Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Servant of God Rev. Fr. Edouard Huchant, C.SS.R. (1815 - 1888)

Reverend Father Huchant was born at Montigny-sure-Sambre in Belgium on 2 February 1815. After having studied at the Bonne-Esperance Seminary, he was ordained a priest in Tournai on 22 May, 1842, becoming later professor and vicar of Braine-le-Comte. He entered the Redemptorist Congregation and was professed on 24 May, 1845, at Saint-Trond, becoming Rector at Douai. He had frequent dealings with the Very Rev. Fr. Passent, who resided at Tournai. They were confessors to one another. The Venerable Fr. Passent said of Fr. Huchant, "That one, he's a saint."
God filled the heart of Fr. Huchant with the gifts of His love in abundance. He was of happy character, easygoing and agreeable with a solid and sure judgment. Upon these natural gifts, grace grafted rich favours. Drawn to God by a sweet and strong attraction, his soul sought in continual prayer the nourishment which alone seemed to keep him alive. Always recollected, this pious religious lived in constant union with Heaven. One could admire in this man of God a goodness, an unattainable sweetness, the most delicate charity, a profound humility, a great spirit of renunciation and of mortification, the simplicity and obedience of a child, devotion, and a zeal for souls at the cost of any sacrifice. Those who knew him applied to him these words of the Holy Scripture: "Thy memory will be held benediction." (Translated from Memorial Alphonsium)


Daily Prayer of the Servant of God, Fr. Huchant

O my Divine Jesus,
In the name of Thy sorrows,
Of Thy love, of Thy promises, and
In the name of Thy Holy Mother,
Of Thy Saints and of Thy Angels,
Grant me the grace to accomplish Thy Will perfectly,
The grace to pray unto Thee with a perfect confidence.
Make me do penance that in the end
Nothing may disquiet me at my death.
Grant unto me the great gift of Thy Pure Love
And the hatred of myself,
O Thou Who with the Father and The Holy Ghost
Lives and reigns forever and ever. So may it be.
Amen.

O Mary, my good Mother,
Bless my prayer and
Present it to thy Divine Son.
Amen.

Prayer to Beseech of God the
Glorification of the Servant of God
(Private Translation)

O God, Who didst promise the humble
That they would be exulted, and
To those who preach justice that
They would shine in Eternity like the stars,
Deign to glorify Thy Servant, Fr Huchant, and
Make his name resplendent amongst Thy Saints
Who have best taught us to love Thee.

May thy grace, O Lord,
Descend upon the faithful who cry unto Thee
In the name of the virtues that he practiced on earth.
May we one day see the Holy Church honour his memory and
Giving to us in him a model to emulate, and
In our works and crosses a protector who will help us
Most of all to come to the celestial beatitude.

Amen.

(The original French prayer held the approval of A. Cantineau,
Vicar General of Tournai, 31 July, 1923)

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Saturday, 30 May 2009

Rev. Fr Theodore Runner, C.SS.R. (1853 - 1937)

Rev. Fr. Runner died in the Monastery of Echternach, Luxemburg, at the age of 84. He was a son of Alsace, where he was born on 9 November, 1853 in the village of Westhalten (Haut-Rhin), however, he laboured in Spain. He was professed on 31 March 1872 and ordained to the priesthood on 14 July, 1878. Filled with zeal for souls as a young priest, he crossed the Pyrenees in 1881 and became the co-founder of the Spanish Redemptorists.

At first a zealous Missioner, he soon became Rector of the Monastery during the difficult years of foundation. He built the Monastery Church of Madrid with its enormous altar of Our Mother of Perpetual Succour, and at the same time built the spiritual edifice of the greatest "Supplica" movement - the perpetual veneration of Our Blessed Mother - in the world.

Eventually he became the first Provincial of the Spanish Redemptorists. He gave 30 years of labour to sunny Spain, but at the age of 60 his strength was spent and he returned to Alsace. Here he would live another 24 years and - a prisoner of inactivity - he devoted that time to prayer and pious reading. For the last year of his life he could no longer say Mass but received Holy Communion every day. He died thus on 26 April, 1937 shortly after finishing his Thanksgiving. †

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Friday, 29 May 2009

Rev. Fr Johannes Niklaus Schneider, C.SS.R. (1821-1873)

He was born in Upen, Prussia, on St John the Evangelist’s Day, 1821, and entered the Redemptorist Novitiate at St Trond when he was twenty-one, making his Profession on the 15th of October, 1843. He studied Rhetoric, and made all his higher studies in Wittem. After his ordination in 1851, he was sent to Clapham, London, where he laboured amongst the Germans in the German Chapel. After a time he went to Limerick, Ireland.
He was a member of the Limerick Community for two periods, worked much on Missions and at home, and endeared himself to the people wherever he went. At the nominations in 1865, he was appointed Consultor to the Father Rector, but soon afterwards was sent by the Father General to the United States, where he taught moral theology to the Redemptorist Students, took part in Missions, spent some time at St Thomas (in the West Indies), and at length died a victim to his zeal, at New Orleans, on 23rd of September, 1873, being then in his sixty-second year. †

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Rev. Fr Jan Van der Aa, C.SS.R. (1822 - 1872)

Was born at Bois-le-duc, Holland on the 13th August, 1822. He entered the Novitiate as a Clerical student and made his Vows on the Feast of St Teresa 1845. After his novitiate he completed his studies at Wittem, where he became a priest on the 22nd of December, 1849. We find him in the Monastery of Clapham in 1852, and from there he was transferred to the newly formed community in Limerick. During the Triennium which began in 1858 he was Consultor to the Vice-Provincial, and resided at Clapham. Later he was sent to the difficult Missions in Dutch Guiana, South America, where he died after a life of labour and sacrifice, at Paramaribo on the 15th July, 1872.†

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Thursday, 28 May 2009

Rev. Fr Thomas Doyle, C.SS.R. (1821 – 1882)

On the 16th July, 1821, the Feast of Our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel, Father Doyle was born in the town of Wexford. Called by God to the sacerdotal state, he advanced step by step, until he was ordained a priest, on the 22nd May, 1847. His first labours as a Priest were those of a curate at Tintern in his native county. But his stay there was not for many years. Soon he felt himself called to the religious life and he resolved to seek admission into the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.

Father Doyle now left Ireland, and crossing over to Holland entered the Redemptorist Novitiate at Bois-le-Duc, where he was admitted to make his profession on 19th July, 1857, the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul. He was then sent to England, and was attached to the house at Clapham, London. After three or four years we find him in the Limerick Monastery, Ireland; his stay, however, was for but a year or a little more.

In 1862 he was again at Clapham. During the few years that followed he held different offices in the Community, and in February, 1864, he was appointed Vice-Rector of Clapham. In the June of the following year he was confirmed in his office of Rector for three years. He was then changed to Limerick, where he was Director of the Confraternity of the Holy Family, from the April of 1870, to the July of the following year.

Another appointment placed him in the Community of Perth, Scotland. But Father Doyle was to die in his native land, and in June, 1874, he returned to Limerick. Now follows four years of missionary labours in Ireland; they were his last years of work, though four more were to follow, years of illness and preparation for death. The change came suddenly.

In the afternoon of the 23rd of February, 1878, as he was taking part at recreation in the Community room, he was struck down by apoplexy. He at once turned to the Rector, Rev. Father O’Donnell, and with great self-possession said that he wished to offer up his life to God, and that he was ready to welcome whatever was the Divine Will.

This submission to God’s Will supported him through the years of his illness. At last the happy end he had waited for so patiently came on the feast of the glorious virgin martyr, St. Agnes, the 21st of January, 1882. His body rests beneath the high altar of the Monastery Church in Limerick.

Throughout his long illness Father Doyle was nursed and cared for with the most devoted charity, and the greatest self-sacrifice, by Brother Michael.

Father Doyle’s seems to have been one of those lives that are in a more than ordinary way moulded by the thought of death. He feared, even in the early days of his priesthood, the thought of having to meet death perhaps alone, and after he became a Redemptorist he declared that the resolution most close to his heart was to die in the Congregation whatever might happen. But though the thought of death was the one uppermost in his religious life, his character was not at all a desponding or joyless one. On the contrary, cheerfulness of heart, and what may perhaps be best described as a love of quiet fun, are the characteristics by which he is best remembered. †

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Friday, 22 May 2009

Fr Bonchain's Life updated

The Necrology of the Servant of God Rev. Fr Louis Bronchain available on this blog has now been illustrated and a short life of this holy father is now available at Bronchain's Meditations.
Fr Bronchain's daily meditations, are full of spiritual nourishment and give solid thoughts for each day of the year accompanied by a practical examination and resolutions. They follow the liturgical cycle and usually the thoughts given for the day have some bearing on the feast being celebrated.
They are full of an uplifting Catholic spirit and challenge the rationalism of his own day and far more of ours.

"Charles Louis Laurent Bronchain was born of excellent parents, September 4, 1829, at Frameries, near Mons in Belgium. From his early boyhood he as distinguished for his piety. As an altar boy he was modest and recollected, and was wont after serving to Mass to remain as close as possible to the priest. Being asked why he acted thus, he replied: "I do this, because I wish to be nearer to the good God." When he saw people going to holy communion, he was filled with a holy envy, and would say to himself: "When shall I also have the happiness of receiving our Lord?" We may easily imagine his joy and happiness when this favor was vouchsafed to him for the first time. When out walking with his playmates, he always managed to bring them near a church and induced them to enter it with him to pay homage to our divine Saviour in the Sacrament of His love." Read more...

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Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Rev Fr William Plunkett, C.SS.R. (1824-1900)

Father Plunkett was the first Irish-man who joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. He was born at Corbalton, Co. Meath, on 6th of June, 1824, and was the third son of Arthur James Plunkett, 9th Earl of Fingall.

He chose the army as a profession, and served some years as an officer in the Welsh Fusilers, going with his regiment to the West Indies, and later to Canada. It is told of him that while Lieutenant he encouraged the Catholic men of the regiment by word and by example to frequent the Sacraments. During the six years he spent as a soldier, his life was such as one would expect in a religious rather than in a young officer in the army, for his is known to have been very pious and to have been in the habit of practising acts of bodily penance.

On returning from Canada, in order to make his salvation more secure, he made up his mind to enter a religious order. He went to the Redemptorist Monastery of St. Mary’s, Clapham, to spend some days in retreat and to settle his vocation. As a result he entered the Novitiate of the Congregation at St. Trond, Belgium, and having gone through his noviceship with great fervour, made the Religious Vows on 15th October, 1851. His studies in preparation for the priesthood were made on the Continent, but he returned to Clapham, London, to be ordained priest. This was in the June of 1854. A year or more was still spent in study and then began a long life of missionary work.

For forty-five years he laboured for the salvation of souls, giving his first mission in Manchester, and ever working on with quiet, constant zeal until death came and found him still a missioner, at the age of seventy-seven, in distant Australia.

In the course of his long years of Redemptorist life he was many times attached to various communities. He first came to Limerick in the year 1857, and in the May of the following year was present at the laying of the foundation stone of the church. On the death of Very Rev. Father Roes, who was Rector at that time, Father Plunkett became Vice-Rector. Two years later he was appointed Rector for three years. Soon after this appointment the new Church of St. Alphonsus was solemnly dedicated on Sunday, December 7th, 1862, by the Coadjutor-Bishop of Limerick, the Most Rev. Dr. Butler, the Dedication sermon being preached by the Bishop of Kerry, Most Rev. Dr. Moriarty.

In 1868 Father Plunkett was made Rector of Clapham. It has been written of him that while he was Rector of Clapham house, he showed, in a very striking way, his great affability, kindness, generosity, and above all his devotion to the poor. During the years that followed he was twice attached to Bishop Eton, and twice to Clapham, of which house he was again Rector for a few years. He was also twice a member of the Limerick Community, from which he was transferred to Perth, Scotland, in 1887. This date brings us close to the time of his departure for Australia, for having then being sixty-four years of age, generously offered himself for that far distant mission, he was appointed to take part in the new foundation at Ballarat, in Victoria, and set sail with the Rev. Father Cleary as his companion on the 28th September, 1888.

Five years later he was named Visitor, or representative of the Very Rev. Father Provincial, in Australia. Then he was for a year and a half Rector of Waratah, when that came which was to be his last appointment: he was made Superior of the new foundation at Perth in Western Australia. This was towards the end of the year immediately preceding his death.

He had been asked by his Eminence Cardinal Moran to prepare some papers for the Australian Catholic Congress, which was to take place in September, 1900. This he did with pleasure, and when the time for the Congress and the Dedication Ceremony of St. Mary’s Cathedral approached, he started for Sydney in company with Rev. Father Clune, travelling by steamer. But while crossing the Australian Bight, which is generally rough, the dear old man, after going through his devotions in his cabin, was coming up the saloon stairs to sit on deck when the steamer lurched, and he fell back violently on the leaden floor. He was unable to rise until help came. A young doctor on board attended him with the greatest care and kindness and he was soon well enough to say his Office and the Rosary.

From Adelaide he travelled by train to Sydney. As a precaution he was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital. Here, very soon his state became critical. He asked for the last Sacraments, and was anointed by Very Rev. Father O’Farrell; Fathers Cleary and Clune also assisted at his bedside. His death was that of a saint; it was as his life had been.

It will be difficult to convey in a short space the impression that one receives of the saintliness of this truly holy priest from the accounts of those who had known and lived with him, some of them for upwards of forty years. Father Plunkett was remarkable especially for his brotherly charity, both as a Superior and a confrere, being always most affable, genial, cheerful and entertaining. He was ever ready to oblige and be of service, and as a result was much beloved by everyone. He was always humble, gentle, and obedient as a child. It used to be remarked that he was extremely courteous in his manner towards the poor.

It was natural that, at his obsequies which were attended by his Eminence Cardinal Moran, twelve bishops and over two hundred priests, that the Cardinal in his beautiful panegyric should have remarked, that it seemed as if Providence had specially arranged that one who had humbled himself in life, and had quitted rank and fortune, and bright worldly prospects for the humble and laborious life of a follower of St. Alphonsus, should thus come to be so singularly exalted by such obsequies as no ecclesiastic in Australia had ever had.

And his Eminence added that it was a great satisfaction for him to learn that he whose mortal remains had received such honour that day was the first Irishman who had followed the standard of St. Alphonsus and joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.

His remains were reverently carried to the burial ground of the Community of Mount St. Alphonsus, Waratah. There was a time when he hoped that his body should lie in the crypt of the Church of Mount St. Alphonsus, Limerick, not because he had devoted the greater part of his patrimony to the building of the house and church, but because it would, he thought, have more efficaciously secured to him the prayers of a people for whom he had a great esteem, and amongst whom he spent many years. †

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Monday, 18 May 2009

Rev. Fr Francis Hall, C.SS.R. (1836-1897)

Francis Hall was born on the 1st of December, 1836. He spent his youth, when not at College, in the neighbourhood of Liverpool. We have from his own pen the extraordinary impression made on him by a Mission given in Old Swan to children by Father Furniss.

He entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in 1855, and after his novitiate went to the House of Studies. His Superiors were not slow to discover his great talent; but there soon came upon him attacks of the nerves and debility, which never completely left him. After his ordination he worked for a time in Clapham. He soon took part in his first Irish Mission, and from that day it might be said of him that his whole heart was given to Catholic Ireland.

Contrary to human expectations, Father Hall lived to the age of sixty-one. During those years his illnesses often brought him to death’s door. On two occasions he attributed his recovery to miracles, one through the intercession of St (then Blessed) Gerard, the other through that of Our Mother of Perpetual Succour. The cure of Father Hall at Bishop Eton is the first great favour of Our Mother of Perpetual Succour in England. He was at death’s door and had received all the Sacraments, when to the surprise of everyone he recovered. He then composed a most beautiful poem on the Last Anointing, and gave the thoughts which passed through his mind as he stood on the threshold of eternity. The ideas are very beautiful. His life was an alternation of teaching, home work, and Mission work.

Of his home work the most important was that for the Confraternity of the Holy Family in Limerick. In its earliest days he co-operated with Father Bridgett. He did much to inspire the men with that love for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, which distinguishes them to-day. But the work was too heavy for his weak shoulders and he had to be replaced by a Father whose strength better fitted him for this laborious undertaking.

As Father Hall had been for some time in all the houses of his Province, he gave Missions both in England and Scotland. But the Missions which pleased him most and filled him with enthusiasm were those of Ireland. He had all the qualities of mind and heart that make a great preacher.

Father Bridgett, speaking of the earlier sermons of Father Hall said that they were intellectual panoramas. Few have surpassed him in the magnificence of his descriptions, and yet his language was always simple, like that of St Alphonsus, whom, in all things, he desired to imitate. In beginning a sermon his voice was weak, but as he proceeded with his subject, he seemed to become another man and spoke at times even with too much vehemence. It was seldom that he did not move the whole population wherever he gave a Mission.

Father Hall was most tenderly devoted to the sacred Infancy of Our Lord, and to His presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Great too was his devotion to the Immaculate Mother. St. Alphonsus he ever looked up to as a father and teacher, and he filled his mind and heart with all that the Saint has left us in his writings. He received everyone with the greatest charity, but his predilection was for sinners, for the poor, and for children.

Father Hall was amongst the first Fathers in Dundalk. There he spent many years and finally, while a member of that community, breathed his last, surrounded by his brethren, on 28th October, 1897. After the solemn obsequies his remains were laid under the Chapel of Our Mother of Perpetual Succour to await his glorious resurrection. †

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Sunday, 17 May 2009

Very Rev. Fr Edward O'Donnell, C.SS.R. (1825 - 1881)

When the Bishop of Limerick, the Most Rev. Dr. Butler, whose confessor he had been, heard of his having been anointed, he wrote to one of the Fathers, at Perth, as follows:
“I am grieved to hear that my poor dear friend is so low. I often used to think that I should have him at my bedside when I was dying, but it seems this is not to be. I must only say with himself, ‘Fiat Voluntas Tua.’ What a comfort for those who love him to know that he is approaching his end with such calmness and resignation and holy joy. But any other end would be out of keeping with his life. He is dying as he lived – a good priest, a ‘faithful servant,’ a true son of St. Alphonsus.”

On Friday afternoon, February 24th, a sudden change, betokening the approach of death, came over him. When he became aware of his danger, he asked what day the next day would be, and when he heard it would be Saturday, a smile lighted up his face. The next morning at five o’clock, the Community assembled around his bed and commended his soul to God, in the beautiful and consoling words of the Church. So calmly and so gently did death come, that none could tell the moment in which he passed away. Thus amidst the prayers of his brethren, our beloved Father yielded his holy soul into the hands of God. He died on Saturday, the 25th of February, the Feast of the Commemoration of the Most Holy Redeemer, on a day specially consecrated to Our Blessed Lady, to the Divine Infant, and Our Blessed Redeemer. As soon as he was dead, Holy Mass was celebrated by each priest in the house, for the repose of his soul. We have good reason to hope that he now wears the beautiful crown which St. Alphonsus saw prepared for every Redemptorist who lives in observance and dies in the Congregation.

The Provincial wrote as follows to all the houses of the Congregation: “Our dear Brother was always constant in the way of the Lord from his novitiate to his death. As a subject he was remarkable for a spirit of prayer, piety, and obedience. The same spirit shone forth in him during the nine years and more that he filled the responsible position of Rector of Limerick. An unwearied confessor and missioner, beloved by the bishops, the priests, and the people, he was a constant model of regular observance. Being seized by a slow but deadly disease, having ceased for the last six months to be Rector, he gave himself entirely to preparation for death. He edified all by bearing with the utmost patience all the pains and weariness of sickness. Having received the Last Sacraments in good time he expired most peacefully in the Lord.”

The Most Rev. Dr. Fitzgerald having heard of his death, wrote the following letter to the Rector of Limerick: “I read with extreme regret of the death of the truly good, and most worthy Father O’Donnell. I sympathise deeply with your community on the loss of so fine a priest and of so wise and genuine a counsellor and friend. For my part I feel that I have lost almost a personal friend, for although the years of our acquaintance were not many, I entertained for him the deepest respect and regard and had entire confidence in the soundness and safety of his advice and judgment. I shall on an early day say Mass for his eternal repose.” †
(This necrology concludes with the information:
“Written by a Father who lived long years
with him and knew him well.”)

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Saturday, 16 May 2009

Rev. Fr Louis De Buggenoms, C.SS.R. (1816-1882)

Louis De Buggenoms was born in Liege, Belgium, on the 2nd March, 1816. He was of excellent family and had every opportunity of cultivating the more than ordinary talent with which he was endowed. His surroundings at College were dangerous and he paints a sad picture of the morals of the youth at that time. But God had given him that extraordinary gift of faith, and this, with certain circumstances favourable to him, preserved his soul from contamination. Indeed, if it be permitted to say so, his faith would seem to have been excessive. As a mere child he had realised, so intensely, the presence and greatness of God that, left to himself, he became full of fear. This state of mind had its advantages and disadvantages; its advantages because it kept him from sin, its disadvantages since it made his spiritual nature unduly hard.

He felt the necessity of direction as he grew up, and was always desirous to serve God perfectly. “I never,” he wrote, “had a shadow of doubt as to the truth of our Faith and the infallible teaching of the Church, for the Catechism was for me, in all truth, the pure Word of God.” The life of Our Lord, which was a great lesson for him, and the fear he had of sin made him think that the greatest blessing in this life would be to suffer martyrdom, and thence to go to Heaven. This was the ruling desire of his heart. He did all in his power to prepare himself well for Communion. “But,” he says, “it was the preparation of the head, for my heart was contracted by fear.” It was the fear of God. He had no fear of man, and if, by chance, he found himself in the company of those who did not respect religion or whose conduct was not good, he broke with them at once, and would never associate with them again.

He had a profound veneration for the Blessed Virgin, but even here his fear ruled him. “I did not dare to raise my eyes to her image,” he wrote, “for I did not doubt that she was angry with me.”

Without him knowing it God was preparing him for the work He had destined for him. He came to a time in his studies when he should make the choice of a profession. His father wished him to go on for the law, but the young man chose a commercial life. It was not for gain that he made the choice, but from a wish to leave Liege and settle in London, that he might serve God according to a plan which had been forming in his mind. This led to his perfecting himself in English. He had, about this time formed an acquaintance with a young man of unsullied morals, who had travelled much. He learned, he tells us, much from him that was useful in later years, but their friendship was soon to end. Cholera first, and then fever broke out in the city, and he saw his fellow-students dying on every side. His friend also fell ill. The Bishop of the diocese, who was much interested in him, sent a Sister of Charity to nurse him, and his own secretary to console him and give him the last Sacraments. Notwithstanding all, the patient was filled with fear towards the end. The Sister and Louis did all they could to comfort him.

The whole scene made a deep impression on De Buggenoms. The Sister of Charity, moreover, was a friend of earlier years, and the thought forced itself on his mind, “why should I not give myself entirely to God as she has done?” He resolved to do so; made a general confession, and began to spend two hours daily, in prayer, before the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in St Martin’s Church. The only books he used were his Prayer Book, and the Visits to the Blessed Sacrament by St Alphonsus, in which were also found Meditations on the Eternal Truths. He recited the Seven Penitential Psalms and the Memorare every day for the grace to know and faithfully follow his vocation.

A priest who was interested in him, gave him a Life of St Alphonsus to read. “Before I had got halfway through,” he afterwards said, “I had made up my mind to try to become a member of his Congregation.” Providence brought about a meeting with Venerable Father Passerat, who after examining his vocation, promised to receive him. Father De Held, then Superior of the house at Liege, when leading him to the door, asked him if he were willing to leave his own country and go, for example to England. “That is just what I should desire,” replied the Postulant. He went at once to a neighbouring church, dedicated to St Catherine, and there prostrate before the tabernacle, thanked Our Divine Lord for the grace of his vocation, made his plans as to how he should overcome home difficulties, and begged of God to assist him in the opposition which he expected to meet with. His success, however, in obtaining the permission of his father and mother was marvellous; and in less than ten days he was safe in the novitiate of St Trond.

Louis De Buggenoms received the habit on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary 1837. The Father Rector, who preached on the occasion, compared the Novitiate to a little stream, which becomes in time a great river. “Thus,” he said, “those who are little in the novitiate may become great and carry the Congregation into England and elsewhere.” At the end of the year St Bede was among the annual patrons, and fell by lot to Brother Buggenoms.

It was not difficult for the novice to see in these things, little in themselves, an opening as to his future life. He had the ordinary trials of the novitiate, to which were added those that are proper to contemplative souls. Besides, he had to resist the entreaties, first of his father, and again of his mother, who, repenting to having consented to allow him to enter the Novitiate, sought to entice him to return once more to the world. He read the life of only one Saint, St John Berchmans, saying that he found in it more than he could imitate. Like his saintly model he made private vows when he had been six months in the Novitiate; he made his public profession on the 8th of September 1838.

After his profession he went to the house of studies at Liege, where he was ordained priest on September 22nd, 1843. In those five years sufferings, both of the interior and of the body, weighed heavily upon him; but all were, doubtless, a preparation for his apostolic life. God allowed him to feel in himself trials, similar to those which he was destined to help others to support. The year after his ordination he set out for England with another Father and Brother Felician. It is not possible to chronicle the hundredth part of all that he did for the glory of God, and the salvation of souls in the difficult circumstances of the nine years which followed, He had a prominent part in the foundation of St Mary’s, Clapham, and England is indebted to him for the introduction and solid establishment of the sisters of Notre Dame, who have done much for Catholic education in that country during the last fifty years.

Father Plunkett came to Limerick on the 5th May, 1857; and on the next day, without informing anyone, Father De Buggenoms left for Belgium. He acknowledged afterwards, how much it had cost him, but it was a matter of obedience and that was enough; he had however, only gone as far as Liverpool when a letter from the Father General appointed him to Bishop Eton.

During his stay at Bishop Eton he directed the apostolic labours of the Fathers in England, gave many missions and retreats himself, and was engaged in these works until his frail condition gave way. One morning, immediately after rising, he had a stroke of apoplexy. By Gods’ permission he recovered his strength, and then undertook a work for which we may say, God had spared his life.

Father Lans, who was Superior, had long desired to introduce the Redemptoristine Nuns into Ireland. He knew Father De Buggenoms had the talent and tact for this undertaking. No one could be better fitted for the work, for he had sent, during his stay in Limerick, some of his penitents to the Convent of Bruges in Belgium. From thence the new foundation was to be made. Interesting as the details of the preparations are, we must content ourselves with saying that he gave to Ireland in March 1859, the first Convent of the Redemptoristines.

The Nuns chosen to begin the foundation were conducted from Bruges to Dublin by Father De Held. They were met in Dublin by Father De Buggenoms, and were installed in their house on Drumcondra Road, in due form by the Ecclesiastical Superiors. Father De Buggenoms, preached on the occasion, a remarkable sermon on the Contemplative Life, which was afterwards published. While in Dublin he stayed with Judge O’Brien, whose daughter was the first Irish Lady to join the Community after its advent to the country.

The Ceremony of Enclosure took place on March 30th, and on the 8th of April, Miss O’Brien, received the Habit, taking the name of Sister Mary Alphonsus. Father De Buggenoms helped the Superioress and the Community as best he could until the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin that same year. It was the anniversary of his Profession and it brought him a letter from Father General proposing to him to set out for the Island of St Thomas in the West Indies. He placed himself, as he had always done, entirely at the disposal of his Superior. He only asked two favours: the first, that he might make five day’s retreat, although he had already made the ten days of retreat prescribed by the rule; the second, that he might give the Spiritual Exercises to the Redemptoristines in Dublin. Father General gladly granted the requests; and we can easily imagine the effect of the words of this apostolic man on the Nuns, just as he was about to leave on a most dangerous and unconsoling mission.

Father de Buggenoms was such a Founder, first in Falmouth, then in Clapham, and finally in Limerick, and besides in his work for the Sisters of Notre Dame, and the Redemptoristines, that we may lose sight of the fact that as a preacher and director he exercised a wonderful sway over persons in every condition of life. He was Superior of some of the must successful Missions, and notably the great Mission in Kingstown.

Many great sinners owe their conversion to his charity, and he had a special gift of leading souls to perfection. He turned his time to such profit in the early days of his religious life that he translated into French the Life of St Alphonsus, written in Italian by Father Tannoia. (From another source we know that this was done every night of his novitiate for an hour after night prayers. The book is in five volumes!) He also translated, first into French, and later into English, a little work attributed to St Peter of Alcantara, on the Peace of the Soul: this was his own favourite book. At the request of Rev Father Smetana, he compiled from the German an English edition of The Mission Book.

In his notes we find many proofs that this book did much of the good work done by the Missions themselves. A Protestant gentleman, who had made his studies in Oxford and was living near Limerick, bought The Mission Book, read it first through curiosity, then began to study it, and finally presented himself for reception into the Church, well instructed. This Mission Book has been for years an heirloom in families, handed down from father to son, from mother to daughter, as a precious treasure.

Father De Buggenoms also edited a new and carefully revised edition of St Alphonsus on the Commandments and Sacraments, but this, and all his other works, passed under the humble indication: “By a Redemptorist Father.” It was his intention to bring out all the spiritual works of St Alphonsus in a popular form, and thus give effect to the desire of the Sovereign Pontiffs, that they should find their way into the homes of the people, but circumstances were unfavourable. What he desired to do has now being done: already twenty eight numbers of the Saint’s Treatises have been published.

God had indeed blessed Father De Buggenoms sixteen years of toil in England and Ireland, and this can also be said of him when the time came to cultivate other fields. Quietly; and unostentatiously; he left for St Thomas in 1859. The remaining years, in which he was able to work, were passed in this and the adjacent islands, were the climate is always trying to the body, and the labours in which he was engaged brought little consolation to his soul.

When almost worn out he was recalled to Belgium, and there passed the last years of his life. He died at St Joseph’s Monastery in Brussels, on 23rd May, 1882, in his sixty-seventh year, praising in death, as he had done during life, the mercy of God. “Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo” are the words with which he concludes the paper from which we have taken most of what we have written in this notice of his career. †

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Thursday, 14 May 2009

Rev. Fr John O'Connell, C.SS.R. (1841-1899)

That the impression, which the active life of Rev. Father John O’Connell, and his glorious death, made on the people of Limerick was profound, is most certain. It is rare that a death calls forth an expression of veneration greater than that manifested, when it was announced that Father O’Connell was called away while dispensing the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ in the sacred tribunal of Penance.

On the Sunday that followed his death we find the preacher in the pulpit begging the people to bow their heads to the Will of God. His expression of thanks to all classes in Limerick tells something of the high esteem in which the Father was held: “God took him from us,” he said, “that we might all, first the Community and then the whole Province – for the whole Province feels his loss – make an act of submission to His Holy Will. We do make it, and we say with our whole hearts: ‘Thy Will be done.’ But our resignation does not prevent our feeling deeply the loss. It is now my duty to thank you in the name of the Community for the great sympathy shown us by all, without exception, and through you I thank innumerable friends from every part of the country who are absent and who sent words of sympathy to us.

I thank above all and before all his Lordship the Most Rev. Dr. O’Dwyer, who showed us the greatest kindness. He was one of the first to visit our stricken Father, and when all was over he was the first, after ourselves, to say a prayer by the side of his body for the repose of his soul. I thank all the clergy of the city, whom you saw coming in such numbers to the Office and Mass for his soul. I thank all those Priests who came from distant parishes of the diocese to the Solemn Requiem. I thank the chief magistrate and councillors of the city who expressed their condolence in the most marked manner by words of kindest sympathy and by their presence at the obsequies. Lastly, I thank the faithful people of Limerick, high and low, young and old, whose sympathy could not be greater, who came to pray for our late Father Rector. I thank all with my whole heart, and I pray Our Lord and His Blessed Mother to reward them.”

Nor was the manifestation of touching esteem less in Clapham, where he had laboured, than it was in Limerick.

John O’Connell was born on the 8th of January, 1841, in Mullingar. Always bright and amiable, he endeared himself to his parents and friends. When it became certain that he had a vocation to the priesthood, he was sent to Paris, and having completed his studies, he was ordained Priest, on the 22nd of May, 1866. He was appointed to the curacy of Rahan first, and later to one in Navan.

His success was remarkable, and yet he was not satisfied. God was calling him to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Many difficulties lay in his path, but having overcome all he entered the Novitiate at Bishop Eton, in 1875, and made his religious profession a year later, on 25th January, 1876. After a rest of about a year and a half he began again his active ministry, and ceased only when called to his reward.

The principal scene of his labours, before coming to Limerick, was St. Mary’s Clapham. It is not too much to say that he endeared himself to everyone, laboured incessantly, and laid the foundation of many good works.

He came to Limerick in 1884. Here too, his labours were incesssant. He was not a great preacher, but he was full of heart, persuasive, sympathetic, practical, and thus his discourses produced great fruit. He was a great Confessor. He devoted to hearing confessions all the time specified by the rule, and all the time he could spare. Not unfrequently he spent ten hours of the day in the confessional. It was in the confessional the disease of the heart, of which he died, manifested itself.

His first break-down was during a heavy mission in St. Michan’s, Dublin. His case was then pronounced serious, and the higher Superiors did everything in their power to restore him to health. It looked for a while as if they had succeeded, and he returned to his post in Limerick. He was allowed to do a little work, but Father O’Connell was not a man to economize his strength. He gave himself to the work of the confessional nearly as unsparingly as before.

On the morning of 22nd January, 1889, he seemed well, transacted much business regarding the Holy Family Confraternity, and when went to his confessional. He had heard just one confession when he was struck down. He was carried helpless to his room, and received Extreme Unction and the last Blessing. Notwithstanding all the efforts of Doctors Malone and Kane, he breathed his last about 4 p.m. His death was indeed sudden, but not, blessed be God! Unprovided; and the author of this necrology believes that if he had had a choice, he would have chosen to be called away while exercising that function of the sacred ministry, to which he had devoted himself with such admirable zeal and success. †

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Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Rev. Fr Walter Lambert, C.SS.R. (1818-1903)

Fr Walter Lambert was born at Ballygillane, Tagoat, in 1818. At an early age he entered St. Peter’s College, Wexford, and afterwards went to Maynooth in 1834. He was ordained in 1848 by the Most Rev. Dr. Keating, and soon after was appointed curate in Taghmon with his uncle, Father Scallan, who was then a very old man. In 1851 he went to Cushinstown.
From the beginning he was full of religious zeal. He established in Cushinstown, what was then unknown in any part of the diocese in rural churches, confessions every morning, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament on Sundays. In 1853 he went to Annacurra and remained there four years, often preaching in the open air in the adjoining graveyard to overflowing congregations. On his departure from this parish, the people, as a token of their affection, presented him with an expensive watch—a gift considered rare in those days. In 1857 he was transferred to Gorey, but remained there only for one year. Father Kirk, who is a convert, but was at one time a protestant clergyman in Gorey, refers to Father Lambert in a little book of personal reminiscences:
“Among those who were good enough to call and see me was the Rev. Father Larnbert, head curate of the parish. He was in every way a very remarkable man; his influence among his parishioners was irresistible. He had a summary way of putting an end to incipient disorders. In one particular case, hearing that some men were taking too much drink and beginning to be disorderly in a publichouse, he suddenly appeared among them, and deeming force on such occasions better than persuasion, without saying a word he put his arm on the table and swept all the glasses and liquor on to the floor, and walked out of the room, leaving them to pay the cost.”
After a year in Gorey, on the opening of the two parochial churches in Wexford, by the late Canon Roche in 1858, Father Lainbert was sent to him as curate. He laboured in Wexford from this time until he joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in 1875, a period of seventeen years, when, in order to prevent a public demonstration of the people’s affection, he left secretly for Bishop Eton, near Liverpool, to make his novitiate. What Wexford owes to the ministrations of Father Lambert it would be hard to exaggerate. His toil was incessant. He was the guide and friend of all, in temporal, as well as in spiritual affairs.
When he left Wexford he was penniless. His all had gone to the needy, to the sick and dying poor, whom he visited frequently and knew intimately. He was untiring in the performance of offices of mercy and charity, of which few, save those directly benefited, were ever aware.
He laboured with great patience and determination to reform drunkards, and to rid the town of many vices. But the poor he made his particular charge, and when Wexford was visited with distress, it was not only when the poor cried out in their anguish for relief that Father Lambert was active; he acted spontaneously and unasked. He knew the wants of the poor, for he was a frequent visitor at their homes, and when no longer able to provide for their wants himself, he was never slow to seek the aid of those who could afford to share their comforts with the needy. He was in the truest and noblest sense, Wexford’s benefactor. For, like the late Canon Doyle and the race of Priests who were his contemporaries, he belonged to the best and truest Priests that the country has produced.
He entered upon the work of the mission in the midst of the famine, when he beheld scenes that no pen can adequately describe, scenes, the horrors of which, later generations cannot realise.
During his life as a secular priest not alone did he devote himself to the routine work of a curate, but his services were sought and were never refused in numberless matters outside the definite sphere of daily duties. He established, and was first Spiritual Director of the Holy Family in Wexford. He also founded, and was first director of the Clothing Society. In times of severe weather he was the first to come forward to raise funds to supply the poor with coal and other material comforts.
Of his public career it may be remarked that as his love for his country and its people was genuine and ardent; he did not shrink from advocating their cause on any occasion in which he could render them a service. He was a most steadfast and determined man and no influence could make him swerve an iota from the opinions which he honestly held.
Before speaking of his life as a Redemptorist, it may be mentioned that Father Lambert’s piety led him, in the year 1870, to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In after life he used to relate many most edifying and interesting anecdotes of this pilgrimage.
About twenty-eight years ago, when fifty-seven years old, he entered the Congregation. It might naturally have been supposed that a man of fifty-seven would be too old to enter on an entirely new career, and that, even if he did attempt this his life in a new sphere could be but short. But Father Lambert was no ordinary man. As a secular Priest he had gone through three trying periods of cholera and only the strongest constitution could have survived the work in which his sacred ministry constantly engaged him during those times. He was now about to submit his iron constitution to the wearing life of a missionary.
For many years he had felt the call to leave all for the love of God. At length, with great difficulty, he procured the permission of his Superiors to go to South Africa, in order to work there on the secular mission, where Priests were few and the Catholic population widely scattered. His books had already been sent on before him. Suddenly, and no doubt by an all wise disposition of Divine Providence, circumstances induced Father Lambert to change his plans. Instead of going on board the steamer for South Africa, he entered the Redemptorist Novitiate at Bishop Eton. This change of intention is very remarkable, for, as has already been said, he was a man not of a fickle disposition, but of iron resolution. He did change his mind however, and his novitiate began.
His Novice Master was Father Ziereis, a native of Bavaria. He was a strict disciplinarian and tried his new novice severely. There are many stories told of that Novitiate; a feature that shines out, in all these is, what one may call the joyous boyishness of this novice of fifty-seven years. Father Lambert had been his own master up to this time. Now he had to give up his own ways even in the smallest and most trifling matters. A few weeks before, he had been the idol of Wexford, looked up to by all, wielding as much power as any man in that town; now he kneels down when corrected by his Novice Master and associates and goes out to walk with young boy-novices. It was necessary for him to mould his life to the Redemptorist model, a thing which may be comparatively easy for one called to the Congregation in his youth, but which must have cost a man of Father Lambert’s age heroic self-denial. But Father Lambert had evidently counted the cost. He persevered, and in due time was professed.
Then began his wonderful missionary career of twenty-seven years, during which he preached in many places in Ireland, England, and Scotland. He was stationed for a long time in Clapham, London, where the Redemptorists have a large parish. Here he was very popular and had considerable influence over many. As part of the duties of parish work he had frequently to attend to “sick calls” by night.
At this time he gave many missions in London and in other parts of England. In these missions his labours, as may be expected, were mostly among his own people, and he used to go about, as is the custom, from house to house seeking the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Often did it happen that, when he called at the house of some Irish exiles, who had got on well in England, the door was slammed in his face, and he was rudely told that they would hear no mention of the mission or of religion.
During all his Redemptorist life he laboured unceasingly in the sacred tribunal of penance. On the English missions he often heard confessions almost until midnight, and would be again at work soon after five o’clock the next morning.
In Ireland he gave missions in most parts of the country. It was always with genuine pleasure that he visited his beloved native country, and the good people of Wexford were equally glad to see the kindly face of dear old Father Lambert.
During the twenty-seven years of his life as a missionary he often spent almost eight months of the year in giving missions. His order of the day on mission was, uniformly, as follows: He rose before five o’clock each morning; as soon as meditation was finished, at six o’clock, he went directly to his confessional; here he remained, always surrounded by numerous penitents, until the hour came for him to offer up Holy Mass; after Mass and Thanksgiving he took breakfast, for this he allowed very little time, and when breakfast could be given in the sacristy he would gladly take it there. It was his invariable rule to return immediately after breakfast to hear confessions once more; after this he would not leave the confessional until four o’clock in the afternoon. He always took his turn in giving the morning instructions and in preaching the evening sermons. Such was his mission life until three months before his death.
In Community life Father Lambert was full of playful mirth and fun. Up to the end he had the buoyant spirits of a young man; this trait in his character, together with a kindly nature, caused him to be much beloved by his confreres.
Father Lambert had above all the spirit of a priest of Jesus Christ. He had ever had, as he himself declared on his death bed, an abiding fear of offending God. This reverential fear ruled his life. His obedience was most remarkable. He was at times placed under Superiors who were not, perhaps, half his age, and yet their least word was as a law to him. He was by nature affectionate, and in his friendships most faithful, especially in those which he had formed in his youth. He had a great love also for our holy Rule and for its regular observance. Of this regular observance he was himself a model. He rose every morning with the Community, and made his half-hour’s morning meditation on his knees. This he observed until two days before his death.
For the last few months of his life he was suffering from cateract on his eyes. He had already lost the use of one, and the other had become very dim. Glasses proved useless on account of his advanced age, yet, though he had been dispensed from the obligation, he persevered in reading the Divine Office up to the end.
In the September of 1902 he gave a mission of three weeks duration in Kilmore, county Wexford, a parish situated near the one in which he was born. This was the last but one of his apostolic works. In October he gave a retreat in the Cathedral of Waterford, and this closed his long missionary career.
He seemed to enjoy his usual health during the three months that followed. Towards the end of January, however, he caught a chill, which brought on a slight attack of influenza. This occurred on Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday there seemed to be no immediate danger. Following, however, the prudent advice of Doctor Malone, Father Lambert asked for the last Sacraments. He was anointed at six o’clock in the evening, and received the Holy Viaticum at a quarter past ten at night. Then, too, the last Blessing was administered. During all this time he was calm and by no means weak. He answered all the prayers aloud. After the last Blessing had been given, Father Rector said to him: “Now, Father Lambert, you have received Our Divine Lord and His Blessing for a happy death; for a little while, quietly raise your heart to God in prayer.” Thereupon, the dear old man prayed aloud in a most fervent and touching way: “Oh, my God,” he said, “many souls have I prepared for death, and now I am myself prepared! Many a confession have I heard, many a soul have I directed; oh, may God grant that none of these may be lost through my fault! Oh, Jesus, have mercy on me, and when I appear before Thee grant me a favourable judgment!” These are some of the touching prayers that fell from his lips. It was now hall-past ten. He was not in pain. He seemed still to have much strength, yet after a little while he began to sink rapidly. He died calmly about midnight.
On Saturday, 31st January, the remains of Father Lambert, after the Solemn Requiem, sung by Father Rector in presence of his Lordship the Bishop of Limerick, were laid to rest in the vaults beneath the high altar. †

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Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Rev. Fr James Hartigan, C.SS.R. (†1899)

Father Hartigan’s life was one full of promise of great things to be done in priestly work. But God willed that it should be a short life, for death came when he was still at the early age of thirty-three years. He was born at Banogue, Croom, in County Limerick. His early studies were made in Mungret College, where he received a good classical and religious education. In his school days he was looked upon as one of very earnest genuine piety. He was sincere in friendship, and possessed a kindly humour that made him to all an agreeable companion. His intellectual talent was well above the ordinary.
From Mungret College he entered the Redemptorist Novitiae in 1887. He made his Vows on the 15th October of the year following, and then spent some years at the House of Studies in Teignmouth, Devonshire. Here he distinguished himself chiefly in the study of Philosophy. His Theological studies were made partly in Teignmouth, partly in Dongen, Holland, where he was ordained Priest on 27th August, 1893. He then went for a year to teach at Teignmouth.
Father Hartigan was a great lover of Astronomy, and it was a genuine pleasure to him when night came on, and the stars were visible, to go out on the balcony with his students and his telescope. It is to be feared that it was on one of these occasions he caught a cold, which affected his lungs so seriously that he was brought very near to death. He recovered, however, owing, the doctor declared, to the most painstaking and constant nursing which he received at the hands of the good Father and the infirmarian who attended on him.
Towards the end of 1894 he was removed to the Limerick house. For two years he taught in the Juvenate and then spent a year giving missions. Since his illness in Teignmouth he had never been the same in strength, both voice and lungs were weak. When in 1898 some Fathers were being sent to Australia, Father Hartigan was one of those who were chosen as well suited for the work there. It was hoped, too, that the climate would be more in his favour owing to the weak state of his lungs. His stay in Australia, however, was not a long one, only for eighteen months. He caught a severe cold at a mission given by him in Singleton, New South Wales, and one of his lungs was attacked. Notwithstanding every care his second lung became affected, and the doctor declared that a sea voyage was the best chance he had of recovery, if, indeed, there were any. Unfortunately there was not.
He arrived in Limerick in October, 1899, with Brother William who had come with him from Australia and nursed him most devotedly through all his illness. After an examination of the state of his lungs, Dr. Malone declared that there was no hope of his ever getting well. Father Hartigan himself was not deceived as to his condition, he knew he was going to die, and expressed a wish that he should due before Christmas, lest his death should cast a shadow of sorrow on the joys of the Christmas season. This was characteristic of him, he ever thought of others rather than of himself. During his illness two things were most noticeable in him, his spirit of cheerfulness and his spirit of prayer. He had prayed well in life, now at death it was his strength and comfort.
Making a most conscious and resigned offering of his young life to God he breathed forth his beautiful soul on Wednesday evening, November 13th, the Feast of St. Stanislaus. †

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Monday, 11 May 2009

Rev. Fr Daniel Healy, C.SS.R. (1848-1898)

Father Healy was a native of Donegal. He was born on 14th May, 1848. Having been ordained Priest at Maynooth College on 19th June, 1874, he worked for five years as a secular Priest in the diocese of Down and Conor. In the summer of 1884, he entered the Redemptorist Novitiate and was professed at Bishop Eton on the 15th October, 1885.
Of his thirteen years of Redemptorist life, a few years were spent in Perth, Scotland; from the July of 1887 to the May of 1893, Father Healy was attached to the Limerick house, where he filled the office of Sub-Director of the Confraternity of the Holy Family, and later on was Minister in the Community for three years; then three years were spent in Clapham, when he again returned to Limerick – this time as Rector. This was quite at the end of 1896. He fell ill not long after his appointment as Rector, and his health was several times in a critical condition, but constant and fervent prayers were said for his recovery by the people who esteemed and loved him, and he lingered on for a year and ten months. During all this time Dr. Malone and Dr. Holmes were unwearying in their attention, visiting him almost daily. Their skill and generous kindness did much to prolong his life and relieve the great pain from which he was almost always suffering. At last, on 2nd November, All Souls’ Day, 1898, death came and brought, we may hope, an everlasting relief.

In illness, Father Healy’s most striking virtue was Christian fortitude; it was the source of much edification to the Community. He prayed much. In times of very severe suffering it was his custom to pray aloud to God and the Blessed Virgin to give him patience.

As a missioner his characteristic virtue had been love of labour. He is considered by many who knew the life he lived on missions, to have shortened his days by overwork. Nor during the years of his active missionary life was he free from those sufferings that crowded so thickly upon him towards the end. When quite a young Priest, Father Healy had met with a serious railway accident, which prostrated him for a long time. The spine had been injured, and other internal injuries received. It was believed that he would not recover. That he did recover sufficiently to take up again his work as a Priest, is in a great measure due to the care bestowed upon him by some kind Priests of his diocese, who took him to Dublin and placed him under the care of the most eminent medical men in that city. But the evil effects of that accident remained with him to his death, and must often have made doubly hard to bear, the hardships which he was so willing to take upon himself.

This sketch may well end with the words of a Priest who knew him for many years: “Father Healy,” he writes, “was one who liked to work hard and to live unnoticed. Many are the weary hours which he spent in the confessional, and he walked by night and by day through courts and lanes, and up and down rickety stairs looking for the careless Catholic. I knew that he still suffered from his spine, but he once said that his part was not to complain but to go on doing Gods work while he had strength.”

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