Item 1190 - Fr William Dinan SJ

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IE IJA J/1190


Fr William Dinan SJ


  • 2021 (Creation)

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(10 June 1778-24 May 1836)

Biographical history

Born: 10 June 1778, County Waterford
Entered: 07 September 1805, Hodder, Stonyhurst, England - Angliae Province (ANG)
Ordained: Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Final vows: 27 September 1832
Died: 24 May 1836, Clongowes Wood College SJ, County Kildare

In Clongowes 1817

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
Studied at Stonyhurst and Palermo, where he was Ordained.
For some years he was an assistant to a PP in Dublin.
He was eventually appointed Procurator at Clongowes where he died.

◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
He was very remarkable for his devotion to the Blessed Virgin, for his love of the Society and his care for the poor. His death was a source of wonder and edification to all on account of the heroic fortitude he had displayed during his illness. On one occasion, holding out his hands all swollen with dropsy, he said to someone “Look at these hands, how unsightly and shapeless they are! But what does it matter, seeing that I am going to God”.

◆ Fr Joseph McDonnell SJ Past and Present Notes :
16th February 1811 At the advance ages of 73, Father Betagh, PP of the St Michael Rosemary Lane Parish Dublin, Vicar General of the Dublin Archdiocese died. His death was looked upon as almost a national calamity. Shops and businesses were closed on the day of his funeral. His name and qualities were on the lips of everyone. He was an ex-Jesuit, the link between the Old and New Society in Ireland.

Among his many works was the foundation of two schools for boys : one a Classical school in Sall’s Court, the other a Night School in Skinner’s Row. One pupil received particular care - Peter Kenney - as he believed there might be great things to come from him in the future. “I have not long to be with you, but never fear, I’m rearing up a cock that will crow louder and sweeter for yopu than I ever did” he told his parishioners. Peter Kenney was to be “founder” of the restored Society in Ireland.

There were seventeen Jesuits in Ireland at the Suppression : John Ward, Clement Kelly, Edward Keating, John St Leger, Nicholas Barron, John Austin, Peter Berrill, James Moroney, Michael Cawood, Michael Fitzgerald, John Fullam, Paul Power, John Barron, Joseph O’Halloran, James Mulcaile, Richard O’Callaghan and Thomas Betagh. These men believed in the future restoration, and they husbanded their resources and succeeded in handing down to their successors a considerable sum of money, which had been saved by them.

A letter from the Acting General Father Thaddeus Brezozowski, dated St Petersburg 14/06/1806 was addressed to the only two survivors, Betagh and O’Callaghan. He thanked them for their work and their union with those in Russia, and suggested that the restoration was close at hand.

A letter from Nicholas Sewell, dated Stonyhurst 07/07/1809 to Betagh gives details of Irishmen being sent to Sicily for studies : Bartholomew Esmonde, Paul Ferley, Charles Aylmer, Robert St Leger, Edmund Cogan and James Butler. Peter Kenney and Matthew Gahan had preceded them. These were the foundation stones of the Restored Society.

Returning to Ireland, Kenney, Gahan and John Ryan took residence at No3 George’s Hill. Two years later, with the monies saved for them, Kenney bought Clongowes as a College for boys and a House of Studies for Jesuits. From a diary fragment of Aylmer, we learn that Kenney was Superior of the Irish Mission and Prefect of Studies, Aylmer was Minister, Claude Jautard, a survivor of the old Society in France was Spiritual Father, Butler was Professor of Moral and Dogmatic Theology, Ferley was professor of Logic and Metaphysics, Esmonde was Superior of Scholastics and they were joined by St Leger and William Dinan. Gahan was described as a Missioner at Francis St Dublin and Confessor to the Poor Clares and irish Sisters of Charity at Harold’s Cross and Summerhill. Ryan was a Missioner in St Paul’s, Arran Quay, Dublin. Among the Scholastics, Brothers and Masters were : Brothers Fraser, Levins, Connor, Bracken, Sherlock, Moran, Mullen and McGlade.

Trouble was not long coming. Protestants were upset that the Jesuits were in Ireland and sent a petition was sent to Parliament, suggesting that the Vow of Obedience to the Pope meant they could not have an Oath of Allegiance to the King. In addition, the expulsion of Jesuits from all of Europe had been a good thing. Kenney’s influence and diplomatic skills resulted in gaining support from Protestants in the locality of Clongowes, and a counter petition was presented by the Duke of Leinster on behalf of the Jesuits. This moment passed, but anto Jesuit feelings were mounting, such as in the Orange faction, and they managed to get an enquiry into the Jesuits and Peter Kenney and they appeared before the Irish Chief Secretary and Provy Council. Peter Kenney’s persuasive and oratorical skills won the day and the enquiry group said they were satisfied and impressed.

Over the years the Mission grew into a Province with Joseph Lentaigne as first Provincial in 1860. In 1885 the first outward undertaking was the setting up of an Irish Mission to Australia by Lentaigne and William Kelly, and this Mission grew exponentially from very humble beginnings.

Later the performance of the Jesuits in managing UCD with little or no money, and then outperforming what were known as the “Queen’s Colleges” forced the issue of injustice against Catholics in Ireland in the matter of University education. It is William Delaney who headed up the effort and create the National University of Ireland under endowment from the Government.from the Government.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father William Dinan 1778-1836
At Clongowes Wood College on May 11th 1836 died Fr William Dinan. Born in Waterford in 1778, he entered the Society in 1805, making his studies first at Stonyhurst, then in Palermo, where he was ordained.

On his return to Ireland he worked for some years at St Michan’s parish in Dublin. He then became Oeconomus in Clongowes, a post he held for a long time.

He was remarkable for his love of the Blessed Virgin, for his love of the Society and for the poor.

His death was a source of great edification to all on account of the heroic fortitude he displayed during his last illness. On one occasions, holding out his hands all swollen with dropsy, he said “Look a these poor hands, how unsightly and shapeless they are. But what does it matter, srring as I am going to God”.

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
DINAN, WILLIAM, was born at Waterford on the 10th of June, 1778, and joined the Society with several others at Hodder, in 1805. He commenced his Theological studies at Stonyhurst, and finished them at Palermo in Sicily, where he was ordained Priest. On his return to Ireland, he was for several years Assistant to a Parish Priest in Dublin; but eventually was employed as Procurator at Clongowes Wood College, near Dublin, and during a lengthened period discharged the duties of that office with exemplary zeal and punctuality. He breathed his last at Clongowes on the 24th May, 1836, with the greatest calmness and resignation, Prof. 4.

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