Item 14 - Note congratulating Fr Lawton on his appointment as Rector of Clongowes

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IE IJA J/4/14

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Note congratulating Fr Lawton on his appointment as Rector of Clongowes

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  • 13 June 1959 (Creation)

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1p

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(08 September 1911-07 June 1969)

Biographical history

Born: 08 September 1911, Cappagh, Ballinasloe, County Galway
Entered: 01 September 1927, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1941, Milltown Park, Dublin
Professed: 02 February 1945
Died: 07 June 1969, College of Industrial Relations, Ranelagh, Dublin

by 1946 at Heythrop, Oxfordshire (ANG) studying

Father Provincial of the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus, 31 July 1953-19 July 1959.

◆ Fr Francis Finegan : Admissions 1859-1948 - Summerhill College, College Road, Knocknaganny, Sligo student

Irish Province News 34th Year No 4 1959

GENERAL
On 20th July Fr. Charles O'Conor, former Rector of Gonzaga College was appointed Provincial in succession to Fr. Michael A. O’Grady. The best wishes of the Province are with the Provincial in his new office, and to Fr. O'Grady the Province offers its gratitude for his services during his Provincialate. He will be remembered, beyond doubt, above all for his outstanding kindness, under standing and sympathy. His great and quite genuine charm of manner made personal contact between him and his subjects easy. They could always feel that their position was understood even if it could not always be improved. And these qualities extended themselves outside the Society and won for Fr. O’Grady and for the Province the goodwill, esteem and affection of everyone with whom he came into contact.
When he became Provincial in 1953 Fr. O’Grady was faced with a task which demanded gifts of this high order, The period of office of his predecessor, Fr. T, Byrne, had been one of expansion after the war. It was for Fr. O’Grady to consolidate. He found himself with a number of new enterprises-the Catholic Workers' College, the Mission in Rhodesia, Gonzaga College - which he had to see firmly established. This involved, among other things, a heavy building programme. It has been his great achievement that he courageously carried through this programme, though the toll on his health was at times very great. Besides the buildings at Gonzaga and the Workers' College, there were the preparatory school at Belvedere, the Pioneer Hall, the extension to Manresa and the renovation of Loyola, Eglinton Road, which was purchased as a Provincial Residence in his term of office. That, in spite of the expenditure involved, the Province is in a sound financial position is a tribute to Fr. O'Grady's generous use of his great personal gifts and to his inexhaustible patience and zeal.
Other activities recently undertaken which received his wholehearted en couragement were the Missions to Britain and to the Irish workers in Britain, the work of teaching Christian Doctrine in the Technical Schools, and the Child Educational Centre, which was started in his Provincialate and was finally established in its new premises in Northumberland Road last year.
He visited both China and Northern Rhodesia, and it was largely through his tireless negotiation that a satisfactory status for the Rhodesian Mission was worked out and the Mission of Chikuni created. He also saw the expansion of the Mission to the Chinese in Malaya. In both Missions he supported extensive building schemes of which the most ambitious were the new Wah Yan College, Queen's Road, Hong Kong and the Teacher Training College, Chikuni. And for all this the Province is grateful to Fr. O’Grady.

Obituary :

Fr Louis O’Grady SJ (1911-1969)

To comply with the desires expressed by the writer of the following appreciation we prelude with a few chronological facts of the life of Fr. M. A. O'Grady; something has been said of his death and obsequies in the notes from Gardiner St.
He was born September 8th, 1911, a fact registered in the mind of the present writer in that he completed his sixteenth year only a week after he entered the Noviceship in 1927.
After the Noviciate he did the usual arts course at U.C.D. from Rathfarnham, with distinction. He caused great alarm by having a severe haemorrhage which necessitated a blood-transfusion while at the Castle; it, the transfusion, was the source of considerable merriment when the community was assured that he was out of danger and his merry acceptance of the quizzing was a temptation to persist.
He did Philosophy in Tullabeg, 1932-5 and was on the staff at Clongowes 1935-38 and thence to Milltown where he was ordained, 1941.
After the Tertianship he proceeded with his dear friend Fr. Scozzari, later so tragically to die, of the Sicilian province, to Maynooth where both distinguished themselves in their doctorates.
Apart from his double term as Provincial, 1953-9 it may be said that Milltown claimed him until his appointment to the College of Industrial relations. He was rector of Milltown from 1947 till he assumed his higher offices. These are the bare bones to which we hope the following will add life.

An Appreciation
He had been baptised Michael Aloysius, but in the noviceship in an unusual fashion he acquired a new name or a new form of name : he was henceforth Luigi or Louis. The Luigi came first. It was no accidental re-christening, no casual re-naming. It was rather a singular and striking tribute in which his fellow novices saluted if not another Aloysius at least a fellow novice whose total dedication of himself was in the Gonzaga mode.
The phenomenon of the “saintly” novice must be as old as the religious life. More often than not the phenomenon is happily ephemeral : either the prig disappears or his priggishness does. Luigi was the exception. He never changed and the epithet prig is the one no person would ever use of him. I feel sure that no act of his was ever insincere.
The peculiar character and the specific colour were already there in the noviceship. Though Louis was always what one would describe as a normal, an ordinary man, from the beginning he was in some sense set a little apart from his fellows. While it could never have been said of him that he was illiberal in his views or intolerant in his actions, yet from the earliest times his fellows knew that behind the warm and friendly exterior there was a core of utter intransigeance. One did not think of this as obstinacy (the obstinate man might change his mind); in Louis's case the matter of principle was already prejudged and decided : it was not open to reconsideration. Those who knew Louis well will remenber the cloud which would suddenly transform his features and change the customary smile to a frown when in any cause a measure of either insincerity or uncharity appeared.
To my mind, when it strives to express what manner of man Louis was, the one complex which keeps coming to the front is the disproportion between his physical capacity and his spiritual potential. In a special and differing sense it could be said of him that “the spirit was willing and the flesh was weak”. In him the spirit was always willing more than the flesh could support. He would help everybody though no single body could sustain what everybody claimed. Of him one cliché is unavoidable, the one which says that he did not know how to say no.
About his own health Father Louis never liked to speak : it was. he said, a dull topic. In deference to that sentiment, I will allow myself only one sentence. Though I knew Louis very well and for a long time, it was only when (on more than one occasion) I shared a room with him on holiday that I realised how very ill he was at times, how much he suffered and how desperately hard the night could be before another day began.
Father Louis's genius could be described as an infinite capacity for making friends. There was something in him which invited confidence, the confidence of many both in high places in Church and State and of even more perhaps in lowly estate : he was equally at home at either level : he did not know how to look To comply with the desires expressed by the writer of the following appreciation we prelude with a few chronological facts of the life of Fr. M. A. O'Grady; something has been said of his death and obsequies in the notes from Gardiner St.
He was born September 8th, 1911, a fact registered in the mind of the present writer in that he completed his sixteenth year only a week after he entered the Noviceship in 1927.
After the Noviciate he did the usual arts course at U.C.D. from Rathfarnham, with distinction. He caused great alarm by having a severe haemorrhage which necessitated a blood-transfusion while at the Castle; it, the transfusion, was the source of considerable merriment when the community was assured that he was out of danger and his merry acceptance of the quizzing was a temptation to persist.
He did Philosophy in Tullabeg, 1932-5 and was on the staff at Clongowes 1935-38 and thence to Milltown where he was ordained, 1941.
After the Tertianship he proceeded with his dear friend Fr. Scozzari, later so tragically to die, of the Sicilian province, to Maynooth where both distinguished themselves in their doctorates.
Apart from his double term as Provincial, 1953-9 it may be said that Milltown claimed him until his appointment to the College of Industrial relations. He was rector of Milltown from 1947 till he assumed his higher offices. These are the bare bones to which we hope the following will add life.

An Appreciation
He had been baptised Michael Aloysius, but in the noviceship in an unusual fashion he acquired a new name or a new form of name : he was henceforth Luigi or Louis. The Luigi came first. It was no accidental re-christening, no casual re-naming. It was rather a singular and striking tribute in which his fellow novices saluted if not another Aloysius at least a fellow novice whose total dedication of himself was in the Gonzaga mode.
The phenomenon of the “saintly” novice must be as old as the religious life. More often than not the phenomenon is happily ephemeral : either the prig disappears or his priggishness does. Luigi was the exception. He never changed and the epithet prig is the one no person would ever use of him. I feel sure that no act of his was ever insincere.
The peculiar character and the specific colour were already there in the noviceship. Though Louis was always what one would describe as a normal, an ordinary man, from the beginning he was in some sense set a little apart from his fellows. While it could never have been said of him that he was illiberal in his views or intolerant in his actions, yet from the earliest times his fellows knew that behind the warm and friendly exterior there was a core of utter intransigeance. One did not think of this as obstinacy (the obstinate man might change his mind); in Louis's case the matter of principle was already prejudged and decided : it was not open to reconsideration. Those who knew Louis well will remenber the cloud which would suddenly transform his features and change the customary smile to a frown when in any cause a measure of either insincerity or uncharity appeared.
To my mind, when it strives to express what manner of man Louis was, the one complex which keeps coming to the front is the disproportion between his physical capacity and his spiritual potential. In a special and differing sense it could be said of him that “the spirit was willing and the flesh was weak”. In him the spirit was always willing more than the flesh could support. He would help everybody though no single body could sustain what everybody claimed. Of him one cliché is unavoidable, the one which says that he did not know how to say no.
About his own health Father Louis never liked to speak : it was. he said, a dull topic. In deference to that sentiment, I will allow myself only one sentence. Though I knew Louis very well and for a long time, it was only when (on more than one occasion) I shared a room with him on holiday that I realised how very ill he was at times, how much he suffered and how desperately hard the night could be before another day began.
Father Louis's genius could be described as an infinite capacity for making friends. There was something in him which invited confidence, the confidence of many both in high places in Church and State and of even more perhaps in lowly estate : he was equally at home at either level : he did not know how to look up or look down. Many of the friendships which he made began with an appeal to him for help. The truth was that men came to Louis not so much because they wanted the benefit of his judgment as because they needed the strengthening of his understanding and kindness.
As time went on the number of those who depended on him grew. Unfortunately his physical strength did not grow apace, and he began to be at times desperately tired. He spoke to me once about that well-known exhortation to moderation which takes the form : if you were dead, people would get along all right without you. Characteristically his comment given with a tired smile was : that argument is useless : the difficulty is that I am not dead.
He is dead now, God rest him, and what can we do who are saddened by his death other than thank God for the precious goodness which shone so brightly amongst us. Under God's grace the cost in effort and determination was great; in later years the cost included perhaps inevitably some small measure of irritability, At times he drove himself very hard with an intensity which few could emulate : there was never any doubt about the high grade of asceticism to which he attained : but of this few were aware. Surprisingly this achievement of his increased rather than diminished his humanity: it gave him a freedom of action beyond the ordinary, and allowed him to disregard convention for convention's sake.
Speaking of Louis's humanity it should be recorded that those who had always the first claim on his affection were the members of his own family, especially, in later years, his ageing mother but not less indeed his brothers and sisters.
Father Louis's life was totally at the service of the Society which (within or after the Church) had claim on his whole loyalty. Some who did not know him might think from what I have written that he was an invalid who from his sick-bed gave counsel to many. Not true this: in any case he was never that long in a sick bed. The Society made a full claim on him, as a teacher and administrator at the highest level both separately and together. His gifts of intellect were considerable and had he been chosen for a purely scholastic career he might have made a name for himself as a philosopher or a theologian. He was not good at languages and I know he found the use of Latin as a medium of teaching a burden. As a consequence the movement away from Latin in post-Vatican II days he welcomed; but of many other changes in the same time he felt less happy.
Father Louis, one may surmise, might have been happier had he been born a quarter of a century earlier or a quarter of a century later. By nature and taste he had always been in church affairs more liberal and progressive than otherwise. In the pre Vatican II world he might have been said to be left of centre. When the centre moved rapidly to the left, like many of his contemporaries, he was perplexed to some degree and to some extent unhappy.
When I was asked to write this notice of my friend, I hesitated, because I did not think that it would be easy to do justice to the subject of it. In many ways Father Louis O'Grady was a conventional religious, not differing that much from his fellows. As a teacher and an administrator he was possibly more com petent than brilliant. The record in the books may not put him in the first dozen. That does not matter, because in the case of Louis O'Grady it is not what he did which counts but what he was. Father John Ryan has said somewhere that in Ireland there was never any need for a judicial process of canonization : if a man, especially a religious, could pass the scrutiny of his fellowmen, especially his fellow-monks, it was enough. Most of his religious life Father Louis, as rector or provincial or superior, underwent that extra sifting which the monks reserve for those who sit in the chair of Moses; he passed that stringent test splendidly, and as far as I know nem. con.
The ability of the man, about whom I write, to make friends was a purely natural asset, with nothing about it which was either studied or artificial. But the synthesis of this natural gift with the purer and more intense flame of Christian charity was the work of a lifetime. No one could know Louis for long without realizing how near to God he was at all times. And this was the source in him of that rare sensitive personal integrity which was with him in the noviceship and was with him to the end : and this too was the source in him of that expansive, universal, dynamic. fearless love for men which knew no limit of moderation or even of prudence.
The strain and the tension in this man's life could have but one ending, for the conflict was unequal. During the night of June 6:7 the persistently over-taxed energy finally ran out, and Louis was dead.
It is not easy to link with him the notion of rest and peace. Nevertheless one feels that the change from life to death (or from life through death to life) in Louis's case cannot have been great; perhaps now that he is dead, with more truth he can say what he could surely have said at any time in his life : I live now, not I, but Christ liveth in me.

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Note from Irish Fr Provincial Michael O’Grady SJ to Fr Hilary Lawton SJ, congratulating him on his appointment as Rector of Clongowes.

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1999

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