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SPECIMEN IRISH PRIESTS.

(From the Pilot.)

The Dublin Nation has published an inteiesting series of charactersketches — " Some Notable Irish Priests." It began with the Rev. C. P. Meehan, well known for his contributions to Irish historical literature, but better known, perhaps, at the friend, biographer and literary executor of that weird Irish poet, James Clarence Macgan. Among others on the list, whose fame has crossed the Atlantic, we find the Rev. James A. Anderson, Prior of the Augustinians in Drogheda. There is a suggestion of that aggressive patriot-saint Columba, of olden time, in this patriot-monk of the nineteenth century. Love of Church and nation have so grown together in his heart as to be one and indivisible, lie is a native of Drogheda. He made bis ecclesiastical studies at Perugia, Italy, whose Archbishop was the present Pope Leo XIII. Ordaiaed in Rome in 1861, Father Anderson was missioned to hia own land the following year. Prom the outset of his priestly life, he laid to British rule in Ireland nearly all the evils, moral and material, that afflicted that country; and, accordingly opposed that rule with the lion-like courage of his convictions. Appointed in 1877, Prior of Dungarvan, his activity in local politics nearly cost him his life, and, for a time, lost him the favour of his ecclesiastical superiors. Time justified his course, however, and a few years later, he was re-instated in his order and office, ana eventually appointed to his present post. He became the life and soul of the Land League, in Drogheda. The duties of the patriot have never conflicted with those of the ■priest. Wherever missioned, be has earnestly and successfully devoted himself to the spiritual and temporal building up of God's house, being everywhere the unrelenting foe of intemperauce, church debt?, and laxity of religious observance. Father Anderson made a brief vacation visit to America last year. Our readers have not forgotten our chronicle of the enthusiastic welcome which he received in Drogheda onjhis return, a month or two since. Another Irish priest of more than national fame is the Rev. Matthew Russell, S. J., editor of the Irish Monthly, and author of /several volumes of popular religious poetry, the best known of which is " Verses, Irish and Catholic." Father Russell is a native of County Down, one of a family of five, four of whom gave themselves to God's service in the religious life. His three sisters became Sisters of Mercy — one making the further sacrifice of exile from her native land. She established her Order in Ban Francisco. Father Russell became a Jesuit, and labored for some years-after ordination at the church and schools of the Society in Limerick. In 1873, the Irish Montldy was established, with Father Russell ss its editor,. This little magazine has won a wide circulation, not .alone in Ireland and England, but in America, Australia, and even South Africa. Among past and present contributors it numbers Denis Florence McCarthy, T. D. Sullivan, Aubrey de Vere, Sir •Charles Gavan Duffy, Lady Georgiana Fullerton, Ojcar Wilde, Kathleen O'Mearo, and Katharine Tynan. Father Russell's muse is consecrated to Faith and Fatherland. He has the keenest sympathy with the poetry of the people's everyday life ; and some of his poems will live of their own simplicity and faith to nature, after many a product of loftier social conditions and hot-house sentiment is forgotten.

To speak of Father Russell reminds one of his brother Jesuit and journalist, Father Clarke, of the London Month. Though of the alien and hostile race, yet enlivened and enlightened by a tour through Ireland, he has by his suosequent lectures and publications done more for that suffering country, both in England and America, than can be easily put in wordß. All our readers have heard of, and many have seen, in the course of his two visits to the United States, Father Eugene Sheehy — worthy namesake of the martyred Father Sheehy, of penal days. One of the earliest clerical supporters of Mr. Parneil, whom he first met at Kilmallock, in 1878 ; present at the founding of the Irish National Land -League, the following year, Father Sheehy flung himself heart and soul into the organization of the movement. Hia devotion to the National cause won the English Government's recognition, and prison. The patriot priest was sustained in soul by a consciousness of duty done, and the hearty and outspoken approval of his bishop ; but hia health suffered severely. . Released in 1881, he utilized a health trip to America by attending the Irish National Convention at Chicago, aod lecturing in Ireland's interest in the chief cities of the United State 3. Father Sheehy is now administrator of the joint parishes of Rockhill and Bruree. As the biographer of the above-named and other typical Irish priests truly puts ifc :— " While the Catholic Church in Ireland can attract into the ranks of its priesthood such devoted champions of Faith and Fatherland, there can be no doutbt hat we shall be able happily and joyoaslyto echo the refrain— ' The priests are •with the people' "

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/periodicals/NZT18850410.2.26

Bibliographic details

SPECIMEN IRISH PRIESTS., New Zealand Tablet, Volume XII, Issue 51, 10 April 1885

Word Count
843

SPECIMEN IRISH PRIESTS. New Zealand Tablet, Volume XII, Issue 51, 10 April 1885

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