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Butler, Richard P, 1915-1999, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/588
  • Person
  • 27 November 1915-21 April 1999

Born: 27 November 1915, Waterford City, County Waterford
Entered: 07 September 1933, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 30 July 1947, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1950, Loyola, Tai Lam Chung, Hong Kong
Died: 21 April 1999, Galway University Hospital, Galway City, County Galway

Part of the Coláiste Iognáid, Galway community at the time of death.

Family lived at Royal Hotel, Waterford City supported by businessy.

Youngest of five boys with two sisters.

Early education at Waterpark College for twelve years.

◆ Interfuse
Interfuse No 101 : Special Edition 1999


Fr Richard (Dickie) Butler (1915-1999)

27th Nov. 1915: Born in Waterford
Educated at Waterpark College, Waterford
7th Sept. 1933: Entered the Society at Emo
8th Sept. 1935: First vows at Emo
1935 - 1938: Rathfarnham, study Arts at UCD
1938 - 1941; Tullabeg, study Philosophy
1941 - 1942: Mungret College, teaching
1942 - 1944: St. Ignatius College, Galway, teaching
1944 - 1948: Milltown Park, study theology
30th July 1947; Ordained priest at Milltown Park
1948 - 1949; Rathfarnham, tertianship
1949 - 1951: Hong Kong, at language school
1951 - 1952: Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, teaching
1952 - 1954: Wah Yan College, Kowloon, teaching
1954 - 1999 St. Ignatius College, Galway:
1954 - 1956: Teaching
1956 - 1961: Prefect of Studies
1961 - 1990: Teaching

When he retired from teaching in 1990, Richard continued in College administration, and as health prefect. He was admitted to University Hospital, Galway, almost two weeks before Easter. He was operated on for a perforated ulcer. Though initially he appeared to make good progress, he subsequently suffered a stroke, rallied somewhat again, but then suffered kidney failure. He died very peacefully at 6.45 a.m. on Wednesday 21st April 1999.

I first met Father Dickie Butler, as we affectionately knew him, on the doorsteps of Coláiste lognáid in Galway, 31 years ago, when I arrived there to begin my regency. I had spent the whole summer in the Gaeltacht building up my Irish but I knew about the place I was going to teach, and was somewhat fearful. I was greeted at the front door of the residence by a tall, mandarin-like figure with small round glasses and winged gown. On learning that I had just arrived to embark upon my teaching life, he informed me that he was the acting-minister and that before I went any further I was to put down my case and follow him. He ushered me into the kitchen and within five minutes produced a full glass of red wine, and giving it to me said “Drink that boy, you'll need it”.

Dickie Butler was a man who always made people feel welcome. He had a great eye for the details of life. I could say that Christianity is all about caring, - caring for one another, “whatever you do to one of these”, - because Christ first cares about us. Dickie was a man who always cared and made room for others. I'm sure that he has now found the room in his Father's house prepared for him from the beginning. (Though I should say “the mansion” in his Father's house, for Dickie did not update biblical translations lightly).

Richard Butler was born in Waterford in 1915 and entered the society at Emo. He studied at UCD, Tullabeg and Milltown Park and spent his regency teaching at Mungret and Coláiste lognáid in Galway. He was ordained priest at Milltown Park and after his Tertianship at Rathfarnham, went to teach at Wah Yan College in Hong Kong, with a view to moving further inland on the mission. He used to say that Celtic Scholars were particularly marked out by the Provincials for work on the missions, especially in China, presumably because somebody thought that if you could make headway in the Irish language you could certainly master Chinese. Whether it is true or not, what is definitely true is that Dickie Butler was a brilliant Irish scholar, a wonderful speaker of Irish and an excellent teacher of the language to generations of schoolboys (and latterly, girls).

He became the great Irish teacher he was because his health broke down in China in 1954 and he was sent to the school down in Galway where he taught for 45 years. Dickie was a man of great discipline, a man with an incisive mind. He served as a headmaster in the school before he returned to the classroom to teach for 37 years, at a time of rapid change in Ireland and in education. I lived in his community for 12 of those years and met with him regularly afterwards. Dickie was an engaging and imaginative conversationalist; he had a marvelous command of both the English and Irish language, and he used both daily in his daily all his adult life. Sitting at a table with him in the refectory was informative and entertaining as well as refreshing. Much of his colourful imagery will remain with those of us fortunate enough to have been in his community. Whether he was sharing his insights into information in the Province or on some aspect of contemporary Irish culture, he was always well worth listening to.

Dickie was a theologian and theology was never far from his thoughts. He was an avid reader, especially of the latest publications in theology. Often in the refectory we would watch with interest as visiting theologians, in Galway for a few days rest, sat down at table with Dickie and how he would ask them some seemingly innocent question about theology which would lead to a whole conversation that would keep them on their toes, so to speak, defending whatever their side of the argument was through the whole meal, answering the questions he put so casually. His favourite phrase throughout these encounters was “de vera religione”. I think Dickie would have made many a theological board proud with his questioning. I always felt he would have made a fine professor of theology but he only wanted to do what was asked of him, whether it was going on mission to China at the beginning of his priestly life, or working in College administration towards the end. He had what we used to call in the Province 'a fine mind' but he was a humble man too and one who never put himself forward. He was both modest and devout.

Dickie Butler was a very personal man, who always gave you the impression that he was speaking directly to you. He was interested in everybody in the community and the work they were at. Some might have seen him as old-fashioned but that might be because he had very definite ideas on things and would let you have the benefit of them whether you wanted them or not. Everyone I knew who met with him acknowledged that he was a wise man, and that brings me again to this mandarin-like figure. In his later years Dickie rode a motorbike and dressed in his special biker's gear, with the wire glasses and the all-seeing eyes, he cut a dashing figure as he rode up Sea Road, off into the dust.

Dickie was a man of routine who did not move much out of Galway. But in the early 1980's he decided, and we helped him, to go to America for a summer supply. He had not been out of the country for nearly 30 years when he boarded the plane for California. Despite his initial trepidation, he loved California once he became accustomed to it. But even in this he was different because Dickie took a supply in an island parish at the edge of a hot desert. And he continued this supply until he retired from teaching, and then he moved into school administration in Coláiste lognáid where his genius at Irish was much appreciated and must have caused many an envious eye in the Department of Education when school reports were processed. When Dickie was taken to hospital just before Easter this year he was very concerned to let the school authorities know that his work for the school right to the end of the summer term was all prepared and sitting on his desk.

He was a man of great discipline. The last time I spoke with him, he was sitting in his room with the door open, seemingly doing nothing. We had a few words and I asked him if he was waiting for something. He replied in his lovely Irish, “When you get to my age, you'll know what I'm waiting for”.

We say good-bye to an excellent teacher held in high esteem by his colleagues, a marvelous companion in community, a scholar and a storyteller, but most of all, a good Jesuit and a holy man. An tAthair Risteard de Buitléar will be missed by many.

In lothlainn Dé go gcastar sinn.

Liam Greene


Funeral Mass of Fr. Richard Butler, SJ
A Jesuits room reveals a great deal about its occupant. The most striking feature about Fr. Dickie's room was how spartan it was. All that was superfluous had been removed by Dickie in the last few years. It was as if he had folded up his tent some time ago and had already moved most of his belongings to a more everlasting home. But not everything was superfluous - some things had to be kept - just in case!

What remained tells you a great deal about this kind and gentle man. Only seven books are to be found on his bookshelf. These books are the New Testament; The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma; The Code of Canon Law; The Catechism of the Catholic Church; The Concise Oxford Dictionary; Dineen's Irish-English Dictionary and The Oxford Book of Irish Verse. Fr. Dickie was a man who thirsted for God, for Truth, for Certitude, for Precision and if the mysteries of faith were sometimes shrouded in darkness, Dickie would struggle for light. If the intricacies of Irish grammar left other mere mortals somewhat disillusioned, Dickie would delight in shedding much needed light.

St. Ignatius warns anyone who might want to be a Jesuit, “Let any such person take care, as long as he lives, first of all to keep before his eyes God and then the nature of this Institute which is, so to speak, a pathway to God; and then let him strive with all his effort to achieve this end set before him by God.” Dickie always strove to remain faithful to his vocation as a Jesuit priest. His personal, unobtrusive fidelity to prayer and the daily celebration of the Eucharist in what became affectionately known in the house as “Dickie's Chapel”, spoke more loudly than long lectures in theology.

Not that Dickie was adverse to theological discussion and argument. He was never too certain about all this new-fangled theology since Vatican II. Sometimes he would put the younger Jesuits through their paces just to check out their theological orthodoxy. I remember one Easter Sunday evening being the victim of one of Dickie's theological inquisitions. In his estimation I probably came out with today's equivalent of a “D3” on the Foundation level paper!

The Ardmháistir of Scoil Iognáid, Niall Ó Murchadha, said to me only last Tuesday, “Bhí an t-Athair de Buitléar go hiontach ag múineadh Teagasc Chríostaí". One of Dickie's past students, now a Jesuit priest himself, remarked how Dickie would insist with the boys (for there were only boys in Coláiste Iognáid then) that they must always remain faithful to the basic truths of Christianity and to the teaching of the Church. However, Dickie confessed to the same class of boys, “Boys, when I was in Honk Kong in the early Fifties, if those Communists had invaded from China brandishing red hot pokers, I'd have said anything they wanted me to - I'd even have sworn that there were twelve persons in the Blessed Trinity!” Here indeed was a good man who though he struggled for Truth, acknowledge his own limitations and kept a gentle sense of humour.

Obviously I chose today's readings with this good man in mind. The first reading spoke of the necessity always to pursue and to respect Wisdom. It said, “Is le hintinn ghlan a d'fhoghlaim me agus tugaim uaim gan doicheall; ni choinnim a saibhreas i bhfolach”, or translated, “What I learned without self interest, I pass on without reserve, I do not intend to hide her riches”. Over the past few days, many of Dickie's past students have spoken to me of their fondness for him as a teacher. They spoke of how organised he was, how every class was planned, how clear he was in explaining the subject matter. But more than that, they spoke of how gentle he was, as the Beatitudes would have us be. A card arrived for Dickie a few days ago, it reads:

“I heard that you were poorly. I am sorry to hear this and so I just wanted to say hello. I'm not sure if you remember me; I finished the Jez in 1981 and you taught me Gaeilge for about five years. If you recall, I was a bit of a chatterbox and, to dissuade me from talking, you used to place me right in front of you. I didn't mind it and it did me no harm. Thank you. I have very fond memories of you teaching us.”

Fr. Dan Dargan, a former parish priest of St. Ignatius' here and a contemporary of Fr. Dickie's in the order said to me the other morning that there was always a “a certain giddy quality” about Dickie, a sense of fun, that twinkle in the eye. Past students of Dickies from the fifties and sixties speak of how he used to delight the young first years by shouting at them (gently, of course) in Cantonese. He objected strongly to the use of bad language in English and so taught his classes how to curse really and truly “as Gaeilge” much to their delight and to the advancement of the Irish language. Even in the last year when Dickie was much more confined to the house, he would often watch the students “ag pleidhcíocht” in the yard and would give a guffaw of laughter. Little did the students know that they were being watched in more ways than one for it was Dickie who right up to the end almost wrote out the term reports for each student in Coláiste Iognáid. He loved to help Joan with this seemingly tedious work, but this was important for Dickie because it meant that this former headmaster was still part of the school administration and Jesuits, as you know, never retire!

My lasting memory of Dickie will be that he was forever whistling Lara's Theme from Dr. Zhivago. I sometimes wondered did he know any other song. Even in the last months, Dickie would walk along the corridor whistling, and so I found it particularly poignant one day when he stopped me and said in Irish for he always spoke to me in Irish, “Ta a fhios agat, a Bhreandáin, go mbímse i gcónaí ag feadail - níl ansin ach cur i gcêill - taimse ag fulaingt go mór”. Before he went into hospital, this essentially discrete and private man, spoke very movingly of his own physical weakness and sense of anxiety, I thought at that time of the first Beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” in other words, blessed are those who know their own fragility and their need of God. The same beatitude continues with consoling words “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.

Dickie, guímid uile ar maidin nach bhfuil tuileadh de dhíth ort, go bhfuil tú i gcomhlúadar Dé agus naomh uile - bain sult as an bhfírinne go síoraí, a chara shéimh, uasail.

Brendan Comerford

De Hindeberg, Piaras, 1912-1982, Jesuit priest and Irish language writer

  • IE IJA J/183
  • Person
  • 01 December 1912-07 October 1982

Born: 01 December 1912, Brown Street, Portlaw, County Waterford
Entered: 03 September 1930, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1946, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1949, Sacred Heart Coillege SJ, Limerick
Died: 07 October 1982, Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin

Parents were grocers.

Second in a family of two boys and three girls (one sister being eldest).

Early education at Coláiste na Rinne, Dungarvan until 12. He then returned home and went to the local National School, learning to read and write in English. Then at 13 he went to Waterpark College, Waterford.

Tertianship at Rathfarnham

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - Waterpark student
by 1938 at St Aloysius, Jersey, Channel Islands (FRA) studying

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 58th Year No 1 1983
Fr Piaras de Hindeberg (1912-1931-1982)

Piaras de Hindeberg's death occurred at about midday on Thursday, 7th October 1982, at Rathfarnham Castle, where he had lived for the last thirty years of his life. He was within two months of completing his seventieth year, and two years past the golden jubilee of his entry into the Society.
Piaras regularly joined a small group of the community for early tea at about 5.30 pm. This group missed him that Thursday. Br Andy Williams, the Minister, went up to his room at the top of the castle and on breaking in the door, found Piaras lying on his bed, fully dressed, his spectacles on, but obviously some hours dead – five, according to medical opinion.
This brief account of the circumstances of his death is revealing in itself.
They missed Piaras, whose company they always enjoyed so much. It was here he was most at home: here he showed his depth and wide range of knowledge, his sharpness of mind, his sense of humour and above all his charity. He was never cynical about the affairs of the Province, or critical about modern trends in the Society or the Church. He could see things in the context of the changed times in which we are living. They missed him. There are more people than we shall ever know of whom the same can be said.
Piaras passed away quietly, in the midst of his work, without being a cause of trouble to anyone - just as he would have wished it to happen. When I say that he died in the midst of his work, I have no doubt that it was this that brought on the attack from which he died. For the last two years or so he had been working against time as though he realised that he was living on borrowed time. There were some students in advanced studies in modern Irish who came to him by appointment in the late evening for sessions which went on into the late hours of night. In preparation for these sessions, he put in long hours of intensive work. One of these students was expected that evening and arrived at the time the announcements of his death were being prepared. It was he who prepared the announcement which was published in the press for the following day. Happily some of these students will be able to assess the value of Piaras's work of a lifetime. It would not be within my competence to evaluate what must contain a monumental collection of material of inestimable value. We must leave this task to the scholars in times ahead.
Unostentatiously but very solidly, Piaras was a man of prayer and religious fervour; his daily Mass, Rosary, pro longed visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the tattered breviary were the substance of his daily life. He believed in physical activity, and for one who sustained a deadly heart attack about nine years ago and suffered three heart arrests while in intensive care, it was unbelievable to see the strenuous exercises he would constantly undertake: brisk walking, work in the grounds with scythe or saw or even a sledge hammer. Always obliging, he would supply Mass at an early hour travelling by motor-bike or even on foot through snow and ice if no other transport were possible. He never failed to keep an appointment and never cared for himself no matter what difficulties he had to surmount.
The late Fr William Stephenson and Piaras de Hindeberg lived for about thirty years together. During all this time, Piaras never spoke a word to the Old man, an omission which the Old man felt very much. He just wasn't Piaras' cup of tea. But a time came when the Old man was no longer able to gather his own firewood and saw it up for the fire which he always had in his room. Piaras quickly saw the Old man's difficulty and, despite his own condition of health, for the last years of Father Stephenson's life, he gathered the fire wood, sawed it up into handy blocks, filled a large basket and day after day carried the load up the back stairs into the Old man's room and left the pile conveniently in the corner: in and out, day after day, and never a word spoken. For his part, Fr Stephenson sent out for a small bag of mints from time to time. He climbed up to Piaras's room, hung the bag of sweets on the door handle and left it there. 'He likes the sweets' the Old man used say to me. Love is shown in deeds.

Piaras was a man of high ideals. He had a clear vision of his calling both in the religious life and towards his kith and kin; his native land; its language, its culture and its people, and from these ideals he never swerved. It took courage and he had that courage, the courage that saints and martyrs are made of. He never curried favour. In him there was no personal pride or selfish ambition. He never gloried in his academic achievements and he had attained the highest. He did not expect others to emulate his standards. Towards others of different background and upbringing, he was tolerant and looked for nothing more in return. “I go my way and you go your way”. When I think of his dedication to the cause of the Irish language and how one might explain it, I am reminded of what was said by somebody when speaking about the miracles at Lourdes: to those who have the Faith, no explanation is necessary; to those who have not the Faith, no explanation is possible.
It was my privilege to have known Piaras from boyhood. We were classmates at Waterpark College, Waterford. There he was recognised as one of outstanding ability not only in Irish, which was bred in him and nurtured from infancy, but in the Classics and in all other subjects. Fr Ernest Mackey was quick to pick him out as a subject for the priesthood and for the Society, which he entered in 1930 and in which he lived out his life in complete fidelity to his religious vocation and to his hereditary culture and ideals.
Nothing could have been more fitting than the tribute paid to him on the occasion of his obsequies at Gardiner Street church. His religious brothers did Piaras royally. May I on behalf of his family thank you all most sincerely for this as they have requested me to do. A special word of thanks is due, I feel, to Fr Seán Ó Duibhir, chief celebrant, and to the choir under the baton of Brendan Comerford. Ar dheis Dé go raibh anam sár-uasal Phiarais.
Matthew Meade SJ

Deevy, John A, 1887-1969, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/800
  • Person
  • 15 June 1887-10 March 1969

Born: 15 June 1887, Waterford City, County Waterford
Entered: 07 September 1906, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 15 August 1920, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1924, Mungret College SJ, Limerick
Died: 10 March 1969, Regional Hospital, Limerick

Part of the Mungret College, Co Limerick community at the time of death.

Father died in 1895 was a draper. Mother is supported by private means.

Second eldest of three sons and has eight sisters.

Educated initially at a Convent school in Waterford, then at Waterpark College until 1903. In 1903 he then went to Mungret College SJ

by 1911 at Cividale del Friuli, Udine Italy (VEN) studying

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 44th Year No 2 1969

Obituary :

Fr John Aloysius Deevy SJ (1887-1969)

For some months before his death Fr. John Deevy had been growing weaker, and experiencing greater difficulty in walking. He had got permission to say Mass sitting down, and as long as he could make his way to the little Altar near his room, even by pushing before him a chair on which he leaned, he clung to his daily Mass. But that period soon passed and he came to need the constant professional care which he could get only in a hospital. His last weeks were spent in the Regional, near Mungret, where he died on Saturday March 10th. He was buried from the College Chapel after a concelebrated Requiem Mass, in which the Rector of Mungret, Fr. Senan Timoney, and ten other priests, chiefly from other houses, took part in the presence of Fr. Provincial. After the Gospel the Rector made a short address in which he dwelt on the two chief devotions of Fr. Deevy's life : devotion to his daily Mass, and his devotion to Mungret. He mentioned that Fr. Deevy, before his last illness had declared that he missed his daily Mass only twice in his life of forty nine years as a priest.
The ceremonies of the Requiem were carried out impressively with the boys choir singing hymns to the accompaniment of two guitars. Afterwards the boys lined the avenue from the chapel to the graveyard where Fr. Deevy was laid to rest among the fellow Jesuits with whom he had lived.
John Aloysius Deevy was born in Waterford on June 15th, 1887. He belonged to a very well known Waterford family, which consisted of four boys and nine girls. None of his sisters married, only one survived him and was at his funeral. He was a layboy at Mungret from 1903 to 1906, when he entered Tullabeg with seven other companions. It was a small vintage, but all of the eight persevered in their vocation and four of them predeceased him. From the beginning he showed himself the John Deevy that so many were afterwards to respect and to like, bright, cheerful, utterly sincere and honourable. The Master of Novices, Fr. James Murphy, at once perceived the sterling qualities of Brother Deevy, and held him up as a model of the spirit he sought to inspire in his novices, which he expressed in his often repeated words : “What is right is right, what is wrong is wrong and that settles the matter”. You could not know John Deevy for any length of time without coming to admire his sincerity and straightness, and his unswerving sense of honour and truthfulness.
His constant flood of energy, and his zeal for what was good, were not always appreciated by less vigorous companions. He was a formidable companion at the pump. For a later and softer generation it should be explained that pumping water up to tanks in the garret was a part of the manual work of the novices. It was also a test of solid virtue. Br. Deevy would throw himself into this back-breaking activity while his companion, wilting over the other handle of the pump, would feel inclined to greet the ardour as an excess of zeal. At the oars in the boats on the canal, on the long summer afternoons, he rowed like a Roman galley slave.
He did his Juniorate in Tullabeg, under Fr. John Keane and then went to Cividale in Italy for his Philosophy. His colleges were done in Belvedere, Mungret and Clongowes. He was an excellent teacher of Latin and, especially, of Mathematics; he had a gift of expounding clearly that severe discipline, if not of enlivening it. From 1918 to 1922 he did his theology at Milltown Park where he was ordained on August 15th, 1920, earlier than the canonical date, because he had been delayed by the war. He did his tertianship under Fr. Bridge, of the English province from 1922 to 1923 at Tullabeg,
For the first years of his priesthood he circulated around the colleges and everywhere he was true to the image he had shown in his years at Tullabeg, friendly, bright, energetic, a thoroughly devout priest but without a trace of smugness or solemnity. After some years he began to be more engaged in administration for which his energetic and practical temperament fitted him. He was changed from the classroom and allotted to the duties of minister, procurator and Superior. Mungret, Tullabeg, Milltown Park, the Crescent, and Emo Park saw him successively. His years at Emo, twelve of them, deserve a special mention. He was Procurator, then Superior and finally Rector. In these positions he came to know intimately the secular clergy of the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin and particularly those who lived about Emo. He was at once accepted as one of themselves, and was soon a welcome and frequent guest at their dinners. He was at home in their presbyteries. The gossip, the politics of the diocese were openly discussed in his presence. And he contributed to the gaiety of the dinner table by his large stock of clerical stories which he narrated with the skill of a born raconteur. As a Superior he had a car at his disposal and he took a boyish delight in dashing into Portarlington and Portlaoise and further afield on errands or business or visits. The Society had opened Emo as a noviceship house in 1930 and were timidly making their way into the good will of the priests of the diocese. Fr. Arthur Murphy, the P.P. of Emo had been our sponsor there, and to him we owe, more than to anyone else, our settlement in the diocese. But Fr. Deeyy's contact with the priests did great service in changing toleration into genuine friendliness. Fr. Deevy was the least “Jesuitical” of men, as defined in the Concise Oxford dictionary, a “dissembling person, a prevaricator”. On everyone who met him he left the impression that he was a man whose word was as good as his bond, whose speech was “yea and nay”.
By temperament he was active and practical and took naturally to administration. He liked working with his hands and was glad to do odd jobs; he spent a good deal of time tinkering with things. He was not a reading man and would not often be seen in his room reading. That was a pity as he was intelligent and had a clear and vigorous mind. It was a pity also that he so early in his priestly life allowed his administrative activities to take him from pastoral work and, especially, from retreat-giving, a ministry which his deep spirituality, his good judgment, his kindness and his bright manner fitted him for to a high degree.
In 1944 Fr. Deevy returned to Tullabeg as Procurator and in 1953 he was assigned, in the same office, to Mungret; it was his last change and it was fitting that the end of his life should be spent in the place where he had made his first contact with the Society. The wheel of his changes had come full circle. For the years left him he was the same useful worker;, the same bright popular community man. He had little contact with the boys, they only remember the white-haired old priest who was so regular with his Mass. A good part of these years. was spent in compiling the Mungret Record, a list of all the past Mungret boys with their places of origin and their years in the College, It was a work which demanded a great deal of minute research in the Mungret Annual, old lists of the Prefects of Studies, of the Procurator, in the account books. It was done with the thoroughness and accuracy that were characteristic of all his work. The typed volume will remain as a very useful book of reference as well as a monument to Fr. Deevy's love of Mungret.
His death was felt throughout the province with a very genuine regret, by those who had ever lived with him. One of these, one who made his acquaintance on the 7th of September 1906, who drove him on the same sidecar to the noviceship, renders in these pages his sincere, if inadequate, tribute, his Ave atque Salve to a Very near friend of a lifetime. Ar dheis-Dé go raibh a anam.
Two of Fr. Deevy's sisters deserve a brief mention, Tessa was a well known playwright. Many of her plays were presented with success at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and outside Ireland. Another, Agnes, entered the Carmelite monastery, Delgany, where she was known as Mother Mary of the Incarnation and was Mother Prioress for many years. She was revered and loved by her community and those who knew her still cherish the memory of her outstanding charity and holiness.

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1974


Father John Deevy SJ

John Aloysius Deevy was born in Waterford on 15 June 1887. He belonged to a much-respected Waterford family of four boys and nine girls. His family is perhaps best known because of its accountancy firm which has offices in several Irish cities but it also has to its credit a well-known playwright, his sister Teresa, many of whose plays were presented successfully at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and abroad.

John was a layboy at Mungret from 1903 to 1906 when he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Tullabeg. He studied philosophy at Cividale in Italy for three years and then taught in Belvedere, Mungret and Clongowes. He was ordained at Milltown Park on 15 August 1920 at the end of his second year of theology. This was a special privilege granted to those who, because of the European war, were kept longer than usual as scholastics in the colleges. It did not, however, dispense them from completing the full four years of theology. After his tertianship, which he did at Tullabeg, he resumed teaching and made the acquaintance of the Crescent.

After a few years he was selected for ad ministrative work and he continued in it until the last few years of his life. The Jesuit novitiate had been changed to Emo Park in 1930 and two years later Fr Deevy was sent there as bursar. He then became superior and finally, when the new house reached its full status, he was appointed rector. In all he spent twelve years at Emo where his chief interest was in developing the farm and in doing pastoral supply work in the neighbouring parishes. He had a car at his disposal and it soon became known that he could be relied upon to come to the assistance of priests and convents who needed help, and that he made demands on no one. In time he won a host of clerical friends and he warmly responded to friendship shown him.

In 1944 his period as Rector at Emo was completed and he was transferred to Tullabeg to become bursar and to take charge of the farm. Nine years later, in 1953, he was sent to take over the farm at Mungret. In 1956 he celebrated his golden jubilee as a Jesuit but he continued to look after the farm until he was in his seventies. When he was relieved of this responsibility he devoted his time and energy to the compilation of the “Mungret Record”. This is a list of all past students with their places of origin and their years in the college. It involved working through all sorts of documents and when lists were completed he had to type them out page by page. It was a very big undertaking but it was a labour of love and he was happy to be able to complete it for distribution in 1963. It is, of course, an invaluable contribution to the history of the college,

Fr Deevy died on 10 March 1969. Up to the time of his final illness he missed his daily Mass only twice in his life of forty-nine years as a priest. He was a man of quite outstanding uprightness and integrity, of great kindness of heart and he contributed much to every community in which he lived.

Dooley, John, 1930-2022, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/530
  • Person
  • 22 May 1930-12 November 2022

Born: 22 May 1930, Ilford, Essex, England / Tramore, County Waterford
Entered: 07 September 1946, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1961, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1963, Coláiste Iognáid SJ, Galway
Died: 12 November 2022, Cherryfiled Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Milltown Park Community at the time of death

Born : 22nd May 1930 Ilford, Essex, UK
Raised : Tramore, Co Waterford
Early Education at Waterpark College, Waterford; Clongowes Wood College SJ
7th September 1946 Entered Society at St Mary’s, Emo, County Laois
8th September 1948 First Vows at St Mary’s, Emo, County Laois
1948-1951 Rathfarnham - Studying Arts at UCD
1951-1954 Tullabeg - Studying Philosophy
1954-1957 Coláiste Iognáid SJ, Galway - Regency : Teacher; Studying for H Dip in Education
1957-1961 Milltown Park - Studying Theology
31st July 1961 Ordained at Milltown Park Chapel, Dublin
1961-1962 Rathfarnham - Tertianship
1962-1965 Coláiste Iognáid SJ, Galway - Teacher; Assistant Prefect of Studies
2nd February 1963 Final Vows at Coláiste Iognáid SJ, Galway
1965-1966 Clongowes Wood College SJ - Teacher
1966-1980 Instituto Leone XIII, Milan, Italy - Teacher
1980-1981 Milltown Park - Assistant Librarian
1981-1994 Mazabuka, Zambia - Teacher and Spiritual Father at St Edmund’s Secondary School; Community at Nakambala Catholic Church
1994-2006 Choma, Zambia - Chaplain; Teacher at Mukasa Minor Seminary
2006-2008 Mazabuka - Assists in Parish at Nakambala Catholic Church
2008-2010 John Austin House - Recovering health at Cherryfield Lodge
2010-2022 Milltown Park - Assists in Community and Cherryfield Lodge
2018 Prays for the Church and the Society at Cherryfield Lodge

Tributes were paid to Fr John Dooley SJ who died in Cherryfield Lodge nursing home, Dublin, on 12 November 2022, aged 92 years. Fr Hector Mwale described him as “gentle, generous, and good” during the opening remarks at the Funeral Mass in Gonzaga College Chapel, Dublin on 16 November 2022. The Zambian diocesan priest, currently studying for his PhD in Church history at St Patrick’s College Maynooth, spoke on behalf of the many students taught by Fr Dooley during his years a missionary in Zambia.

Fr John was known to visit the Jesuit communications office in Dublin before his illness prevented him from doing so. There, he spoke of the need to address the various issues of the day in a respectful manner, including the right to life from womb to tomb. He was always generous, gracious, kind and gentle, even if he didn’t agree with a person on an issue.

Fr John was born in Essex, UK, on 22 May 1930. He was raised in Tramore, County Waterford, and he was educated at Waterpark College, Waterford and Clongowes Wood College SJ, Kildare. He entered the Society of Jesus at St Mary’s, Emo, County Laois on 7 September 1946 and he took his first vows two years later.

His Jesuit formation included studies in Arts at UCD, Dublin; philosophy at Tullabeg, County Offaly; and theology at Milltown Park, Dublin. He was ordained a Jesuit priest at Milltown Park Chapel, Dublin, on 31 July 1961.

During his earlier years as a Jesuit priest, he taught in Coláiste Iognáid SJ, Galway and Clongowes Wood College SJ, Kildare; and he taught in Instituto Leone XIII Jesuit school, Milan, Italy from 1966 to 1980.

Later, he was an Irish Jesuit missionary in Zambia from 1981 to 2008. He was a teacher and Spiritual Father at St Edmund’s Secondary School in Mazabuka and Chaplain and teacher at Mukasa Minor Seminary in Choma. He also assisted in the Parish at Nakambala Catholic Church in Mazabuka.

Fr John returned home to Ireland in 2008 due to health reasons. Since 2010, he lived in Milltown Park, Dublin where he assisted in the community and at Cherryfield Lodge nursing home.

He moved to Cherryfield Lodge nursing home in 2018 where he prayed for the Church and the Society of Jesus. Following his Funeral Mass on 16 November 2022, he was buried in the Jesuit plot at Glasnevin Cemetery.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

Interfuse No 14 : April 1981


John Dooley

As part of his sabbatical year, John visited many of our secondary schools in the United States. Here's what he found memorable about such places as Boston College High School, Regis (New York), St. Francis Xavier's (Cincinnatil, St. Ignatius College Prep. (Chicagol, Matteo Ricci (Denver), "S.I." (San Francisco), Brophy (Phoenix) and Disney World (Tampa).

I left Milan for Boston on September 18th last on the first leg of a three-month tour of the United States. My sabbatical year is being divided between a visit to the U.S. and a Renewal Course at Nemi outside Rome. Having been Chaplain to the American and English-speaking people in Milan for eleven years, I wanted to take a look at U.S. teaching systeins and get an over-all picture of Church life there. A special discount for visitors allowed me to use internal flights at the modest cost of 400 dollars.

I chose Boston as my first stop because I knew I would be more at home there. I stayed at Boston College High School for a fortnight and sat in on classes, especially Religion and Classics. In some classes (Freshmen and Sophomore, i.e. 1st and 2nd years) Religion teaching was integrated with English Literature, as an experiment. For Juniors and Seniors (15 - 18 yrs age-group), besides formal Religion classes a Retreat Program was organised, presenting a variety of one, two, or three-day experiences to help students explore their relationship with God at a deeper level.

I stayed for a longer period at Boston because I knew that the High School there would be typical of our other American High Schools.

From Boston I went to Regis High School, New York. We have three other High Schools in the city but I had time to visit only one. Regis is unique among Jesuit Schools in that all the students are there on scholarships and have no tuition fee. Of course the 'I,Q.” is very high because the entrance test requires an above-average standard. Although I did not visit Fordhan Prep. School I know that it has a special carisma for individual treatment of boys, directing them to apply themselves to those subjects which most suit their particular character and personality.

From New York I went to Washington D.C., to Gonzaga High School, whose President is a fr. Bernard Dooley. He has the task of integrating pupils from the 70% Negro population of the United States Capital. It is a delicate matter as the legro students must be capable of following a normal course of studies. At present 23% of the students are Negro, and the integration process is working successfully.

Cincinnati was iny next stop. St. Francis Xavier High School is a new building outside the town. There I found Fr. Pat McAteer, a former Co. Down G.A.A. player, now training the school soccer tean. The Science equipment and teaching methods are among the best I have seen. Although there are very few Negro students, the Religion Department is headed by a Negro lay-teacher who does an excellent job. There are quite a number of non-Catholics in the school, but they all attend the Religion classes.

Chicago is indeed a Windy City'. I was met at the airport by smiling Medical Missionary of Mary, Sr. Jeane, St. Ignatius College Prep, has a well-deserved name among the citizens. Integration is a live question here, too, but my main interest in the school was the Religion teaching. I attended Fr. Mark Link's classes and was able to learn something from his method; the textbooks on Scripture written by him are deservedly popular and he has the kack of making them come to life.

From Chicago I was able to pay a flying visit to Marquette University High School in Milwaukee where, as I sat in on a Religion Class I heard students reading and discussing Fr. Arrupe's famous address at Valencia on “Men for Others”.

St. Louis was my next port of call. We have two High Schools there: St. Louis University High School and De Smet High School. I stayed at St. Louis University High, alma mater of the famed Dr. Tom Dooley to whom, I believe, I may be related (since his people came from the midlands). Among the languages taught at this school are Russian and Chinese. The library is excellently laid out and possesses several micro-film units including microfilms of almost all the editions of the “New York Times” since 1850. One of the Fathers teaches shooting!

By early Noveaber I found myself at our High School (also called Regis) in the lone-mile-high' city, Denver, Colorado has the sub-title of “State of the Mountain Plains”. Said Fr. Ralph Houlihan, the new headmaster: “Denver is the fastest developing city in the United States. We are experiencing a large influx of Spanish-Mexican immigrants. Eighteen per cent of our boys are of Latino origin. At one time Regis was the Cinderella of our mid-western High Schools, but standards are improving. From Denver I was able to phone Fr. Joe Carlin, who is P.P. of a parish near Pueblo.

A D.C. 8 brought me from Denver, North-West over snow-covered Wyoming and Idaho to Seattle. There I stayed at Matteo Ricci High School on East Eleventh Avenue. The climate of Seattle is very like our own, temperate and moist. Our school is labouring under a shortage of fathers: there are only seven or eight of them for 600 students - hardly sufficient to give a truly Jesuit imprint.

I arrived at St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco; on Nov. 13th. “S.I.”, as the school is endearingly called, is deservedly held in high esteem by the San Francisco people. It is the most modern Jesuit school building that I saw in the U.S. and it has been built to last. I attended a comedy produced by the boys; “The Goodbye People “by Herb Gardner. The excellent standard of acting was enhanced by the presence of actresses from the local Convent of Mercy school.

At Los Angeles I visited a Parish Priest in Bellflower, Fr. Philip McGarth from Kilkenny. This gave me an opportunity of observing American parish life. We have a high-quality school in Los Angeles and the student population is evenly divided between Latino, Negro and white boys.

If you suffer from rheumatism or arthritis, Phoenix is the place to go. The climate of Arizona is dry and warm all the year round. Brophy College Prep., built in a charming Spanish architectural style, has the best centre of audio-visual aids I have come across. Fr, Menard, who is in charge of the Centre, buys equipment and materials at reduced rates, but his speciality lies in making, as much as possible, his own slides, “It's quite easy to make them”, he told me, “and you can build up your own slide library using a simple index system”.
In Houston I stayed with a family who used to be my parishioners in Milan. I visited the famous Space Centre where all the scientists and employees are keyed up for the launching of a shuttle space-craft in the near future. I also helped out in a suburb parish delicated to St. Ambrose where Fr. Chang, a Hong Kong Jesuit, is assistant.

New Orleans is a city with a distinct character and wandering through the French Quarter in the evening is a delightful experience. Our students at Jesuit High have a touch of class? and wear Khaki uniforms, a dress which makes them rather conspicuous in public, The school has a tradition of serious study and solid fomation.

Tampa, Florida, was my last overstop. Of course the climate and environment are ideal. There surely is no other Jesuit Community House which can boast of a swinning-pool in the patio. The school buildings are modern and compact. The only lement the staff have is that the holiday atmosphere of Florida makes application to study more meritorious and some times even heroic. I managed to visit Disney World where one is wasted into a drean-world and one experiences the meaning of the word 'enchantment.

During my visit to the United States I was able to enjoy other experiences such as assisting at the Papal Mass in Boston Common, and again at Yankee Stadium New York, My most spectacular moment was an hour's flight in a six-seater plane through the Grand Canyon just before sunset. There is a lot that I did not manage to do, but the over-all picture I have is of the committment of our American Jesuit priests and brothers to the cause of education at all levels, and of a Church vibrant and active even if certain tensions occur which are less in evidence here. It was a bird's-eye view, brief yet enriching, of our sister-continent, “America the beautiful”.

Interfuse No 28 : September 1983


John Dooley

A “late vocation” to the Foreign Missions, John encourages others to follow in his foot-steps to Africa where the harvest is rich: and the number of middle-aged labourers from the Irish Province could be profitably doubled.

When I accepted Bishop Corboy's invitation to do a two-year stint in his diocese, I took a leap in the twilight. I would not have so done without the express encouragement of Fr. Provincial, Three times the Bishop had stayed at Instituto Leone XIII, Milan, while attending the Synod of Bishops and paying a visit to Cardinal Colombo: a generous and efficient group of Milan Diocesan priests are working in Monze diocese, particularly in Siavonga and Chirundu, near Kariba. I was glad to come to Zambia and saw it as a happy extension of the eleven years spent in Milan.

My stay in Zambia comes under the category of “lived experience”. It is difficult to give an adequate picture of something one has lived; in fact it is an impossible task, precisely because it is “vital”. Nevertheless I am acceding to the wishes of the Bishop in writing down the general impression left on me after this two year experience. Besides, if we never even tried to jot down our impressions, however imperfectly, how could we ever share with each other? No Interfuse!

The first impression. I had of Zambia was that it is surprisingly modern. The airport, with its impeccably landscaped highway approach, the city of Lusaka with its high-rise banks and public buildings (designed in part by Irish architects), the well built school-buildings and community and teachers houses, the hospitals, the flourishing projects and plantations, the presence of tractors and modern machinery, ... all gave me the impression that Zambia has stepped right into the twentieth century. And all this has been achieved, largely, since independence was won in 1964 .

I was more than happy to see a model library at the Novitiate, planned and carefully built-up by Fr. Eddie Murphy a library with books at arms' reach, no climbing stairs, well-stocked and with artistic touches. An armchair foyer invites one to browse and lends a homely touch. I am told that in Vienna one per cent of money spent on public buildings. is set aside to make them artistic-looking, Fr. Eddie has taken a leaf from that.

I was assigned to act as chaplain to two secondary schools in Mazabuka, 20 kms. west of Lusaka and 60 kms. From Monze. My main duties have been in the boys school which is called “St. Edmund's” (after the 13th century archbishop of Canterbury and patron saint of Edmund Rice). I have not been allowed to neglect the Girls Secondary school which is directed by the Holy Rosary Sisters. The initial adaptation required of me taxed any hidden energies and several times I was tempted to run away. But I stood my ground. I soon discovered that school life in Zambia is no less full of interest than ät home.

My first impression of St. Edmund's was that I was continuing a tradition. Others had sown and I had come to reap. Frs Tony Geoghegen, Bob Kelly, and John O'Holohan had ploughed away happily in the fertile soil of the African soul. They, and the Irish Christian Brothers, had established customs and values that form the boys to piety. I was especially impressed by the unself-conscious devotion of the African student during Mass. It struck me that they have a lot to teach us in Europe about spiritual matters.

Indeed, it is that spiritual, “mystical” character in the Africans that struck me most. Their own traditions keep them very much in touch with the spirit world. They have a rich variety of names to convey the idea of God'. Their spontaneous approach to piety gives their liturgies a joy and élan' that are not so common in cold northern climates. God is a reality in their lives.

Various groups and associations have been well established at St. Edmund's: Legion of Mary, Apostleship of Prayer, Altar Servers (Sodality of St. John Berchmans), Choir, Pioneer Total Abstinence
Association, army cadets, catechumenate, drama, . The boarders, who comprise two thirds of the student population, are naturally. more involved in some of these groups.

The Pioneer Association deserves special mention. The movement has caught on remarkably well in Africa. There are Centres in very many parishes and schools. There is no need to spell . out for the students the dangers of excessive alcohol: beer-drinking after football and dancing, is a national pastime. The Pioneer Association with its spiritual and organized tackling of the problem has proved itself very effective. A new “Handbook for Africa” has just been produced by Fr. Robert Kelly. Last Autumn ('82) we had a very successful Rally between tbe two schools and Fr. Kelly was the principal speaker.

There is even a rival to the “Artane Band” at St. Edmund's: For marching and musical verve, especially on public occasions, the school Band is in the true “Artane” tradition. Almost every public ceremony of any importance in Mazabuka (and occasionally elsewhere) is graced by their musical presence. It is a proud sight, the blue jacketed, white-trousered troupe leading the school children of the entire township to the Show Grounds to attend a Youth or Independence Day Rally. The Band was founded by Bro, Tony McGeagh who was headmaster of St. Edmund's during the crucial years when it was being built up to its present strength. Bro. McGeagh is a former head of Synge St. CBS. He has recently returned to Ireland for good.

The role of the school chaplain has received a growing importance in recent years. Written articles have been appearing in various reviews on the subject, and special commissions appointed by: various Episcopal Conferences around the world such as the Bishops of England and Wales have drawn up an exhaustive and inspiring document on the role, duties and rights of the School-Chaplain. The chaplains operating in Zambia (including chaplains of Third Level Institutions) have formed a National Chaplains' Association. This Association runs a yearly workshop which is very helpful for all involved in this field. A revision has been made of the English document to suit the Zambian situation.

My duties at St. Edmund's have been no different from of those of any normal school Priest-chaplain. Daily Mass in both the Girls' and Boys' schools is well attended. Each of the schools has its own separate Sunday Mass. Teaching Load (in Relig Education) is not excessive, to allow the chaplain time for spiritual animation. A weekly confession period is well availed of. There is ample time for personal conversations with students and spiritual direction. Perhaps in one sense my position has been a bit special: the fact that both schools are being run by religious. This fact calls for a high degree of cooperation and understanding between chaplain and religious community, an exercise in dialogue which requires a certain suave if at times tenacious disposition. The chaplain is a
very important person in a school, but he is not God almighty!

A big problem for the chaplain is the fact that in all mission schools now there is a large proportion of non- Catholics. Seventh Day Adventists, New Apostolic Church, Salvation Army, the whole gamut: the poor people of Zambia have been subjected to the influence of all the divisions that have occurred in the Anglo-Saxon brand of Christ's one, true Church. No wonder they are confused. In St. Edmund's about half the school population is Catholic. In Canisius College the percentage is around 40.

In actual fact, and in the light of modern religious approaches, the religious pluralism of the mission schools works to our advantage Zambia has given a lead from which Ireland itself might well take an example. There is a common religious syllabus for all primary and secondary schools which aims at giving the pupils religious values: these values spiritual and moral involve obviously an appropriate behaviour The pupils are led to appreciate these values by a study of the main religious traditions in Zambia (namely, Christianity, Indigenous beliefs, Hinduism and, Islam). There are religious elements in the Zambian National Philosophy, Humanism, and these are also integrated into the syllabus.

I have often thought that a similar course is urgently needed in Ireland. In our religious formation we must take account of the various traditions existing in our country: English, Anglo-Irish and Gaelic Christianity, with at least some knowledge of world religions.

The Zambian Schools Religious Education Syllabus is heavily Biblical a fact that goes to show that the bible is acceptable to everone (in examinations, the Muslims generally are among the first places, which made one Brother remark that perhaps we should first turn the students into Muslims!). Of course, each student receives additional formation on a separate occasion in the traditions and beliefs of his own religion or church.

Although ecumenical dialogue is one of the key approaches in religious formation today, it still remains true that the faith needs to be defended. This was borne in upon me by my conversations with Fr. Michael Moloney in St. Ignatius, Lusaka. Recently, one of the foreign Sects published a booklet entitled “Comparative Religion” in which all the old supposed skeletons in the cupboard were paraded. Fr. Michael is just completing an answer to this booklet, in which he refutes, line for line, the caricature of Catholic doctrine presented in it. Fr. Michael is convinced that a little theology out here goes a long way, and he is looking for help!

The influence of Religious Sisters is very noticeable in Zambia. The indigenous female religious vocations are numerous, so much so that the “Irish Sisters of Charity” have had to drop the “Irish”. The Holy Rosary Sisters (Meath), Mercy, Ferrybank, Sisters of Charity together with indigenous, Polish and Italian Sisters - to mention only those operating in Monze Diocese - make a formidable company of persuasive evanglisers. A local catechumen declared: “It was either the SDA or the Catholic Church. And then I met the Sisters”. The Holy Rosary Sisters include two Americans and two Nigerians among their number.

The international aspect of the Zambian vice-province appealed to me in a special way. The history of the Zambesi Mission, as it was then called, shows how international it was almost from the beginning, ever since Fr. General Beckx realised it was too great a challenge for any single province. The French Jesuit Fr. Joseph Moreau has left an indelible impression on the Tonga land and People: he even taught them how to plough with oxen. Today Zambian, Slavic and Oregon Jesuits bring an aura of universality to many of our works, not to mention the Chelston Novitiate for East Africa. East and West have certainly met here, and that helps North and South meet, too, at a deeper than monetary level.

These are just a few of the impressions left on me during my first tour of Zambia. It hasn't been a picnic, but neither has it been too difficult. The needs of Zambia are much greater, relatively, than those of home. The poverty is greater, but not human poverty or poverty of values. A lot is being spoken and written at present on the subject of justice. I often think that Fr. John Sullivan, were he alive today, would cut the cackle and come out to Africa where there are so many of his beloved sick and poor. Fr. John had only a bicycle. We have the jet. If there be a Zambian who can speak Irish, he is saying to the reader of these lines (”si capax est”). “Tar agus Feach! Come and see!”

Fitzgerald, Kyran Joseph, 1922-1997, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/504
  • Person
  • 03 March 1922-07 May 1997

Born: 03 March 1922, Grangemore, Waterford City, County Waterford
Entered: 07 September 1940, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 29 July 1954, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 05 September 1977, Gonzaga College SJ, Dublin
Died: 07 May 1997, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Gonzaga College community, Dublin at the time of death.

Father was a doctor.

Younges of five boys and one girl

Early education at a private school unyil age 7 and then to Waterpark College. At age 14 he went to Clongowes Wood College SJ

◆ Interfuse


Fr Kyran Fitzgerald (1922-1997)

3rd Mar. 1922: Born in Waterford
Early education: Waterpark College and Clongowes Wood College.
7th Sept. 1940: Entered the Society at Emo
8th Sept. 1942: First Vows at Emo
1942 - 1945: Rathfarnham, Arts at UCD
1945 - 1948: Tullabeg, Studying Philosophy
1948 - 1951: Clongowes, teaching Cl. Cert in Education
1951 - 1955: Milltown Park, studying Theology
29th July 1954: Ordained priest at Milltown Park
1955 - 1956: Tertianship at Rathfarnham
1956 - 1961: Clongowes, teaching
1961 - 1968: Mungret College, teaching
1968 - 1970: College of Industrial Relations, studying Psychology at UCD
1970 - 1971: Galway, teaching & Career Guidance
1971 - 1986: Gonzaga, teaching & Career Guidance work ('71-'85)
1985 - 1986: Sabbatical
1986 - 1991: Chaplain, Lansdowne Road N. Home Subsequently listed as "assistant librarian" "writer".

Homily at Funeral Mass of Fr. Kyran Fitzgerald
We have come together this morning for Mass, to celebrate the eucharist: to remember with gratitude, with sorrow and with concern the passover of Christ in the first place, but today the passover also of Kyran. Doing this in memory of him, breaking together the Bread of the Word and the Bread of the Eucharist, we give thanks for the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth, for his suffering death and resurrection which, as the Creed puts it, were for us and for our salvation. But in that gratitude today we give special place to Kyran as a priest of the Society of Jesus. We give thanks for his life of self-sacrifice as a faithful Jesuit religious, a life which started long ago in 1940 when soon after the beginning of the London Blitz we both went as novices to Emo Park near Portarlington; we give thanks for his ministry as a devoted teacher of History and of Latin not only in Gonzaga but previously in Clongowes, Mungret and Galway, especially for his pioneering work as a career guidance counsellor: he was one of the founding members of that profession in this country; we give thanks too for his great capacity for friendship, for his gleaming eye and sense of humour, for his winning way with young people, for his love of fun and games and of celebrations such as the great party which - with so much thoughtfulness and imagination - the Matron of Cherryfield gave for him recently on the occasion of his 75th birthday.

As well as giving thanks at Mass we are sorry and ask forgiveness firstly of course for our ungratefulness and unfaithfulness in our following of Christ but in our sorrow at today's Mass we include and ask forgiveness for our failure to love Kyran as much as we should have, our failure to recognize and appreciate to the full all that he was by God's grace. He was a real charmer, brilliant in conversation skillful in argument and debate, patient and courageous and hopeful in suffering (as the first reading recalled so beautifully and so appositely), wide and catholic in the scope of his interests and strong in his convictions but tolerant, benignly tolerant with those of us who were unable to go along with all his views, political or theological, or unable to match his skill at bridge. And although he once loved to play a card game called 'Spite and Malice' and of course to win and therefore to beat you and to enjoy winning and beating you, there was in Kyran not the slightest trace of any spite or malice. He was innocent of all unkindness and uncharitablness. For our failure to appreciate to the full all these and other spiritual gifts, all these and other signs of God's goodness and grace we ask Kyran's forgiveness at this Mass.

But the eucharist, our Mass, expresses not only our gratitude and our sorrow but also our concern, our concern for the salvation of God's world, so we make intercession for God's people and in that intercession today we naturally give pride of place to Kyran's relatives, to his sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews and extended family, to his Jesuit confreres, to all those whose interests he had and still has so much at heart: asking the Holy Spirit to come and comfort and console us. A special memento is of course owing to Dr. Joe Martin and to the Matron of Cherryfield, Nurse Mary Ryan and all her staff: they took exquisite care of him in his last years and in that way made all the more real for Kyran God's own loving care of him.

For me it is a special comfort and consolation that we are burying Kyran on what is in Ireland the Vigil of the Feast of the Ascension and that Wednesday last, the day he died, was the Vigil of the Ascension in most of the rest of the Christian world. There is, as I tried to tell him on Wednesday afternoon, a certain appropriateness in dying at Ascensiontide when we celebrate what was for Jesus the end of his earthly existence and his return to the Father in Heaven. Above all the Ascension reminds us of the great mystery enshrined in the last article of our Creed: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sin, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting”,

This mystery is hard to take, hard to stomach as the fourth gospel puts it with reference to the related mystery of the eucharist - the bread of immortality. It is mind-blowing, mind-boggling and we are all, each and every one of us, only too conscious of our hesitations and uncertainties, of our unbelief. But it is perhaps communities who believe rather than mere individuals and the Christian Community's sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, as expressed at Mass, in today's Mass especially, is therefore a great comfort to us in our own personal unbelief. We find our hearts strangely warmed by the Church's confident faith in the next life, in the after-life, in life with God, in everlasting life in the heavenly places where, as St. Paul tells the Corinthians, (1 Cor 15:42-54), our corruptible bodies will be mysteriously clothed with incorruption and immortality and glory and power.

When I was saying Mass last Wednesday evening shortly after visiting Kyran just two hours before he died and with him especially in mind, the epistle for the day was taken from St. Luke's account in the 17th chapter of Acts, of St Paul's speech to the Athenians in which he had proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Verse 32 read “at this mention of rising from the dead, some of them burst out laughing”. Still today, perhaps even more so today and not only in Athens but everywhere, belief in the other world and in the last article of the Creed is just laughable, an idea to be dismissed with a laugh. For too many people the parameters and perspectives of their lives are very much this-worldly: getting and spending we lay vast our powers; a materialism and consumerism which puts things before people is too pervasive. Death makes such a life style very questionable: for those of us with any vestige of belief it is a salutary reminder that life may begin but hardly ends here below.

According to the Christian faith of the Church, life for Kyran is now changed not ended. He has completed his baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ, he has entered his promised inheritance and his joy none can now ever take from him. He has been warmly welcomed into Paradise not only by the choirs of angels and saints and by the Blessed Trinity but also by the members of his own family to whom he was always so devoted and whose photos were so prominent in his room: his mother and father, his beloved sister Peggy, and his distinguished brothers Oliver, Paddy, Gerald and Alexis. He will also have been warmly welcomed by the many friends who have gone before him marked with the sign of faith and not least, if I may say so, by our mutual friend, John Mulligan, with whom we both spent many an enjoyable holiday and with whom it will no doubt give Kyran special pleasure to discuss again the evolving political situation not only in these islands but all over the world.

We can no longer see or touch or hear Kyran but he is none the less close to us. The visible and tangible and audible is only a very small part of reality. Kyran has become part of the more vast, invisible universe and paradoxically but truly become even closer to us, because no longer subject to the limitations of life here below, the limitations of time and space. He has passed on, passed over, passed out of this world into the peace of heaven. We pray for him that he may rest in peace but only because we know that the rest and peace of heaven are not by any means to be equated with inactivity and indifference.

Shalom, the peace of heaven, is life, life in all its fullness and vibrancy, eternal life. As Jesus ascended into heaven 'on our behalf (Hebrews 6:20), 'for our good', 'to prepare a place' (In 14:2) for us, to give us hope, to send us the Spirit as a foretaste and promise here and now of the liberation and joy of the hereafter, so Kyran has gone before us not to abandon us but to prepare a place for us, not to forget us but to pray for us and indeed not only for us but for the whole Church and the whole world and the whole Society of Jesus. In Heaven, like Jesus and with Jesus, he now lives for ever to make intercession for us, to send down on us the Spirit who renews the face of the earth and the face of the Church; he has gone before us so that where he is we also may be: with him in our Father's house where there are many rooms.

And now what he is probably trying to say to us is what, according to St Luke (Acts 1:11), the Angels said to the disciples just after the Ascension: why are you standing around here, hanging about here, looking up into the sky, into heaven, star gazing? Kyran would surely want us to do as the disciples did in response to those reprimanding words of the Angels after Jesus left them; he would want us after the funeral to go back home full of joy, our hearts burning within us, to praise God and to be witnesses to the resurrection in our daily lives.

Michael Hurley, SJ

◆ The Clongownian, 1997


Father Kyran Fitzgerald SJ

Kyran Fitzgerald was born in Waterford in 1922 and came to Clongowes after attending Waterpark. His Jesuit studies, on which he entered immediately after school followed the then standard course of novitiate at Emo, university studies at Rathfarnham Castle, philosophy at Tullabeg, regency and theology at Milltown Park, ending with tertianship at Rathfarnham Castle. Kyran's regency consisted in a three-year teaching stint as a scholastic in his old school, 1948-51.

Following ordination in 1954, he returned here to teach for another five years, 1956-61. He taught at Mungret until 1968 and then studied psychology at UCD, where he had taken his Arts degree, to prepare himself for the work of career guidance to which he devoted the next fifteen years of his life, first in Galway for a year and then in Gonzaga. After a sabbatical year, he spent the last years of his active ministry as chaplain to a nursing home and helping in various capacities in the community.

By 1991, Parkinson's Disease, the ravages of which he bore with remarkable patience and courage, made it impossible for him to continue working. He died in the Jesuit infirmary at Cherryfield on May 7 1997.

Fitzgerald, Maurice, 1907-1996, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/660
  • Person
  • 28 March 1907-16 October 1996

Born: 28 March 1907, Lower Newtown, Waterford City, County Waterford
Entered: 31 August 1923, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1938, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1942
Died: 16 October 1996, Marycrest, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane - Australiae Province (ASL

Part of the Manresa, Toowong, Brisbane, Australia community at the time of death.

Transcribed HIB to ASL : 05 April 1931

Father was an accountant at Graves Co Ltd, Waterford.

Eldest of five, two brothers and two sisters.

Early education at Waterpark College.

by 1929 at Chieri Italy (TAUR) studying

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280 :
His early education was at the Christian Brothers Waterford before Entry at St Stanislaus College Tullabeg.

1925-1928 He studied at University College Dublin gaining a BA in Latin, Greek and English.
1928-1931 He was sent to Chieri, Italy for Philosophy
1931-1935 He was sent to St Ignatius College Riverview for Regency
1935-1939 He was back in Ireland and Milltown Park for Theology
1939-1940 He made tertianship at Rathfarnham Castle Dublin
1940 He was sent to work at Gardiner St Parish in Dublin
He then returned to Australia at the Toowong Parish
1950-1961 He was then sent back to Riverview as Minister. He was remembered for his kindness, patience and equanimity, as well as for his efficiency and his Irish stories. The boarders well remember his supervision of the refectory and ringing the bell.
1962-1972 He was sent back to Toowong as Parish Priest at St Ignatius, Toowong
1972-1975 He was sent to Lavender Bay parish in Sydney
1975 He came back and spent the rest of his life in Brisbane. He was chaplain at the hospital and nursing home at Nundah. He eventually settled into the Marycrest Retirement Centre at Kangaroo Point.

He was respected by many for his pastoral work, his preaching, administration of the sacraments, his wise counsel especially to many religious sisters throughout Brisbane. he was also a practical administrator, erecting a purpose built school at Toowong to replace the hall below the Church.
He was also responsible for erecting a second Church in the Toowong Parish - Holy Spirit Church, Auchenflower, a modern construction intended for the post Vatican II liturgy. He is remembered there for his dedication and friendliness, his willingness to help anyone in trouble and for his interest in the youth.
He found the new theology after Vatican II quite hard to accommodate, especially in preaching, and he was grateful to the Archbishop of Brisbane, Dr Rush, for asking him to become chaplain to the Sisters of St Joseph at Nundah. The sisters there were very good to him, and he gradually regained some confidence in his ability to be a pastor and preach again. He loved the pastoral care of the sick and the rose garden there.

He died a happy and contented priest. he enjoyed the Jesuit weekly gatherings at Toowong in his latter years.

◆ Interfuse
Interfuse No 92 : August 1996


Fr Maurice Fitzgerald (1922-1997)

1907: Born in Waterford
1923: Entered the Society at
1925 - 1928: Tullabeg Juniorate (National University of Ireland)
1928 - 1931: Philosophy at Chieri, Italy
1931 - 1935: Regency at Riverview
1935 - 1939: Theology at Milltown Park
31st July 1938: Ordained a Priest
1939 - 1940: Tertianship at Rathfarnham Castle
1941: Parish work at Gardiner Street
1942 - 1949: Parish work at Toowong, Brisbane
1950 - 61: Minister at Riverview
1962 - 1971: Parish work at Toowong. Superior/Parish Priest
1972 - 1975: Parish work at Lavender Bay, Sydney
1976 - 1993: Chaplain at hospital and nursing home, Nundah, Brisbane
1994 - 1996: Chaplain at Marycrest Retirement Centre

Fr. Maurice Fitzgerald was born in Ireland in 1907 and entered the Society there in 1923. Like a number of others from the Irish Province, he was transferred in 1931 to what was then the Australian Vice-Province, where, apart from Theology and Tertianship, he spent the rest of his life. Apart from over ten years in St. Ignatius' College, Riverview, his ministry was in parish or chaplaincy work, chiefly in Brisbane. For over 17 years he was on the staff of the Toowong parish, chiefly as parish priest, where he endeared himself to the people by his dedication, friendliness and willingness to help anyone in trouble. He was responsible for the building of a new Church in the parish. Due to ill health he had to retire from the strenuous activity of parish work and the last twenty years of his life were spent as Chaplain to a hospital and nursing home, conducted by Sisters. Here, too, he was much beloved. He delighted to keep in touch with his Jesuit brethren. At the time of his death, he was 89 years of age and had been a member of the Society for 73 years. The Australian Province owes a great debt of gratitude to Irishmen like him who left home and country to minister in a distant land.

Australian Provincial's Office

Kirwan, Michael, 1884-1942, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/222
  • Person
  • 19 February 1884-19 August 1942

Born: 19 February 1884, Waterford City, County Waterford
Entered: 01 September 1919, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 23 June 1912, St Patrick's College, Maynooth, County Kildare
Final Vows: 02 February 1930, St Francis Xavier's, Gardiner Street, Dublin
Died: 19 August 1942, St Francis Xavier's, Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin

Parents are shopkeepers in Waterford City.

Second of a family of four, with one brother and two sisters.

Early education was at St Joseph’s Convent school in Waterford and then at the Christian Brothers School Waterford. In 1901 he went to St John’s College at John’s Hill, Waterford and then to St Patrick’s College Maynooth where he was ordained 23rd June 1912. He then returned to teach at St John’s College, Waterford, 1912-1914, and was Diocesan Inspector of Waterford and Limerick, 1914-1919.

Tertianship at Tullabeg

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 17th Year No 4 1942
Obituary :
Rev Michael Kirwan SJ
He was born in Waterford in 1884, the son of the late Mr. Michael Kirwan. former Mayor of Waterford. He was educated at the Christian Brothers' School, Waterpark, and at Blackrock College, Dublin, and entered Maynooth, where, after winning Degrees in Arts and Divinity, he was ordained Priest in 1912. For the next two years he was Dean and Professor of St. John's, Waterford, and Diocesan Inspector from 1914 to 1919. In the latter years he attained his long-cherished desire of entering the Society and made his two years' noviceship in Tullabeg. After a year of study in Miltown Park he joined the staff at Gardiner Street Church where he labored until his death. He was Superior from 1935 to 1941. Among the varied activities to which he devoted his organising talents were the St. Joseph's Young Priests Society, having been personally associated with the foundation of every new branch of the organisation for the past twelve years. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul of which be was an ardent apostle from his first connection with Gardiner Street, guiding for many years until his death the destinies of the Boys' Club at Nelson Street, one of the chief activities promoted by the Conference of Blessed Oliver Plunkett never missing his weekly talk to the distressed of Ozanam House He also organised and placed on a successful basis the St. Joseph's Penny Dinners and Free Meals at Cumberland Street. Fr Kirwan was one of the best known and best-loved priests in Ireland, and the City of Dublin, where he worked for the past two decades, has reason to cherish his memory. A man of outstanding qualities of mind and heart, of a remarkable mental and physical energy, he crowded into a comparatively short life an amount and variety of work that surprised his friends. Of rare practical common-sense, of an exquisite gift for friendship and deep sympathy for the poor and suffering, he spent himself unselfishly for others. As a speaker he was most liked when most blunt and forceful, and he had the power of getting down to the plain man, whom he understood in all his ramifications, winning his heart. He was never at a loss when confronting the most diverse type of audience. His musical and histrionic talents were of no mean order. Keen on all manly sport, he was a powerful swimmer, and only last year added once again to his already long list of rescues from drowning.
He had been in hospital since April 8th, and had undergone an operation which seemed to be most successful. For some weeks prior to Fr. Gallagher's death, he had been out and about and seemed on the verge of complete recovery. But simultaneously with Fr. Gallagher's illness, he developed a pneumonic condition which caused grave anxiety for about ten days. He got over this, but later had severe attacks which pointed to the existence of a dangerous clot. However, with careful nursing, he seemed to be over this trouble when at 5.30 a.m. on August 19th, the fatal seizure came.
Universal sorrow was manifested all over Dublin and throughout the country when the news of his death was published. Messages of condolence were received from many members of the hierarchy. His Grace the Archbishop called to offer his sympathies and said Mass for Fr. Kirwan the next morning. The funeral was a remarkable tribute from Church, State and people. His Lordship the Bishop of Thasos presided, and about 200 priests and 60 nuns attended. Mr. de Valera, Mr. O'Ke1ly and the Lord Mayor of' Dublin were present. But again as at Fr. Gallagher funeral, the most touching tribute was from the poor, who, the preceding night, came in large crowds to touch the coffin and lay their rosaries and other objects of devotion on it.
On the same morning there was Office and Requiem in the Cathedral at Waterford, presided over by Right Rev. Dean Byrne Vicar-Capitular, and attended by many of Fr. Kirwan's fellow-diocesans. Innumerable messages of sympathy were received from private individuals and the many charitable bodies with which Fr. Kirwan had been associated.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father Michael Kirwan 1884-1942
Fr Michael Kirwan was one of the best known and popular priests in Dublin, and indeed Ireland. He was ordained for his native diocese of Waterford, and he worked there as Professor in St John’s Seminary and also as Diocesan Inspector, before he entered the Society in 1919.

He spent all his life as a Jesuit in Gardiner Street, of which house he was Superior from 1935-1941. A man of outstanding qualities of mind and heart, of remarkable mental and physical energy, he crowded into a comparatively short life an amount and variety of work which astonished and edified his friends and contemporaries.

He died on August 19th 1942, and the long queue of people who filed past his coffin is a tribute to his genuine love and work for the ordinary man in the street.

Lee, William M, 1915-1992, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/509
  • Person
  • 07 December 1915-04 June 1992

Born: 07 December 1915, Ferrybank, County Waterford
Entered: 09 October 1934, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 30 July 1947, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1950, Sacred Heart College SJ, Limerick
Died: 04 June 1992, St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin

Part of the St Ignatius, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin community at the time of death

Father was Station Master and Goods Agent at Waterford Station Family resided at Newtown, Waterford City, County Waterford.

Youngest of four boys with five sisters.

Early education Ferrybank BNS and then at Waterpark College, Waterford.

by 1951 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working - third wave of Zambian Missioners

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Fr Bill went through the usual studies of the Jesuits, was ordained in 1947 and after tertianship was posted to Limerick. Plans were then afoot to send Irish Jesuits to what was then Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). Bill conceived a keen desire NOT to go there. He was just settling down in the Crescent when he received a letter telling him to get a medical check-up with a view of going to Northern Rhodesia. The Irish Jesuits had been asked to help out their Polish colleagues there. So in 1950, nine Irish Jesuits sailed from Ireland, including Fr Bill.

For many years, Fr Zabdyr had moved out from Chikuni, his base, in order to set up elementary schools in various places. In 1951, two of these places (Kasiya and Chivuna) became new mission stations. Kasiya was set up by Fr. Bill Lee in 1951, the year after he arrived in the country. Later in December, he was joined by Fr J Gill. A letter from Fr Bill to Fr Zabdyr dated 17 June 1951 reads:

‘I have been in “permanent residence” here since the beginning of May, more or less, and will continue so for the future. I am busy building my Mission-station and it is going fairly satisfactorily. A space has been cleared in the bush, foundations are down, a well dug in the river, and grass for thatching cut and piled. After that, things will go smoothly as far as I can foresee. Somewhere near the end of July the house will be finished as far as I can do it this year. I may have to wait until later for cement to make proper floors. lt will be a two-roomed house, with a small kitchen near it. In the meantime I have a class going each evening for Christians who have not married in church’.

When Fr Gill arrived and a 250cc motorbike was available, Fr Gill looked after the station and set out to visit the centres of Christianity within a radius of up to 30 miles. Bill was transferred to Fumbo and later to Chikuni where he taught and was Spiritual Father to the African Sisters. He was also, for a time, secretary to the Bishop of Lusaka.

Having spent seven years in Zambia, he returned to Ireland to Gonzaga College for 30 years, teaching physics etc. up to 1987. The remaining five years of his life he spent at University Hall and at 35 Lower Leeson Street. He died in St Vincent's Hospital on 4th June 1992.

Bill came from a large Waterford family and was distinctive among them, ‘he alone of the 10 children greeted orders with “Why” and all information with “How do you know”? and he always enjoyed a good argument as much as other children enjoyed a party. He endearingly retained these characteristics to the end’. He loved discussion and debate but his kindness, good humour and generosity were no less noticed and appreciated. He was a good teacher and had a marvellous rapport with his students who really loved him. He was a colourful member of his community, enjoying the interchange and contributing much to it. He always had a sense of wonder. As he watched a fellow Jesuit perform some simple 'magic' tricks, he would be enthralled and laugh.

In pastoral work he was most successful, if somewhat diffident. Indeed he was suspicious of those who trafficked in certainties. Nor was he one for laying down an inflexible code of behaviour. He accepted people as he found them and in whatever circumstances they were in. He was keen to help them to make sense of their lives in their own way and to give their own meaning to their lives. He never entertained the idea that he could solve all people's problems but he did try to help others to live more easily with those human and religious problems that everyone experiences and that are beyond solution in this life. He was especially good with those whose faith was fragile, whose link with the Church was tenuous or whose practice was spasmodic. He himself lived happily with questions unanswered and problems unsolved but with the absolute certainty that the day would come when he would get his answers and solutions.

Pulmonary fibrosis was what took him in the end. Actually he had planned to visit Zambia with his sister in the autumn of the year he died but the Lord had other plans for him.

◆ Interfuse
Interfuse No 75 : Christmas 1993 & Interfuse No 82 : September 1995

Fr Bill Lee (1915-1992)

7th Dec. 1915: Born, Waterford
Early education: Christian Bros. Schools, Waterford up to Matriculation
9th Oct. 1934: Entered the Society at Emo
1936 - 1939: Juniorate, Rathfarnham
1939 - 1942: Philosophy at Tullabeg
1942 - 1943: Teaching at Clongowes
1944 - 1948; Theology at Milltown Park
1947: Ordained
1948 - 1949: Tertianship at Rathfarnham
1950 - 1957: Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). Having studied the language, he served in Kasia, Fumbo, Chikuni, etc.
1957 - 1987: Gonzaga, teaching Physics, etc. (In 1981 he took a sabbatical in the U.S.A.)
1987 - 1989: University Hall - adj. Prefect; also keeper of Records, Milltown Institute
1989 - 1991: 35 Lower Leeson Street, Minister in 1990. Assistant Registrar at Milltown Institute and teaching Latin
4th June 1992: Died at St. Vincent's Hospital, Dublin

William Lee, known to his family as Willie and to his Jesuit brethren as Bill, was born in 1916 in Waterford where he spent most of his youth. He was one of ten children of whom Sheila, Teddy and Peggy survive and to them we offer our sincerest sympathy. They will miss him terribly. Our sympathy also to his nephews, nieces and other relatives amongst whom he was greatly beloved and in whom he took a keen and warm avuncular interest. Within the family he is remembered as being distinctive: he alone of the ten children greeted all orders with “Why?”, all information with “How do you know?” and enjoyed an argument as other children enjoyed a party. He endearingly retained these characteristics to the end. He was educated in Waterpark College by the Christian Brothers whom he held in the highest esteem and of whom he had the happiest memories. As a student, he was most capable, a voracious reader and utterly stubborn in refusing to learn or study any thing that did not capture his interest. Attempts to break this habit by carrot and stick proved fruitless.

He had little or no contact with Jesuits until a Fr. Mackey descended on Waterpark College to give the boys a retreat. It appears that this man was a famous recruiting sergeant for the Jesuits in the '20s and '30s and he added Bill to his list. Bill's parents received the news that he was to join the Jesuits as a sign of lamentable judgement. After all he had acquired a good position in the bank, and if he was thinking of the priesthood or religious life, did he not know the Franciscans, the diocesan priests and the Christian Brothers? So why join the Jesuits of whom he knew nothing? Characteristically, the more his parents opposed it, the more Bill warmed to the idea. He cut the argument short one day, by getting on his bike in Waterford ad cycling to Dublin. He arrived at Leeson Street to meet Fr. Mackey. Just as the good father was extolling the virtues of the religious life in general and those of the Jesuits in particular, Bill, tired out by his journey, fell fast asleep. When the startled priest discovered the reason for this, he was suitably impressed and sent Bill to the Provincial with a strong recommendation. By the time Bill returned to Waterford, he had, more or less, signed on. The family's disappointment at his decision was mitigated by the conviction that he would soon be sent home from the Jesuit novitiate. They did not put a tooth in it: they told him that the Jesuits, of all people, would not put up with his incessantly asking, “Why?”, “Wherefore?” and “How do you know?”. However, Bill proved not to be one of nature's natural martyrs. He reserved his taste for robust debate for his fellow novices, one of whom reported that going out with Br. Lee for a discussion was like walking across a mine field. However, if Bill made his mark as a lover of debate and discussion, his kindness, good humour and generosity were no less noticed and appreciated.

After the novitiate, he began his studies that he greatly enjoyed, obtaining a good honours degree in Arts, and then in Philosophy in Tullabeg, and completed what was then known as the long or higher course in Theology. He was ordained in 1947, Between Philosophy and Theology he showed great promise as a teacher in Clongowes and The Crescent. His theological studies left him with an abiding interest in the subject. For him, theology was not merely an academic or intellectual interest. He read it seriously as a means of making sense of his beliefs and convictions. If in latter years his reading tended to concentrate on Schillebeeckx, Kung and the more unorthodox theologians, this reflected his moderate esteem for orthodoxy. He completed his formation with tertianship in Rathfarnham Castle. Plans were afoot to send some Irish Jesuits to what was then Northern Rhodesia. Bill conceived a keen desire NOT to go there, was greatly relieved not to be sent and in these circumstances found a posting in Limerick quite attractive. He was just settling down comfortably to life in the Crescent when he received a note from the Provincial's assistant telling him to get a medical check with a view to going to Northern Rhodesia.

He went in 1950. He was one of the pioneering group, and experienced all the difficulties of establishing the mission. He built a mission station physically with one or two others, taught, spent some time as secretary to the Bishop and picked up a touch of malaria.

He returned to Ireland in 1957 to teach in Gonzaga, which was founded as he was leaving for Africa. He joined a gifted staff that was conscious that the school was doing something new in Irish education. He appreciated the refreshing and innovative ethos of the place but was critical of the role of science in the curriculum. He rightly considered that it did not enjoy a sufficiently central place in the new school and that science should be at the heart of 20th century liberal education. He persuaded the authorities to permit him to go to the USA for six summers to obtain a degree in Physics. He set up the science department in Gonzaga, initially in a loft over converted stables, and introduced a demonstration course in science. This was hardly ideal but was all that resources allowed. Over the years he was joined by excellent teachers and science gradually assumed a central place in the curriculum but by the time the splendid new science wing was built he had retired. However, he was certainly the founding father of the now flourishing science department in Gonzaga.

He was a very good teacher, albeit with a short fuse at times and with less than an unerring way with experiments. He had a marvellous rapport with his students by whom he was much beloved. He was deeply interested in his subject, and had broad intellectual interests that enabled him not merely to teach but to educate.

Bill, however, was appreciated for what he was, rather than for what he did: humane, kindly, tolerant and unpretentious. There was about him something difficult to define but palpable to experience; one did not relate to him as a teacher or a cleric. He did not, as many clerics do, give the impression that he was fulfilling a role or assuming a function. He was very much the human face of the clerical and religious life. He was immensely popular in the staff room and was a colourful member of the community life. He was clubable, enjoying and contributing much to community life. He had his own style. He seemed to “sniff” the general drift of conversation and then assume a position against the commonly held view. The more vigorous the argument, the more pleased he seemed to be. While some found his style more attractive than others, it was salutary for those who took themselves too seriously.

He left Gonzaga in 1987 after 30 years and moved to University Hall and then to Leeson Street while working in The Milltown Institute as Bursar, Assistant Registrar and teacher of Latin, To his colleagues in Milltown he was a popular and lively companion. He was Minister for a year in Leeson Street in addition to his tasks in Milltown and was always ready and happy to supply in the Barrett Cheshire Home where he had the affection and respect of the residents.

In pastoral work he was most successful, if somewhat diffident. He was not one for passing on certainties. Indeed, he was suspicious of those who trafficked in certainties. Nor was he one for laying down an inflexible code of behaviour. He accepted people as he found them and in whatever circumstances they were. He was keen to help them to make sense of their lives in their own way and to give their own meaning to those lives. He never entertained the idea that he could solve peoples' problems but he did try to help people to live more easily with those human and religious problems that we all have and that are beyond solution in this life. He related well to the dedicated and practising Christians in the Teams of Our Lady who so much appreciated him. The presence of the residents of the Barrett Cheshire Home, who went to so much trouble to be at his funeral, reflects their appreciation of a man who unostentatiously and unondescendingly conveyed his understanding of those whom providence left gravely disadvantaged. He was especially good with those whose faith was fragile, whose link with the Church was tenuous or whose practice was spasmodic. He was helped in dealing with such people by his awareness that Faith and its consequences are a gift and so he tended to be more surprised by their presence than by their absence. He himself lived happily with questions unanswered and problems unsolved but with the absolute certainty that the day would come - and for him it has - when he would get his answers and solutions. However, should they turn out to be the orthodox ones, he will, I suspect, be bitterly disappointed.

About a year ago, the pulmonary fibrosis that was to prove fatal was diagnosed. This restricted his activity greatly, and consider able damaged his quality of life. The signs were there for all to see. The work in Milltown became a little too much for him. He frequently and uncharacteristically absented himself from community recreation. He went to his sisters on Fridays and Sundays armed with a video as the effort to keep up his usual rate of conversation waned. But he retained his spark and interest in life. He had acquired a second hand computer shortly before going into hospital and was happily working on it when he got his fatal attack. He had planned to visit Zambia this Autumn with his sister Peggy and generally was looking forward rather than looking back.

We will miss his colourful manner, kindly personality, and genuine goodness but he has left us the happiest memories of a good life lived to the full.

◆ The Gonzaga Record 1992
William Lee SJ
I am very pleased to have been asked to write about Fr William Lee. But I shall refer to him simply as Bill, for that was his name among his religious colleagues. The boys, I know, used to call him Willie behind his back with a sense of daring: they may be slightly deflated to learn that this was the form of William by which he was known among his own family.
When I received the news of Bill's death, along with a great sadness came the relieving thought ‘Now, at last, he knows all the answers!'

Bill was always noted for his questioning spirit. His was always a curious mind, in the Latin sense of the word. Everything was of interest to him and he wanted to know everything about it. But then, Alistair Cooke says ‘Curiosity is free-wheeling intelligence', or, in the words of Samuel Johnson, 'It is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect!'
This, I think, was one of the qualities that made him an exceptional teacher, a stimulating companion and a great asset to community life.

He loved a good argument. I, a purveyor of the classics, could see in him a touch of Socrates who, with his famous maieutic method, could lead his adversary first into a confession of total ignorance and then be opened to the truth. Bill, of course, was always conscious of that salutary admonition of St Ignatius - that, when a Jesuit argues “it is not to get the upper hand, but that the truth may appear'. Or haven't you noticed it?

He and I always kept up a good-natured rivalry. It was science versus the classics. But, really, it was a rather uneven contest, for while I was almost completely ignorant of matters scientific and had little interest in them, Bill was no mean Latin scholar. He could quote his lines of Virgil and Horace with the best and, towards the end of his life, was actually teaching Latin for a time in the Milltown Institute.

There was a memorable summer (1974) when we went together on a trip to Greece. As we visited the great sites. - the Acropolis, Delphi, Mycenae, Epidaurus, Knossos — his thirst for answers was insatiable. I recall with some amusement how once, in Athens, he remarked on the crowds that gathered every evening in Omonia Square. There were large groups of men engaged in earnest and vociferous discussion. The natural conclusion (for him) was that they were talking politics - a scene that would have brought joy to the heart of old Socrates who encouraged people to dialogue on the real essentials of life and the eternal verities. Great, however, was his disillusionment when Bill discovered that they were merely arguing about the soccer results of the day.
Surprisingly enough, Bill's university degree was not in physics or any science subject, but in English and history. When he came to teach in Gonzaga in 1957, though already more than competent, he worked hard to prepare himself for the task of being the College's one and only science teacher for many years. Besides attending courses in Dublin and Cork he spent many of his early summers in the US plundering the brains and know-how of the Americans at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Universities of Kentucky, Fordham, Notre Dame and Colombia. There he studied such diverse subjects as physics, chemistry, electronics and geology.

Thus he equipped himself superbly as a teacher who could introduce into Gonzaga a physics course that would be in line with modern developments and requirements. In 1962 he was President of the Irish Science Teachers' Association, Editor of their magazine in 1966 and Public Relations Officer in 1971.

Bill was Editor of the first three issues of The Gonzaga Record (1985-87). The first and second issues contain his succinct and invaluable 'History of Gonzaga College 1950-85'. In it was a section entitled “The Introduction of Science Teaching' wherein he gives the reasons why there was no place for science in the original curriculum and describes how the subject made a tentative beginning in 1959 as a sort of gentleman's demonstration course. He recounts how the facilities gradually improved - from the humble beginnings in the upper room in the lower yard (until recently the Music Room) to a pre-fab. structure that, erected in 1972, was eventually replaced, in 1983, by the present well-equipped specialist science block. Now that we have it,' he wrote in his editorial of 1987, ‘one wonders how we did without it.' One wonders even more how he did without it, for, alas! Bill himself never enjoyed the luxuries of this building. Having reached pensionable age in 1981 he withdrew from the classroom and never looked back.

However, in spite of the limitations of a mere demonstration course and the below-par facilities, many of his pupils did him great credit, not only in examinations but also at the annual Young Scientists' Exhibition. Notable among these were Lothar Enders, Leslie Daly, Peter Duggan and John David Biggs.

I could have adjudged Bill, even a priori, an excellent teacher. He had this earnest, patient way of explaining difficult things simply, lucidly, logically. What's more, he gave everyone he talked to his full attention, taking quite seriously even the most stupid question. Had I been, e'en briefly, a 'fly on the wall' in one of his classes, I could have observed what went on, but had to settle for a few words with some of his past pupils. Somehow I had expected to extract from them some special insider information - personal idiosyncrasies, funny incidents, the stuff of legend. I was, in a way, disappointed. They all - as past pupils will — suggested that they had been the bane of his life, but remembered him with deep affection and gratitude and no-one had an unkind word to say of him. There were memories of occasions when the experiments went a bit wrong, of the odd prank, but nothing of epic proportions. When I asked what special measures he took to maintain discipline, one answer was that his main weapon was a wide smile which could, in turn, register pity, reproval or encouragement.

Bill would be highly amused at any mention of his sporting proclivities or achievements. But I should like here to record that, on his arrival at Gonzaga, he humbly undertook the office of Gamesmaster for about three years. Reffing rugby, umpiring cricket and organising sports was really not his scene, but, as in everything else, he did a whole-hearted job. I remember, with a touch of awe, the first time he took part in the cricket match between staff and boys and revealed himself as a fast bowler of some merit, though with a strong tendency towards involuntary bodyline. He possessed, too, a meagre and poverty-stricken collection of golf clubs with which he once got his name on the Veterans' Trophy at the Annual Jesuit Golf Outing. The clubs, incidentally, were left-handed, and yet he was right-handed in most things else. This ambidexterity was, perhaps, a physical expression of his ability to argue from both sides of any question.
It is fitting that this account of Bill should confine itself mainly to his years as teacher in Gonzaga. Were I writing a wider appreciation I would have much to say about him as a spiritual man, a zealous religious and about his role as guide, counsellor and friend to so many people. Here, at least, I might recall that before his coming to Gonzaga in 1957 he had worked as a pioneering missionary in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) for some seven years: among his souvenirs from this period was a touch of malaria. Along with his science he taught religion in the classroom and did his share of counselling. In holiday time, apart from his attendance at many courses, he was often engaged in pastoral work especially in the US and in England. In 1981 he made a tour of the Holy Land.

For many years there was a regular Sunday Mass in the college chapel. Bill's homilies, I know, were greatly savoured. He always had a fresh and original angle. A Gonzaga mother was talking to me about this recently and she recalled a little story he told about a boy who had some scruples about reading in bed because his parents had told him to put the light off as soon as he turned in. (Ah for the days when disobedience to parental instructions was regarded as at least an imperfection!) Anyway, this boy confided his unease to Bill. “What I do”, he said, “is to leave the bedroom door open and by a system of mirrors draw the light from the corridor onto the pages of my book”. Far from condemnation, Bill had nothing but commendation for such ingenuity and scientific know-how. I wonder was this homily on Luke 18, 8?

Bill left Gonzaga in the summer of 1987. His first appointment was to University Hall, Hatch St, where he acted as Assistant Prefect; at the same time he was Keeper of the Records in the Milltown Institute. Thence he moved, in 1989, to the Jesuit residence in Leeson St where for a time he was Minister while he still commuted daily to the Milltown Institute, now as Assistant Registrar. But soon his health began to deteriorate. He was hospitalised on 24 May, 1992, with pulmonary fibrosis, and died peacefully in the early hours of 4 June. He was 76.

Jesuits working in Dublin are usually buried from St Francis Xavier's, Gardiner St, but circumstances did not so allow. Gonzaga was the next obvious choice but its chapel had already been reserved for another ceremony. And so, his Requiem Mass was concelebrated in Milltown Park, and I can't help thinking that Bill must have felt a little heavenly glee in having his obsequies presided over by Father General himself and in upsetting the timetable drawn up for a Meeting of the whole Jesuit Province.

Our deepest sympathy to all his relatives and friends. We, his confrères, miss him sorely.

Edmund Keane SJ

Meade, Matthew, 1912-1992, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/529
  • Person
  • 19 February 1912-26 August 1992

Born: 19 February 1912, Ballymaclode Castle, Knockboy, Ballymaclode, County Waterford
Entered: 29 September 1930, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1944, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1947, Coláiste Iognáid, Galway
Died: 26 August 1992, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin

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

Parents were farmers.

Youngest of four boys with six sisters.

Early Education at Waterpark College, Waterford for twelve years.

◆ Interfuse
Interfuse No 82 : September 1995
Fr Matthew (Mattie) Meade (1912-1992)

19th Feb. 1912: Born, Ballymaclode Castle, Co. Waterford
Educated: Waterpark College, Waterford
29th Sept.1930; Entered the Society at Emo Park
1932 - 1935: Arts at UCD. Lived at Rathfarnham
1935 - 1938: Philosophy at Tullabeg
1938 - 1941: Teaching ( 1940) in Galway
1941 - 1945: Theology at Milltown
31st July 1944: Ordained
1945 - 1946: Tertianship at Rathfarnham
1946 - 1948: Teaching in Galway
1948 - 1951: Assistant Director Sod. B.V.M.; Director of Missions and Retreats: Emo
1951 - 1953: Assistant Director Sod. B.V.M.: Director of Missions and Retreats: Rathfarnham
1953 - 1957: Church work at Gardiner Street
1957 - 1963: Superior at Gardiner Street
1963 - 1968: Director of Missions and Retreats, Oecon. Irish Messenger at 35 Lower Leeson Street
1968 - 1974: Director of Retreat House/ Director of Missions and Retreats at Rathfarnham
1974 - 1982: Superior of Rathfarnham
1982 - 1992: Manresa, Oeconimus
26th Aug. 1992: Died at Beaumont Hospital

His birth place, Waterford City, had a strong Jesuit history and tradition as the members of the Irish Province discovered when we travelled for the celebrations on June 16th 1991 connected with St. Patrick's Church still in use as the out church in the Cathedral Parish, It was in St. Patrick's that the Irish Jesuits worked from 1691 practically to the suppression of the Society, many of them of outstanding ability and revered and respected by the priests of the Diocese. Mattie was very proud of their unique influence and tradition. Louis McRedmond's history of Irish Jesuits makes fascinating reading for all Waterford men with names and details so vivid and accurate.

Mattie's early years in the Society were the routine ones at that period, starting with Emo in September 1930 at the age of eighteen, followed by Arts at UCD, Tullabeg, two years experience in teaching at Galway, and then theology at Milltown Park, Ordained on 31st July, 1944, he was then a young man with a lovely balanced sense of humour, a most popular community man. This gift he kept thankfully through his life and already one could detect the signs of a true seanchaí, one who had a shrewd mind with plenty of common sense.

His first apostolic work was two years back teaching in Galway which he loved and often spoke warmly of the community and especially Fr. Bart Coughlan's quaint words of wisdom. Then suddenly he found himself as Director of Missions and Retreats for twenty years, living in Emo, Leeson Street and Rathfarnham Castle. This was a job that suited him admirably as he was naturally methodical, placid and gradually developed a great relationship with the secular clergy.

The next ten years stationed in Gardiner Street, six as Superior, were to his liking: he showed fine qualities, offering sound advice, using his wrist when necessary and not afraid to deal strongly with serious problems, though not a man to seek confrontation. It was the time when the Provincial and his curia still lived at St. Francis Xavier's.

The years at Rathfarnham Castle 1968-82, eight as Superior, he remarked were the fourteen happiest years in the Society. This in a way was strange as the “young men” had vanished and Rathfarnham Castle seemed to outsiders at least a rather lonely house. He developed and guided the promoters attached to the Retreat House Association who did trojan apostolic work with an appreciative backing from Mattie. They were men whom he admired, respected and with whom he built up a magnificent bond. I remember his Golden Jubilee celebrations when he invited the priests of the parish, the De La Salle Brothers, the Loreto Abbey Sisters and others. But his chief guests at that dinner were Pat Boland, his maintenance man, who, with his wife, occupied the place of honour. Very typical of Mattie. It was a gesture that one would not forget too easily.

The last ten years of his life were spent at Manresa Retreat House where he filled with a delicate touch the job of Oeconimus. It was a pleasant task for him because by nature he was tidy, entered items every day, and was always up to date in his books. He grew in wisdom and grace at this stage and the Community could sit back and listen with a chuckle to his own, less than pious verses about the “Nun of Loftus Hall”, “The Thimbleful of Vinum in a Cup”, and many other gems reminding us of days long past. They were recited from memory without the slightest change of even a comma. When a certain new man joined the Community he was ruefully heard to remark that he now enjoyed precious little air space! Then for the last two years the health became a problem. He suffered patiently but luckily he had some good periods. His last week at Beaumont Hospital was blessed for him as he really liked all the men in his ward. He was happy and thoroughly enjoyed every day of that week. He could ask for no more. He had good company and a good audience. Then he suffered a stroke and lasted two days, dying quietly and without fuss

Some people go through life in the Society and sometimes Jesuits tend to forget them and may not even mention them that often. But Mattie was not easy to forget because he was a rare and loveable character, but above all because he was the ideal Community man who did so much for the Irish Province. Fr. Paddy Greene paid a nice tribute to him in Irish at his Requiem Mass in St. Francis Xavier's - a fitting farewell .

Kieran Hanley

O'Connor, Edward, 1905-1993, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/689
  • Person
  • 07 December 1905-08 September 1993

Born: 07 December 1905, Sweet Briar Cottage, Lower Newtown, Waterford City, County Waterford
Entered: 31 August 1923, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1935, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 05 November 1977, St Ignatius, Lusaka, Zambia
Died: 08 September 1993, John Chula House, Lusaka, Zambia - Zambia-Malawi Province (ZAM)

Transcribed HIB to ZAM : 03 December 1969

Brother of Walter O'Connor - RIP 1967 (their father Peter had been an Olympic triple jump champion)

Father was Peter O’Connor of Ashtown County Wicklow and Mother was Margaret Halley of Ballybeg, County Waterford. They reside at Uptown, Newtown, Waterford City. Father is a solicitor in O’[Connell Street, Waterford.

Family of five boys and four girls, of which he is the eldest.

Early education at Waterpark College, Waterford. In 1922-1923 he went to St John’s College, Waterford

by 1937 at St Beuno’s, Wales (ANG) making Tertianship
by 1939 at Rome, Italy (ROM) Assistant to President of Secretariat Marian Congregation

◆ Companions in Mission 1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
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 O'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)’.

Fr Eddie was born in Waterford, Ireland, in 1905. After secondary school, he entered the Society in Tullabeg in 1923. The normal course of studies brought him to ordination at Milltown Park in 1935. He taught for a year in Mungret College and then moved out to Rome to work in Vatican Radio from 1938 to 1946, remaining there during World War 2.
He returned to Ireland and was on the retreat staff up to 1960.

He volunteered to come to Zambia and came in June of 1960, immediately setting about learning ciTonga. He worked mainly in the Southern Province where his brother Walter was. His work was pastoral, preaching, retreat work and parish work. However, he is very much associated with Namwala where he resided and administered for 17 years, 1963 to 1980.

His driving ability was not good, mainly because of failing eyesight. It is told that once when driving with his brother Walter, Walter suddenly shouted, ‘Look out for that cow’! ‘What cow’? says Fr Eddie. After that it was decided that he stop driving. How now to get around his far-flung parish? Easy. He got a horse and this worked extremely well. He became a familiar sight trotting near and far, in fact one of the local farmers used to refer to him as 'Galloping Jesus'.

Fr Eddie was deeply devoted as a pastoral priest ready to give time and attention to his people, the result being that his work was fruitful. After his stay in Namwala, he was chaplain to St Joseph's Secondary School in Chivuna as well as carrying on his pastoral work. In 1989 he moved to Monze where he did dedicated work as chaplain in the hospital there. He was dependable and always available when needed. He was a man of regular habits in his prayer life and daily routine.

In the middle of 1992, Fr Eddie weakened considerably and moved to John Chula House, the Jesuit infirmary in Lusaka. In September of the following year he suffered severe back burns while taking a bath that was too hot and was confined to bed. September 8 was a big day for four Jesuits whose Jubilee was being celebrated and Fr Eddie was one of these, celebrating his 70th year in the Society. Just as Mass was beginning in the novitiate chapel news came across from Chula House that Fr Eddie had passed away quietly. The eighty or so Jesuits, priests, brothers, scholastics and novices who had gathered for the Jubilee, moved over to the chapel of Chula where Fr Eddie had already been laid out in his priestly vestments.

For several, years Fr Eddie wrote the Monze Diocesan Newsletter. Over the years he produced articles for magazines on devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Pioneers. He wrote a pamphlet called ‘Spotlight on Matt Talbot’ which went into a number of printings.

Note from Bernard (Barney) Collins Entry
Barney moved to Namwala parish from 1968 to 1973 with Fr Clarke as his companion in the community to be joined later by Fr Eddie O’Connor (and his horse). From 1973 to 1977 he was parish priest at Chilalantambo and returned to Chikuni in 1977 to be assistant in the parish to Fr Jim Carroll.

Note from Walter O’Connor Entry
On July 21st 1967 he was operated on at St Anne's Hospital in Harare but when opened up, inoperable cancer was found. He died five days later on the 26 July in the company of his brother, Fr Eddie and fellow Jesuits.

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - St John’s College (Seminary), Cnoc Eoin, Waterford before entry

◆ The Mungret Annual, 1947

Papal Relief during the War

Father Edward O’Connor SJ

This shall be a few of my own personal experiences of the relief given by His Holiness in Rome during the awful year of 1944. Early one morning in that year the Swiss Guard at the famous Bronze Door was amazed that a group of people calling themselves Russians wished to have an audience with the Holy Father. The priest with the group seeing the look of astonishment on the Guard's face hastened to produce an audience card. The card was in perfect order. The guard then asked the priest what they wanted and he answered : “Relief for poor pagans in dire distress”.

These thirty odd Russians who climbed up to the papal apartments had been taken prisoners and drafted into labour corps in Italy. When the chance offered they had deserted only to find themselves eventually in a Rome under military occupation. In whom could they trust in a city ridden with spies, to whom could they go for food in a city on the verge of starvation? There were hundreds of escaped prisoners of war in like condition-hungry, ill-clad, without a shelter. To aid them was to offend against military law but Christian charity imperiously dictated that they be helped, and helped they were by the aid of the Pope.

One day in the neighbourhood of St Peter's, a Russian Catholic priest that I was acquainted with stopped me to ask a favour. Shortly before I had heard that he was one of the Pope's almoners for Russians in hiding. This day I saw that he had shaved off his beard to be less easily recognisable. He wanted money urgently, he told me, for his Russians, but he had been refused admission to the Vatican to see Mgr Hugh O'Flaherty through whom the papal alms were passed on to him. Could I contact the Monsignor for him? I did, and it was not the only occasion that a Russian appealed to one to bring a message to Mungret's Mgr Hugh O'Flaherty !

A great number of these Russian refugees who had reached Rome, had deliberately avoided the allied refugee camps lest they be subjected to forcible repatriation. Hearing of the Jesuit Russian College they turned to it for help. The priests and students found Russia come to them. They took them in, fed them, clothed them, found them work with the Pope's generous aid, and at last, thanks to him, succeeded in opening a hostel of a kind for them in a bombed building (the only one they could find). One of them whom I was asked to befriend, as he had picked up some English, became a Catholic and is now going to be a priest in the United States. Think of it, he was a pure product i of the Soviet godless educational system, having been born only in the early twenties.

Up to 600 escaped British and American prisoners of war were in hiding in and about Rome in the fateful six months before the city changed hands. These prisoners were in desperate want and the Pope gave generously on their behalf. Slowly a highly secretive relief organisation for them was built up. Those engaged in this dangerous work had aliases. One of the heads of the Relief Society went by the name of “Golf”, in allusion to his ability to swing a club! After a time the secret police ferreted out his identity and prudently he lay low in the Vatican and appeared no more at Irish functions. “Golf” was Mgr O'Flaherty !

I had ample proof myself of Monsignor O'Flaherty's charity. The day the enemy pounced on the Jews and seized hundreds of them, an elderly German Jewess came to me in terror. She couldn't see Mgr O'Flaherty. Could I, as another Irishman, help her? She had had to flee from Germany owing to the persecution there. Part of her savings she had managed to place abroad but when Italy entered the war, she was left without a penny. For a time Mgr O'Flaherty managed to get her some of her money and when that failed, advanced her regularly some of his own earnings. The gratitude she felt towards him, the whole Jewish colony felt towards the Pope. At the Pope's wish, colleges and religious houses all over Rome gave shelter to Jews. This soon became a well-known fact that the Jews were the Pope's guests and so they were left unmolested. Earlier in the occupation when a gold tribute was imposed on them and they could not scrape enough together His Holiness completed the amount for them, but its paying did not long buy them immunity.

At the first solemn synagogue meeting in freed Rome, Chief Rabbi Tolli, publically expressed the thanks of the Jewish com munity to Pius XII and when he himself became a Catholic a few months later, he took Eugene for his baptismal name.

Great numbers of foreign residents and refugees in Italy were reduced. to great distress. Many who had settled down in the country to live on their savings had all their money blocked by the government and after the armiştice, they had good reason to fear arrest and deportation to Germany. A South African widow and her daughter, finding themselves in such circumstances fled from Florence to Rome and were re commended to me. They were Protestants and penniless and the nuns who took them in could not afford to maintain them free. On their behalf I interviewed the Swiss Legation, (charged to look after British interests), but it disclaimed all responsibility as the ladies had neglected to renew their British passports. Perhaps the Pope! Once more suppliant hands raised up to the Vicar of Christ!

So numerous were these appeals that His Holiness had a special office set up for the assistance of civilian foreigners, and put in charge of it Archbishop Riberi, once auditor of the Irish Nuntiature. To him I turned and not in vain. He provided money and food and clothing for them and for count less others. For the allies when they arrived, he and his office were rather an enigma. He was working apart from all the official relief agencies, mostly helping unfortunates whose loss of national rights or whose past political affiliations meant their exclusion from any official relief. Challenged about his work Archbishop Riberi replied with a disarming smile : “In the name of His Holiness, I help all those whom nobody else will help!”

The Allied bombing of the “Castelli” towns south of Rome and the evacuation policy subsequently enforced, created a serious refugee problem. Ten thousand people flocked into the Pope's villa and grounds at Castlegondolfo and some 60,000 took refuge in Rome itself, already not far from starvation point. Two big Papal relief agencies were founded to meet the situation: the Pontifical Aid Commission for Refugees, and the Vatican Food Office. Through them His Holiness succoured not only the refugees but the whole population of Rome.

One of the first gifts sent to His Holiness for medical relief was £500 from the Irish Red Cross. In token of gratitude the first clinic opened for refugee children (near St Peter's) was dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of Ireland, and was entrusted to the care of American Franciscan Sisters (whose Rev Mother, as it happened, was Irish-born).

With a population swollen to a million and a half by the refugees, and the transport of grain into the city gravely hindered by intensive Allied bombing of the roads, the municipal authorities found that they could not maintain even the miserable 31ozs of daily bread ration. They appealed to the Pope. Immediately he had all the Vatican vans and lorries switched over to this urgent work of charity. All that winter and spring of 1944 convoys of Vatican lorries flying the Papal colours faced out on the bomb-pasted roads to forage for food. Three drivers lost their lives and thirty lorries were damaged or destroyed in air attacks, but the work went on. All told, 5,000 tons of flour were brought in the equivalent of a month's ration of bread.

Through the efforts of the Pontifical Aid Commission the 11,000 poor refugees herded, in indescribable conditions in Cesano camp, outside Rome, were saved from death by famine. For Easter 1944, the Holy Father had a generous loaf of bread presented to them all in his name and on Holy Saturday he himself blessed the bread in the Vatican bakery before it was sent off.
In the last six months before the taking of Rome, the Vatican Food Office collected, stored and distributed monthly, close on 500 tons of rationed foodstuffs for religious and charitable institutions and hospitals. The “Circolo San Pietro," with the aid of Papal alms, ran twenty-six soup kitchens from which it supplied 10,750 meals between January and August, 1944.

A more serious youth problem for His Holiness was that of the “shoe-shine” boys. The majority of these were poor youngsters, deprived of a home and often of all support by the war, became hangers-on of the Allied armies as they advanced up Italy and followed them into Rome. More than 8,000 of them roamed the streets, hardened by their unnatural experiences and earning a livelihood as best they could and only too often dishonestly.

O'Connor, Walter Mary, 1910-1967, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/322
  • Person
  • 22 May 1910-26 July 1967

Born: 22 May 1910, Sweet Briar Cottage, Lower Newtown, Waterford City, County Waterford
Entered: 01 September 1928, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 13 May 1942, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 03 February 1947, rathfarnham Castle, Dublin
Died: 26 July 1967, St Anne's Hospital, Harare, Zimbabwe

Part of the Jesuit Novitiate, Mazowe, Mashonaland Central, Zimbabwe community at the time of death

Brother of Eddie O'Connor - RIP 1993 (their father Peter had been an Olympic triple jump champion)

Father was Peter O’Connor of Ashtown County Wicklow and Mother was Margaret Halley of Ballybeg, County Waterford. They reside at Uptown, Newtown, Waterford City

Family of five boys and four girls, of which he is the second youngest boy.

Early education at Waterpark College, Waterford he went to Clongowes Wood College SJ for two years.

by 1951 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, Northern Rhodesia (POL Mi) working - third wave of Zambian Missioners
by 1962 at Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (ANG) Socius to Novice Master

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
He was born in 1910 at Waterford, Ireland, into a large family of nine children, son of Peter O'Connor, a local lawyer. Walter's elder brother Eddie had already entered the Society five years before that (1923) and Walter entered the Society in 1928. He was educated by the Christian Brothers and completed his secondary education at Clongowes Wood College. Ordained at Milltown Park in 1942, after tertianship he was appointed minister at Mungret College for a year and again as minister at Rathfarnham, the juniorate. He liked what was described as practical work and he was never short of ideas as to how this, that and the other might best be done – subjectively, and often opposed by others. Still his cheerfulness remained undiminished. He had a 'stick-to-it-attitude' in the projects he undertook. His zeal and enthusiasm were qualities that stayed with him all his life. While minister at Rathfarnham, he developed an apostolate in the promotion of the family rosary in Dublin. He collected and presented films and other aids for this apostolate.

As a scholastic at Clongowes during regency, he did much to build up the athletics, perhaps inspired by the fact that his father had been an Olympic triple-jump champion. His health was never very strong but his psychic energy was never low. He was passed by the doctors to travel to Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) as one of the nine Irish Jesuits who went there in 1950. As parish priest at Chikuni he entered into the new work with the same spirit that had always characterised him. A very familiar sight was Fr Walter on his heavy motor bike either coming or going on supply. He took a great interest in the condition of the lepers in the area and did much for them. His efforts to establish a leper settlement for them bore fruit after he had left the area.

Due to ill health, he returned to Ireland for three years during which he did retreat work and lectured about the Mission. This resulted in a number of benefactors who donated churches and other benefits to the mission.

He returned to Zambia in 1960 and moved to Harare (Zimbabwe) to assist the Master of Novices when the joint novitiate was set up. He gave retreats, established the Pioneers at Harare and developed a new apostolate for the consecration of families to the Sacred Heart. He was appointed Director of Vocations for the archdiocese of Harare and traveled a lot with Fr Regis Chigweduc on vocation promotion. Fr Regis paid tribute to Fr Walter at his funeral for his holiness and his work in promoting vocations; his zeal, energy and enthusiasm in everything.

On July 21st 1967 he was operated on at St Anne's Hospital in Harare but when opened up, inoperable cancer was found. He died five days later on the 26 July in the company of his brother, Fr Eddie and fellow Jesuits.

Tributes that came in after the funeral were many and sincere and they could be summed up by what a fellow Jesuit wrote about him, ‘He was always full of charity, cheerfulness and on fire with a zeal that consumed him; he was steeped in a spirit of prayer’.

Note from Eddie O’Connor Entry
Fr Ernest Mackey S.J. was a well known school retreat giver. The vocations of Fr Eddie 0'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)’.
His driving ability was not good, mainly because of failing eyesight. It is told that once when driving with his brother Walter, Walter suddenly shouted, ‘Look out for that cow’! ‘What cow’? says Fr Eddie. After that it was decided that he stop driving. How now to get around his far-flung parish? Easy. He got a horse and this worked extremely well. He became a familiar sight trotting near and far, in fact one of the local farmers used to refer to him as 'Galloping Jesus'.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 43rd Year No 1 1968
Obituary :
Fr Walter O’Connor SJ (1910-1967)
Fr. O'Connor died in St. Anne's Hospital at Salisbury on 26th July. He had gone to St. Anne's about ten days previously because he had been having grave trouble in swallowing and eating for some time and the doctors suspected an ulcer. When he was operated on, on the 21st July, cancer was discovered, and of an inoperable kind. He was then told that his days were numbered but in the next few days pneumonia developed. He was too weak to resist its virulence and his condition rapidly deteriorated. He died at 3.15 a.m. and was quite conscious till the moment of death and participated fully in the prayers that were being said by his brother, Fr. Edward, and by Frs. Ennis and Berrell of the English Mission.
After Fr. Walter's death numerous letters of sympathy were received by the members of his family and especially by his sister, Mother O'Connor, R.S.C.J. In these letters there is presented a portrait of Walter contributed to by those who knew him well. In one of the letters a Jesuit confrere has written “Fr. Walter was one of those rare people, in a worldly age, who was a professional man of God - whose main interest always was, not studies or writing or teaching or any of our other concerns but simply the Kingdom of God”. Another Jesuit has written of him, “I can truly say that I regarded him as one of the best Jesuits I ever knew, and I am, thank God, nearly fifty years in the Society. He was always full of charity, cheerfulness, on fire with a zeal that consumed him and steeped in a spirit of prayer. I always found that even a few minutes talk with him was a tonic, and invariably the conversation would very soon turn to something concerned with God's interests. I knew well, too, that he got plenty of ‘knocks’ some of them very hard. I could never discover any vestige of bitterness on these occasions”. From these excerpts and others, Walter O'Connor emerges as a man of God, a man of zeal, and like all zealous men he had to meet the problems of clash and conflict but never lost his own integrity which was protected by his spirit of charity.
Walter was born at Waterford in May 1910, the fourth of a family of nine children. He was educated by the Christian Brothers at Waterpark and completed his secondary education at Clongowes Wood College. He entered the Society in 1928 and followed the usual course. While teaching in Clongowes as a scholastic he did much to build up the athletics. After Tertianship he was minister in Mungret for a year after which he went to Rathfarnham as minister. He liked what is described as practical work and he was never short of ideas as to how this, that, and the other might best be done, Walter's ideas of the “best” ways were often more subjectively influenced than objectively and in this he found that others could hold different views. But his cheerfulness was not diminished. He was persistent and had what across the Atlantic is called “sticktuitiveness”. He was always interested in getting a “good bargain” and took delight in pointing out the technical and practical advantages of what he was able to come by as a bargain. Again, he found that others did not quite see things the same way and their ability to unveil the disadvantages was sometimes stimulated as a counter to Walter's enthusiasm. And he was an enthusiast. His persistence and enthusiasm produced advantages for his brethren and one of them was the first swimming pool in a house of formation in the Province, at Rathfarnham. While he was minister there he developed an apostolate in the promotion of the family rosary in Dublin. With his usual zeal and enthusiasm he collected and presented films and other aids to foster this apostolate and his energy in its promotion provoked others to develop the new ways of fostering exercises of religious devotions. His health was never very strong but his psychic energy level was never low.
In 1950 despite his weak health he was passed by the doctors for work in the new mission in Zambia. After his arrival he was made “parish priest” at Chikuni. He entered into the new work with the same spirit that had always characterized him and around Chikuni there appeared many shrines of Our Lady as the fruit of his ideas and zeal. He took a great interest in the condition of the lepers in that area and did much for them. His efforts to establish a special settlement for them bore fruit after he had left the area and the nucleus of it might be said to have been in the special outdoor Mass-shrine which Walter built and where he often said Mass for the lepers.
Walter as usual lived on his nervous energy and his health was again weakened. All his life in the Society this lack of good health was a harassment to him and the tempo and intensity of his personal life are hardly without some relationship to the physical disabilities he suffered. He returned to Ireland from the Missions because of this ill-health. From 1956 till 1959, when he again went back to Zambia, he taught in Bolton Street Technical School (as it was then named). It was the same Walter who again showed his zeal and enthusiasm in his work for the students there. In addition, he did retreat work and much lecturing on the Mission and its needs and through his efforts a number of benefactors were found to donate churches and other benefits to the Mission.
When he returned to the work in Zambia he was appointed to Kasiya to assist in the work of the Parish. Later he moved to Lusaka for work at Chilimbana and Munali where there is one of the largest and best secondary schools in the country (often classed as the rival of Canisius College!). Walter's health did not improve and when the joint novitiate was set up at Salisbury he was sent there to assist the Master of Novices in 1960. In addition to the work of socius he gave many retreats in Southern Rhodesia, including Long Retreats. He established the Pioneers at Sailisbury and developed a new apostolate of the consecration of families to the Sacred Heart. But the great work in which he was engaged at the time of his death was the fostering of vocations among the Africans. This work meant so much to him that in his dying hours many of his prayers were for its success. He was appointed Vocations Director for the archdiocese. He worked with Fr. Regis, an African priest, and they went all over the country on lecture tours, visiting practically all the mission schools. Walter used his previous knowledge and experience and collected films and other visual aids which he employed with benefit in the vocations work in the mission schools. Fr. Regis who accompanied him paid a warm tribute at the funeral to Walter's holiness, zeal, energy and enthusiasm in the work of promoting vocations. Fr. Wallace of the English Mission has written “Walter will have all the outlets for zeal he could ever have desired on earth, and much more. He had that something in his soul that found expression in his energy and urgent manner, he will certainly be another who will spend his Heaven on earth doing good. And what I said about his being nearer to us, I don't at all regard as a pious wish, but as solid fact to be perceived by faith”. Letters from Jesuits in Sailisbury testify that “Walter approached his operation with complete calm and a happiness to accept God's will whatever it might prove to be. He knew the operation would be a severe strain on his system which he might not survive; he did not want the family to be caused anxiety by knowing beforehand that he had to undergo this. His courage, his devoted acceptance of God's Will, and his energetic coping with the consequences of this in his own life are, as they have been before, most impressive and I am sure he will be deeply satisfied to have this last challenge and to be given the chance to go to God - one might say with full knowledge and consent, knowing what is happening and able to offer one's life to God with full deliberation and even timing”.
When Fr. O'Connor was dead four different obituary notices, as well as the official one, appeared in the daily newspaper. They were tributes to his memory from people who knew him well. This is a quotation from one of them, “In memory of a wonderful person, a good friend, and an inspiration to all who knew him. Remembered with love and affection by ... (the signatures follow”). One of his former Rectors has written “He was my Minister at ... and I have the happiest memories of him. We worked very well and harmoniously together. He was a great help and always cheerful. Everywhere he went he did good work in spite of delicate health. He was a splendid missioner. Nothing would have pleased him better than to work for his converts to the end”.
Walter O'Connor was buried at Chishawasha - “where many of our missionaries from the pioneer times are buried ... this is what Walter wanted” - after Requiem Mass in Salisbury Cathedral. The Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Eddie O'Connor, Fr, O'Loghlen, Fr. Ennis, Fr, McKeown and Fr. James Wallace. The Archbishop of Salisbury presided and performed the absolutions at the coffin. There was a very large congregation and among them all the novices from Silveira House. The prayers at the graveside were recited by Fr. Eddie O'Connor assisted by Fr. Meagher, Vicar General of Monze, who was representing the Bishop, Very Rev. Dr. James Corboy. In many of the letters from priests the quotation “Well done, good and faithful servant” was used as their theme. May he rest in peace.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 125 : Autumn 2005
Taken from some 50 “portraits” submitted by Tom McGivern, who works in the Archives of the Province of Zambia Malawi.
Fr. Walter was born in Waterford in May, 1910, and was ordained in Milltown Park in May, 1942. The M in his name stands for Mary and he had a great devotion to Our Lady. He used to say that he would die in May as well, and would laughingly add, “If I am alive on June 1st, you'll know I'll be with you for another year!” His wish to die in May was not granted, for it was on the 26th July 1967 that he died in Harare, Zimbabwe, at the early age of 57. He was born into a large family of nine children, the son of Peter O'Connor, a local lawyer. He entered the Society in 1928 (His elder brother, Eddie, had already entered the Society five years before that in 1923). He was educated by the Christian Brothers and completed his secondary education at Clongowes Wood College. Ordained at Milltown Park in 1942, after Tertianship he was appointed Minister at Mungret College for a year and again as Minister at Rathfarnham, the Juniorate.

He liked what was described as practical work and he was never short of ideas as to how this, that or the other might best be done....subjectively, and often opposed by others. Still his cheerfulness remained undiminished. He had a 'stick-to-it iveness' which saw projects to the end. Zeal and enthusiasm were qualities that stayed with him all his life. While Minister at Rathfarnham, he developed an apostolate in the promotion of the family rosary in Dublin. He collected and presented films and other aids for this apostolate. As a scholastic at Clongowes during regency, he did much to build up the athletics, perhaps inspired by the fact that his father had been an Olympic triple jump champion. His health was never very strong but his psychic energy was never low. He was passed by the doctors to travel to Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) as one of he nine Irish Jesuits who went there in 1950. As parish priest at Chikuni he entered into the new work with the same spirit that had always characterized him. Fr Walter was a very familiar sight on his heavy motor bike, either coming or going on “supply”. He took a great interest in the condition of the lepers in the area, and did much for them. His efforts to establish a leper settlement for them bore fruit after he had left the area.

Due to ill health, he returned to Ireland for three years, but did retreat work and lectured about the mission, which resulted in a number of benefactors donating churches and other benefits. He returned to Zambia in 1960 and moved to Harare (Zimbabwe) to assist the Master of Novices when the joint novitiate was set up. He gave retreats, established the Pioneers at Harare, and developed a new apostolate of consecration of families to the Sacred Heart. He was appointed Director of Vocations for the archdiocese and travelled a lot with Fr. Regis Chigweduc on vocation promotion. Fr. Regis paid tribute to Fr. Walter at his funeral for his holiness, zeal, energy and enthusiasm in the work of promoting vocations. On July 21st 1967, he was operated on at St.Anne's hospital in Harare, and inoperable cancer was found. He died five days later on July the 26th in the company of his brother, Fr. Eddie, and fellow Jesuits.

Tributes that came in after the funeral were many and sincere. They could be summed up by what a fellow Jesuit wrote about him, “He was always full of charity, cheerfulness, on fire with zeal that consumed him, and steeped in a spirit of prayer”.

◆ The Clongownian, 1968
Father Walter O’Connor SJ
Salisbury - Fr Walter O'Connor, who died on July 26th worked in Rhodesia from 1960.
He first came to Africa just after the Irish Jesuit Fathers had taken on responsibility for part of the huge Lusaka Mission. He was a most energetic parish priest at Chikuni, the oldest and largest of the mission-stations between Kafue and Livingstone.

In 1960 he was appointed assistant to the Novice Master at the Jesuit Novitiate which had been established near Salisbury two and a half years earlier, and remained in this work till his death. Many will know him rather on account of the Retreats, Days of Recollection and Conferences which he gave during this time, and his work for the Pioneer Association.

He was also Promoter of Vocations for the archdiocese

He suffered much from ill-health and had to undergo major surgery at least four times during his time in Africa. He was often in a state of physical pain, discomfort, or exhaustion, but his spirit burned bright and strong and generated the sort of force that moves mountains. If on occasion some found him too insistent, it was without resentment - it was so easy to be good humoured with him.

In everything he did he was very evidently a man of God, a man of prayer and a man who did his utmost for the spread of Christ's Kingdom. There was no indication that he found prayer easier or more consoling than the average person who prays, but he was outstandingly faithful to the practice of prayer and this surely bore fruit in the spiritual quality of his life and work.

He liked people and responded very easily in conversation, whether serious or gay. In the ordinary social intercourse of his life as a priest and above all with his colleagues there were sure to be cheerfulness and laughter around him. He could always be relied on for a smiling and happy response, and he did not at all mind a bit of banter about his activities.

This cheerful, wiry, energetic priest, with his quick manner, his determination and his patently spiritual outlook, will be remembered and not least by his chief colleague and the young religious who lived with him in the Novitiate.

He was buried in Chishawasha, a missionary among missionaries.


O'Loghlen, Desmond, 1918-2003, Jesuit priest and missioner

  • IE IJA J/691
  • Person
  • 03 March 1918-04 September 2003

Born: 03 March 1918, Ulster Bank House, Lombard Street, Waterford City, County Waterford
Entered: 07 September 1936, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1949, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1954, Canisius College, Chikuni, Zambia
Died: 04 September 2003, St Ignatius, Lusaka, Zambia - Zambia-Malawi Province (ZAM)

Superior of the Irish Jesuit Mission to Zambia Mission : 27 November 1962
Transcribed HIB to ZAM : 03/12/1969

Father was a Bank Manager, and family changed home frequently : St Anthony’s Terrace, Newtown, Waterford; Ulster Bank House, The Quay, Waterford from 1932.

Eldest of three boys with one sister.

Early education was at a private school in Waterford and then he went to Waterpark College (1925-1929 & 1930-1933 - the intervening years was spent at Coláiste na Rinne) He then went to Blackrock College (1933-1935). In 1935 he went to the Patrician College at Ballyfin, County Laois.

by 1951 at Paray-le-Monial France (LUGD) making Tertianship
by 1952 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working - fourth wave of Zambian Missioners
Mission Superior Chikuni (HIB) 21 November 1962 - 1969

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Des (as he was known to his fellow Jesuits) died on 4 September 2003 at the age of 85, completely unexpectedly. His mother lived to be 101 and all thought that Des would follow suit. He had gone to the Mina Medical Centre with a touch of 'flu with another member of the community, and then he died.

He was born in Waterford, Ireland, in 1918, attended school at Blackrock College and Ballyfin and then entered the Society at Emo Park in 1936. The usual course of studies, arts, philosophy, theology, brought him to ordination in 1949 at Milltown Park, Dublin. For his tertianship he went to Paray-le-Monial in France, 1950/1951.

The second batch of Irish Jesuits to come to the then Northern Rhodesia in 1951 included Des who came to Chikuni to be Assistant principal of the newly opened Canisius College, 1951-52. He then went north to learn CiBemba for a year and came to Lusaka to work in the Regiment church for a few months before moving to St. Ignatius (1953-l959), doing parish work at Chilanga and Kafue, and being chaplain to Munali Secondary School and Chalimbana Teacher Training College. He became judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese. He moved to Charles Lwanga Teacher Training College to teach for a few months in 1960. He returned to St .Ignatius as Superior and chaplain as above.

He was appointed Regular Superior of the Mission from 1962 to 1969, first residing in Choma and then in Mazabuka in Moreau house. As Des never gave a snap decision but one which was cautiously thought out, where he lived became known as ‘Tomorrow House’. He returned to Lusaka to St. Ignatius in 1970 where he spent the rest of his life. Parish priest there from 1970 to 1977, he then became full time chaplain to the University Teaching Hospital, a devoted priest to the sick and dying. This was from 1977 to 1991 where he also built a chapel in the hospital. Even after retiring as official chaplain, his devotion to the sick took him twice a week to other hospitals in Lusaka, Hill Top, Mina Medical Centre and Mine Hospital etc. At the same time parish work in St Ignatius: Masses, funerals, marriages, occupied his ever busy life right to the end.

Des was a very hospitable person, sincere and genuine in his relationships with others. He was sensitive to the needs of others and had a great serenity about him. He never became upset, was 'unflappable' as the homilist at his funeral described him. He ‘hastened slowly’ and was known to arrive for meals or any other function always 'slightly late'.

He had a marvellous memory for people and occasions, and could be relied upon to remember who was who, and recall when such an event took place. ‘Ask Des’ was always the solution when one was looking for information about the past. In fact after he died, letters, newspaper cuttings, records etc were found in his room, in short, ample material to gladden the heart of the archivist!

He would never be rushed. Once when he was having a cuppa in the sitting room at St Ignatius, someone came to the parish office to see him without an appointment. He continued with his tea even pouring a second cup and was reminded that someone was still waiting at the parish office. He is said to have remarked ‘I am not a fireman’! But, despite that, he was always kind and understanding to all who came to him. He was the perfect example of a gentleman in his graceful old age who had spent 52 years of dedicated priestly service in Zambia and especially Lusaka.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 123 : Special Issue February 2005

Fr Desmond (Des) O’Loghlen (1918-2003) : Zambia-Malawi Province

3rd March, 1918: Born in Waterford, Ireland
7th Sept. 1936: Entered the Society at Emo
1944 - 1946: Crescent College, Limerick, teaching, regency
31st July, 1949: Ordained
1950 - 1951: Tertianship at Paray-le-Monial, France.
1951 - 1952: Chikuni, Canisius, assistant principal
1952 - 1953: Chingombe, Kabwe, Mpika, language study
2nd Feb 1954: Professed of four vows
1953 - 1959: Lusaka, St. Ignatius, pastoral work
1955 - 1959: Chaplain at Chalimbana
1956 - 1959: Chaplain at Munali
1959 - 1993: Judicial vicar for Archdiocese of Lusaka
1960: Chikuni, Charles Lwanga, teaching
1960 - 1962: Lusaka, St. Ignatius, Superior,
1962 - 1967: Choma, Regional Superior for Chikuni Mission
1967 - 1969: Mazabuka, Regional Superior for Mission
1970 - 1977: Lusaka, St. Ignatius, Parish Priest
1977 - 1992: St. Ignatius, Chaplain, University Teaching
1992 - 2003: St. Ignatius, Assistant PP, Hospital Chaplain
Sept. 4th 2003: Died in Lusaka, Zambia.

Des had been planning for home leave in 2004 and had gone to visit his brother, Dinnie, who was dying in Durban. On returning to Lusaka, he contracted a chest infection which, indeed, many had picked up. On September 4, he was driven to the clinic, although there was no sign of anything critical. However, his breathing suddenly became very acute and he was anointed. Shortly afterwards, he died.

Clive Dillon-Malone writes:
Des entered the Society after secondary school in 1936 when he was eighteen years old. He went through the ordinary formation of Jesuits: novitiate, juniorate at University College, Dublin, philosophy, regency in Limerick, theology, ordination in 1949, tertianship and final vows in 1954.

It was in the years 1950 and 1951 that the Irish Province of the Jesuits had been asked especially to help the Polish Jesuits in staffing their work in what was then Northern Rhodesia. The Irish Province responded generously and sent eight to ten men in each of these two years in order to lay a solid foundation for their work. Des was amongst the group that came in 1951.

He became Superior of Chikuni Mission in 1962, the year in which the late Bishop Corboy was ordained Bishop of Monze. While the greater part of Des's life was spent in the Archdiocese of Lusaka, he spent seven years as Superior of Chikuni Mission from 1962-1969 in the Diocese of Monze, residing in Choma from 1962-1967, and at the newly-built Moreau House in Mazabuka from 1967-1969. As a result Des, though in many ways a man of cautious bent, was closely associated with the energetic and far-sighted expansion of the early years of Bishop Corboy's tenure in Monze. During those years, many new parishes were established and Jesuits served in those of Mazabuka (1964), Chilalantambo (1967), Chirundu (1967), Nakambala (1967), and St Mary's Monze (1969). Charles Lwanga Teachers' Training College had opened in Chikuni in 1959, Mukasa Minor Seminary in Choma in 1966, and St. Kizito Catechist Training Centre in Monze in 1967. A Jesuit had also become Chaplain of St. Edmund's Secondary School in Mazabuka in 1964.

In Lusaka, the new residence at St. Ignatius was built in 1966. Des presided over a talented and generous group of Jesuits whose achievements he would have been the first to
recognise. He had the vision to encourage a number of younger Jesuits, who saw the need to do further studies, especially in anthropology, sociology, music and linguistics.

Des loved to recall stories of his travels in small aircraft using various remote airfields in different corners of East and Central Africa. He accompanied Fr. General Arrupe during his early visit to Zambia in 1965 and delighted in pioneering meetings with other Major Superiors, meetings which were the remote forerunners of the Jesuit Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM) and the establishing, years later, of the African Assistancy. It was at the end of his time as Superior in July 1969 that the famous meeting took place in Chikuni at which the Jesuits of Chikuni Mission agreed in a cliff-hanger of a vote to be part of the proposed new Vice-Province of Zambia (3rd December, 1969). Des was justly proud of his part in the setting up in 1969 of the Jesuit Novitiate at Xavier House in Lusaka, a novitiate which was soon to cater not only for Zambia and Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), but also for the five countries of the East Africa Region as well as the Nigeria-Ghana Region.

In 1969, Des was assigned to St. Ignatius Parish in Lusaka where he spent the rest of his life. From 1970 -77, he was the parish priest; then followed his long stint as chaplain at the University Teaching Hospital which he finished in 1991. During his time in Lusaka, he was also the vicar for the archdiocese of Lusaka.

He was always a man of caution. No quick decisions, no hasty moves. He looked ahead and planned carefully. Everything he did was done well and conscientiously. If mistakes were made, they were very few. He would go to any lengths to help and would see a problem right through to the very end. Despite his more conservative bent, he remained open to change and could joke about the internet, e-mails and computers which he acknowledged to be out of his reach. His good humour and wit were even more pronounced in his later years.

Punctuality was not one of his greatest virtues. In fact, arriving late for everything seemed to Des to be itself a virtue in view of his appreciation of the value of time. And he adamantly refused to be rushed. There is a true story of how, one day when he was taking his afternoon tea in the recreation room, a member of the community came in and told him that some woman wanted to see him at the reception area of the parish offices. As always, he enquired if she had an appointment and, when the answer to that question was negative, he continued taking his tea. About ten minutes later, the same member of the community returned to the recreation room. Seeing Des still taking his tea, he gently said to him: “I hope, Des, that you understand that there is a woman waiting to see you at the parish reception area”. His comment was: “We're priests, not firemen”.

Des was always available and so anxious to help everyone with his advice and wisdom. Well versed in Canon Law, he had a way of cutting through the legal technicalities and focusing on the persons involved. He felt for people in a special way and his pastoral sensitivity ran through everything he did. His pastoral work spanned three generations, and he had a phenomenal memory for people and places. He would take delight in telling young married couples of having married their parents and having known their grandparents. He touched so many through baptisms, weddings, marriage counselling, funerals, the sacrament of reconciliation and the Eucharist. He was always on call in the parish and his phone was seldom silent.

But perhaps his endless concern for the sick and the dying is what stands out more than anything else in his life. As Chaplain at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Des will be remembered especially for his kindness to the sick and the dying and their families, as well as for his unfailing interest in the medical staff and their formation, especially the nurses and doctors. The Chaplaincy Centre with its Interdenominational Chapel which was the outcome of persistence and determination on his part is a lasting memorial to his far-sightedness in the face of many difficulties. When he retired from being official chaplain there after over twenty years, he continued to visit three smaller hospitals to cater to the needs of all patients without distinction right up to the end. He brought healing to so many on so many different levels. He was a living channel of God's loving care and concern for the suffering and the dying.

Des was a wonderful community member, always ready to share in whatever problems arose. He was a most pleasant, heartfelt and sincere person to live with, and always a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. He was kind, compassionate and gentle in all that he did. He might get angry with people at times for breaking appointments or coming late but it was a momentary frustration. He would always find a way of excusing those involved. He would get so sorry if he felt that he had hurt anyone and would go out of his way to put things right. He was incapable of becoming bitter or holding a grudge.

Des was a man of God and a man of the people. First thing every morning, he would be there in our small oratory with the Lord. Every evening last thing, he would be there in that same small oratory. But his contact with the Lord continued throughout the day in his contact with people. Des loved people and he loved the people of Zambia in particular. After coming to Zambia, he had become a Zambian citizen as a sign of his total commitment. It was his ardent wish to live and die here. He got his wish.