OLD BOYS' CORNER
Taken from The Pelican - Christmas 1957, lent by Anthony McCaffrey and Eric Creaney
It is nice to think that our news of and for Old Boys is still very much appreciated.
Since our last issue one of our oldest Old Boys has made a suggestion that the former students—whether of The Priory or other colleges of the Society—should band themselves into a group associated with the Missions. We are sure that many of you would like the idea, quite apart from its meritorious aspect. We like to think that many of you have carried into your present occupations something of the ideal of service to the Church's work that we try to give you here.
This sort of thing would be best arranged among yourselves. Should you wish to take part in it, would you write soon please to Mr Bill Unsworth, "Carmel," Astley, Manchester who will keep in touch with us over possibilities and developments.
We are still not in touch with all Old Boys by any means. If you know of any who would like to receive The Pelican would you ask them to write, giving their address and some details of their present life. One former Priorian remarked on hearing of the project that he did not see how it would serve any useful purpose and did not believe in living on the past.
One of the interesting items of news this Autumn came to us of the progress of John Bosco Lilley who is now working with the Ford Motor Company of Canada and is being sent for advanced studies at the university of Detroit.
Tommy Hennessy has now finished his Army Service and is training for teaching in Manchester. He writes: "Believe me I didn't realise how complicated teaching can be. I am taking English Literature and Mathematics at Higher Level. . . . Our English lecturer is absolutely fanatic over Chaucer. Personally I find him rather heavy reading (Ed. Come, come.); but with a little application and God's help I may get to like him. The amazing thing about Manchester is the weather, it is so constant. We have had rain without fail for sixteen days. But apart from the fact that I am getting webbed feet and growing fins, I don't mind it too much as it gives me a chance to stay indoors and catch up on my long-neglected correspondence. (Ed. Try Chaucer's 'Aprille with his shoures soote for a change.) . . . I shall always cherish the happy days I spent at the Priory."
Michael Ryan who is still working in a Quantity Surveyor's office tells us, "I get one day per week at school, so I only have to go to work four days a week (Ed. The subtlety of that is not lost on us') work is not too bad. I have just taken up Rugby League. I am playing for Liverpool Hornets, the only open-age amateur league team in LiverpooL Up to now we have won one out of six games. but I enjoy it, and it is a pleasant surprise to win. John Phillips is staying here now. He is a policeman and is on the Scotland Road area."
Joe McCall who is teaching in Hertfordshire and has been to see Peter McNamara in Hitchin says "I took a group of boys to Paris for six days holiday (Ed. Holiday for the boys presumably). Everything worked out fine regarding the group. But one of the teachers who came with me was attacked by Arabs in the street because of some help he gave the French Forces in Tangiers about two and a half years ago. He was then a free-lance journalist. . . We all arrived back in England safely. I am now enjoying my holiday in Dublin where I have met Father Keane. He is going into the Mater Hospital . . . I have been to BIacklion."
John Durkin who has had to give up his career with us for the third and last time for reasons of health has now entered on a career as a clerk in the Fire Department of an Insurance firm. We wish him very sincere congratulations. In a recent letter from John we read, "A few flashes horn the frozen North. Francis Saddler (1949-51) is now engaged to a very nice girl in Edinburgh—and incidentally he is working in a jeweller's shop.. . what a dream for his future wife! Frank Saddler has had a very varied career, having worked in Boots the Chemists as a start, then having a go as under-manager in an Edinburgh cinema—and finally he has become custodian of the jewels.
Frank Dillon (1950-54) when I last saw him was training to be a mining manager, and putting in a year or two gaining experience down at the coal-face. His brother Pete—that twinkie-toed star of the football field seems to be very contented and successful as a rancher in Australia. Seems a far cry from the evening strolls on the Burma Drive.
Hugh Campbell of Newtongrange also appears to be getting on extremely well in the RAF and is happily married with. . . is it one, two, or three of a family? I myself am very happy in my work, that seems to offer ample opportunity for promotion in years to come."
Michael McBride has applied for a post in the aero-engine section of Rolls-Royce. When we read of 'something revolutionary in jet propulsion'. in future our reflection will be a personal nature.
Peter McNamara who visited Paddy of the same clan in Ireland, , , who is an engineer-designer in a manufactory for turf-cutting implements. (He might be able to help us with something to drain our football pitches). Peter's reflection on the Old Boys' Association is that 'en masse' one might be able to do a lot more for the missions than we (or rather I) do at the moment" Peter found interesting characters in Ireland including one on his father-in-law's farm who bemoaned the fact that his father had died through falling from a horse, although fortunately the horse was all right.
Former students who are still at school will forgive us if we do not report on them for the moment.
From Blacklion this time we have reflections on many aspects of the new House of Philosophy, which seems to be developing its own charm and tradition, apart from Brother Paddy who is still ours, although he has exchanged his Ferguson for donkey and cart, and Cucciolo bike for an outboard motor-boat.
Brother Richard Calcutt writes to us of the Legion of Mary which is established there: "At St Augustine's it has been realised that as today in Africa the Legion is the missionaries' right hand, it is good for the missionary aspirant to have a working knowledge of the Legion method. Consequently one and a half years ago the first meeting of the Praesidium of Our Lady Queen of Africa took place, The work the group does is very commonplace, for the normal work of the Legion, such as visitations, cannot possibly be done, Scope is restricted to jobs around the house and grounds; yet in spite of this the Praesidium has prospered and membership has increased.
The Holy Father has frequently expressed his approval of the Legion, In a letter dated July 22nd 1953 we read: "His Holiness has followed with paternal interest over the years the progress of the Legion." (to Mr Frank Duff, who founded the Legion on 7th September, 1921 at Myra House, Francis Street, Dublin.)
Archbishop Riberi, as Apostolic Delegate to the African Missions, wrote recently to the Ordinaries of Africa: "So far, I like to think that the Legion of Mary is the nearest approach to the ideal of Catholic Action as fostered by the Holy Father,"
Perhaps it is not surprising that we should have from Brother John Collins the following account of Blacklion's devotion to Our Lady, "On the 18th May, 1956, construction was begun of a grotto of Our Lady in the College grounds. For this project, instigated by the Legion Praesidium, a statue three feet high was carved in limestone by Miss Caroline Shorter, the sister of last year's dean.
(source: John Byrne)
The site chosen was the entrance to a cave less than a hundred yards from the College itself, from which flows a small stream. Obstacles to be removed included three massive rocks which were eventually dynamited after Brother O'Toole (left) had pounded at them daily for six weeks without success. Then the bed of the stream was cleared of stones. They were used to turn one bank of the stream into a pleasant promenade, while on the other a terraced flower garden has been built. In the process of construction supervised until last July by Brother Shannon, trees have been felled, several tons of clay and stones shifted to make paths. and large quantities of earth moved for the flowerbeds. A path from the College is almost finished while the only tasks still remaining are the laying of stone steps down to the grotto, and the actual installation of the statue."
Turning to more mundane embellishments of the College grounds we have the following account of further proress on the tennis-court: "That such things as tennis-courts can be completed is a source of encouragement to us who are still labouring in the hard work stage at St Augustine's. This term the labour-squad under the leadership of Brother Martin is concentrating its efforts on mining sufficient large rocks to lay a pathway three feet wide round the whole court. An accidental feature of this operation is the removal of a small hillock from which it is hoped also to obtain sufficient gravel for surfacing.
The main foundation of the court, rock topped with gravel, has now been laid. The next task is that of levelling. Using a theodolite the survey corps has marked the true level on four posts driven in at the corners. The problem of final surface has been shelved until in the fullness of time we have squared off the court by extensions and reductions. It is hoped to have the paths completed by the end of this term. This depends on favorable conditions, the Irish climate (settled-towards rain) the labour force (maintained at a minimum by the Legionaries), and the winning of the daily race for wheelbarrow and tools. That our enthusiasm. . . or at least our optimism. . . is not shared by all is evident from the enquiries "What are you up to down there now?" or "Will there be enough work for future generations too? " "
Apparently, not all philosophers find satisfaction in strenuous labour . . . at least not all the time. Are we wrong in thinking that rock 'n roll can vie for a man's soul and foil the attraction of rock 'n soil?
Brother Visocchi writes: "Man must have beauty in some form, and where this is absent he falls back on his inventive ability to provide it for him. In Cavan the void is filled for some by the Music Club. Three is no formal membership, nor regular attendance. An announcement is made that such and such a composer will be introduced and such and such a composition played. Tastes vary; but a number of enthusiasts turn up for every performance. The Fathers lend us their record-player and we are grateful to them and to other Brothers for the loan of records."
In the midst of all this activity it is still possible to be quite delightfully idle and apparently appreciative.
For the following notes we are indebted to Brother George Smith: "Looking out of a window, whether at a train (Ed. this is history. The service has been discontinued) an aeroplane or what-have-you, one gets a certain satisfaction. It may be the satisfaction of security, safety from wind and rain, or of watching other men in action. In a sweeping glance I see the tennis court and the grotto, the flower garden, the farm and the winding drive. . . a Brother finding the barrow with two out of every three stones he throws, another finding the path very muddy and reaching the depths of the grotto the hard way, yet another letting Annie have the bit between her teeth as she dashes along as donkeys do with a load of soil for the rose garden.
Near the convent the budgerigar cage interests two of the Sisters; farther back some philosophers try in vain to make the turkey understand. Behind them Brother Paddy coaxes his men in the gentlest terms and tones to make progress on operation henhouse. Somewhere beyond Old Frank moves about patiently in the vegetable garden, completing our little landscape. a picture of perseverance."
The Editor has tried to elicit articles from Old Boys now in the Missions but the most he got was a letter horn Father Walters telling how The Pelican is eagerly awaited in Wiagha (or was it Bolgatanga?) because it gives the students examples of composition in basic English! Floreat! Wiagha!
From North Africa, however, we had a request for some copies to be sent to our three students at Carthage. They were duly sent. Brother Fitzgerald writes: "When I was in Philosophy in Ireland I had the job of trying to get people to write articles for the Pelican and also of trying to sell the magazine. Neither task was exactly easy but it was worth making the effort. I think the Old Boys' Corner is a very good idea, but I'm sure that many ex-Priorians don't know about it. Certainly We have lost touch with it now. During the novitiate we didn't receive a copy of the magazine at all (Ed. That will not happen again.) although I wrote to Philosophy asking for one. I would be very grateful to you if you could have a copy sent out here. I can arrange for a subscription to be sent to you.
Now for some news. The British contingent here is four strong. Three of them are ex-Priorians, Michael Bolan, Gerard Wynne, and myself. The fourth Mike Targett has at least seen the Priory (Ed. e perche non poi mori?) for he paId a visit wIth some other philosophers during the Easter holidays of 1955.
We belong to a community which numbers over a hundred and counts members of twelve nationalities including one African. He is from Nyasaland. Beards are still quite the fashion here . . . I suppose life out here is not really very different from that led in any of the other scholasticates, at least in the essential points of prayer, study, community life etc. There are, of course, accidental differences. We found it rather hot when we arrived in September, but now the mornings are quite chilly, F.50 degrees. We've had more rain than I expected. . nearly always thunder rain accompanying violent storms. But the oranges and tangerines are slowly ripening. . . indeed we have had the first fruits already.
We don't have very much contact with Tunisians, but those I have met are friendly enough. They are interested in us anyway. On our free days we are allowed to go to Tunis. One notices immediately the mixture of the old and the new. On the one hand there is the modern city with its palm-lined avenues and fine buildings where the smartly uniformed police keep a strict watch over the glittering Cadillacs and small Renault taxis. On the other hand there are the Sauks, the Arab shopping centre, with narrow streets, not traffic but other noises, and its special spice-laden air.
So we can conclude by saying that there are lots of other Old Boys who could contribute to the enjoyment of all by relating their experiences in various walks of life and corners of the world. There are many whose addresses we do not know. There may be others who would like to receive the Pelican. The Editor and his assistants are only too willing to do anything for any Old Boys. Get in touch with us at The Priory. . . and as we asked earlier, if you have ideas about an Association, get in touch with Mr Unsworth.
Mr J. V. MCCALL, 6 Spencer Road, Harpenden, Herts.
Mr LEO SMITH, 38 Bolfin Gardens, Inchicore, Dublin.
Brother MICHAEL FITZGERALD, Scolasticat, St Louis, Carthage.
Mr MICHAEL RYAN, 8 Swiss Rd., Elm Park, Liverpool 6.
Mr THOMAS HENNESSY, De La Salle Training College, Middleton, Manchester.
Mr JOHN Bosco LILLEY, 346 Janette Avenue, Windsor, Ontario.
Mr JOHN DURKIN, 20 Stapely Avenue, Edinburgh.