Mission History



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Mission History

20 Collection results for Mission History

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Australian Mission

The Irish Jesuit Mission to Australia was initiated due to the will of Fr John Joseph Therry (1790-1864), who named the Irish Jesuits as beneficiaries to his property in Australia, and by an invitation to the Irish Province by James Alipius Goold, Bishop of Melbourne (later Archbishop) (1812-1886) to set-up a mission in his diocese. The first two Irish Jesuits, Frs William Lentaigne (1805-1884) and William Kelly (1823-1909), arrived in Melbourne in September 1865. Previously, two Austrian Jesuits, Frs. Kranewitter (1817-1880) and Klinkowstroem (1819-1896) had arrived in 1848 after Jesuit expulsion from Austria. The Austrian Mission centred on South Australia and the Northern Territory. In 1901, the Austrian and Irish missions amalgamated. Australia was made a Vice-Province in 1931 and Fr Austin Kelly SJ (1891-1978) was named the first Provincial of the Australian Province in 1950.

The papers of the Australian Mission provide a comprehensive history of the Irish Jesuit Mission, concentrating on the years 1865-1931. The Irish Jesuits worked as missionaries, educators, writers, chaplains, theologians, scientists, pastors and directors of retreats, mainly in the urban communities of eastern Australia.

Subjects touched upon include: agreements with Archbishops in establishing Jesuit houses in a particular diocese; reflections on the journey to and from Australia; administration of schools, colleges, universities and Jesuit residences - (St Patrick’s, Melbourne; St Francis Xavier College, Kew, Melbourne; St Aloysius, Dunedin (NZ); St Aloysius College, Sydney ; St Ignatius College, Riverview, Sydney; St Louis, Claremont, Western Australia; Newman College, University of Melbourne); parishes - (Norwood and Sevenhills in South Australia; Invercargill (NZ); Melbourne; Sydney; Toowong and Indooroopilly in Queensland); financial documents; expansion of the Mission; and correspondence between Father Provincial in Ireland and Jesuits in Australia. By far the greatest number of letters sent to Father Provincial in Ireland was from Fr John Ryan SJ (1849-1922) (Superior of the Mission from 11 February 1901-14 June 1908; 9 April 1913-24 October 1917). Until the creation of the Australian Mission as a Vice-Province, the Irish Provincial was kept informed of every minor detail about the Mission and often decision making in Australia was delayed until approval from Dublin was given.

Although this collection provides a comprehensive history of the Australian Mission, there are some gaps. For example, the collection does not contain any deeds or other legal documents relating to property obtained by the Society of Jesus in Australia and it is presumed that these documents would have been kept by the Superior of the Mission and later the Vice-Provincial of the Vice-Province in Australia, where they remain today.

Superiors of the Irish Jesuit Mission to Australia (1865-1931)
Fr Joseph Lentaigne SJ 1865-1866
Fr Joseph Dalton SJ 1866-1872
Fr Thomas Cahill SJ 1872-1879
Fr Joseph Dalton SJ 1879-2 September 1883
Fr Aloysius Sturzo SJ 2 September 1883-5 April 1890
Fr Patrick Keating SJ 5 April 1890-1 February 1895
Fr Timothy Kenny SJ 1 February 1895-11 February 1901
Fr John Ryan SJ 11 February 1901-14 June 1908
Fr Thomas Brown SJ 14 June 1908-9 April 1913
Fr John Ryan SJ 9 April 1913-24 October 1917
Fr William Lockington SJ 24 October 1917-20 June 1923
Fr Jeremiah Sullivan SJ 20 June 1923-19 March 1931

Vice-Provincials of the Vice-Province of Australian (1931-1950)
Fr John Fahy SJ 19 March 1931-25 August 1939
Fr John Meagher SJ 25 August 1939-1 October 1947
Fr Austin Kelly SJ 1 October 1947-1 November 1950

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

Correspondence between Fr Leonard Sheil SJ and Irish Fr Provincial on the content of Fr Sheil’s mission sermons

  • IE IJA J/16/4
  • File
  • 16 June 1936 - 30 July 1940
  • Part of Irish Jesuits

Correspondence between Fr Leonard Sheil SJ and Irish Fr Provincial Laurence J. Kieran SJ on the content of Fr Sheil’s mission sermons. Includes:
– censors’ judgements on the manuscript of a sermon on ‘Sin’ by Fr Sheil (Jun 1936, 2 items); copy of summary of censors’ judgements (n.d., 2pp) and letter from Fr Sheil to the Irish Fr Provincial after receiving the censors’ reviews (24 June 1936, 2pp);
– letter from Fr Sheil in which he explains his delay in sending the Irish Fr Provincial the texts of his sermons, ‘My delay, and indeed serious negligence, has not been due, I think, to wilful disobedience, or to the opinion that they did not need censoring, but to this. I have eight fully written sermons in my drawer at present, but my dissatisfaction with them has caused me to cross out and amend lines and pages, so that none of them are yet in fit condition to send.…also…between missions my head is so tired that I am loathe to work.’ Also refers to the Sodality and the Legion of Mary (see J16/3) (12 Oct. 1936, 2pp);
– copy letter to Fr Sheil from the Irish Fr Provincial calling attention to Fr Sheil’s ‘want of prudence and discretion’ and warning him that if he continues ‘on present lines’ he may be ‘removed from the mission staff and given work in a College. With a view to rendering such a change unnecessary I forbid you in future to speak in the pulpit on questions of sex or, on general, matters relating to the VI commandment, without having first submitted your MS to the Socius for censorship. I wish also that you give up mentioning in public estimates or conjectures regarding the number of Irish emigrants who lose the faith or give up its practice’ (24 Jan. 1938, 2pp);
– note from Fr Sheil to the Irish Fr Provincial in which he lists the topics of his sermons that have been passed by the censor (12 Mar. 1940, 3pp);
– letter from Fr Tom Counihan SJ to ‘Fr. John’ in which he refers to Fr Sheil’s sermons, ‘You should have heard his sermons on sin, temptation, holyhour, family life & Holy Communion to feel utterly ashamed of the twaddle neither here nor there (sic.) No Scripture, no sound reasoning & abundance of crudity & naked realism…It is very unfortunate & I am not at all comfortable when I have to hand over an out-church to his tender mercies!’ (15 May 1940, 2pp) and
– copy letter from the Irish Fr Provincial to Fr Sheil in which he states, ‘I have been regretfully obliged to change you from the mission staff, and it is only fair that you should know the reason of this change. From information I have received from many different quarters it seems clear that you are greatly lacking in prudence in the things you say; and I cannot help thinking that if you were allowed to continue working as a missioner you would land both yourself and the Society into serious trouble…you allow your zeal to get the better of you with the result that you act contrary not only to the advice of your colleagues but also to that of your Superiors. I am afraid also that your knowledge of theology is very much wanting in accuracy…As to your work in Galway in the coming year, I must forbid you to preach anything in the Church without first having shown the MS to Fr Rector…’ (30 Jul. 1940, 2pp).

Cutting with a tribute to Fr Aloysius Sturzo SJ

Cuttings from 'The Catholic Press' of an article entitled 'How the Irish Came to Queensland. The Voyage of the "Erin-go-bragh" and a tribute to Fr Aloysius Sturzo SJ'.

Australian Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1931-

File entitled Missions in Britain 1950s

File entitled Missions in Britain 1950s containing eleven sections: Introductory letter from Fr Leonard Sheil SJ (20 February 1960, 5pp);

  • report for Irish Fr Provincial (8 January 1958, 8pp);
  • list of places and dates of Irish Missions in Britain 1949 - 1959 (19[59], 6pp);
  • copies of commendatory letters (7 November 1953 - 24 November 1958, 3 items);
  • Report for Irish Fr Provincial on Missions 1958 - January 1959 and cuttings from the [Irish Independent] on the Mission Campaign in Britain by Fr Leonard Sheil SJ (20 January 1959, 3 items);
  • three ‘typical’ reports on three 1959 Missions for the Bishop of Ferns (1959, 4pp);
  • ‘Account of an Ideal Mission for the Bishop of Ferns’ by Fr Sheil (n.d., 7pp);
  • press articles by Fr Sheil describing the Missions (September - October 1958, 6 items);
  • photographs of Birmingham and Westminster Cathedrals, Brompton Oratory, photographs of ‘children of the Irish’ (13 items) and
  • map of England indicating the routes of Fr Sheil’s motorcycle travel (1 item).
    Also includes booklets and advertising leaflets for the Missions (7 items) and memorandum for Irish Fr Provincial by Fr Sheil containing suggestions for better organisation of the Missions (1959, 2pp).

Hong Kong Mission

Many Jesuit Provinces had missions in China before 1926 when the Vicar Apostolic of Hong Kong, Fr Henry Valtorta (1883-1953), invited the Irish Jesuits to his vicariate. In October 1926, Frs George Byrne (1879-1962) and John Neary (1889-1983) left Dublin for Hong Kong, which became a Mission for the Irish Province. They were joined, in early 1927, by Fr Daniel Finn (1886-1936) from Australia and later by Frs Richard Gallagher (1887-1960), Patrick Joy (1892-1970) and Daniel MacDonald (1891-1957).

The initial work of the mission concentrated in Hong Kong, with some teaching in Canton and Macao. Their works involved: reviving the Catholic journal, ‘The Rock’; the opening of a hostel (Ricci Hall) for Chinese Catholic students at the University of Hong Kong (1929-); their involvement in the Regional Seminary, Aberdeen, Hong Kong (1931-1964), Wah Yan College, Hong Kong (1932-) and Wah Yan College, Kowloon (1952-). Some lecturing occurred in the university, in areas such as archaeology, education, engineering, and geography. In Canton, Frs Michael Saul (1884-1932) and Joseph McCullough (1892-1932) died from cholera. Hong Kong was under Japanese occupation 1941 - 1945. The Irish Jesuits organised a school for refugees from Hong Kong in Macao and the Regional Seminary was also moved to Macao. Wah Yan College was closed in 1941 and reopened in 1945. Fr Thomas Ryan’s account “Jesuits under Fire in the siege of Hong Kong 1941” deals fully with this time.

After World War Two, the Irish Jesuits established a language school, student centre and parish in Canton. They were expelled by the Communists in [1953]. Wah Yan College grew and developed and further works included the foundation of a university hostel at Kingsmead Hall, Singapore and at Xavier Hall, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. Other works of note that Irish Jesuits had a hand in establishing and running in Hong Kong include: the Hong Kong Housing Society (1938); Wah Yan Relief Association (1938); Shoeshine Boys Club (1952-1962); the Credit Union Movement (1962); Rehabilitation Centre for the Handicapped (1962); Catholic Marriage Advisory Council (1963); Road Safety Association for Schools (1964); Industrial Relations Institute (1968); Chinese Opera in English (1960s); Fisherman’s Children School (1960s) and Welfare for Police in the Training School. In 1966, Hong Kong became a Jesuit Vice-Province and in 1985, the Province of Macau-Hong Kong was established. Today, Hong Kong is a unit within the Chinese Jesuit Province.

Over a hundred Irish Jesuits have served in Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Singapore - 30 of whom are buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Hong Kong and two in mainland China.

Irish Jesuit Mission to Hong Kong, 1926-1966

Jesuit Year Book

Copy of an image from the Jesuit Year Book on the occasion of Irish Fr Provincial Thomas Byrne SJ visitation to Northern Rhodesia.

Letters to the Irish Fr Provincial concerning the celebrations for the fourth centenary of the foundation of the Society

Letters to the Irish Fr Provincial concerning the celebrations for the fourth centenary of the foundation of the Society. Includes:

  • letter and notes by Fr Aubrey Gwynn SJ (See also ADMN/3/18; 29; 37) concerning a discovery he made in the course of reviewing a German History of the Jesuit Missions under Fr Roothaan, written for the centenary – ‘I found that the four years spent by Fr Robert St Leger at Calcutta (1834-38) mark a turning-point in the whole missionary policy of the new Society. He and Fr Roothaan differed on a fundamental point, and he was recalled after four years. But Fr Roothaan was later compelled by wider experience to adopt the policy which he had opposed in Fr St Leger’s case – i.e., the policy of permitting our Fathers on the missions to accept promotion to episcopal dignity.’ (26 February 1940, 2 items);
  • copies of circular letters sent to Jesuit schools and to scholastics by Irish Fr Provincial informing them of the date and form of the celebrations for the centenary in each community (11-12 May 1940, 3 items) and
  • copies of newspaper cuttings, congratulatory letters to the Irish Fr Provincial from Galway Corporation and the Catholic Social Service Conference and copy replies ([22 August] – 29 September 1941, 9 items).

'Our Australian Missions', 1886 & 1898

Copies of a publication entitled 'Our Australian Missions', 31 July 1896 (2 copies) and 1 September 1898

Australian Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1931-

'The Chikuni Mission. How it Came to be Started in 1905'

Three typed copies of a manuscript by Fr.Joseph Moreau SJ entitled 'The Chikuni Mission. How it Came to be Started in 1905' (31pp & 3pp notes. The fourth copy, has on the title page '(not to be published whole or in parts without Fr Moreau's consent.) + approbation!.' (36pp). This copy has handwritten translations of words on reverse page.

Moreau, Joseph, 1864-1949, Jesuit priest and missioner

Zambian Mission

Since the formation of the Irish Province in 1860, Irish Jesuits have undertaken three main overseas missions (Australia, Hong Kong and Zambia). More than 120 Irish Jesuits have worked in Zambia. The Vice-Province of Zambia was formed in 1969 and the Province of Zambia and Malawi was established in 1992. The Irish Jesuits' work in Zambia is complemented by other Jesuit Provinces such as: Canada; Croatia; Oregon; Poland and Slovenia. The papers of the Zambian Mission chronicle the life and work of Irish Jesuits since their arrival, in what was then Northern Rhodesia, in 1946. The files of correspondence between Irish Jesuits working in Zambia and their Irish Provincials in Dublin illustrate the areas of work that they laboured in: parish work, education and development. Geographically, this took place in the southern part of the country and in the capital, Lusaka. The impact of the Irish presence is seen especially in Canisius High School and Charles Lwanga College of Education in Chikuni, the parishes in the Monze Diocese, and development projects around the diocese.

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