File 58 - Consultor's letters from Fr Edward Masterson SJ, St Ignatius College, Galway to Irish Fr Provincial

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Consultor's letters from Fr Edward Masterson SJ, St Ignatius College, Galway to Irish Fr Provincial


  • 7 March 1913; 30 January 1914; 7 January 1928 (Creation)

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3 items

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(02 April 1856-05 February 1935)

Biographical history

Born: 02 April 1856, Corduff, County Cavan
Entered: 22 January 1877, Milltown Park, Dublin
Ordained: 26 July 1891
Final Vows: 25 March 1896, Sacred Heart College SJ, Limerick
Died: 05 February 1935, Milltown Park, Dublin

Came to Australia 1899

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Edward Masterson entered the Society at Milltown Park, Dublin, 22 January 1877, and after his juniorate taught Greek, Latin, French, English and mathematics at Clongowes Wood, 1880-81, and then again from 1886-87. He taught the senior examination class English, classics, and French at Tullabeg College, 1882-86 .
Philosophy studies were broken and undertaken at Milltown Park, 1881-82, 1887-88, then at Mungret, 1888-89. Theology followed at Milltown Park, 1889-93, and tertianship 1894-95. He became professed of the four Vows 25 March 1896.
Before being sent to Australia, Masterson was prefect of studies at the Crescent, Limerick 1893-94 and 1895-97. For a short time, 1897-98, he lectured in theology at Milltown Park.
His first appointment in Australia was teaching at Riverview, 1898-1901, and then 1905-06. He also taught at St Aloysius' College, Milsons Point, and gave philosophy lectures at
St John's University College, 1901-02.
He worked in the parish of Norwood, 1903-05, and returned to Ireland in 1906, where he taught and did parish work in Galway. He was also at Mungret teaching philosophy, and at Milltown Park professing canon law, scripture and philosophy.
He certainly moved regularly. He was a learned man, and wrote letters to the papers defending the Catholic side against the Orangemen during the infamous O’Haran case in Sydney

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 2nd Year No 3 1927
Jubilee :
On February 3rd at St. Ignatius', Galway, Fr. Masterson celebrated his Golden jubilee. In order to be present Fr Provincial travelled from Dublin. He, Frs Rector, Minister and Coghlan spoke in grateful terms of all that Fr. Masterson had done for the Society. The Jubilarian, deeply moved at all the kind things said about him, made a suitable reply. Fr. Masterson held a number of the most important positions in the province. He was Socius to the Master of Novices, Prefect of Studies, and had charge of the Short Course at Milltown. 1898 found him at Riverview. He remained in Australia until 1906, and during that time proved himself one of the sturdiest and most successful champions of Catholicity in Australia. After his return to Ireland he was for many years diocesan examiner in Galway, and subsequently professed Canon Law and Philosophy at Milltown. These absorbing occupations did not prevent him contributing to the Press very many erudite articles on every variety of Theological thought.
Fr. Masterson possesses in a high degree the gift of making sincere friends. This was very much evidenced at the Jubilee. He received more than 100 letters and telegrams, and every oneof them he answered with his own hand. This proves that there is hope of many years sterling work before him still and this hope finds a place in the heart of every member of the Irish province.

Irish Province News 10th Year No 2 1935
Obituary :
Father Edward Masterson
Father Masterson was born at Corduff, Co. Cavan, 2nd April 1856, and educated at the Seminary in Cavan. He began his novitiate at Milltown Park on the 22nd January, 1877, and
remained there as Novice and junior until 1880, when he was sent to Clongowes. After a year he returned to Milltown, got through one year of philosophy, but then had to travel to
Tullabeg, where he taught until 1886 - “amalgamation year” - when he went with the Tullabeg Community to Clongowes. After a year, philosophy was resumed at Milltown, finished at Mungret, and then theology commenced at Milltown in 1889. After the four years we find him Prefect of Studies at the Crescent, the following year a Tertian and Socius to the Master of Novices in Tullabeg, then Milltown, where he professed the Short Course, and in 1898 he turns up in Riverview, Australia. He remained in Australia, doing work in various houses, until 1906, when he was back in Ireland, and stationed in Galway. Here he taught, worked in the church, and for some years was Diocesan Examiner until 1915, when he became Professor of Canon Law at Milltown.
From 1920 to 1922 he taught philosophy at Mungret, then returned to Milltown as Professor first year philosophy, until 1926, when Galway saw him once more as Oper., etc. In 1930 he went to Militown for the last time, and remained there until his death on Tuesday, 5th February, 1935. Father Masterson is entered in the Catalogues 20 times as Cons. Dom. and 18 times as Praes. Coll.
The following tributes to the memory of Father Masterson give us a very true estimate of his character :
From Mr. Costelloe :
These few lines will record a tribute from Milltown Park to the memory of Father Edward Masterson. It is not as a great theologian or brilliant controversialist who brought renown to the Society that the present generation of scholastics will chiefly remember him, although they knew him to be both, but as a religious who by his great kindness and charity endeared himself to all the members of the Society who were privileged to live with him.
All knew that he profited in no small measure by his Jesuit training, and combined in an extraordinary and marked degree the Christlike quality of being all things to all men. Yet I think, it is not untrue to say, that he was most happy and most at his ease when mixing and conversing with the scholastics. The late Father Henry Fegan said of him “I knew no other Jesuit who loves so much to spend his spare time with the young men”. He loved to join them at recreation on the corridors or in the garden. He shared their interests, counseled and encouraged them in their undertakings and applauded generously their successes. For those of other Provinces, there was always the kindly word of welcome on arrival, and the sincere God speed on departure. All knew by hearsay and some by experience the compelling force of his cogent logic, yet he was at all times a most considerate examiner. When a nervous scholastic came before him for examination in theology, it was his custom to begin by putting a straightforward question entailing little thought in order to soothe unsteady nerves and arouse feelings of self confidence. The unsuccessful candidate, particularly in moral theology, was the recipient of much consolation and encouragement. The writer of these lines saw him when a man of 78 years of age climbing several lofty flights of stairs to convey sympathy and hope to one who failed to enlist the favour of his examiners. As a professor he was slow to censure but quick to apportion a full meed of praise. Though his mind was of a serious cast, he was not wanting in a sense of humour and loved to hear or relate a good story. When death robbed a member of the community of one near and dear he was among the first to proper in an unobtrusive way, an appropriate word of genuine sympathy and an assurance of a first intention in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. All who knew him could not fail to be impressed with his deep fidelity to the Society and its traditions.
He was a deeply religious man, exact and careful in the performance of his spiritual duties. In the later years of life, although burdened by ill-health, he never deviated or sought relaxation from the common life of the community, and was a continual source of edification and indeed envy to many some fifty years his junior, He has left a sweet memory enshrined in the hearts of those who lived with him at Milltown Park, and our community, though considerably the poorer by his passing is made rich by the remembrance of his kind deeds. May he rest in peace.

From Father MacSheehan :
Father Masterson was associated with Galway for nearly 20 years, having come here for the first time about 1906, shortly after his return from Australia. Both as teacher and preacher he immediately won an outstanding name for himself, for he was as familiar with the old Delphin Classics as with the works of Newman and Lacordaire. Here however, as elsewhere, it was as theologian that he was best known and esteemed. At the diocesan conferences his opinion was invariably sought when any abstruse or disputed point was in question, and his accuracy for references was a bye-word. He was for some time diocesan examiner of young priests, and the late Bishop did him the honor of submitting to him for revision a new course of catechetical instructions he had just drawn up. With his pen, too, he was busy in Galway, and when delicate health and overstrain of work compelled him to lie up for a few days, it was invariably a sign that he had been pouring too long over his beloved Ballerini, preparing yet another article on “Recidivi” that would bring dismay and consternation among the ranks of his adversaries. (incidentally it is a pity that this particular series of articles has never appeared in pamphlet form.) But, if he could “slay his enemies” on paper, no one could be more genial in social intercourse and in community life. The many warm and lasting friendships that he formed both with externs and especially with the young men of the Society, bear ample testimony thereto. That he claimed many friends in Galway is shown by the fact that hardly a year passed that he did not revisit it, that many in Galway claimed him as a friend, by the spontaneous grief and sorrow with which the news of his demise was heard. The prayer of each and everyone of these is that he may rest forever in the sweet friendship of the Lord.

During his last stay at Milltown, Father Masterson was confessor to some of our well-known public men. Amongst the general public who attended his funeral were : Mr. P. J. Little, T.D., representing Mr. de Valera; Mr. T. O. Deirg Minister for Education; Mr. W. Honohan, representing Mr MacEntee, Minister for Finance; Mr. Sean Brady, TD; Mrs de Valera; Mr. F. Fahy; Mrs. Concannon TD; Mr. Louis Walsh, DJ; the President of the High Court and Mrs. Sullivan.
By mistake Father Masterson's name was left out of the 1923 Catalogue. It is certain that in 1922-23 he was Professor of first year philosophy. One of his pupils of that year writes “I remember being impressed by his great care in preparing lectures, and, in general, by his devotion to his work. He always seemed to set a very high store on doing what he considered his duty.”

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father Edward Masterson SJ 1856-1935
Edward Masterson was born at Corduff Couthy Cavan in 1856 and received his early education at St Patrick’s Seminary, Cavan. He entered the Society in 1877, the noviceship then being in Milltown Park.

His Regency and Philosophy were erratic, commuting between Milltown, Clongowes and Tullabeg. He was a Master on the staff in Tullabeg in the fateful year of 1886 and migrated to Clongowes on the amalgamation of the two Colleges that year. After his Ordination in Milltown in 1892 he was Prefect of Studies at Crescent for some time, and then after his tertianship he began to profess in Milltown Park.

He went to Australia in 1898 where he began to show that talent for controversy which was to make him famous afterwards. He defended the Catholic doctrines on mental reservation brilliantly in a controversy which excited the widest attention.

He returned after 8 years in Australia, and was stationed in Galway from 1906-1915. In the latter year he became Professor of Canon Law in Milltown, where he spent the rest of his life, except for a brief period at Mungret, and another at Galway. In all he was associated with Galway for 20 years, where his reputation as a theologian was extremely high and where he still plied his pen. To this period date his series of articles on “Recidivi” in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record. It was at Milltown that he defended the political opinions of Suarez against a Professor of Clonliffe. After expounding Suarez’s view he said “This is the doctrine that is taught on the banks of the Tiber, let us now see what is taught on the banks of the Tolka”.

He was a most kindly man, renowned for his interest in the young theologians, a most considerate examiner, the first to console the fallen and to congratulate the victor. Much consulted by public men acting as their ever-ready counsellor and confessor. A deeply religious man, renowned for his religious observance, seeking no relaxation on account of his health, he ended his active and fruitful life at Milltown Park on February 5th 1935.

◆ The Crescent : Limerick Jesuit Centenary Record 1859-1959

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

Father Edward Masterson (1856-1935)

Born at Corduff, Co. Cavan and educated at the diocesan College of St Patrick, entered the Society in 1877. He was ordained at Milltown Park in 1892. Father Masterson was a member of the Crescent community in 1893-94 and from 1895 to 1897, during which time he held the office of prefect of studies. In 1897 he left for Australia and remained on the mission until 1906. On his return to Ireland, he was stationed at Galway until 1915 when he was appointed to the chair of Canon Law at Milltown Park. With the exception of a few years as lecturer in philosophy at Mungret or back once more in Galway, Father Masterson spent most of his time at Milltown Park. He had a facile pen in theological or philosophical controversies of other days, and was esteemed in his time as an able spiritual adviser.

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A file of Consultor's letters from Fr Edward Masterson SJ, St Ignatius College, Galway to Irish Fr Provincial concerning community matters.

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