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Butler, Reuben J, 1890-1959, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/980
  • Person
  • 21 October 1890-05 December 1959

Born: 21 October 1890, Foilnamuck, Dolla, Nenagh, County Tipperary
Entered: 24 October 1912, Senbahanoor, Madras, India - Tolosanae Province (TOLO)
Ordained: 31 July 1923, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1926
Died: 05 December 1959, St Anthony’s Hospital, North Cheam, Surrey, England - Madurensis Province (MDU)

Transcribed : TOLO to MDU

by 1921 came to Milltown (HIB) studying 1920-1924
by 1925 came to Tullabeg (HIB) making Tertianship

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 35th Year No 2 1960
Obituary :
Fr Reuben J Butler (1890-1950)

Reuben Butler was born on 21st October, 1890, at Dolla, Nenagh, in Co. Tipperary. He did his secondary studies at Mungret College, 1906-12, In the Mungret Annual for 1913 there is the note: “R. Butler, B.A. is in the novitiate S.J. at Shembaganur, India, for the Madura Mission”. He did his Philosophy in the same house after the Noviceship.
The following brief account of the saintly life and death of Fr. Butler. is given in the Chaplain's Weekly, 30th December, 1959 :
He entered the Society at Shembaganur, S. India, on 24th October, 1912, for the Madura Mission, now a Province, but then dependent on the Province of Toulouse. He taught at St. Joseph's College, Trichinopoly, from 1917-1920. Then he came for Theology to Milltown Park, where he was ordained on 31st July, 1923. Tertianship followed immediately and was done at Tullabeg. In the summer of 1925 he became chaplain at New Hall, Chelmsford, Essex, where he also took his last vows and where he spent the rest of his priestly life. In July 1959 he entered St. Anthony's Hospital, North Cheam, to undergo an operation, but he gradually grew weaker. He was anointed on 30th November and he died very peacefully on 5th December. His nephew, a priest from Ireland, was with him a few hours before he died, and shortly after his death Archbishop O'Hara, the Apostolic Delegate, who happened to be at the hospital, prayed by his bedside. In view of his long and devoted connection with New Hall, the Mother Prioress asked that he might be buried there and her request was granted. She writes the following account :
Fr. Butler came to New Hall in the summer of 1925 and during his thirty-four years as Chaplain all whose privilege it was to know him came to appreciate the sincerity, sympathetic understanding and unfailing kindness that was so characteristic of him. A scholar, widely read and knowledgeable on a number of subjects (1), leading an unobtrusive life, he had words of wisdom and sound advice and encouragement for the many who sought his guidance. Above all it was the evident sanctity that attracted people, giving them confidence in his judgment and making them aware of the strength imparted by the holiness of one whose priestly life was so wholly hidden in Christ. On 8th December, twenty-one weeks after he had left us to undergo an operation, his body was brought from Cheam and the Office of the Dead was sung by the community. His nephew, Fr. Joseph Butler, remained in the chapel during the night. On the following day Solemn Requiem was sung by Monsignor Wilson, P.P. of Chelmsford, in the presence of the Bishop of Brentwood, who was attended by his Chancellor, Monsignor Shanahan, and his secretary, Fr. David Donnelly. Fr. Cammack represented the Provincial and many of the diocesan clergy, who also provided the altar staff, attended. His two nephews, Frs. Reuben and Joseph Butler from Ireland, his sister, Mrs. Slattery, and his niece were present, while the large congregation of local people showed how much he had been esteemed during his long years at New Hall. The Absolutions after the Mass were performed by the bishop and the burial in the convent cemetery followed immediately”.
Mother Prioress adds : “We shall miss him more and more as time goes on. His quick recognition of difficulties and the needs of others and his prompt meeting of them kept so much running so smoothly. How much he was doing comes perhaps to be realised only when it ceases to be done. May he rest in peace”.

(1) In 1948 Fr. Butler published a book, The Words of the Mass (Clonmore and Reynolds, Dublin), which was very highly praised in The Clergy Review. He had hoped to follow it up with a book on the Divine Office, but ill-health forced him to give up the idea.

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1913

Letters from Our Past

Father Reuben Butler SJ

India - Reuben Butler writes from Sacred Heart College, Shembaganar, Madura District, India, March 12th, 1913:

I am praying that it may be God's will to send some good labourers from their (the apostolics') midst, to Madura. It is a beautiful mission. I do not think that any mission in India has such a history, We have St Francis Xavier, Blessed John de Britto and Father de Nobili with a host of other apostolic ancestors to urge us on, and to look after us in Heaven.

The mission is extremely well regulated. Every month the missioners meet at a convenient centre to look after the interest of their souls, and to enjoy a little holiday. The work is rather trying. Their parishes are large and of course the heat is sometimes strong. Their converts are sufficiently nunerous but possibly not always fervent, and of course the missioner cannot see them all very often.

There is a crying need for more labourers here. There are villages quite close to us in which there are no Catholics and this want is solely due to want of priests. There is no one who can be spared to go to them. It is the same story all over the mission. The devil reigns supreme in many places and over many hearts. It is heart-rending to see the Sacred Heart deprived of such a beautiful country.

The Protestant missionaries do a good deal to hinder Catholicity, anyone whom they are unable to catch themselves they try to prevent from becoming a Catholic.

Here in Shembaganar the surroundings are very beautiful and extremely interesting. It is well suited to a naturalist's taste. There are all kinds of insects, birds and reptiles and also a good selection of animals. The blackberries are ripe here now, though they are not so plentiful as on the “Blackberry Road”. There seems to be no regard for seasons here. Some trees are just in blossomn while others of the same kind are bearing ripe fruit. The highest temperatore recorded this year has been 26° centigrade, that is, in the shade. The thermometer has fallen to 4°c during the month of January. We see hoar-frost on the mornings of villa-days, a little higher. up in the mountains,

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1915

Letters from Our Past

Father Reuben Butler SJ

writing from Madura, tells us of an exciting event :

I was in Madras, when it was bombarded by the Emden, but escaped with being dis : tracted during Iny evening examen....

There is fine work here in a climate that is no doubt hard, but in which one can live and work with ordinary health. There is no lack of labour. There are about 6,000,000 pagans to be converted here in Madura alone. There is no fear of being a martyr unto blood, though all may be martyrs of charity.

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1920

Letters from Our Past

Father Reuben Butler SJ

Rev Reuben Butler SJ, writes from Trichinopoly:

Though St. Francis Xavier laboured a good deal in the mission, it was really founded in the early 17th century by Fr de Nobili, a man famous in missionary history in India for his efforts to convert the Brahmins by a complete adoption of their social customs. He was succeeded by such great men as the martyr, Blessed John de Britto, and Fr Beschi, The latter was not only remarkable for his apostolic labours and sufferings, but is also one of the foremost names in Tamil literature, the language spoken in this part of India. The mission cultivated by these men was much larger than the present, and numbered at the beginning of the 18th century some 150,000 Christians. During the suppression of the Society in the Portuguese Dominions the Mission suffered severely; some Christian, centres were completely ruined, others were played havoc with by the Protestants. It was again handed over to the Society in 1838, and later on constituted a diocese. The present diocese numbers over 267,000 Catholics, out of a total population of over 6,000,000, mostly Hindus, and covers an area of 16,500 square miles. Imagine, if you can, our difficulties -137 priests have to look after our various institutions and 267,000 Catholics spread over an area of two-fifths that of Ireland, and to try to convert a population half again as large as that of Ireland, For the year ending June, 1918, the latest returns that I have, there were over 9,000 conversions from paganism. No other reason for the fewness of conversions is needed than the want of missionaries; our missionaries are all busy with their Christians, and they can exert but a very indirect influence on the pagans. If one could set aside a certain number of men for the pagans alone, I have no doubt but that things would be otherwise.

Long, long ago, St Patrick heard the voices of the Irish calling on him to come to their rescue, and to bring them out of the darkness of paganism to the light of truth. St Patrick responded to the call, and it is due to his faithful response that Ireland is a holy Catholic Ireland, The very same cry is wafted to-day not from the children of Ireland to the ears of the youthful Patrick, but from the children of India steeped in paganism, to the children of Ireland, glorying in the possession of the Faith. How many generous souls listen to it?

Speaking of St. Joseph's College, he says:
In St Joseph's College we have well over 2,000 students, divided pretty equally between the school and college departinents. Of these, over 700 are Catholics, the major portion are Hindus, mostly Brahmins, with an insignificant sprinkling of Protestants and Muhammadans. Of the 700 Catholics, about 500 are boarders, who spend the day from sunrise until after dark in a special institution called the Semiboarding, set aside for them. The home life of the poorer people in India is very badly adapted for studies. About 200 of our Catholic students attend the University classes in the College department.

It would be difficult to give you any idea of the standard of knowledge required in the students, but the standard is very high, and the studies are extensive and require a very well-equipped institution. The physics and chemistry laboratories have few equals in private colleges the world over. Our library is up-to-date, and contains nearly 12,000 volumes; and the museum is a great centre of attraction for visitors. A large hall, capable of containing between two and three thousand students, serves as a theatre for the college assemblies, debates, etc, and for a study for the students during leisure hours. You have no idea as to the size of the various buildings; they are simply colossal.

In the school the numbers of students in a class are limited to forty, so we have the phenomenon of one class being divided into several sections. In the college there is no limit, the number of students in a class ranges between 120 and 200, and approaches nearer the latter in the History branches. It is wonderful with what ease those large classes can be managed. I do not suppose that a class of European boys, of like size, would be so easily controlled.

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1960


Father Reuben Butler SJ

The death took place on December 5th of Father Reuben Butler SJ, at St Anthony's Hospital, Cheam.

Born in Ireland in 1890, he came to the Apostolic School in 1906. Leaving in 1912, he joined the Madura Province of the Society of Jesus. After Philosophy he taught in the College of Trinchinopoy 1917-20, and then came to Milltown Park for Theology, where he was ordained in 1923. After Tertainship he became Chaplain to the Convent of the Holy Sepulchre, New Hall, Chelmsford, Essex, where he spent the remainder of his priestly life. All at New Hall came to appreciate his sincerity, his sympathetic understanding and unfailing kindness. He was a widely read scholar, but it was his sanctity that attracted people, giving them confidence in his judgment and making them aware of the strength given by holiness in one whose life was hidden in Christ. To his nephew we offer our deep sympathy. RIP

Coyle, Bernard J, 1905-1971, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/1118
  • Person
  • 12 Fenruary 1905-16 June 1971

Born: 12 February 1905, Handsworth, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Entered: 31 August 1923, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 28 August 1935, Florennes, Belgium
Professed: 02 February 1938
Died: 16 June 1971, Dindigul, Tamil Nadu, India - Madurensis Province (MDU)

HIB to TOLO 1924 to MDU

by 1924 at Senbahanoor, India

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - Went to Madura Mission, Toulouse Province, February 1924

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1932 : Golden Jubilee

A Day in an Indian Missionary College : St Francis Xavier, Palameottah, S India

Bernard Coyle SJ

It is 4.59am. Imagine yourself in a large hall, 150 feet by 35. There are three hundred boys in the land of dreams, not on your fine spring beds, but on the floor, each lying on a small mat made of coco-nut or palm leaves, their faces completely hidden by a white sheet to protect them from the innumerable bugs and the ubiquitous mosquito, A “concord of sweet sounds” fills the otherwise silent hall. The prefect, dressed in a white cassock and red sash, stands in the centre of the hall, watch in hand, waiting the stroke of 5 am.

A few vigorous claps of the hands, followed by a stentorian “Benedicamus Domino”, arouses the sleepers, and three hundred sleepy voices answer discordantly “Deo Gratias”. In less than five minutes every boy has rolled up his mat and placed it in the specially provided stands, and goes for his morning wash. This for an Indian boy is more a washing of teeth than anything else. Charcoal, cigar ashes or powdered red brick is his tooth paste; his fingers, his brush.

At 5.20, following the signal of the prefect, the boys again assernible in the dormitory, which now, by the opening of large wooden doors, becomes the chapel. Prayers are recited and canticles in Tamil sung during the Mass, It is a fine sight to see, morning after morning, the greater part of these boys receiving, in Holy Communion, their Divine Master.

After Mass the boys march in silence to their respective study halls. Study goes on till 7.30 am, during which time each division takes its morning bath, quite a simple affair on week-days, but on Sunday rather tedious, During the week the boys assemble around large concrete troughs, clad only in loin cloths; the prefect blows his whistle, and every boy begins to pour can after can of water over himself, occasionally giving himself a rub down with soap. At the second whistle all leave the tubs and dress, falling into line as they finish. When all have finished, they return to the study hall, and the other divisions take their bath after the same fashion.

On Sundays the boys indulge in an oil bath. After undressing, as on week-days, each boy receives a measure of oil, whereupon he begins to rub himself as if with soap. When all are nice and oily, the whistle goes and the water process begins. Strict silence is enforced during bath time, and breaches of silence are severely punished. But let us get back to the week days.

Breakfast at 7.30 am in the same hall which has served as Dormitory and Chapel. The boys arrange themselves according to caste, as a boy of one caste will not eat sitting next a boy of another caste. During meals they sit on the floor and eat with their fingers, never with knives and forks. Two boys of each caste are appointed to serve out the rice and curry to the other boys of their own caste.

After breakfast all assemble in the grounds in front of the Statue of St Francis Xavier, to recite a “Hail Mary”, after which the prefect gives a signal, and the recreation begins. Up to this time strict silence has been observed, even during meals. At breakfast an English book is read, at supper a Tamil book. During dinner the boys may talk, as they have only one hour free between morning and evening classes.

The separation of divisions is strictly enforced, except on the greater feasts, though, with the prefect's permission, a boy may talk with a boy of another division. Study commences again at 8.30 am, and goes on until 9.45, when fifteen minutes recreation in the study hall is given before class. This is the only time that talk is allowed in the study hall. At 10 am, Catechis class till 10.30, followed by classes on different subjects until 1 pm. Catholics and Pagans attend class together. At 1 pm Angelus and dinner, followed by a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Then recreation till 2 pm. Classes again until 4, followed by Spiritual Reading for fifteen minutes.

Then comes the recreation to which all look forward, even the prefect - Hockey, Football, Badminton, and Volley Ball are the chief games. At 6.15 comes study till 8. The prefect has to keep on the alert to answer permissions. “Thumbs up” is to ask permission for a drink, a permission never refused in India, save during the quarter of an hour following a football or hockey match. The drinking water is kept in large earthen ware pots in the Study Hall. “Little finger up” is permission for confession, granted during evening study only. Two hands raised is permission to get a book from another boy.

At 8 pm comes supper, followed by night prayers in the chapel, after which the Third Division retire to bed; the Second and First Divisions return to study. At 9.30 the Second Division retires, and at 9.40 the First.

At 9.45 lights are extinguished, and the prefect feels a sense of relief to see all the boys quietly lying down once more after a day's hard work.

Indekeu, Jean B, 1905-1984, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/733
  • Person
  • 21 March 1905-21 December 1984

Born: 21 March 1905, Neeroeteren, Limburg, Belgium
Entered: 23 September 1923, St Francis Xavier, Arlon, Belgium - Belgicae Province (BELG)
Ordained: 21 November 1936, Kurseong, Darjeeling, India
Final Vows: 02 February 1941
Died: 21 December 1984, Pastorij Dormall, Halle-Booienhoven, Belgium - Flanders Province (BEL S)

by 1956 came to Chikuni N Rhodesia (HIB) working 1956-1970

◆ Companions in Mission 1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Jean (or John as we called him) Indekeu was born in the northern part of Belgium on 21 March 1905 of Jacques and Francine (nee Janssen). He went to the Jesuit College in Turnhout and, at the age of 18, he entered the Society in the novitiate at Arlon for the North Belgian Province. His first year of juniorate was at Drongen (1925/26) and the second year was his military service (1926/27). Early on his was destined for the missions and so at 23 years of age he began his philosophy in the south of India (1928-30) at Shembaganur (Madurai).

Afterwards he did his regency in Ranchi (1931-33) and his theology at Kurseong in Darjeeling Province (1934-38) where he was ordained in 1936. His tertianship was in Ranchi (1938). He taught for a while in the college there. After a number of years in ministry it seems that he clashed with the authorities in some development work he was involved in and was obliged to leave the country. Although an extrovert and an affable person, his natural reserve did not lead him to talk about it.

In 1955 he came to Northern Rhodesia with Fr. Tom O’Brien and scholastics Michael Kelly and Michael Tyrrell. They were among the first batch of missionaries to come by air and the journey from London took almost five days via Marseilles – Malta – Wadi Halfa (now under the Aswan Dam) – Mersa Matruh (north Egypt) – Nairobi – Ndola – and finally to Lusaka.

John went immediately with the others to learn Tonga under Fr Paddy Cummins in Chivuna. Although he found the language difficult, he used to take great care with his homilies and often sought local assistance. After a brief stay in Chikuni he headed to Kasiya where he opened up new Mass centres almost as far away as Namwala. He also made welcome additions to the facilities of the house. In 1958 he was sent to Choma where initially he used a camp bed in the sacristy until he got the house up. He furnished the Church and also went to build the neat little Church in Kalomo. He always excelled at putting up well designed Churches and took care with the décor and vestments which you could see even in his own personal appearance with his well trimmed beard and immaculate but not expensive clothes.

He was pulled back to Charles Lwanga TTC as minister and bursar where he looked after the brethren well. Later the first provincial, Fr John Counihan used to tell the story of how, as he was being transferred to Monze, went into to John and asked him where the week-end refreshments appeared in the books, which he had carefully scrutinized but failed to locate. Fr Indekeu replied laconically ‘Look under jam’. He took good care of the community and was an amiable support to some of the younger men who found the missionary life difficult at times. During this time his real solace, as he says himself, was the weekend supplies in Mazabuka where he was duly missioned together with Frs Tom O’Meara and Vinnie Murphy. He was largely responsible for the well designed town Church, as well as for the Churches at Nega Nega and Magoye. He was involved also in helping in the construction of the community houses of both the Sisters’ and Brothers’ schools.

While next on leave he became anxious about his aging mother who was then 97 years old. On his return he lived in St Ignatius in Lusaka and worked in the small township that sprang up with the building of the Kafue Gorge Dam. He was able to get suitable plots for Church and parish house as a result of his good relations with the international construction team, especially with the French engineers. He also worked with Fr Prokoph on the Luwisha House project and when he returned back to Belgium in 1972, at 67 years of age, he sourced substantial funds to cover the cost of its chapel.

He was in pastoral ministry for a number of years in Dormaal but he never forgot his time in Zambia. A couple of years before his death on 21 December 1984 a donation of a thousand pounds came for the Province library.

Kelly, Albert, 1883-1967, Jesuit brother

  • IE IJA J/200
  • Person
  • 25 October 1883-21 January 1967

Born: 25 October 1883, Neemuch, Rajputana, India
Entered: 13 January 1920, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Final Vows: 02 February 1930, Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin
Died: 21 January 1967, St Francis Xavier's, Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin

Served as a private in the First World War.

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - Customs Officer before Entry
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 42nd Year No 2 1967

Obituary :
Br Albert Edwin Kelly SJ (1883-1967)
Bro. Albert Kelly died at Gardiner Street on Saturday, 21st January 1967. He had been ill for some months with several complaints and the doctor had not much hope of his recovery from the beginning of his illness. He had a long drawn out agony and for over a week before his death he did not eat or drink, though he was not quite unconscious and did not seem to suffer much, At his funeral an office, lauds and a High Mass were said, the first time such a rite was accorded to the obsequies of a Coadjutor Brother.
Albert Edwin Kelly was born on 25th October 1883, at Neemuch, Rajputana, Central India, where his father was engaged in army or administrative work. He was brought up in India and educated in different schools St. Mary's College, Bombay, St. Joseph's College, Bangalore, San Thome High School, Madras, and also for some time in the seminary at the same address. On leaving school he engaged in business as a salesman in leather goods. He was also for some time employed in the Indian Customs Preventive Service. In the First World War he joined the British army as a second lieutenant. He served in the eastern front. He did not speak freely about his military career. He took part in the Gallipoli campaign and spoke of the appalling losses, especially in officers, which the landing on the peninsula involved. He served also in the Salonica campaign. In 1919 at the end of the war he came to Ireland and in July of that year he entered the Society at St. Stanislaus College, Tullamore, and in February got his gown, and in due time pronounced his first vows. On 2nd February 1930 he took his final vows at Rathfarnham Castle. Most of his life in the Society was spent at Rathfarnham. He was stationed for brief periods at Belvedere, Milltown Park and Emo. At Rathfarnham he worked under Fr. Patrick Barrett and was busy organising the weekend and midweek retreats. He was transferred to Gardiner Street in September 1945 where he was manuductor and reader at table. For a long time he was in charge of the church door collections. Bro Albert did his various jobs in his own industrious way. He was always busy, quietly and unobtrusively. After the retreats at Rathfarnham and the Mass collections at Gardiner Street he made up his totals slowly and accurately. At Gardiner Street especially he packed his piles of coppers in a bag and carried the heavy if not precious load to the bank at a fixed day and hour. Some of the community would jokingly warn him to take care that he would not be coshed by some robber on his way. For some years he suffered from delusions and was inclined to see the hand and machinations of communists everywhere. He was an assiduous reader of the papal denunciations of communism and probably his delusions were due to his loyalty to the Church. He went about his work silently and did not easily enter into conversation. But at recreation he would sometimes expand and could describe some of his military adventures, or tell a story, grave or gay, with much effect.
The abiding impression that Bro. Albert left with those who lived with him was that of constant unobtrusive devotion to the job in hand. The lay staff and the congregation at Gardiner Street appreciated his work and devotion, though he was not particularly expansive. He was a conscientious, exact, religious; faithful in the observance of his exercises of piety. He gave edification by his devotion to duty, his quite unworldly spirit, his spirit of work, his charity and respect for all. In every community where he lived he was esteemed and liked. May he rest in peace.

Shiel, Joseph Aloysius, 1891-1969, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/403
  • Person
  • 23 August 1891-02 December 1969

Born: 23 August 1891, Lisheenabrone, Swinford, County Mayo
Entered: 06 September 1908, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 24 August 1923, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Final Vows: 02 February 1929
Died: 02 December 1969, Jamalpur, Bihar, India - Kolkata Province (CCU)

Transcribed HIB to BELG : 1911; BELG to CCU

Father is a Book keeper at a general grocery and bakery (J & E Dolphin). Mother is National School teacher. They have resided in Swinford Town for fourteen years.

Third of four sons (2nd and 4th deceased) and has a sister who is now also a National School Teacher.

Educated at the local Convent School Swinford from 9 to 14, and then the Marist Brothers at Swinford. In 1905 he went to Mungret College SJ

Irish Province News 52nd Year No 2 1977

Calcutta Province

Extract from a letter from a Jesuit of Calcutta Province, Darjeeling Region (Fr. Edward Hayden, St. Joseph's College, North Point, Darjeeling, Western Bengal)

I was one of the old “Intermediate” boys of the Christian Brothers, Carlow. I left off in 1910, 67 years ago, at the end of June. Yes, we learnt the Gaeilge. The Brothers - or some I met, one in particular, a Brother Doyle, was very keen on it. The others didn't teach it as it was only in the “Academy” that they began with languages: French, Gaeilge, Algebra, Euclid and of course English. (5th Book - Senior Elementary Class - was followed by the “Academy”). The Brothers had dropped Latin just before I joined the “Academy”. We were living at a distance of 5 Irish miles from Carlow, and I was delicate, so I often fell a victim of 'flu, which didn't help me to make progress in studies - made it very hard: but at that time the rule was “do or die”. There was only one excuse for not having home work done – you were dead! That was the training we had: it stood me in good stead through life; it is the one thing I am grateful for.
We had a number of Irishmen here, a handful: Fr Jos Shiel, Mayo, died in Patna. Fr James Comerford, Queen's County, died in Bihar. I met the Donnelly brothers, they were Dubliners. The one who died (Don) was Editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger. Many of his stories were about horse-racing - he must have read plenty of Nat Gould when he was a boy! (Nat wrote a number of horse-racing stories supposed to have been in Australia). There are three Irishmen in Ranchi: Frs Donnelly, Phelan and Lawlor. Fr Phelan has spent nearly his whole life in India. As a boy he was in North Point, and after his Senior Cambridge he joined the Society. At that time there was only the Missio Maior Bengalensis of the Belgian Province. The Mission took in half or more of north-east India - Patna, Ranchi and south of it, Assam, Bhutan and Sikkim - an area four or five times that of Ireland! Needless to say, there were parts of it which had no SJ within a hundred miles ...Down here in the Terai where I am “hibernating” out of the cold of Darjeeling, some forty-five years ago there was no priest. One or two of the professors of theology from Kurseong, some 40 miles away, used to visit this district at Christmas and Easter. It was very malarious. Catholics from Ranchi came here to work on the tea plantations. Then a Jesuit was sent to reside in it. Now the district has schools and Jesuits galore, also non-Jesuits. Great progress has been made. The Salesians took up Assam, the American SJs took over Patna. The Northern Belgians took over Ranchi and the Southern Belgians took Calcutta. (The Belgian Province grew till its numbers reached 1400. Then, about 1935, Belgian separated into Flemings - North - and Walloons - South). Ranchi was given to the North and Calcutta to the South. On the 15th August last year (1976) Calcutta was raised from being a Vice Province to be a full-blown Province. 100% of those joining the SJ now are sons of India. Madura in the south has been a Province for years. Nearly all the Europeans are dead: no more are allowed to come permanently unless for a very, very special reason, India has begun to send her sons to East Africa in recent years.
Fr Lawlor is Irish-born but somehow joined the Australian Province about the time it started a half-century or so ago.
Brother Carl Kruil is at present in charge of an ashram: a place for destitutes, in Siliguri. Silguri is a city which grew up in the last forty years around the terminus of the broad gauge railway and the narrow (two-foot) toy railway joining the plains with Darjeeling - one of the most wonderful lines in the world, rising from 300 feet above sea-level, 7,200 feet in about 50 miles and then dropping down to about 5,500 feet in another ten. Three times it loops the loop and three times climbs up by zig-zags. I seem to remember having met Fr Conor Naughton during the war. Quite a number of wartime chaplains came to Darjeeling. The mention of Siliguri set me off rambling. Br Krull remembers his visit to Limerick. (He stayed at the Crescent, 11th 13th June, 1969). He is a born mechanic. Anything in the line of machinery captivates him. He has to repair all the motors and oil engines – some places like this have small diesel generators which have to be seen to from time to time and all other kinds of machinery: cameras, typewriters etc. At present he comes here to do spot welding (electric welding of iron instead of bolts and nuts.
The PP, here is replacing an old simple shed with a corrugated iron roof by a very fine one with brick walls and asbestos-cement roof. Two years ago or so, the roof was lifted by a sudden whirlwind clean off the wooden pillars on which it rested. Since then he has been saying the Sunday Masses on the veranda of a primary school. In this school 235 children receive daily lessons and a small mid-day meal. The Sisters are those of St. Joseph of Cluny – all from South India. They are really heroines: no work is too difficult for them. They do all their own work and cook for us. Their Vice-Provincial is from somewhere in the centre of the “Emerald Gem”. They are growing in numbers and do great work, running a dispensary amongst other things. The church is very broad, approximately 90 by 60 feet. As no benches are used - people sit on the floor - it will hold nearly 450 people at a time. The altar is in one corner. :
Fr Robert Phelan (Ranchi Province) had a visit one night from dacoits (armed robbers), but with help managed to beat them off.
Ranchi had several of these raids last year. In nearly every case the dacoits managed to get some cash.
One night about two weeks ago a rogue elephant (one that is wild and roaming away from the herd) came to a small group of houses close by. A man heard the noise and came out. The elephant caught him by the leg and threw him on to a corn stack - fortunately. The corn stack of rice waiting to be thrashed was quite broad and flat on top! He was very little the worse for the experience. And that is the end of the news.
One more item: please ask the new Editor of the Irish Province News to let me have copies as (?) and send them by overland (surface mail). Even if they are three months coming, they will be news. God bless you and reward you handsomely.
Yours in our Lord,
Edward Hayden, SJ (born 15th October 1893, entered S.J. 1st February 1925, ordained 21st November 1933, took final vows on 2nd February 1936. Now conf. dom. et alumn. and script. hist. dom. at the above address).

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1913

Letters from Our Past

Father Joseph Shiel SJ

Rev Joseph Shiel SJ, writes from Shembaganur College, January 3rd, 1912.

I am now over a year in India, and.on the whole I find the climate agreeable. I am ever so pleased with my surroundings. The scenery is delightful, with cascades, forests and panoramic views, enough to please the most fastidious. There is a great mixture of nationalities in the College, but the spirit of charity is supreme.

This, or rather last year has been an eventful one for India. The Country is seething with excitement owing to the sweeping changes of Government made alter the Durbar. The Anglo Indians are not too well pleased with the change of capital; but of course time only will reveal whether their displeasure is reasonable or not. The Mahommedans are beside themselves with joy to have Delhi as capital again, and the Bengalis are settling down to quiet life again after the re-uniting of the two Bengals. For us Catholics the year was not without interest. St Francis Xavier's College, Calcutta, celebrated its Golden Jubilee last year, and a very big event it was. The past boys, Catholics, Protestants, Hindus and Mahommedans came together, subscribed generously and made the celebrations a great success. St Xaviers' is an institute of very high repute in India, “The Catholic Association of Bengal” was inaugurated on November 12th, by His Grace Dr Meulmans SJ, Archbishop of Calcutta. Over 10,000 catholics were present on the grounds of St Xavier's College, to take part in the proceedings. It was a very great manifestation and everything went off successfully.

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1923

Our Past

Father Joseph Shiel SJ

In a letter of January, 1923, from Kurseong, India, to the Rector of Mungret, Rev Joseph A Shiel SJ (M L S, 1905-'08), gives news of the mission in Bengal. He writes :

After the novitiate at Tullabeg, in 1910, I came out to India as a member of the Bengal Mission (the only one from Mungret).

Our Belgian confreres are very modest as to their doings in Bengal. Yet, since the days of the great Fr Lievens SJ, they have been working real wonders. Conversions are increasing to all extraordinary extent. Not only villages, but whole districts in Chota Nagpore are desirous of coming over to the Church. We are not too short of men, but since the world-war our finances have been in a very poor way. Some of us here have published a little pamphlet, entitled, “Voices from India”, which gives an outline of our missionary work. It is wonderful and most consoling - this work of rescuing souls from paganism and slavery; and, if I may judge by the remarkable progress of the Maynooth Mission to China, there is no people in the world more eager to help foreign missions than our own Irish people, once they know what mission work means. I am myself specially interested in the opening of one new station in Chota Nagpore. The work is of pressing necessity, as it means the acquisition of thousands of new converts. But the missionary responsible for its opening is destitute of all that is necessary to make a start. I have described the place and its needs in a pamphlet under the heading, “Waiting for the Dawn in Katanga”. I have, as we say, “adopted” Katanga. If Mungret and my old friends there can “adopt” me, they shall have the deepest gratitude, not only of myself but of the Katanga missioner and his converts. With every good wish for the prosperity of dear old Mungret, which has acquired missionary fame, I am, etc, etc

Sloan, John G, 1893-1947, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/408
  • Person
  • 06 July 1893-28 December 1947

Born: 06 July 1893, Benagh, Kilkeel, County Down
Entered: 01 October 1924, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: by 1937, Kurseong, India
Final Vows: 15 August 1937
Died: 28 December 1947, Korangi Creek, Karachi, Pakistan - Chigagensis Province (CHG) - Madurensis Mission (MDU) (in a plane crash)

Transcribed : HIB to TOLO 1926 to CHG 1928 (MDU)

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 23rd Year No 1 1948

Frs. G. Casey and C. O'Conor represented the Province at the Solem Requiem Mass celebrated at Kilkeel Church, Co. Down on 22nd January for the late Fr. John Sloan, S.J., of Patna Mission (Chicago Province) who perished in the Dakota crash outside Karachi on the night of 27th December. Fr. O'Conor was the Celebrant. A brief account of his career appears below.


Fr. John Sloan (1893-1924-1947) - Patna Mission

Fr. John Sloan (Patna Mission). Many of our Province who knew Fr. John at Tullabeg were shocked to learn of his tragic death in the last days of December, with twenty two others he perished in the Dakota crash just outside Karachi on the night of the 27th. He was at the time Superior of the missionary band (miss. excurr.) and on his way to give a mission.
Born at Benagh in the parish of Kilkeel, Co. Down in 1899, he went straight from the National School to business at John Hughes, Ltd., Liverpool. He appears to have attended night school at St. Francis Xavier's, where he met Fr. Bridge who arranged for his entry to Osterley, from which he came to our Novitiate on 1st October 1924. During the following year he was assigned to the Madura Mission of the Toulouse Province, where he completed his noviceship. He studied philosophy at Shembaganur, and during holidays, when catechising in various mission stations, began to show those talents for preaching which he put to such good use in after years. It was as a philosopher, too, that he started collecting funds for the building of a Church to St. Patrick at Periakulam, South India, a project which was warmly supported by the Bishop of Trichinopoly and was carried through to a successful issue. About 1928 Fr. General granted Mr. Sloan permission to transfer to the Patna Mission of the Chicago Province, where he enjoyed much better health and secured congenial work. On the completion of his philosophy in November 1930, he set out for Patna, where, to his amazement, he found himself Procurator of the Mission and residing at Bishop's House, Banakipore. At the end of the following year he went to Kurseong for theology and was ordained priest on 21st November, 1934.
After his Tertianship he served at various mission stations until 1937, when he became head of a missionary group, engaged in the giving of missions throughout India, a post be held till his untimely death, He travelled extensively by air during the ten years of this fruitful apostolate, and had only returned from the Persian Gulf a few days before the end.
He was the recipient of a personal letter of congratulation from our Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, on the success of his work. Fr, Sloan was never in Ireland after he left it as a novice, in 1925.
He is survived by two sisters : Mrs. Harper, Greencastle, Ballyardle, Co. Down, and Mrs. Cavin, St. Anthony, Idaho, and by a brother, Fr. Francis Sloan, pastor of St. Teresa's Church, Midvale, Utah, R.I.P.

Irish Province News 23rd Year No 3 1948

Letter from Fr. J. A. MacSeumais, R. A. F. Staging Post, Mauripur.
“I am still awaiting a plane for Singapore. However, there is a possibility that I may be away tomorrow. This Station is served by Dutch Franciscans from St. Patrick's Church, Karachi. I was in there on Sunday and met the Superior Ecclesiasticus of this Area, Mgr. Alcuin Van Miltenburg, O.F.M. He it was who made all the arrangements for the burial of Fr. John Sloan, S.J. Fr. Sloan was travelling from Karachi Airport to Ceylon, in a TATA Dakota when the plane crashed at Karonji creek about 15 miles from Karachi Airport. The Mother Superior of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and one of her nuns, Mother Anthony, an Irishwoman, were called to St. Teresa's Nursing Home, Karachi to prepare Fr. Sloan's body for burial. He is buried in the Catholic Plot at Karachi Cemetery where several other Jesuits are buried. I visited Fr. Sloan's grave on Sunday and I hope to obtain a photograph of it.
The German Jesuits had the Mission of Sind and Baluchistan, and after the First World War, it was taken over by the other Provinces. In 1935, it was taken over by the Franciscans. There is a magnificent Memorial in front of St. Patrick's, built in honour of the Kingship of Christ and commemorating the work done by the Society in this Mission. Under the Memorial is a crypt and in a passage behind the altar is the ‘The Creation of Hell’ by Ignacio Vas, a number of figures of the damned being tortured in Hell. Indefinite depth is added by an arrangement of mirrors”.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father John Sloan 1893-1947
John Sloan has been described by his biographer as a Francis Xavier from Ulster. Born in Kilkeel County Down in 1898, he was what we might have called a late vocation. At the age of 23 he entered Osterley College in London, under Fr Lester, to fill in the gaps in his education. In 1924 he entered the Irish noviceship, during the course of which he was selected for the Indian Mission. Eventually in India, he was attached to the American Misison at Patna. Here began his life’s work.

The All-India Mission Band, which travelled the length and breadth of India, preaching Missions, mainly to English speaking residents. His conversions were untold, and the harder the case, the better John Sloan liked it. He was also responsible for numerous late vocations. His energy was boundless, though his frame was frail. Being warned by his doctor to take at least a year’s rest, he replied “I am only looking for eternal rest”.

He had just finished a Mission to oil-workers in the Persian Gulf and was on route to Ceylon to begin another campaign. The plane he boarded at Karachi on December 27th 1947 blew up after being air-borne ten minutes, and his broken body was picked up some ten miles from the city. He had had a premonition of disaster and had made a general confession in the Franciscans before embarking.

A truly apostolic soul, the fruits of his work are still to be seen, and many a priest thanks God daily at his Mass, that he met John Sloan.

White, Esmonde, 1875-1957, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/442
  • Person
  • 15 March 1875-28 April 1957

Born: 15 March 1875, Madras, India
Entered: 07 September 1892, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 26 July 1908, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1910, Sacred Heart College SJ, Limerick
Died: 28 April 1957, Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin

Part of the Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin community at the time of death

Early education at Clongowes Wood College SJ

by 1896 at Valkenburg, Netherlands (GER) studying
Came to Australia for Regency, 1898
by 1909 at Drongen Belgium (BELG) making Tertianship

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Though born in India, Esmonde White was educated in Ireland. For regency he went to Riverview .There he stayed a relatively brief time, teaching and being assistant prefect of discipline, before departing in the autumn of 1901 for the same position at Xavier until 1905, when he returned to Ireland. From 1909 he was involved in the school ministry in Ireland.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 32nd Year No 3 1957
Obituary :
Fr Esmonde White (1875-1957)
Within a period of twelve months, Rathfarnham has lost four of its older men. Perhaps none of them has left so big a gap as “the quiet man”, Fr. White. Yet so it is; for, shrouded though he was in an almost fantastic silence, Fr. White was always there. Religious duties, meals, recreation, from none of these did he ever absent himself. He could be called bi-lingual inasmuch as his chief contribution to recreation was the statement, in Irish or English, “No doubt at all about it?” Perhaps he was on more familiar terms with the birds, whose calls, especially that of the cuckoo, he could faithfully reproduce. Certain it is that he never said an unkind word. No one who knew Fr. White would infer that this was merely the negative virtue of a very silent man. In the first place, it is certain that he had not always been so silent. In his student days at Valkenburg he had acquired so good a mastery of the language as to merit, in later years, the emphatic comment of a German Jesuit : “That man speaks German well”. Moreover his genial charity showed itself very positively in action, for he loved to see people happy. One who was with him in the colleges remarked: “He was always doing odd jobs for others and made so little compliment about them that, in Belvedere for example, if anyone wanted something in Woolworths, he had only to ask Fr. White, and off he went!”
Fr. White was born on 15th March, 1875 in Madras, India. Educated in Clongowes, he gained his place in the three-quarters on the Senior Cup team, played a useful game of Soccer, and bowled on the Cricket eleven. To the end of his life he bowled, left-arm, silently, at invisible wickets - one of his most characteristic gestures. He entered the Society at Tullabeg in 1892, studied philosophy at Valkenburg, and spent the seven following years in Australia, teaching at Xavier and at Riverview. He was ordained at Milltown Park in 1908, did his Tertianship at Tronchienues and spent the remainder of his long life in the class room. All told, he taught for thirty-eight years. He taught at the Crescent from 1910 to 1914, being Prefect of Studies for the two latter years, He was at Belvedere 1915-19, and again from 1923 to 1937, having been in the meantime Minister and Socius at Tullabeg and Prefect of Studies at Galway. Then after a year at Emo and two years at Rathfarnham, as Spiritual Father, he went back to Belvedere, 1941-47, as Sub-Minister. After one year at Milltown Park he came in 1948 to Rathfarnham, where he remained until his death.
With the drawbridge of his interior castle perpetually up, he seemed very happy within, as he tunefully hummed and whistled, to the edification of the brethren without. He loved Belvedere College and when, after a stay of two years in Rathfarnham, he saw his name again on the Belvedere status, he literally danced with joy, at the sober age of sixty-five! While Prefect of Studies in Belvedere Junior House, he combined gentleness with severity in such perfect measure that a past pupil recalls: “He hit very hard with the pandy bat but obviously felt every bit as miserable about it as the unfortunate victim!” The same pupil added, and none of us could deny the tribute: “He was one of Nature's gentlemen!” Those of us who lived with him would suggest that Grace played a bigger part than Nature in making Fr. White one of the kindest of men.
His last illness was short. Some six weeks after leaving Rathfarnham for the Nursing Home, his condition suddenly worsened and he died in the Hospice on 28th April, Before leaving Rathfarnham, he made an interrogation of unusual length: “Two questions are puzzling me”, he said to the indefatigable infirmarian. “First of all, who are you?” When Brother Keogh had identified himself, Fr. White went on: “Secondly, who am I?” With sincerity and truth we can all answer the second question : “One white man!” May he rest in peace!

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Esmonde White SJ 1875-1957
To those who lived in community with him, Fr Esmonde White seemed to be almost shrouded in an fantastic silence. He certainly was a perfect man, according to St James, for he never offended with the tongue, his remarks being confined to “No doubt at all about it”, said either in English or Irish.

Born in Madras, India, in 1975, he was educated at Clongowes, where he acquired a reputation as a left-hand bowler, whence, no doubt, he developed a gesture common with him to the end of his life, bowling left-handed at invisible wickets.

His life as a Jesuit was spent mainly in the Colleges and the classroom, a ministry of 40 years at least. He was mathematical in his observance, never absent from a duty, ever easy to oblige others, the quintessence of kindness, A model of motivated observance, close to God always, he yielded up his spotless soul to God on April 27th 1957. In the words of his obituary “He was a white man”.

◆ The Belvederian, Dublin, 1957


Father Esmonde White SJ

Fr White was born on 15th March, 1875, in Madras, India. Educated in Clongowes, he gained his place as a three-quarter on the Senior Cup team, played a useful game of Soccer, and bowled on the cricket eleven. And anyone who knew him or was taught by him will know that to the very end of his life he was to be seen as he walked along, occasionally bowling, left-arm, an invisible ball at an invisible wicket.

He entered the Society of Jesus at Tullabeg in 1892, studied Philosophy at Valkenburg, and spent the seven following years in Australia. He was ordained at Milltown Park in 1908, He taught at the Crescent, Limerick, from 1910 to 1914, being Prefect of Studies for the two latter years. He was. at Belvedere 1915-1919, and again from 1923 to 1937, having been in the meantime Minister and Assistant to the Master of Novices at Tullabeg and Prefect of Studies at St Ignatius College, Galway, Then, after a year at Emo and two years at Rathfarnham as Spiritual Father, he went back to Belvedere from 1941–1947. From then until his death he was at Rathfarnham.

He loved Belvedere and when after a stay at Rathfarnham, he once again was changed to Belvedere we are told that he literally danced for joy, and that at the very sober age of sixty-five! He was Prefect of Studies in the Preparatory School for a period and for all his perpetually good humour knew well how to wield his sceptre of office. His most outstanding characteristic was his fantastic power of silence; he wasted no words. But it was a good-humoured silence, which missed little enough of what was going on and certain it is that his thoughts were always kindly since he never said an unkind word. Those of us who lived with him would suggest that Grace played a bigger part than Nature in making Fr White one of the kindest of men.

◆ The Clongownian, 1957


Father Esmonde White SJ

Father Esmonde White was born in Madras, India, eighty-two years ago. Having left Clongowes, he joined the Novitiate at Tullabeg in 1892. He studied philosophy at Valkenburg in Holland and was then sent to the Australian Mission where he was Prefect and Master for six years, first in Kew College, Melbourne, and then at Riverview, Sydney.

He returned to Ireland in 1905 and completed his theological studies at Milltown Park, Dublin, where he was ordained in 1908. He also studied at Tronchiennes, Belgium. He was Master and Prefect of Studies at the Sacred Heart College, Limerick, from 1910 to 1914, and at Belvedere College, Dublin, from 1915 until 1919, when he was appointed Minister and Assistant Master of Novices at Tullabeg.

He was later in charge of studies at St Ignatius' College, Galway. In 1923 he returned to Belvedere, and remained there until 1937, when he was transferred to Rathfarnham Castle. May he rest in peace.

◆ The Crescent : Limerick Jesuit Centenary Record 1859-1959

Bonum Certamen ... A Biographical Index of Former Members of the Limerick Jesuit Community

Father Esmonde White (1875-1957)

Born at Madras, India and educated at Clongowes, entered the Society in 1892. He pursued his higher studies in Valkenburg, Milltown Park and Belgium. He was ordained in 1908. Father White was a member of the Crescent community from 1909 to 1914 during which time he was prefect of studies. Most of his teaching career was spent at Belvedere College.