Mackey, Ernest, 1884-1968, Jesuit priest and missioner

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Mackey, Ernest, 1884-1968, Jesuit priest and missioner

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09 January 1884-18 January 1968

History

Born: 09 January 1884, Nenagh, County Tipperary
Entered: 07 September 1901, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1916
Professed: 02 February 1922
Died: 18 January 1968, St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin

Part of the Manresa House, Dollymount, Dublin community at the time of death

by 1905 at St Aloysius, Jersey, Channel Islands (FRA) studying
Came to Australia for Regency 1907

◆ Companions in Mission 1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Note from Eddie O’Connor Entry
Fr Ernest Mackey S.J. was a well known school retreat giver. The vocations of Fr Eddie O'Connor and a few years later of Walter, his brother, were influenced by him. The father of the two brothers was Peter 0'Connor a local lawyer and former Olympic champion. The story has it that Peter, encountering Fr Mackey after Fr. Eddie had entered the Society, said
‘That man has taken one of my sons’. Fr Mackey's undaunted reply was, ‘And now, he is coming to take another (Walter)’.

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Ernest Mackey entered the Society in 1901, and, as a regent, taught at St Aloysius' College in 1908, and was prefect of discipline. He did the same work at Riverview, 1909-10, and Xavier, 1911-12, and was finally at St Patrick's College.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 12th Year No 4 1937
Rev. Michael Garahy, S.J., and Rev. Ernest Mackey, S.J. have been invited by the Most Rev. Bishop Francis Hennemann, P.S.M DD., to preach at the approaching Centenary Eucharistic Congress - which has already met with a good deal of opposition - to be held at Capetown, South Africa. Dr. Hennemann is Vicar Apostolic of the Western Vicariate of Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope.
Word has come to say that His Lordship is to send full Faculties to the Fathers by air-mail-including power to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation-for the Catholics on Ascension Island and the Island of St, Helena, both of which fall under his jurisdiction.
They will preach during Congress Week at the Pontifical High Mass and at the Mass Meeting for Men. There will be an official broadcast of these functions, which are to be held in the open air at a short distance from St. Mary's Cathedral.
During the course of their stay in South Africa they are due to deliver special lectures on Catholic Action and kindred subjects to Catholic Men's Societies and to Catholic Women's Leagues. Their programme includes also a series of missions and parochial Retreats throughout the Vicariate beginning at the Cathedral Capetown, as a preparation for the Congress, which is fixed to take place from January 9th-16th, 1938. A special Congress Stamp has been issued to commemorate the event.
At the close of the January celebrations they intend to continue their apostolic labours in the Eastern Vicariate at the request of the Most Rev. Bishop McSherry, D,D,, Senior Prelate of South Africa.
Father Garahy is well-known throughout the country since he relinquished his Chair of Theology at Milltown Park in 1914 to devote his energies to the active ministry.
Father Mackey has been Superior of the Jesuit Mission staff in Ireland since 1927. During his absence in South Africa, Father J Delaney, S.J., Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin, will take over his duties. Fathers Mackey and Garahy leave for Capetown on Tuesday, 24th August, 1937, and are expected back in Ireland about Easter, 1938.
Father Mackey has just received a cablegram from Bishop Hennemann asking him to give the Priests' Retreat at Cape Town.

Irish Province News 13th Year No 1 1938
Our two Missioners to South Africa, Fathers Mackey and Garahy reached Cape Town on 23rd September.
The voyage was uneventful. They landed at Las Palmas and visited the centre of the Island.
Writing about the road, overhanging a steep precipice, over which they travelled, Father Garahy tells us : “I realised there was nothing between us and eternity except a few feet of road. It seemed to be a matter of inches when we crawled past other cars coming down.” They paid one more visit before reaching Cape Town, and Father Garahy's description is : “A spot of earth more arid than Ascension it would be hard to find outside the Sahara, and yet it grazes about 400 sheep and some cattle on one spot called the Green Mountain.”
Work began the very day after their arrival at Cape Town - a Retreat by Father Mackey to Legion of Mary, with five lectures a day. On the next Sunday, Father Garahy preached at all three Masses in the Cathedral, and again in the evening, The Mission began on Sunday, 3rd October, and from that date to Christmas the missioners had only one free week.

Irish Province News 13th Year No 2 1938
Our two Missioners, Fathers Mackey and Garahy, continue to do strenuous and widely extended work in South Africa. A source of genuine pleasure to them, and one that they fully appreciate, is the very great kindness shown to them by all the priests, not least among them by the Capuchins from Ireland. In the short intervals between the Missions the two Missioners were taken in the priests cars to every spot in the Cape worth seeing. They are only too glad to acknowledge that they will never forget the amount of kindness lavished on them.
In spite of fears the Eucharistic Congress in South Africa was an undoubted success, A pleasant and peculiar incident of the celebration was an “At Home” given by the Mayor of Capetown Mr. Foster, a Co, Down Presbyterian, to the Bishops, priests and prominent laymen. About 600 were present.

Irish Province News 13th Year No 3 1938
South Africa :

A very decided and novel proof of the success of the South African Mission is given by the letter of a certain Mr. Schoernan, a Dutch Protestant, who owns an extensive estate near Johannesburg. This gentleman wrote directly to the Apostolic Delegate for the Union of South Africa requesting that Fathers Mackey and Garahy should be invited to give a series of sermons and lectures to the non Catholics throughout the Transvaal. He had heard the sermons of these two Jesuit Fathers at the Catholic Congress at Cape Town, and concluded at once that the method and style of treatment of their sermons would make an immense appeal. He himself would be prepared to assist in the financing of such a scheme. “Surely”, he concluded, “Ireland could easily afford to forgo their services for a few months longer.”
The Delegate sent on the letter to Dr. O'Leary, Vicar Apostolic of the Transvaal. to answer. Dr, O'Leary explained that the two Fathers had to cancel many other invitations owing to pressure of work at home.
Mr. Schuman answered the Archbishop through Dr. O'Leary still pressing his own proposal.
The Press, including the Protestant Press, has been equally emphatic as to the success of the Mission. A contributor to “The Daily Dispatch”, a Protestant paper writes :
“A mission for Catholics in East London is now in progress at the Church of the Immaculate Conception. It is being conducted by two ]esuits, Father Mackey and Father Garahy, members of the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus..... Hitherto, missions in this diocese have been preached, almost exclusively, by members of the Redemptorist Order.... , A Jesuit mission, therefore, is a change, because the methods and style of the Jesuits are different from those of the other Orders in the Church. There is not so much thunder about the Jesuits. They preach more the mercy of God than His anger and His justice. They appeal more to one's intellect and sense of reason than to the emotions.
It has been essentially a mission to Catholics. Controversial subjects have been avoided, but in the sermons there has been a wealth of information and teaching invaluable even to those firmly established in the Catholic faith. To those not of the faith who have attended the mission, the discourses of the two eloquent Jesuits must have been a revelation. I, a practising Catholic all my life, have heard many missions, both in this country and throughout Great Britain, but I cannot recall one in which the teaching of the Church has been so simply and so convincingly substantiated, or one in which the sinner has been so sympathetically, yet effectively, shown the error of his ways. The sermons were all magnificent orations in which facts, arguments, and reasoning were blended into a convincing whole.”
In another place the same contributor writes :
“Masterly sermons were preached by Father Mackey and Father Garahy explaining, as they have never been explained to the people of East London before, the object of man's life in this world, the difficulties he has to contend with......they have shown how the evils of the present day have all arisen from the misuse of men's reason, how the abandonment of God, and the development of a materialistic creed have set class against class and nation against nation, how man's well-being on earth has been subordinated to the pagan ideas of pleasure and financial prosperity........There has been nothing sensational or emotional in any discourse, but the malice of sin has been shown in all its viciousness.
It has been an education listening to these two Jesuits. The lessons of history, biblical and worldly, have been explained in language that carried conviction, and the teaching of the Church on the problems discussed has been put forward with unassailable lucidity.”

Irish Province News 24th Year No 1 1949
Fr. Mackey was installed as acting Master of Novices to the Alexian Brothers, Cobh on 8th September last. Details of his work appear below.
Fr. Mackey, writes from St. Joseph's Court, Cobh on 13th November :
“You ask me for some information concerning my whereabouts and my work. I was installed here as Master of Novices on 8th September last. With me is an Assistant - a Brother from Manchester. He corresponds to our Socius.
St. Joseph's Court was the property of a Mr. Jackson-bennett. The house is quite suitable for a Religious Congregation. It is just two miles from Cobh - rather ungettatable either by cycling or walking, owing to some enormous hills.
The Alexian Brothers follow the Rule of St. Augustine, and are under a Cardinal Protector at Rome. They have the usual six months postulancy, followed by two full years of noviceship. At the end of the Novitiate they take the customary simple vows. These are renewed for two single years, then for three full years, after that for life. At present they have numerous houses in Germany and the States; five in England, two in Ireland, one in Belgium and one in Switzerland.
They take charge of hospitals, asylums and convalescent homes. On leaving the Novitiate many of them do a three years course of professional nursing at the York City Hospital.
Their religious habit is somewhat similar to that of the Redemptorist Fathers. It is of black cloth, a girdle of black leather, a scapular from shoulders to ankles, white colar, a capifolium and full black mantle with a cowl not unlike that of the Cistercians. Their Superior General is a German-American. He is very keen on all things Ignatian. He has ordered that every novice in the States, is to be presented with Fr. Rickaby's three volumes of Rodriguez on his Vow Day. They are all in favour of the Long Retreat but cannot have it for the present, owing to structural changes to be completed.
They lead a very monastic life here. The Benedicamus Domino is at 5 a.m., all lights out at a quarter to ten. They have three quarters of an hour meditation before Mass, which is at 6 a.m. Their day, which consists of the usual noviceship routine - five exhortations a week - is four times broken for Community prayer. The Office of the Passion is recited every day in common. I have just 20 Postulants and Novices at the moment, with some others due to come after the New Year.
Their Provincial bas just sent every novice a copy of the new edition of Fouard's Life of Christ, two volumes in one. It is a splendid edition (12/6) but without notes. I hope to get them to memorize the most practical passages from a concordance of the Four Gospels, at the rate of a few verses a day - to make them familiar with the sacred text”.

Irish Province News 43rd Year No 2 1968

Obituary :

Fr Ernest Mackey SJ (1884-1968)

Fr. Ernest Mackey died in St. Vincent's private hospital on January 18th. He was 84 years of age on January 9th. Despite the fact being known to his friends that he had had a stroke several weeks previously, the news came as a bit of a shock. Anyone who visited him in hospital considered the stroke was a light one. Some of his closest friends postponed their visit. They did not consider there was any urgency.
Amongst these was Frank Duff, founder and president of the Legion of Mary. For over 40 years they were close friends. When the message of Fr. Mackey's death reached Frank by phone, he exclaimed, “He was a Trojan character”. There are very many priests and religious to-day who would re-echo that sentiment.
Ernest Mackey was a man of sterling character. He had inherited much from his uncle, the late Fr. Michael Brosnan, C.M. He often spoke of this man who for nearly half a century was Spiritual Director in St. Patrick's College, Maynooth. In fact he was the only relative that he ever mentioned. Frequently when in the mood he quoted some of Fr. Brosnan's sayings. For example “Be a gentleman from the soles of your feet to the tips of your fingers, and have those clean”. He spoke of his uncle's death in these words : “He wanted no visitors in his last days, left all letters unopened, and looked at God”.
There was a majesty and a dignity about Ernest Mackey. He always carried himself erect and walked with measured step. One of his disciples remarked that he had a touch of the “Omnipotens Sempiterne Deus”. He had a presence at all times, and in all places. He walked up the Church, or emerged from the sacristy on his way to the pulpit, with arms slightly extended as a large bird about to make an impressive flight. Everything about his ministry was majestic and even overpowering. The sharp features, the very deep collar, the long flowing soutane - all contributed to this presence.
This dignity and grandeur emanated from his realisation of his priesthood. He felt himself as a man specially designated by God - to a great apostolate. Never did he seem to lose sight of this. He spoke with authority. He had that virtue of forthrightness. It never left him all his life. He detested sham and humbug. He hated hypocrisy, and make-believe, and with characteristic gesture swept them away. His conversation was always a tonic. It was wonderful at times to listen to a conversation between himself and Fr. John M. O'Connor, who pre-deceased him by ten years. Both were remarkable men, each in his own sphere. They left an abiding impression on youth. Men and priests of this calibre are the great need of to-day.
From what has been written it is clear that Ernest Mackey lived his name. He was determined and dedicated to his allotted work. He paid not the slightest attention to critics. He never courted popularity. He was earnestness personified. He rarely, if ever, commented on the preaching of his colleagues. As the Superior of the Mission staff for fifteen years he relied on his men to do the work assigned above all to preach the Spiritual Exercises. On one occasion as he came into the sacristy after the Rosary he said to a young colleague: “You are going out to preach on sin. Don't touch the Angels”. Fr. Mackey's pulpit preaching was not his strongest point. It was unique in its way. He had an amazing intonation of voice that ranged over a whole octave. People listened more because of his dominating presence than of his logic, He could stop for over a minute, and shoot out in a commanding voice a text of the Gospel that seemingly had no bearing on his subject.
What was Ernest Mackey's strongest point? What was it in his priestly life that was a creation of his own, and that will persist down the years? Undoubtedly his Boys Retreats, and through these his amazing success in vocations to the priesthood. In this matter he was out on his own, and the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus owes a lot to him.
This work came into being under the provincialate of the late and great Fr. John Fahy. During his decade in Belvedere as Prefect of Studies, Fr. Fahy was responsible for a number of vocations to the Maynooth Mission to China among the boys of the College. He was Rector for six of these ten years and had great influence over boys. He must have asked himself many a time why some very outstanding vocations were lost to the Society. These boys wanted China. It came as no surprise therefore, that during his provincialate, Fr. Fahy opened our mission in Hong Kong. This demanded a big campaign for vocations. Ernest Mackey, already showing talent along this line, was the man for the job. He was put in charge of the Mission Staff. This left him free to take on all the boys' retreats possible. He gave most of these himself, and entrusted many into the capable hands of Fr. Tim Halpin and Fr. Richard Devane.
It was then that Fr. Mackey perfected his vocation technique. Boarding school retreats were lifted up to a high level. The full vigour of the Ignatian Exercises was applied. He stressed real prayer, conquest of self, a sense of the malice of sin, the call of the King, and all the salient thoughts of Ignatius. He got results.
But there was the vast field of day schools, especially the secondary schools of the Irish Christian Brothers. Those in Dublin could be catered for in the Retreat House at Rathfarnham. There Frs. P. Barrett and Richard Devane were already doing wonderful work with week-ends for working men and with mid-week retreats for senior boys of the Dublin day-schools.
Something must be done for the schools outside Dublin, It must be to the lasting credit of Ernest Mackey that he rose nobly and energetically to the occasion. He introduced a truly magnificent semi-enclosed retreat in the school itself. The system can be studied in the printed volume “Our Colloquium”. This is not the place to discuss that great compilation so splendidly edited by the late Fr. Michael F. Egan. Sufficient to say that the greatest contribution was that of Fr. Mackey. He supplied every detail on these retreats. He followed Ignatius rigidly. His great success was due to his placing of the highest ideals of holiness before boys, his whole hearted dedication to the work, his attention to details.
He often in later years spoke of these retreats in schools. He even considered them as of greater value than a fully enclosed retreat in a retreat house. But that was because Fr. Mackey directed them. Arriving at a secondary School he took complete command. He left nothing to chance. He always received the most enthusiastic co-operation from the Brothers. Vocations were needed. “Come after Me and I will make you fishers of men”. Ernest Mackey must have had these words of the Master ever in his mind. He was a fisher for vocations. He was not a lone fisher. He nearly always had fishermen among the Brothers. Their business it was to indicate where he was to cast his net. He had the magnetism - almost the hypnotic power - to attract the good fish. He was human and could make mistakes. But the man who makes no mistakes makes nothing. He landed a great haul for the Society and for the priesthood. He toiled hard. He toiled long.
The secret of his success is obvious from what has been written. He employed the means that Ignatius himself applied to himself and to all others - the Spiritual Exercises. One cannot imagine Ernest Mackey asking the Brothers in a school, the nuns in a convent, the priests in a diocese, what he should say to them, or to those under them, in a retreat. He was eloquent in his closing years on what he called the utter nonsense of such enquiries.
He remained the same Ernest Mackey to the end. He spoke of all those in the Province who were “over 70” as the Old Society. He loved to recall men like Michael Browne, Henry Fegan, and Michael Garahy. He lived in that age and never modernised. As a result his last years were spent in retirement in Manresa House. There he loved to meet the Old Society.
Now he has gone to the real Old Society in Heaven; but his work goes on in the army of Christ on earth, the ranks of which he helped to fill while on earth. May he rest in peace.
T.C.

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830- (1830-)

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-

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Mackey, Ernest, 1884-1968, Jesuit priest and missioner

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Irish Jesuit Mission to Australia, 1865-1931 (1865-1931)

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Irish Jesuit Mission to Australia, 1865-1931

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Mackey, Ernest, 1884-1968, Jesuit priest and missioner

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