Archive for the ‘History’ Category
When Jesuit Father Eddie O’Donnell stumbled across over 40,000 negatives belonging to late Jesuit Father Frank Browne he would not have been able to envisage the significance of what he had just discovered.
Fr. Browne, widely recognized as a skilled photographer, was often described as Ireland’s answer to Cartier-Breson. He first started taking photographs in 1897 and did so until his death in 1960.
So what was included in these negatives? The invaluable collection of photographs and mementos, which had been sitting in a Dublin basement, featured one-of-a-kind images of the Titanic, before it departed on it’s first and final voyage. Upon realizing the discovery, a collection of the images was published in 1997 known as ‘Father Browne’s Titanic Album.’ As the 100th anniversary of the boat’s sinking approaches in April, many of the photographs in the book have been digitally re-mastered and new photographs have been added for the centenary edition of the book.
As the story goes, Fr. Browne boarded the Titanic in Southampton and several days later he was ordered off the boat in Cobh, County Cork in Ireland by his Jesuit Provincial. An American couple offered to pay his fare to America, but unbeknownst to Fr. Browne, when his superior requested that he return to Dublin, his life was potentially saved.
“When Father Browne’s superior ordered him off the ship it essentially saved his life because very few men travelling in first class survived the tragedy when the boat sank,” said Fr. O’Donnell. “While he was having a meal in the first class dining room he got chatting to a wealthy American couple. They liked Fr. Browne and asked him to stay on the Titanic with them until the boat reached New York. The American couple even offered to pay the rest of his fare to New York but Fr. Browne told them that his superior in Dublin would never allow it so he had to get off the ship when it stopped in Cobh.”
“The American man said to Fr. Browne, ‘come on down to the Marconi room and we’ll send him [the Jesuit superior] a Marconigram (a message sent via radio) and we’ll tell him that we’ll pay your way to New York’. When Fr. Browne went down to the Marconi room he took a picture. It was the only picture to be taken of the room – and any films you’ve ever seen that have had the Marconi room in it based it on Fr. Browne’s photograph.”
The telegram was sent by the wealthy Americans to the Irish superior of the Jesuits but after the Titanic stopped in Queenstown in Cobh, Fr. Browne was instructed to return to Dublin. The water near Queenstown in Cobh wasn’t deep enough for the Titanic to dock so the only way it could be reached was by another boat called the Ireland.
“The Ireland set off towards the Titanic with bags of mail and the 123 Irish passengers who boarded the ship. Captain Tobin was in charge of the Ireland and he had a small envelope addressed to Fr. Browne. Inside was a note with five words on it – it read: ‘Get Off That Ship – Provincial’.”
“Fr. Browne kept the note in his wallet for the rest of his life and said that it was the only time that holy obedience saved a man’s life,” said O’Donnell
Walk into the Jesuit Residence during lunchtime and it’s likely you’ll see the Jesuits hootin’ and hollerin’ with each other. Jesuit Father John Donnelly is no exception. He comes through the door that separates the Jesuits’ dining area from the lobby with a glass of beer in his hand.
“I left some of my remaining pizza back there in order for us to chat,” Donnelly says jokingly. “Now let’s talk.”
Donnelly sits in a reclining chair and begins to share the reasons why he became a Jesuit.
“In 1952 I graduated from Campion Jesuit High School and that summer I was doing a lot of reflecting on the fact that my friends were going into the seminary and then I thought, ‘Hey! That’s a really good idea,’” Donnelly said.
After traveling for educational purposes before his ordination in 1965, Donnelly found his way to Marquette University in 1971. He served as a full-time professor of history until retiring last year. Before Marquette, Donnelly served as a TA while working on his Ph.D. at UW-Madison. He described his time there as “rambunctious” due to the heated political times of the Vietnam War. Donnelly recalled a memorable Saturday morning while in the campus Jesuit house.
“I remember waking up and seeing the police with tear gas and their body protection on,” Donnelly said. “Each threw four (tear gas cans) in different directions to make sure no riots occurred that day.”
Donnelly said the history department at Marquette is refreshing in comparison to his few years at Madison. He prided the department on its respect and harmony.
“I am very happy to be a part of this history department,” Donnelly said. ”We are really blessed with mutual respect and honesty. It is one of my biggest joys here at Marquette.”
Donnelly said he’s taught five courses throughout his tenure here at Marquette: History of the Renaissance, World War II, History of the Reformation Period and the two introductory History of Western Civilizations classes.
Molly Edwards, a sophomore in the College of Communication, had Donnelly in Western Civilization. She said Donnelly’s class was dense in subject manner but brought to life by his relating material to present-day issues.
“The topic was 1700 to present day history and was really dry,” Edwards said. “But he knows an infinite amount of knowledge about it that astounds you.”
Edwards said Donnelly encouraged his students to take a passion about the history and use the ties to modern day history as a tool to create a more tangible connection. She was specifically a fan of a paper where she had to research a historical person. She chose Charles Darwin.
“It was 10 pages long,” Edwards said. “But I am glad I did it because it provided you with a bigger understanding on how people have an impact on society, and he related it back to the Jesuit ideal.”
Jesuit Father Armand Nigro, a priest for more than 50 years, is losing his memories.
He’s open about it. Eloquent, in fact.
“When I was told that I was in dementia, and it was the Alzheimer’s kind, well gee, of all the diseases this is the one I would have feared the most, because you die before you die. And before you die, you’re a burden on everyone else,” Fr. Nigro says.
Nigro is letting each day unfold. He’s always been fairly mellow, earning him the nickname “The Mister Rogers of the Jesuits,” after the gentle-spirited pastor who hosted the public television children’s show.
Nigro is calm, but others are eager to capture his wisdom before it’s too late.
Catherine Reimer, who met Nigro at Seattle University in the early 1960s, and her husband, John, will soon complete five hourlong video interviews with Nigro about his life and ministry.
They are collecting written memories and photos of Nigro for The Ministry Institute, which Nigro cofounded in 1981 as Mater Dei, a seminary for men called to the priesthood later in life.
One such memory? The happiest day of his life: Nigro was ordained a Jesuit in 1956 at St. Aloysius Church. Nigro, who suffered with health problems in the seminary, said he had a premonition he would never live to be ordained.
Even at the altar, he thought: “I don’t know if I’m going to make it through this.”
He did. “I knelt down a layman and stood up a priest,” he said.
25 years ago, a Polish Pope stepped off a plane and kissed the tarmac in Australia for the first time. Jesuit Father Frank Brennan remembers Pope John Paul II’s first visit Australia, and reflected on the Alice Springs portion of his trip for the Australian Jesuit blog, Eureka Street…
As the Pope completed the lengthy speech, he took a large gum branch, reached into a clay coolamon which later would be used in the Alice Springs church for baptisms, and blessed the people with water.
It was at that moment that the lightning sounded and the heavens opened. All of us in the crowd were convinced that grace and nature were one and indivisible at that moment in the red centre. The Centralian Advocate reported that ‘as an electrical storm was threatening the gathering of about 4000 people, most of the thunder was coming from the podium’.
The Pope later confided to Bishop Ted Collins, ‘I think the people prefer meeting me rather than listening to me. But I had to say it all because otherwise it could not be published.’ The mainstream media picked up the Pope’s remarks about land rights, self-determination and reconciliation.
But he put even more demanding challenges to the Australian Church when he enunciated the place of Indigenous Australians in the life of the Church, and when he outlined the relationship between Christian faith and Aboriginal culture and religious tradition.
Fr. Brennan is an adjunct professor at the College of Law and the National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Australian National University. To read his full reflections, please click here.
The 27th annual Jesuit Father Walter J. Ciszek Day Mass was concelebrated in October at St. Casimir Roman Catholic Church by nine priests, including three Byzantine Catholic Rite clerics.
For the first time in St. Casimir’s during the annual Mass, a Panachida service – a service to remember the deceased in Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches – was conducted at the conclusion of Mass, for Fr. Ciszek, a Shenandoah native whose cause for canonization is under investigation in the Catholic Church. Father Ciszek, baptized a Roman Catholic, served his priesthood in the Byzantine Rite.
The Panachida service was celebrated by the Jesuit Father Thomas Sable, co-postulator for the cause of canonization of Father Ciszek; Monsignor Nicholas I. Pukak, pastor of St. Mary Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church, Freeland, the oldest Ruthenian Byzantine church in America; and Monsignor John S. Mraz, guest homilist and pastor of St. Ann Roman Catholic Church, Emmaus, and the director of the Allentown Diocese Office of Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue.
During his homily, Mraz said that he was honored to be the homilist, not for being an expert on Father Ciszek, but for his devotion to him and the cause for canonization.
“While I was in the seminary in the early 1970s, I learned about the heroic virtue and the saintly life of a native of Shenandoah, Father Walter Ciszek, who suffered for decades in the Stalinist gulags in Soviet Russia, and the strange spy swap that returned him to his family in Pennsylvania and the Society of Jesus,” he said.
“Once Father Walter was able to surrender his life to his vocation and his future in Christ, his stubbornness became determination in the face of the communist oppression,” said Mraz. “His pride became courage in the midst of religious oppression. His self-sufficiency became reliance upon Christ’s grace and the decades-long isolation from family, friends and the religious community.”
Father Ciszek was born Nov. 4, 1904, in Shenandoah and was a parishioner of St. Casimir’s, where he was baptized and attended the parochial school. He was ordained in 1937 as the first American Jesuit in the Byzantine Catholic Rite. He secretly entered the Soviet Union in 1939 as a missionary priest and was arrested in 1941 as a Vatican spy. After 23 years as a prisoner in the Soviet Union, he was released and returned to the United States. He died Dec. 8, 1984. His cause for canonization began in the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic and was later transferred to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown. His cause is currently being reviewed at the Vatican.