis made him almost unable to walk, he made the journey to Nairobi in Kenya to see if anything could be done for his feet. While there in hospital, he was anxious to get back to Chivuna for the opening of the school term. However, cardio-respiratory failure was the final cause of his death there at the age of 68.
His remains were flown to Zambia and he was buried at Chikuni on 14 April 1980. The most noticeable thing about Louis' funeral was the manner in which the ordinary Tonga people seemed very clearly to take over the burying of their priest. It would have been unthinkable to bury Louis elsewhere, he who had lived and worked among them for 30 years

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 55th Year No 3 1980
Obituary
Fr D Louis Meagher (1911-1931-1980)
(The following piece, by Fr Socius, Zambia, is copied from the VPZ Newsletter:)
Normally I would ask someone else to write an obituary. But in this case I wish to do it myself; partly, I suppose, because my friendship with him goes as far back as 1948, when I was a schoolboy at the Crescent in Limerick.
Fr Louis died in the Mater hospital, Nairobi, on 14 April, 1980, having said Mass on the same day. Cardio-respiratory failure was the final cause of his death at the age of sixty-eight.
Requiem Mass was celebrated for the repose of his soul in the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy Family, Nairobi, with a cardinal and about 50 priests concelebrating. His remains were flown home to Zambia, and he was buried at Chikuni on 19 April. Though both Bishop Corboy and Bishop Munhandu conducted the funeral services, with nearly 50 fellow-priests concelebrating, I would say that the most noticeable fact of Louis’s funeral was the manner in which the ordinary Tonga people seemed very clearly to take over the burying of their own priest. It would have been unthinkable to bury Fr Louis elsewhere.
Ordained in 1944, Fr Louis taught for a while in the Crescent College and then came to Zambia in 1950, working principally in the Chikuni area till he was appointed Superior of the Jesuits of the Chikuni Mission in 1955. In the early 1960s he began to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, which crippled him increasingly till his death. His work as Vicar-General of the Monze diocese was highly appreciated by all. In recent years, as chaplain to St. Joseph's secondary school, Chivuna, Louis was the friend and inspiration to all.
At a special requiem Mass at St Ignatius, Lusaka, I was asked to preach the homily, in which I tried to highlight three outstanding characteristics of Louis - in an attempt to learn the meaning of his life. I would like to repeat these briefly:
His undiminished interest in other people: You would excuse interest diminishing through age or sickness; but in him there was none of these. Louis retained a warm and appreciated interest in everyone, to such a degree that they all considered themselves to hold a special place in his heart. And of course this deep interest enabled Louis to converse with absolutely anyone - on any subject under the sun.
His humility and freedom from conceit: In human qualities Fr Louis was very ordinary. He saw himself as a great “chancer” (his own word), meaning that he was willing to try his hand at anything, though not highly gifted for anything in particular. He would never have considered himself outstanding - a gifted preacher, an intellectual, a specialist, a famous Jesuit (!) or a holy priest. In God’s own wisdom it was the way he bore his illness for nearly 20 years that made Louis extraordinary. To listen to him talk and laugh you could easily imagine he hadn't a worry in the world, though he was largely crippled with rheumatoid arthritis. Such inspiring acceptance indicated a very deep spirituality.
“Let there be sunshine in my world together with you” are the words of a popular song today. And they apply very much to Fr Louis. It is possible for people who suffer seriously over a long period of time to find solace in the mystery of the Cross; but often such people communicate a faith which stays at the Cross. Louis however was definitely an “Easter person”, who by both word and deed reflected the good news of the victory of the Cross and the joyfulness of the Resurrection. It is possible to resign oneself to suffering, but very difficult to bring sunshine also into the world of others; this calls for great faith, hope and charity.
I think it was Louis’s remarkable ability to proclaim charismatically “Praise the Lord” with his crippled body that was his outstanding gift to us all.
In his obituary notice on Louis Meagher, Fr Tom O'Brien has rightly emphasised Louis' courage and cheerfulness in his sickness and often painful suffering during the last twenty years of his life. I would like to add that this courage and determination was something which was built into Louis's character during his years of formation and his early work in the Society before bad health came upon him.
Louis found extremely difficult not only the studies in the Society but also the preparation for many of the works such as preaching and the giving of retreats. Study for him was always a real grind, but he had tremendous determination and a great sense of mission and this carried him through, so that at the end of his training he was better equipped to carry on the apostolic works of the Society than many others who were endowed with greater intelligence and other natural gifts.
There was however one gift with which Louis was endowed to an extraordinary degree, and that was a very attractive and cheerful personality. This natural charm enabled him to make friends with people of every, age and sex. It was quite an experience to see Louis meeting strangers (sometimes unfriendly strangers) and in no time
they were at ease and enjoying his company.
When Louis came to Zambia he needed all his courage and determination. A few years after his arrival he found himself saddled with the job of religious superior of the Irish Jesuits here and that of vicar-general of their section of the archdiocese of Lusaka. These were difficult times for Louis due to lack of finance and other circumstances beyond his control. The appointment came as a great shock to Louis. I can well remember that for once he looked really down in the mouth. However he faced up to the situation as he had faced up to all the difficulties in his years as a scholastic. To a large extent he concealed all his worries and anxieties and he surprised us all by his ability to lead and to govern during those difficult years.
I would like to single out one special virtue which was very evident to me in his administration of the Mission. I was closely associated with him as a consultor for most of those years, and I can honestly say that I don't think that he was ever influenced by self-interest in any of the decisions he made. His likes and dislikes of other people (and like any normal person he had his likes and dislikes) never influenced his decisions. When he made mistakes they could never be attributed to selfish motives.
When sickness and pain came upon Louis it was no surprise to me that he bore it with courage and unselfish cheerfulness to the end. Louis was only continuing to live his life as he had always lived it.

With Louis Meagher’s death, the communities at Civuna have lost a great friend and a loyal support. The mission at large will miss him for his great enthusiasm and inspiration; but as Christ said to the Apostles, one feels that it is better that he should go to his Father because now he will help us all the more and his spirit will continue to inspire us.
“I only want to complete the work the Lord Jesus gave me to do, which is to declare the good news about the grace of God”. In Louis’ last days in a Nairobi hospital he still had one great wish, namely to return to Civuna and continue his apostolate. That was not to be; but the tributes at his burial at Chikuni were a sign that not only at Civuna but in the diocese as a whole, his life and work made a lasting impact on the people. About 50 priests concelebrated Mass with our bishop, James Corboy, and the bishop of the neighbouring diocese of Livingstone, brothers, sisters and the ordinary people in great numbers.
Louis could have called a halt twenty years ago when he first developed arthritis and the doctors declared that he had only a few months to live. But that wasn’t Louis Meagher. He fought against his illness every day since then, never giving in and never complaining, but took all the medical attention he could get, including the hip operation. Finally, when the arthritis made him almost unable to walk, he made his journey to Nairobi to see if anything could be done for his feet.
As a community man he was always cheerful and available. He was interested in everything that was going on in the parish; the numbers at Mass in each centre, the leaders, the catechists, development work and the youth. He had a deep impact on the life of the Secondary school and helped to form both staff and pupils into a happy community through his visiting, his counselling, his interest in each one's welfare, the academic achievements of the girls and in sport. Probably one of the best tributes to his time in Civuna is the formation of the new diocesan congregation of sisters, the Sisters of the Holy Spirit, who celebrated their 10th anniversary on Pentecost weekend (24th-25th May). They now have 12 sisters, all past pupils of the school; four are teaching here and others are still in training for their future ministries. They always came to him for advice and help, and the encouragement they received is evident in the very pleasant family spirit which they have developed: each one's personality and talents are able to be brought together for the good of all.
I think if there is one single lesson that Louis's life teaches it is this, . to use whatever talents the Lord has given us, perfect them through developing them for the sake of others, until we all attain maturity, contributing to the completed growth of Christ. It is no coincidence that Louis took to the Charismatic Renewal in the Church as a fish takes to water, and in spite of his ill-health, attended the local and national conferences and inspired many people by his presence. The Spirit of the risen Lord was certainly evident in him, but it was a light shining from the daily cross of physical suffering. May he enjoy a rich reward for his life of faith and service to others and may he always inspire us to go and do the same.

O'Loghlen, Desmond, 1918-2003, Jesuit priest and missioner

  • IE IJA J/691
  • Person
  • 03 March 1918-04 September 2003

Born: 03 March 1918, County Waterford
Entered: 07 September 1936, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1949, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1954, Canisius College, Chikuni, Zambia
Died: 04 September 2003, St Ignatius, Lusaka, Zambia - Zambia-Malawi Province (ZAM)

Superior of the Irish Jesuit Mission to Zambia Mission : 27 November 1962
Transcribed HIB to ZAM : 03/12/1969

by 1951 at Paray-le-Monial France (LUGD) making Tertianship
by 1952 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working - fourth wave of Zambian Missioners
Mission Superior Chikuni (HIB) 21 November 1962 - 1969

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Des (as he was known to his fellow Jesuits) died on 4 September 2003 at the age of 85, completely unexpectedly. His mother lived to be 101 and all thought that Des would follow suit. He had gone to the Mina Medical Centre with a touch of 'flu with another member of the community, and then he died.

He was born in Waterford, Ireland, in 1918, attended school at Blackrock College and Ballyfin and then entered the Society at Emo Park in 1936. The usual course of studies, arts, philosophy, theology, brought him to ordination in 1949 at Milltown Park, Dublin. For his tertianship he went to Paray-le-Monial in France, 1950/1951.

The second batch of Irish Jesuits to come to the then Northern Rhodesia in 1951 included Des who came to Chikuni to be Assistant principal of the newly opened Canisius College, 1951-52. He then went north to learn CiBemba for a year and came to Lusaka to work in the Regiment church for a few months before moving to St. Ignatius (1953-l959), doing parish work at Chilanga and Kafue, and being chaplain to Munali Secondary School and Chalimbana Teacher Training College. He became judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese. He moved to Charles Lwanga Teacher Training College to teach for a few months in 1960. He returned to St .Ignatius as Superior and chaplain as above.

He was appointed Regular Superior of the Mission from 1962 to 1969, first residing in Choma and then in Mazabuka in Moreau house. As Des never gave a snap decision but one which was cautiously thought out, where he lived became known as ‘Tomorrow House’. He returned to Lusaka to St. Ignatius in 1970 where he spent the rest of his life. Parish priest there from 1970 to 1977, he then became full time chaplain to the University Teaching Hospital, a devoted priest to the sick and dying. This was from 1977 to 1991 where he also built a chapel in the hospital. Even after retiring as official chaplain, his devotion to the sick took him twice a week to other hospitals in Lusaka, Hill Top, Mina Medical Centre and Mine Hospital etc. At the same time parish work in St Ignatius: Masses, funerals, marriages, occupied his ever busy life right to the end.

Des was a very hospitable person, sincere and genuine in his relationships with others. He was sensitive to the needs of others and had a great serenity about him. He never became upset, was 'unflappable' as the homilist at his funeral described him. He ‘hastened slowly’ and was known to arrive for meals or any other function always 'slightly late'.

He had a marvellous memory for people and occasions, and could be relied upon to remember who was who, and recall when such an event took place. ‘Ask Des’ was always the solution when one was looking for information about the past. In fact after he died, letters, newspaper cuttings, records etc were found in his room, in short, ample material to gladden the heart of the archivist!

He would never be rushed. Once when he was having a cuppa in the sitting room at St Ignatius, someone came to the parish office to see him without an appointment. He continued with his tea even pouring a second cup and was reminded that someone was still waiting at the parish office. He is said to have remarked ‘I am not a fireman’! But, despite that, he was always kind and understanding to all who came to him. He was the perfect example of a gentleman in his graceful old age who had spent 52 years of dedicated priestly service in Zambia and especially Lusaka.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 123 : Special Issue February 2005

Obituary

Fr Desmond (Des) O’Loghlen (1918-2003) : Zambia-Malawi Province

3rd March, 1918: Born in Waterford, Ireland
7th Sept. 1936: Entered the Society at Emo
1944 - 1946: Crescent College, Limerick, teaching, regency
31st July, 1949: Ordained
1950 - 1951: Tertianship at Paray-le-Monial, France.
1951 - 1952: Chikuni, Canisius, assistant principal
1952 - 1953: Chingombe, Kabwe, Mpika, language study
2nd Feb 1954: Professed of four vows
1953 - 1959: Lusaka, St. Ignatius, pastoral work
1955 - 1959: Chaplain at Chalimbana
1956 - 1959: Chaplain at Munali
1959 - 1993: Judicial vicar for Archdiocese of Lusaka
1960: Chikuni, Charles Lwanga, teaching
1960 - 1962: Lusaka, St. Ignatius, Superior,
1962 - 1967: Choma, Regional Superior for Chikuni Mission
1967 - 1969: Mazabuka, Regional Superior for Mission
1970 - 1977: Lusaka, St. Ignatius, Parish Priest
1977 - 1992: St. Ignatius, Chaplain, University Teaching
1992 - 2003: St. Ignatius, Assistant PP, Hospital Chaplain
Sept. 4th 2003: Died in Lusaka, Zambia.

Des had been planning for home leave in 2004 and had gone to visit his brother, Dinnie, who was dying in Durban. On returning to Lusaka, he contracted a chest infection which, indeed, many had picked up. On September 4, he was driven to the clinic, although there was no sign of anything critical. However, his breathing suddenly became very acute and he was anointed. Shortly afterwards, he died.

Clive Dillon-Malone writes:
Des entered the Society after secondary school in 1936 when he was eighteen years old. He went through the ordinary formation of Jesuits: novitiate, juniorate at University College, Dublin, philosophy, regency in Limerick, theology, ordination in 1949, tertianship and final vows in 1954.

It was in the years 1950 and 1951 that the Irish Province of the Jesuits had been asked especially to help the Polish Jesuits in staffing their work in what was then Northern Rhodesia. The Irish Province responded generously and sent eight to ten men in each of these two years in order to lay a solid foundation for their work. Des was amongst the group that came in 1951.

He became Superior of Chikuni Mission in 1962, the year in which the late Bishop Corboy was ordained Bishop of Monze. While the greater part of Des's life was spent in the Archdiocese of Lusaka, he spent seven years as Superior of Chikuni Mission from 1962-1969 in the Diocese of Monze, residing in Choma from 1962-1967, and at the newly-built Moreau House in Mazabuka from 1967-1969. As a result Des, though in many ways a man of cautious bent, was closely associated with the energetic and far-sighted expansion of the early years of Bishop Corboy's tenure in Monze. During those years, many new parishes were established and Jesuits served in those of Mazabuka (1964), Chilalantambo (1967), Chirundu (1967), Nakambala (1967), and St Mary's Monze (1969). Charles Lwanga Teachers' Training College had opened in Chikuni in 1959, Mukasa Minor Seminary in Choma in 1966, and St. Kizito Catechist Training Centre in Monze in 1967. A Jesuit had also become Chaplain of St. Edmund's Secondary School in Mazabuka in 1964.

In Lusaka, the new residence at St. Ignatius was built in 1966. Des presided over a talented and generous group of Jesuits whose achievements he would have been the first to
recognise. He had the vision to encourage a number of younger Jesuits, who saw the need to do further studies, especially in anthropology, sociology, music and linguistics.

Des loved to recall stories of his travels in small aircraft using various remote airfields in different corners of East and Central Africa. He accompanied Fr. General Arrupe during his early visit to Zambia in 1965 and delighted in pioneering meetings with other Major Superiors, meetings which were the remote forerunners of the Jesuit Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM) and the establishing, years later, of the African Assistancy. It was at the end of his time as Superior in July 1969 that the famous meeting took place in Chikuni at which the Jesuits of Chikuni Mission agreed in a cliff-hanger of a vote to be part of the proposed new Vice-Province of Zambia (3rd December, 1969). Des was justly proud of his part in the setting up in 1969 of the Jesuit Novitiate at Xavier House in Lusaka, a novitiate which was soon to cater not only for Zambia and Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), but also for the five countries of the East Africa Region as well as the Nigeria-Ghana Region.

In 1969, Des was assigned to St. Ignatius Parish in Lusaka where he spent the rest of his life. From 1970 -77, he was the parish priest; then followed his long stint as chaplain at the University Teaching Hospital which he finished in 1991. During his time in Lusaka, he was also the vicar for the archdiocese of Lusaka.

He was always a man of caution. No quick decisions, no hasty moves. He looked ahead and planned carefully. Everything he did was done well and conscientiously. If mistakes were made, they were very few. He would go to any lengths to help and would see a problem right through to the very end. Despite his more conservative bent, he remained open to change and could joke about the internet, e-mails and computers which he acknowledged to be out of his reach. His good humour and wit were even more pronounced in his later years.

Punctuality was not one of his greatest virtues. In fact, arriving late for everything seemed to Des to be itself a virtue in view of his appreciation of the value of time. And he adamantly refused to be rushed. There is a true story of how, one day when he was taking his afternoon tea in the recreation room, a member of the community came in and told him that some woman wanted to see him at the reception area of the parish offices. As always, he enquired if she had an appointment and, when the answer to that question was negative, he continued taking his tea. About ten minutes later, the same member of the community returned to the recreation room. Seeing Des still taking his tea, he gently said to him: “I hope, Des, that you understand that there is a woman waiting to see you at the parish reception area”. His comment was: “We're priests, not firemen”.

Des was always available and so anxious to help everyone with his advice and wisdom. Well versed in Canon Law, he had a way of cutting through the legal technicalities and focusing on the persons involved. He felt for people in a special way and his pastoral sensitivity ran through everything he did. His pastoral work spanned three generations, and he had a phenomenal memory for people and places. He would take delight in telling young married couples of having married their parents and having known their grandparents. He touched so many through baptisms, weddings, marriage counselling, funerals, the sacrament of reconciliation and the Eucharist. He was always on call in the parish and his phone was seldom silent.

But perhaps his endless concern for the sick and the dying is what stands out more than anything else in his life. As Chaplain at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Des will be remembered especially for his kindness to the sick and the dying and their families, as well as for his unfailing interest in the medical staff and their formation, especially the nurses and doctors. The Chaplaincy Centre with its Interdenominational Chapel which was the outcome of persistence and determination on his part is a lasting memorial to his far-sightedness in the face of many difficulties. When he retired from being official chaplain there after over twenty years, he continued to visit three smaller hospitals to cater to the needs of all patients without distinction right up to the end. He brought healing to so many on so many different levels. He was a living channel of God's loving care and concern for the suffering and the dying.

Des was a wonderful community member, always ready to share in whatever problems arose. He was a most pleasant, heartfelt and sincere person to live with, and always a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. He was kind, compassionate and gentle in all that he did. He might get angry with people at times for breaking appointments or coming late but it was a momentary frustration. He would always find a way of excusing those involved. He would get so sorry if he felt that he had hurt anyone and would go out of his way to put things right. He was incapable of becoming bitter or holding a grudge.

Des was a man of God and a man of the people. First thing every morning, he would be there in our small oratory with the Lord. Every evening last thing, he would be there in that same small oratory. But his contact with the Lord continued throughout the day in his contact with people. Des loved people and he loved the people of Zambia in particular. After coming to Zambia, he had become a Zambian citizen as a sign of his total commitment. It was his ardent wish to live and die here. He got his wish.