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Chaplain Zambia (N. Rhodesia)

Dowling, Maurice, 1896-1965, Jesuit priest, chaplain and missioner

  • IE IJA J/729
  • Person
  • 23 December 1896-27 August 1965

Born: 23 December 1896, Sallins, County Kildare
Entered: 31 August 1914, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 27 August 1929, Valkenburg, Netherlands
Final vows: 15 August 1933
Died: 27 August 1965, Lusaka, Zambia

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

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

1942-1946 Military Chaplain

by 1921 at Leuven Belgium (BELG) studying
by 1927 at Valkenburg, Limburg, Netherlands (GER I) studying
by 1932 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) making Tertianship
by 1949 at Lusaka, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working - joined Patrick Walsh and Patrick JT O’Brien in Second group of Zambian Missioners
by 1951 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Maurice’s family used to spend a month in Skerries, an Irish seaside resort, in the summer. Maurice Dowling was a keen, strong swimmer and one morning, as a teenager, he saved the life of a girl who was drowning. He went home to lunch and never mentioned the incident. It was when the family had finished tea and Mr Dowling was reading the evening paper, that he came across a paragraph or two describing the plucky rescue by his son. Passing no comment, he scribbled "Bravo"! beside the passages and silently handed the paper to his son. This incident in some way, sums up a characteristic of Maurice that he had already developed at that age, – he was modest in his achievements and helpful to others.

He was born in 1896 in Dublin. His father was the Registrar of the College of Science in Dublin. His mother died early in her married life leaving Maurice and his brother Desmond behind. Both boys went to Clongowes Wood College for their secondary education.

At the age of 18, Maurice entered the Jesuits at Tullabeg and followed the normal course of studies which were followed by Irish Jesuits of the time. He was ordained in 1929 on 29th August. He spent some time in the colleges as teacher and prefect e.g. the Crescent, Limerick in the thirties.

As a young Jesuit, he learned to speak Irish, spending many a holiday in the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area). He genuinely loved the language and when home on what was to be his last leave, he was delighted to hear that there were in existence Irish-speaking praesidia of the Legion of Mary. He had a great admiration for Edel Quinn who died working for the Legion in Africa.

During the Second World War he volunteered as a chaplain. Just before departing, he was involved in an accident where he was thrown through the window of the bus in which he was traveling. As he lay on the ground in his own blood, he heard one of the rescuers say to another nodding towards Maurice "He's had it"! (but in much more colourful language).
After the war, when the Jesuits in Northern Rhodesia were looking for men, two Irish Jesuits volunteered in 1946 (Fr Paddy Walsh and Fr Paddy O'Brien) to be followed by two more in 1947, Maurice and Fr Joe Gill. They came to Chikuni.

The Bishops had been endeavouring then to set up a Catholic Secondary school for Africans. There was only one secondary school for Africans in the whole country, a Government school at Munali, Lusaka which had been founded a few years before. In 1949 Canisius Secondary School opened its gates to the first class. Speaking of Maurice's work in the college during the first few years, Fr Max Prokoph who had been instrumental in getting Fr Dowling for the mission and who had been his principal, said of him, "I have never met a more loyal man". Fr Prokoph described how in the initial difficult days, Maurice had stood by him on every occasion, always ready to help, never questioning a decision, absolutely loyal.
While at Chikuni, he would travel south to Choma at the week-end to say Mass long before a mission was opened in 1957; also to Kalomo still further south. Then back to the school for another week of teaching. In 1962 he went to Namwala to the newly built mission as the first resident priest bringing with him some Sisters of Charity. He later moved to Chivuna in 1964 and died in Lusaka on 26 August, 1965.

Fr Maurice had great qualities: his deep spirituality and union with God, his great zeal for souls, his kindness and courtesy to all, his optimistic outlook even when things looked by no means bright. He had a zest for life, his cheerfulness was catching. He was loyal as Fr Prokoph remarked. Loyalty would seem to have been the source of his strength, loyalty to God as a priest and religious, loyalty to his country as shown by his deep love of it, loyalty to the Society as shown by his great respect for it and his dislike of even the slightest criticism of it, loyalty to his Alma Mater and to his many friends as shown by his great interest in all that concerned them. His life had been a full one, in the classroom, in the army and on the mission.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 16th Year No 4 1941
General :
Seven more chaplains to the forces in England were appointed in July : Frs Burden, Donnelly, J Hayes, Lennon and C Murphy, who left on 1st September to report in Northern Ireland, and Fr Guinane who left on 9th September.
Fr. M. Dowling owing to the serious accident he unfortunately met when travelling by bus from Limerick to Dublin in August will not be able to report for active duty for some weeks to come. He is, as reported by Fr. Lennon of the Scottish Command in Midlothian expected in that area.
Of the chaplains who left us on 26th May last, at least three have been back already on leave. Fr. Hayes reports from Redcar Yorks that he is completely at home and experiences no sense of strangeness. Fr. Murphy is working' with the Second Lancashire Fusiliers and reports having met Fr. Shields when passing through Salisbury - the latter is very satisfied and is doing well. Fr. Burden reports from Catterick Camp, Yorks, that he is living with Fr. Burrows, S.J., and has a Church of his own, “so I am a sort of PP”.
Fr. Lennon was impressed very much by the kindness already shown him on all hands at Belfast, Glasgow, Edinburgh and in his Parish. He has found the officers in the different camps very kind and pleased that he had come. This brigade has been without a R.C. Chaplain for many months and has never yet had any R.C. Chaplain for any decent length of time. I am a brigade-chaplain like Fr Kennedy and Fr. Naughton down south. He says Mass on weekdays in a local Church served by our Fathers from Dalkeith but only open on Sundays. This is the first time the Catholics have had Mass in week-days

Irish Province News 17th Year No 1 1942

Chaplains :
Our twelve chaplains are widely scattered, as appears from the following (incomplete) addresses : Frs. Burden, Catterick Camp, Yorks; Donnelly, Gt. Yarmouth, Norfolk; Dowling, Peebles Scotland; Guinane, Aylesbury, Bucks; Hayes, Newark, Notts; Lennon, Clackmannanshire, Scotland; Morrison, Weymouth, Dorset; Murphy, Aldershot, Hants; Naughton, Chichester, Sussex; Perrott, Palmer's Green, London; Shields, Larkhill, Hants.
Fr. Maurice Dowling left Dublin for-Lisburn and active service on 29 December fully recovered from the effects of his accident 18 August.

Irish Province News 18th Year No 1 1943

Fr. Maurice Dowling was awarded substantial damages with costs in the action against Great Southern Railways Co. which came before Mr. Justice Hanna and a jury in the High Court on 4th November. It will be remembered Fr. Dowling met with his serious accident 18th August, 1941, when the bus in which he was travelling from Limerick to Dublin in order to report for active service was involved in a collision near the Red Cow, Clondalkin.

Irish Province News 23rd Year No 3 1948

Frs. Dowling and Gill will be leaving soon for the Lusaka Mission, N. Rhodesia.

Irish Province News 24th Year No 1 1949

Frs. Dowling and Gill who left Dublin for the Lusaka Mission, N. Rhodesia, on 7th October reached their destination on 4th November; for the present they are stationed at Chikuni and Lusaka respectively.

Irish Province News 24th Year No 3 1949

LETTERS :

Fr. M. Dowling in a letter from Chikuni Mission, N. Rhodesia :
He says there are now 282 boys in the Central Boarding School ; and 60 girls under the care of the Irish Sisters of Charity. All are native Africans, 95% baptised and but a few catechumens. The staff consists of Fr. M. Prokoph, Principal of the School, Fr. Dowling himself, Fr. Lewisha, an African, two Sisters of Oharity, an English laymaster, and four African teachers.

“I am teaching Religious Knowledge, Chemistry, General Science, History and Maths. My classes vary in number between 45 and 50. We are rather understaffed and so are kept busy. The top classes at present reach a standard equivalent to our Inter-Cert. There is also a course for Teachers, and a Trades School for carpenters and brick layers.
The mission depends on us for its Catholic teachers and the number of Catechumens depends on them too. The mission is very short of men and many are old and ill. Many of the Polish Fathers have been out here 20 and 25 years without a break.
Normally the rainy season begins here in October and lasts till March. This year it has been a failure. We have had 18 inches of rain instead of our usual 35-40 and there is grave danger of famine in all Central Africa. Famine has already begun in Nyassaland.
There are six different African languages spoken by different sections of the boys. All teaching above standard IV is in English. Many are quite good at English.
The weather is pretty hot, which I like but some don't. It has averaged 95 degrees in the shade for a long time recently. I have lost two stone since I came here and gone down from 16 stone to 14. You wouldn't know my slender form!”

Irish Province News 41st Year No 1 1966

Obituary :

Fr Maurice Dowling SJ (1896-1965)

Fr. Dowling's death was a great shock even for us on the mission. His operation had been successful, he was making a good recovery, and then the end came suddenly and unexpectedly in a heart attack. Rev. Fr. Superior, who was in Lusaka at the time, was called by telephone and was able to give him Extreme Unction and recite the prayers for the dying. He died during the prayers without regaining consciousness.
The funeral, preceded by Requiem Mass, took place on Sunday afternoon. He was buried in Chikuni, as he certainly would have wished, beside Fr. A. Cox and Fr. D. Byrne, and close to the founders of the mission - Frs. Moreau and Torrend. Fr. Dowling had known Fr. Moreau, he had been with him for a few months before his death in January 1949, and had anointed him before he died.
There was a very big attendance at the Mass and funeral, for he had made many friends during his seventeen years in the country. They came not only from the neighbourhood but even from Livingstone, Lusaka and Brokenhill. They included boys whom he had taught many years ago and who were now young men of importance in Government positions, Sisters and Brothers of several congregations to whom he had given retreats, and many priests both African and European. His Grace the Archbishop of Lusaka and His Lordship Bishop Corboy were also able to be present as they had not yet left for Rome.
In his panegyric during the Mass, Rev. Fr. Superior paid tribute to Fr. Dowling's great qualities, his deep spirituality and union with God, his great zeal for souls, his kindness and courtesy to all, his optimistic outlook even when things looked by no means bright. His life had been a full one, in the classroom, in the army and in the mission, and his reward must therefore be very great.
When Fr. Dowling came to Chikuni in 1948, there was only one secondary school for Africans in Northern Rhodesia, a Government school at Munali which had been founded ten years before. He played a big part in founding the second school, Canisius College. Speaking of his work in the college during the first few years, Fr. Prokoph, who had been instrumental in getting Fr. Dowling for the mission and who had been his principal, said of him: “I have never met a more loyal man”. He described how in the initial difficult days Fr. Dowling had stood by him on every occasion, always ready to help, never questioning a decision, absolutely loyal. Loyalty then would seem to have been the source of his strength, loyalty to God as a priest and religious, loyalty to his country as shown by his deep love of it, loyalty to the Society as shown by his great respect for it and his dislike of even the slightest criticism of it, loyalty to his Alma Mater and to his many friends as shown by his great interest in all that concerned them. He was a man of whom it can be truly said that it was a privilege to have known him and to have lived with him.

Death of a Jesuit Friend
The first intimation our family received on Easter Monday, 1916, that the Volunteers had risen, taken over the General Post Office and other key buildings, was when a neighbour, Mr. P. A. Dowling, Registrar of the College of Science, knocked at the door and excitedly told us the news.
This morning (2nd September 1965) I attended a Requiem Mass in the Jesuit Church, Gardiner Street, offered for the soul of Fr. Maurice Dowling, S.J, second son of the neighbour who rushed to us with the news of the Rising. Fr. Maurice, though he had undergone a serious operation some time ago, had, I under stood, made a good recovery and it came as a great shock to his relatives and friends at home to hear that he died suddenly last month in Zambia, on Friday, 27th August, and was buried the following Sunday.
As I take a look at the ordination card, printed in Irish, he sent me from Germany in 1929, I notice he died - 36 years later on the anniversary of his ordination.
Maurice and his brother Desmond (his senior by a year or so) were educated at Clongowes. After the death of their mother early in her married life, Mr. Dowling eventually married again and it was when he and his second wife came to live on Anglesea Road, a few doors from where we then lived, that the two families became friends. We, as children, came to know the second family very well, only meeting Desmond and Maurice at holiday time and, in any case, they were older than I was by six or seven years. That age gap makes a great difference in early youth, later on it does not.
I recall one incident in the boyhood of the future Jesuit perhaps never known to his step-brothers and step-sisters - to whom he was always devoted as they were young children at the time. I myself was about 10 or 11 years of age, I suppose, and it was Mrs. Dowling who related the incident to me :
Both families used to spend a month or two in Skerries in the summer. Maurice Dowling was a keen, strong swimmer and one morning he saved the life of a girl from drowning. He went home to lunch and never mentioned the incident. It was when the family had finished tea and Mr. Dowling was enjoying a read of the evening paper that he came across a paragraph or two describing the plucky rescue by his son. Passing no comment, he scribbled “Bravo!” about the paragraph and silently handed the paper across to his son.
But the future Jesuit, teacher, Army chaplain, African missioner, was no quiet, retiring youth in other respects. Of a natural bright, cheerful, optimistic disposition, he was immensely popular with both girls and boys of his own age.
As a young Jesuit he learned to speak Irish fluently, spending many a holiday in the Gaeltacht. But most important of all, he genuinely loved the language and when home on what was to be his last “leave” he was delighted to hear from me that there were in existence Irish-speaking praesidia of the Legion of Mary. He had a great admiration for Edel Quinn who had died working for the Legion in Africa and, if I recollect rightly, I gave him a copy of the prayer for her canonisation printed in Irish.
We only met him for a few hours on the rare occasions he came on holidays from Rhodesia. He was always very attached to his family, relations and friends. I could never keep track of all his cousins and friends he mentioned in conversation but I do remember the names of two friends, perhaps because I know both by sight, Fr. Leonard Shiel, S.J, and Very Rev. Fr. Crean, now P.P. of Donnybrook, but Head Chaplain in the last war in which Fr. Maurice also served as chaplain.
He loved to visit the home near Naas of his step-sister, Shiela and her husband, Paddy Malone, taking a great interest in their son and three daughters. The young man is now helping to manage the farm; one of the girls is in the Ulster Bank in Baggot Street, another is training as a nurse in St. Vincent's Hospital and the third is still at school.
Thus, another Irish priest dies in voluntary exile for love of the African people. Go ndeinidh Dia trocaire ar a anam.
Nuala Ní Mhóráin
From the Leader Magazine

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 126 : Christmas 2005

MISSIONED TO ZAMBIA : MAURICE DOWLING

Taken from some 50 “portraits” submitted by Tom McGivern, who works in the Archives of the Province of Zambia Malawi.

The family of Fr. Maurice used to spend a month or two of the summer in Skerries, a seaside resort in Co. Dublin. He was a keen, strong swimmer and one morning, as a teenager, he saved the life of a girl from drowning. He went home to lunch and never mentioned the incident. It was when the family had finished tea and Mr. Dowling was reading the evening paper that he came across a paragraph or two describing the plucky rescue by his son. Passing no comment, he scribbled “Bravo!” beside the passage and silently handed the paper to his son. This incident in some way sums up a characteristic of Maurice which developed at that age - modest in his achievements and helpful to others.

He was born in 1896. His father was the Registrar of the College of Science in Dublin. His mother died early in her married life leaving Maurice and his brother, Desmond, behind. Both boys went to Clongowes for their secondary education. At the age of 18, on August 18th 1914, Maurice entered the Jesuits at Tullabeg, and followed the normal course of studies followed by Irish Jesuits of the time. He was ordained on August 27th 1929. In the thirties, he spent some time in the colleges (e.g. the Crescent, Limerick) as teacher and prefect. As a young Jesuit, he learned to speak Irish, spending many a holiday in the Gaeltacht. He genuinely loved the language, and, when home on what was to be his last leave, he was delighted to hear that there were in existence Irish-speaking
praesidia of the Legion of Mary. He had a great admiration for Edel Quinn, who died working for the Legion in Africa.

Come the Second World War, Maurice volunteered as a chaplain. Just before departing, he was involved in an accident where he was thrown through the window of the bus in which he was travelling. As he lay on the ground in his own blood, he heard one of the rescuers say to another, as he nodded towards Maurice: “He's had it!” (but in much more colourful language). After the war, when the Jesuits in Northern Rhodesia were looking for men, two volunteered in 1946, to be followed by two more in 1947 - Maurice and Joe Gill. They came to Chikuni.

The Bishops had been endeavouring then to set up a Catholic Secondary school for Africans. There was only one secondary school for Africans in the whole country, a government school at Munali, which had been founded a few years before. In 1949 Canisius Secondary School opened its gates to the first class. Speaking of Maurice's work in the college during the first few years, Fr M Prokoph, who had been instrumental in getting Fr. Dowling for the mission and who had been his principal, said of him, “I have never met a more loyal man”. Fr. Prokoph described how in the initial difficult days, Maurice had stood by him on every occasion, always ready to help, never questioning a decision, absolutely loyal.

While at Chikuni he would travel south to Choma at the weekend to say Mass, long before the station was opened there in 1957; also to Kalomo still further south. Then back to the school for another week of teaching. In 1962 he went to the newly built mission in Namwala as the first resident priest, bringing with him some Sisters of Charity. Later, in 1964, he moved to Civuna.

Fr. Maurice had great qualities, his deep spirituality and union with God, his great zeal for souls, his kindness and courtesy to all, his optimistic outlook even when things looked by no means bright. He had a zest for life, his cheerfulness was catching. He was loyal, as Fr. Prokoph had remarked. Loyalty would seem to have been the source of his strength, loyalty to God as a priest and religious, loyalty to his country as shown by his deep love of it, loyalty to the Society as shown by his great respect for it and his dislike of even the slightest criticism of it, loyalty to his Alma Mater, and to his many friends, as shown by his great interest in all that concerned them. His life had been a full one, in the classroom, in the army, and on the mission.

Kearns, Laurence M, 1912-1986, Jesuit priest and chaplain

  • IE IJA J/199
  • Person
  • 27 June 1912-28 October 1986

Born: 27 June 1912, Cobh, County Cork
Entered: 01 September 1928, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 13 May 1942, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1949, Manresa House, Dollymount, Dublin
Died: 28 October 1986, Jervis St Hospital Dublin

Part of St Francis Xavier's, Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin, and living at Our Lady of Consolation, Donnycarney, Dublin at time of his death.

Chaplain in the Second World War
by 1970 at Kitwe, Zambia - working in Educational TV

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Lol was born in Cobh, Co Cork on 27 June 1912. After school at Mungret College, he entered the Society at Tullabeg and did the second year noviceship at Emo. The normal studies of the Society brought him to his ordination on 13 May 1942.

Immediately after theology, Lol (as Fr Laurence was known in the Society) became chaplain in the British Army from 1943 to 1947 and served on the European continent. Towards the end of the war his unit was sent to free Belsen concentration camp, “That's how I saw hell on earth” he wrote. He also tells us about his bad car accident: “While driving in convoy on the first stage of our journey to Brussels, my driver ran the car into a tree north of Magdeburg and my head was banged into the glove compartment in the dashboard. I saw Fr Morrison again at CelIe as he bent over my stretcher and formed the opinion that I should never look the same again. Even my mother did not recognise me at once. But a few months in Gloucester under the great “guinea-pig” surgeon, Emlyn Lewis, who grafted a hunk from my arm into my mouth, set me up again.’ After demobilisation, he made his tertianship 1947/48.

Minister, retreat giver, bursar was his lot at Manresa 1948-'54, '62-'65, '68-'69. He taught religion at Bolton Street Technical College, Dublin 1962-'65.

He attended courses at New York University and at the University of California on TV and film production. On returning to Ireland, he was given the job of minister again but felt rather disappointed at having no outlet for the newly acquired skills he was so eager to practice. The Ministry of Education in Zambia at that time was about to launch an Educational TV Unit in Kitwe, so Lol was sent to Zambia and served two tours in the Kitwe TV Unit, six years in all, 1969 to 1976.

These were happy days for Lol in spite of the hardships of living at a long distance from Jesuit companions, the uphill grind of accustoming himself to a new environment, and the conflict arising from his insistence on precision as contrasted with the easy-going ways of the Zambians he was to work with and train. Lol was a perfectionist who demanded exact standards from his students and apprentices. A stray bit of fluff or a human hair would draw from him a devastating diatribe on sloppy standards. The wear and tear of the consequent tension took its toll on Lol's good humour, so that fault-finding could become obsessive with him.

Naturally, as a priest, Lol was not content to confine himself to civil-service hours. He sought out apostolic openings, celebrating Mass at weekends for neglected congregations, acting as Spiritual Father to a novitiate of Sisters, giving lectures on medical ethics to nurses-in-training, all of which he could do through the medium of English. In addition he became sufficiently adept at ciBemba to celebrate Mass in the local vernacular.

In his last year in Zambia, Lol was responsible for the purchase of the first Jesuit residence in Kitwe on Nationalist Way. He had hoped to be employed by the Zambia Episcopal Conference in communications, but this was not to be. Shortly after returning to Ireland he was invited to inaugurate the communications department of the Catholic Secretariat in Lesotho. So for more than two years in Lesotho, in the face of lack of interest, if not actual apathy, he wore out his energies and enthusiasm. The same problems that he had faced in Zambia he found to be deeper, more ingrained and infinitely less tractable in Lesotho.

He returned to Ireland in 1978 where, at the age of 66, he took up more genial work – curate in Donnycarney. He died in Jervis Street Hospital in Dublin on 28 October 1986.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 23rd Year No 4 1948

During the summer Frs. Jas. FitzGerald, Kearns and Scallan helped in the campaign organised by Dr. Heenan, Superior of the Mission House, Hampstead, to contact neglected or lapsed Catholics in Oxfordshire. Writing Fr. Provincial in August, the Superior pays a warm tribute to the zeal and devotion of our three missionaries :
“I hope”, he adds, “that the Fathers will have gained some useful experience in return for the great benefit which their apostolic labours conferred on the isolated Catholics of Oxfordshire. It made a great impression on the non-Catholic public that priests came from Ireland and even from America, looking for lost sheep. That fact was more eloquent than any sermon. The Catholic Church is the only hope for this country. Protestantism is dead...?”

Manresa House, Dollymount, Dublin.
We moved in on Saturday morning, 14th August. Fr, Superior (Fr. McCarron), Fr. Minister (Fr. Kearns), and Bro. E. Foley constituted the occupying force, and Fr. T. Martin not only placed his van at our disposal, but gave generously of his time and labour for the heavy work of the first day.
A long procession of vans unloaded until noon, when the men broke off for their half-day, leaving a mountain of assorted hardware and soft goods to be unpacked and stowed. By nightfall we had a chapel installed, the kitchen working, dining-room in passable order, and beds set up, so we said litanies, Fr. Superior blessed the house and consecrated it to the Sacred Heart.
Next morning Fr. Superior said the first Mass ever offered in the building. It was the Feast of the Assumption and a Sunday, so we. placed the house and the work under the Patronage of Our Lady and paused to review the scene. Fr. Provincial came to lunch.
The building is soundly constructed from basement to roof, but needs considerable modification before it can be used as a temporary Retreat House. The permanent Retreat House has yet to be built on the existing stables about 130 yards from the principal structure, but. we hope to take about twenty exercitants as soon as builders, plumbers, electricians, carpenters and decorators have done their work.
Fr. C. Doyle is equipping and furnishing the domestic chapel as a memorial to Fr. Willie, who worked so tirelessly for the establishment of workingmen's retreats in Ireland. A mantelpiece of this room has been removed, and thermostatically controlled electric heating is being installed. Lighting is to be by means of fluorescent tubes of the latest type.
With all due respects to the expert gardeners of the Province, we modestly assert that our garden is superb. Fr. Provincial was so impressed by the work done there that he presented us with a Fordson 8 H.P. van to bring the surplus produce to market. Under the personal supervision of Fr. Superior, our two professional gardeners took nine first prizes and four seconds with fourteen exhibits at the Drimnagh show. Twelve of their potatoes filled a bucket, and were sold for one shilling each. The garden extends over 2 of our 17 acres and will, please God, provide abundant fruit and vegetables.
From the beginning we have been overwhelmed with kindness: by our houses and by individual Fathers. Fr. Provincial has been a fairy-godmother to us all the time. As well as the van, he has given us a radio to keep us in touch with the outside world. We have benefitted by the wise advice of Frs. Doyle and Kenny in buying equipment and supplies, while both of them, together with Fr. Rector of Belvedere and Fr. Superior of Gardiner Street, have given and lent furniture for our temporary chapel Fr. Scantlebury sacrificed two fine mahogany bookcases, while Frs. Doherty and D. Dargan travelled by rail and bus so that we might have the use of the Pioneer car for three weeks. Milltown sent a roll-top desk for Fr, Superior's use. To all who helped both houses and individuals we offer our warmest thanks, and we include in this acknowledgement the many others whom we have not mentioned by name.
Our man-power problem was acute until the Theologians came to the rescue. Two servants were engaged consecutively, but called off without beginning work. An appeal to Fr. Smyth at Milltown brought us Messrs. Doris and Kelly for a week of gruelling labour in the house. They scrubbed and waxed and carpentered without respite until Saturday when Mr. Kelly had to leave us. Mr. Hornedo of the Toledo Province came to replace him, and Mr. Barry arrived for work in the grounds. Thanks to their zeal and skill, the refectory, library and several bedrooms were made ready and we welcomed our first guest on Monday, 30th August. Under the influence of the sea air, Fr. Quinlan is regaining his strength after his long and severe illness.
If anyone has old furniture, books, bedclothes, pictures, or, in fact anything which he considers superfluous, we should be very glad to hear of it, as we are faced with the task of organising accommodation for 60 men and are trying to keep the financial load as light as possible in these times of high cost. The maintenance of the house depends on alms and whatever the garden may bring. What may look like junk to an established house may be very useful to us, starting from bare essentials. Most of all, we want the prayers of the brethren for the success of the whole venture, which is judged to be a great act of trust in the Providence of God.
Our postal address is : Manresa House, Dollymount, Dublin.

Irish Province News 62nd Year No 1 1987

Obituary

Fr Laurence Kearns (1912-1928-1986)

27th June 1912: born in Queenstown (now Cobh). 1925-28 schooled at Mungret College.
1st September 1928: entered SJ. 1928-30 Tullabeg and Emo, noviciate. 1930-33 Rathfarnham, juniorate: BA course at UCD. 1933-37 Tullabeg, philosophy (sick for much of his first year, which he repeated). 1937-39 Belvedere, teaching (H.Dip in Ed.). 1939-43 Milltown Park, theology (13th May 1942: ordained priest).
1943-47 chaplaincy in British army, described by himself in Interfuse, no. 41 (Feb. 1986), pp. 19-26. 1947-48 Rathfarnham, tertianship.
1948-54 Manresa: minister, retreat giver, bursar. 1954-62 Catholic Workers' College (now CIR): mostly teaching religion in Kevin Street Technical College. 1962-65 Manresa: minister, then bursar. 1965-68 Rathfarnham, spiritual father and librarian. 1968-69 Manresa, minister and retreat-giver.
1969-78 Africa: 1969-76 Kitwe, Zambia: educational television; 1976-8 Maseru, Lesotho: educational television.
1978-86 curate in Donnycarney parish, Dublin 5. 28th October 1986: died in Jervis Street Hospital.

It was sometime in 1968 or thereabouts that I met Lol in Manresa House while I was on leave from Zambia. He spoke to me of the study-course in communications which he had attended in USA, and of his disappointment on his return at being assigned the job of minister, with no outlet for the newly acquired skills he was so eager to practise. W e discussed possibilities, and having cleared the matter with the Provincial, the upshot was that I brought back with me to Zambia photostat copies of Lol's qualifications. I knew that the Permanent Secretary of the Minister of Education was recruiting personnel for the Educational TV Unit about to be launched in Kitwe, so I placed Lol's qualifications before this official. In due course Lol came to Zambia and served two tours in the Kitwe TV Unit, six years in all.
These were happy years for Lol in spite of the hardships of living at a long distance from Jesuit companions, the uphill grind of accustoming himself to a new environment, and the conflict arising from his insistence on precision and he easy-going ways of the Zambians he was to work with and train. Lol was a perfectionist who demanded exact standards of his students and apprentices. A stray bit of fluff or a human hair on a television-camera lens - a nugatory matter to a Zambian novice technician - would draw from him a devastating diatribe on sloppy standards. The wear and tear of the consequent tension took its toll of Lol's good humour, so that fault-finding could become obsessive with him.
Naturally as a priest Lol was not content to confine himself to civil-service hours. He sought out apostolic openings, celebrating Mass at weekends for neglected congregations, acting as spiritual father to a noviciate of sisters, giving lectures on medical ethics to nurses-in-training, all of which he could do through the medium of English. In addition he became sufficiently adept in Cibemba to celebrate Mass in the local at vernacular.
Lol was a man of great certainties, and his range extended far and wide - from godliness to golf. His expositions were models of clarity. He was at his best with a docile, appreciative audience. His affability and interest would however wane in the face of equally strongly-held counter-arguments.
Perhaps it was this perverse adult propensity towards confrontation that turned Lol off: whatever it was, the presence of a child would divert him from such barren tiresome things and would
claim all his attention. It became in time one of the ways to describe Fr Larry: “He had a marvellous way with children”, a phrase that was repeated over and over at his funeral in Donnycarney.
His funeral was a thronged affair, attended by many Jesuits and diocesan clergy, presided over by the Archbishop of Dublin and with Bishop Kavanagh as the main celebrant. At the final
blessing, Archbishop McNamara recalled that as a young priest in Killaloe diocese he had had a retreat from Fr Kearns, memories of which still remained with him. In his last year in
Zambia, Lol was responsible for the purchase of the first Jesuit residence in Kitwe, on Nationalist Way, since vacated in favour of a community of Holy Cross sisters. Coming to the end of his second tour in Government service, Lol had hoped to be employed in communications by the Zambian Episcopal Conference. As this hope remained unfulfilled, he returned to Ireland rather dispirited and disappointed. Shortly after returning he was gratified by being invited to inaugurate the communications department of the Catholic Secretariat in Lesotho. So for two more years, in the face of disinterest if not apathy, he wore out his energies and enthusiasm. Problems he had faced in Zambia he found to be deeper, more ingrained and infinitely less tractable in Lesotho. Eventually, and not without much soul-searching, he decided to return to Ireland, where, at the age of 66, he took up the more congenial work of a parish curate.

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1964

A Portrait of Christ made on Television

Father Lol Kearns SJ

Father Laurence Kearns SJ (1925-28) has had many enthusiastic letters from people all over the country about the portrait of the Head of Christ which he drew during a television programme. We are happy to reproduce the portrait as well as the comments of “TJMS” in the “Irish Catholic” of March 5th, 1964. Father Larry's work was on exhibition in Gill's stand at the Dublin Spring Show and, for those who may be interested, full-size lithographic reproductions, framed in oak, may be obtained from The Committee, Manresa House, Doilymount, Dublin 3. Prayer-book size pictures are also available for a few pence.

-oOo-

Every night, right at tbe end of the Telefís Éireann programme, comes “Recollection”, a short talk given by a Priest or a Protestant clergy man. How many people stay tuned in to this late offering? And how many, I wonder, watch it with interest and derive from it spiritual solace or inspiration?

I suspect that the numbers, comparatively speaking, are poor, but if many of the “Recollections” had the same polish, imaginative presentation and effective message as those recently presented by Reverend Father Laurence Kearns SJ, the viewing audience would grow by leaps and bounds.

The idea of closing the nightly programme with a short talk given by a clergyman is one that was established in Independent TV and BBC TV before Telefís Éireann came into existence. Not unnaturally the type of programme produced in each system tended to be the same. A clergyman sits down facing the camera and delivers his talk straight at his unseen audience. The basic in each case is a radio approach. The talk could be put over even if the TV screen were blank.

In general, the visual of the clergymany gives the TV presentation just that little extra piece of interest - but that is all. Otherwise is it pure radio technique. And at first sight it would seem that there was little else in the way of presentation that could be designed. But Father Kearns proves otherwise.

He appeared for his “Recollection” in front of an easel with a piece of charcoal in his hand and explained that he was going to try the impossible and knew in advance that he would not be successful. And with our attention roused he then proceeded to draw a representation of the face of Christ on his board. As he drew each feature, so he brought Christ nearer to us and, talking quietly and gently sketching, he used a visual to rivet our attention and to bold us while his gentle voice conveyed to us some sound and appealing thoughts. Father Kearns proved that a little imagination can transform any routine “programme” into something really worthwhile.

Not every priest can sketch as well as Father Kearns, but in future everybody who appears in “Recollection” will realise that sitting before and preaching into the camera are not enough. Some thing more in the line of a visual is needed. Meanwhile, our thanks and congratulations to Father Kearns for the valuable “breakthrough” in the “Recoilection” programme.

TJMS in “The Irish Catholic”

McSweeney, Joseph, 1909-1982, Jesuit priest, chaplian and missioner

  • IE IJA J/297
  • Person
  • 31 March 1909-14 February 1982

Born: 31 March 1909, Dublin
Entered: 12 November 1930, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 29 July 1943, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 24 June 1948, Collège Sainte Famille, Cairo, Egypt
Die:d 14 February 1982, Milltown Park, Dublin

Transcribed : HIB to ZAM 03/12/1969; ZAM to HIB 1980

Chaplain in the Second World War with the Royal Air Force.

Early Education at Christian Brothers School, North Brunswick Street, Dublin

by 1951 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working - third wave of Zambian Missioners

◆ Companions in Mission 1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Born in Dublin on 31 March 1909 Fr Joseph Augustine McSweeney grew up in Dublin, Ireland, and completed his secondary education with the Christian Brothers in Dublin. He worked for a short time before entering the Society in 1930. He followed the normal university studies, philosophy, regency and theology, being ordained in 1943. In 1945 he was assigned to be chaplain in the Royal Air Force where he served until 1949. He enjoyed his years in the armed forces, especially the opportunity they gave him of seeing the Holy Land and the Middle East. In later years, his recollection of those years seemed to bring him real joy. After a year in Belvedere he was missioned to Chikuni in Zambia. There he taught as a Jesuit priest for 17 years, from 1950 to 1967. Because of poor health, he then returned to Ireland. He celebrated his jubilee, 50 years as a Jesuit, in 1980. Two years afterwards, he died in Dublin in 1982.

A single quotation from one of his letters will best describe the type of dedicated man Joe McSweeney was: ‘I have the normal 28 periods a week, and as these are all in Forms 5 and 6, they involve much preparation and correction of homework. During this term, I have felt bound to give 4 more periods a week to teaching hymns to Forms 1,2,3 and 4, because the singing of hymns at Mass and Benediction has become very poor. This makes 32 periods. I give 7 hours a week attending at the Spiritual Father's room; this is the equivalent of another 10 periods a week; altogether 42 periods’.

Besides being a highly competent teacher, Fr McSweeney was a most devoted spiritual Father in Canisius. Throughout his 17 years he was always concerned about providing his students with both religious and moral training, never taking the easy way out. ‘Training in responsibility needs continual supervision’ was one of his beliefs with the result that he was present at all student Masses throughout the week, being available to them in the confessional, at all times promoting among them a habit of regular attendance at Mass and reception of the sacraments.

It was he who introduced and promoted religious groups like the Crusaders of the Blessed Sacrament, Apostleship of Prayer and the Sodality of Our Lady. His serious conscientiousness was evident in all that he did. The young students appreciated his gentleness and thoroughness. In the homily in Gardiner Street at his funeral, Fr Paul Brassil, the Zambian provincial, told of the past pupils' appreciation and gratitude for all that they had received from him. “An outstanding, successful teacher” was the description of Joe that those who worked with him in Chikuni gave him.

By no stretch of imagination could Fr Joe be termed a modern, well-integrated priest. He was just an old-fashioned, slightly nervous and tense priest, but he did dedicate himself fully to the improvement of his students. And they were his students, particularly the senior ones for whom he had a great sensitivity.

Towards the end of his teaching at Canisius, Fr Joe began to suffer from his nerves, finding it more and more difficult to cope with the normal tensions of a dedicated teacher's life. Of course he had always been a perfectionist. Even in his more relaxed days he had required at least a month's notice to prepare his choir for a sung Mass. It is quite easy to imagine the agony that the more casual attitudes of today can be to a perfectionist! But even when he felt the lack of special attention in the way of food more suitable to his needs, he retained his sense of humor: ‘I hope at 57 I am not going to be asked to approach the minister, plate in hand like Oliver Twist, toties quoties, for some more’.

In Joe's case, it is now clear that in this nervous person, God provided us with a great example of care and dedication and He no doubt even now rewards Fr McSweeney’s dedicated response to this vocation.

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - Clerk before entry

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 57th Year No 2 1982
Obituary

Fr Joseph McSweeney (1909-1930-1982)

I have an early memory of Joe McSweeney in Emo noviceship coming out to recreation wearing a peaked tweed cap. The memory remains because the incident was unusual, yet it puts Joe in context. He was a late arrival to the noviceship (November, 1930) and a late - though not very late - vocation. Chronologically he was only a few years older than the rest of us schoolboys of the previous June, yet his experience of having had a job seemed to invest him with a maturity we didn't have.
Then as always, seriousness was his outstanding characteristic. He tackled the outdoor works, which were a real trial to him, with the determination of a man whose job depended on doing so much in a fixed time. One of the jobs the novices had to do with pick and shovel was to clear the overgrown paths of the vegetation which had spread unchecked for fourteen years. Joe applied the principle Age quod agis to every task and ministry he ever undertook, as few men have applied it.
When we moved to Rathfarnham for juniorate, Joe enjoyed the studies, and to my mind was a far happier person than he had been when using pick and shovel in Emo. Though serious, he had a good sense of humour, and responded positively to our jovial ragging with a laugh. As a junior he was put in charge of our Pioneer total abstinence branch, and when one night he grew weary of the jocose cases of conscience we were giving him, he just stood up, bowed, and with a laugh announced “The meeting is over, gentlemen” and ran.
In Tullabeg, as in Rathfarnham, he got real satisfaction in study - this time of philosophy. He never gave the impression that he ambitioned being an academic, yet in conversation he showed how thoroughly he had mastered the matter in hand, and what relish the mastering of it had given him. He played games, though he was not an athlete, and took part in everything that was going on in the scholastic community. We knew him as a very self-contained person whose prime relationship was with God. He was never late for “morning oblation”, nor did he “hit the floor” for any other faults that brought many of us to our knees in the refectory.
He was apprehensive of life in the colleges, but when the time came and he was posted to the Crescent, he dedicated himself entirely to his teaching. He showed his courage and generosity in undertaking to teach a beginners class Greek, though he had never studied it previously.
He was delighted to be sent to Milltown after a two-year regency. In those years the Second World War kept all the native scholastics within the shores of Ireland. Theology interested Joe as much as, if not more than, philosophy, and it afforded him scope for his interest in argument and discussion. Here as always he was the unobtrusive obliging one you could always rely on to do the job you could coax no one else to do.
His post-tertianship status - chaplain to the RAF - came as a great shock to most of us, his contemporaries. We thought Joe’s academic outlook and innate reserve and shyness would make a chaplain’s life a very trying one for him. He didn't seem to view it that way at all. In his simple direct approach, he took it as God's will for him, and God would see him through. So quite undaunted he donned the officer's uniform. He enjoyed his years in the armed forces, especially the opportunity they gave him of seeing the Holy Land and the Middle East. In recent years his recollection of those years seemed to bring him real joy.
My knowledge of Joe’s success as a teacher in Zambia (1950-'70) comes from those who shared the burden of the day with him there. That serious conscientiousness was as evident there as it had been elsewhere. The young Zambians appreciated and valued his gentleness and thoroughness more than their less studious Irish contemporaries seem to have done. Paul Brassil, the Zambian Provincial, in his homily at Joe's funeral Mass in Gardiner street, told us of his past pupils’ appreciation of and gratitude for all that they had received from him. An outstanding successful teacher, was the description of Joe that those who worked with him in Chikuni gave us. Yet Joe himself seemed unaware of his success and equally unconcerned about it. He rarely initiated conversation about either his teaching or his week-end parish ministry. It was part of what God's providence had brought about through him. That seemed to be the view of the truly humble, obedient, unassuming Joe.
He returned to Ireland (1970) a semi invalid, taught in Mungret for two years, but discovered that his energy was unequal to the task; moved to Rathfarnham to do secretarial work, thence to Monkstown (1974) and finally to Milltown Park (1975). Those of us who had known him as a younger man, and accompanied him in his last years in Milltown, were saddened to see how ill health had affected him so seriously. In recent years, when he felt well, he could still enjoy an argument or discussion as much as ever. However, his nervous debility dictated for him a routine pattern of living that seemed almost compulsive.
For example, he went out every afternoon and had a cup of tea: in Bewley's restaurant, if he got as far as the city centre; or in a Ranelagh tea-room if he could go no farther.
He was up at six every morning, said his prayers and offered Mass. This daily act of worship had come to be the occasion of considerable anxiety to him. He concelebrated with us frequently, but we were aware of the strain that so doing caused him. Meals were a big part of the compulsive routine that he seemed forced to follow. He found it difficult to follow the letter of the law that the doctor laid down for him, but frequently spoke of the kindness and consideration of the kitchen and refectory staff in helping him to do so. The staff in turn, despite Joe's ill-timed visits to the kitchen, his ever recurring questions and requests, saw and appreciated the gentleness and courtesy that his illness had obscured but not destroyed. They had a real affection for him.

Here is an excerpt from Fr Tom O'Brien's tribute in the newsletter of the Zambian Vice-Province (Jesuits in Zambia: News): A single quotation from one of his letters will best describe the type of dedicated man Joe McSweeney was:
I have the normal 28 periods per week, and as these are all in Forms 5 and 6, they involve much preparation and correction of homework. During this term I have felt bound to give 4 more periods a week to teaching hymns to Forms 1, 2, 3 and 4, because the singing of hymns at Mass and Benediction has become very poor. This makes 32 periods. I give 7 hours a week attending at the Spiritual Father's room: this is the equivalent of another 10 periods per week; altogether, 42 periods.
Besides being a highly competent teacher, Fr McSweeney was a most devoted Spiritual Father in Canisius (Secondary School, Chikuni). Through out his twenty years [in Zambia) he was
always concerned about providing his students with both religious and moral training, never taking the easy way out. ‘Training in responsibility needs continual supervision' was one of his beliefs; with the result that he was present at all student Masses throughout the week; was available to the students in the confessional at all times; and promoted among them a habit of regular attendance at Mass and reception of the Sacraments of confession and communion, It was Fr McSweeney who introduced and promoted religious groups like Crusaders of the Blessed Sacrament, Apostleship of Prayer and the Sodality of Our Lady, giving to this apostolic work his meager spare time.
By no stretch of imagination could Fr McSweeney be termed a modern, well integrated priest. He was just an old fashioned, slightly nervous and tense priest, who dedicated himself to the improvement of his students, for whom he had a great sensitivity, particularly for the senior ones. In reaction to some derogatory remarks made by his fellow Jesuit teachers in regard to the boy-girl mores of Chikuni, Fr McSweeney once had this to say: “If such fathers had more pastoral experience, they would have more respect; and respect is very important in affecting our words and actions towards others”. In fact it was his conviction that his students at Canisius were superior in this regard to their peers in other countries.
Towards the end of his teaching at Canisius, Fr Joe began to suffer from his nerves, finding it more and more difficult to cope with the normal tensions of a dedicated teacher's life. Of course he had always been a perfectionist; even in his more relaxed days he had required at least a month's notice to prepare his choir for a sung Mass. It is quite easy to imagine the agony that the more casual attitudes of today can present to a perfectionist?
However, even when he felt the lack of special attention in the way of food more suitable to his needs, he retained his sense of humour: “I hope that at 57 I am not going to be asked to approach the Minister plate in hand like Oliver Twist toties quoties for some more”.
In Joe’s case it is clear that in this nervous person God provided us with a great example of care and dedication, and no doubt rewards even now such a response to this vocation. We praise and thank Him, and ask Him to look mercifully on the soul of our fellow-worker. [He died on 14th February 1982.]