IE IJA J/8/13
- 1922; 1949 (Creation)
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2 copies; 20pp
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Born: 15 February 1851, Bessbrook, County Cavan
Entered 02 March 1866, Milltown Park, Dublin
Ordained: 1881, Tortosa, Spain
Professed: 02 February 1886, St Beuno’s, Wales
Died: 21 October 1929, St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin
Milltown Park community at time of death.
by 1869 at Amiens France (CAMP) studying
by 1870 at Stonyhurst England (ANG) studying
by 1872 at Maria Laach College Germany (GER) Studying
by 1879 at Poyanne France (CAST) Studying
by 1880 at Dertusanum College, Tortosa, Spain (ARA) studying
by 1886 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) studying
by 1888 at Woodstock MD, USA (MAR) Lecturing Theology
◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
Early education was at St Patrick’s Cavan. Admitted aged 15 by Edmund J O’Reilly, Provincial and his brother Thomas A Finlay was a fellow novice.
1868 He was sent to St Acheul (Amiens) for a year of Rhetoric, and then to Stonyhurst for two years Philosophy, and then to Maria Laach for one more year.
1872 He was sent for Regency teaching Latin and French at Crescent for two years, and the four at Clongowes teaching Greek, Latin, French, German, Mathematics and Physics.
1878 He was sent to Poyanne in France with the the CAST Jesuits, expelled from Spain, and then three years at Tortosa, Spain where he was Ordained 1881. He also completed a Grand Act at the end of his time in Tortosa which attracted significant attention about his potential future as a Theologian.
1882 He returned to Ireland and Milltown where he lectured in Logic and Metaphysics for three years.
1885 He was sent to St Beuno’s as professor of Theology and made his Final Vows there 02 February 1886.
1887 He was sent to Woodstock (MARNEB) to help develop this Theologate with others from Europe - including Aloisi Masella, later Cardinal.
1889 Milltown opened a Theologate, and he was recalled as Professor of Scholastic Theology, and held that post for 40 years. During that time he hardly ever missed a lecture, and his reputation as an educator was unparalleled, shown in the quality of his lecturing, where the most complex was made clear. During this time he also took up a Chair of Catholic Theology at UCD from 1912-1923. In addition, he was a regular Preacher and Director of retreats, and spent many hours hearing Confessions of the poor.
He was highly thought of in HIB, attending two General Congregations and a number of times as Procurator to consult with the General.
His two major publications were : The Church of Christ, its Foundation and Constitution” (1915) and “Divine Faith” (1917).
He died at St Vincent’s Hospital 21 October 1929. His funeral took place at Gardiner St where the Archbishop Edward Byrne presided.
“The Catholic Bulletin” November 1929
“The death of Father Peter Finlay......closed a teaching career in the great science of Theology which was of most exceptional duration and of superb quality, sustained to the very close of a long and fruitful life. ..news of his death came as a shock and great surprise to many who knew him all over Ireland and beyond. ...in the course of his Theological studies at Barcelona he drew from the great tradiition of Suarez and De Lugo. ....Behind that easy utterance was a mind brilliant yet accurate, penetrating, alert, subtle, acute in its power of analysis and discrimination, caustic at times, yet markedly observant of all the punctilious courtesies of academic disputation. ...The exquisite keenness of his mind was best appreciated by a trained professional audience .... and with his pen even more effective in English than Latin. Those who recall “Lyceum’ with its customary anonymity failed to conceal the distinctive notes of Peter Finlay’s style, different from, yet having many affinities with the more leisurely and versatile writing of his brother Thomas. The same qualities...
were evident in the ‘New Ireland Review”, from 1894-1910. Nor were the subjects ... narrowly limited ... he examined the foundations and limitations of the right of property in land, as viewed by English Law and Landlords in Ireland. On the secure basis of the great Spanish masters of Moral Philosophy, he did much to make secure the practical policies and enforce the views of Archbishops Thomas Croke and William Walsh.
He had a close relationship with the heads of the publishing house of ‘The Catholic Bulletin’. That said, this relationship was far outspanned by his marvellous service in the giving of Retreats to Priests and Religious and Men, added to by his work in the ministry of Reconciliation among the rich and poor alike, the afflicted and those often forgotten.”
Note from James Redmond Entry
He studied Rhetoric at St Acheul, Amiens with Michael Weafer, Thomas Finlay and Peter Finlay, Robert Kane and Vincent Byrne, among others.
◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online
Finlay, Thomas Aloysius
by Thomas J. Morrissey
Finlay, Thomas Aloysius (1848–1940) and Peter (1851–1929), Jesuit priests, scholars, and teachers, were born at Lanesborough, Co. Roscommon, sons of William Finlay, engineer, and Maria Finlay (née Magan), who had four other children: three daughters, all of whom became religious sisters, and a son William, who became secretary of Cavan county council. Tom and Peter were educated at St Augustine's diocesan college, Cavan (predecessor to St Patrick's College), and in 1866 both entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Milltown Park, Dublin. Subsequently, they were sent for studies to St Acheul, near Amiens, after which they moved in somewhat different directions.
From St Acheul Peter Finlay went to Stonyhurst College, England, for two years philosophy, and spent a further year in philosophic studies at the Jesuit college of Maria Laach in Germany. Returning to Ireland (1872), he taught for two years at Crescent College, Limerick, and for four years at Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare. His theological studies were conducted with distinction at Poyanne in France and Tortosa in Spain. Recalled home, he lectured in philosophy at the Jesuit seminary college, Milltown Park, and at UCD for three years; and then in theology at St Beuno's, Wales, for three years. The next six years were spent at Woodstock College, USA, where he professed theology. When in 1889 a theologate was established at Milltown Park, Peter was summoned home. He professed theology there from then till his death. His lectures, said to have been models of clarity, were presented in fluent and exact Latin, the medium of the time for such lectures. He also lectured (1912–22) in catholic theology at UCD. In constant demand for retreats and lectures, and with a heavy weight of correspondence, he was also rector (1905–10) of Milltown Park, and was three times elected to represent the Irish province at general congregations in Rome. Peter Finlay did not have his brother's range of interests nor his literary productivity, but his published writing on theological and apologetic themes were widely read. These included The church of Christ: its foundation and constitution (1915), Divine faith (1917), and smaller works reflecting the issues of the day, such as The decree ‘Ne temere’; Catholics in civil life, The catholic religion, The catholic church and the civil state, The authority of bishops, Was Christ God?, The one true church: which is it?, and Is one religion as good as another?. He was an unassuming man, dedicated to a life of poverty, obedience, and obligation – never, it was said, missing a lecture for thirty-nine of his forty-four years as lecturer. He died of cancer of the kidneys on 21 October 1929, having lectured till 2 October, the day before going to hospital for the final time.
The brothers were among the most influential academics in Ireland in the last quarter of the nineteenth and the first quarter of the twentieth centuries. Thomas was described by W. E. H. Lecky (qv) as probably the most universally respected man in Ireland. Peter, who professed theology in Britain, America, and Ireland for 44 years, was widely consulted on most aspects of theology and highly regarded for his gifts of exposition.
Provincial consultors' minute book, 20 Feb. 1890 (Irish Jesuit archives, Dublin); Irish Jesuit Province News, Dec. 1929 (private circulation); ‘Sir Horace Plunkett on Professor Finlay's career as social reformer’, Fathers of the Society of Jesus, A page of Irish history: story of University College, Dublin, 1883–1909 (1930), 246–57; W. Magennis, ‘A disciple's sketch of Fr T. Finlay’, Belvederian, ix (summer 1931), 19; obit., Anglo-Celt, 13 Jan. 1940; George O'Brien, ‘Father Thomas A. Finlay, S.J., 1848–1940’, Studies, xxix (1940), 27–40; Aubrey Gwynn, obit., Irish Province News, Oct. 1940 (private circulation); R. J. Hayes (ed.), Sources for the history of Irish civilization: articles in Irish periodicals (1970), ii, 310–12; Thomas Morrissey, Towards a national university: William Delany, S.J. (1835–1924) (1983); Trevor West, Horace Plunkett: co-operation and politics (1986)
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Pamphlet ''The Church and her marriage laws'' by Fr Peter Finlay SJ. Irish Messenger Series, Dublin.
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- Finlay, Peter, 1851-1929, Jesuit priest and theologian (Subject)
- Irish Messenger Office, 1888- (Subject)
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