The Parish of Toowong has experienced quite a number of Assistant Priests.
The first was Rev. Father Robert Little S.J. who spent 17 years as Assistant Priest in Toowong. Born in Newfoundland on 27th June, 1865,the son of Newfoundland's Governor, Fr. Robert entered the Jesuit Order on the 10th April, 1885, arriving in Australia in 1887 where he began teaching at Riverview, 1888-1894. Further studies took him to Jersey and Milltown Park, returning to Australia in 1903 to join staff at Riverview till 1913 after which he was at Richmond and St. Patrick's College, Melbourne before coming to Toowong during which time it is regarded he distinguished himself as a controversialist. Monthly Father Little journeyed in a Ford two-seater to Moggill to say Mass at O'Briens. Archbishop James Duhig preached the panegyric at his funeral in St. Stephens Cathedral a few days after his death in the Mater Private Hospital on 21st July, 1933. Archbishop Duhig described him as a Priest of God who had gained the friendship and confidence of his fellow priests and the love and veneration, not only of the Catholic portion of the people to whom he ministered, but of the whole Catholic community and many outside it.
Rev. Father Francis O'Keeffe S.J. was Assistant Priest in Toowong from 1935 to 1938. He was born in Bendigo, Victoria on the 21st February, 1877 and died in Melbourne on the 21st July, 1961 aged 91. Entering the Society in Tullamore, Ireland on the 7th September, 1898, he spent some years studying overseas before returning to Australia in 1906 to begin life long involvement in Jesuit Colleges except for short periods in Jesuit Parishes in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
Rev. Father Joseph Gates S.J., Teacher and Pastor, was born in Kellyman Co. Tyrone on the 20th March, 1887 and died in Sydney on the 19th July, 1947. He was a colourful North of Ireland character, tall and well built. Father Joseph was in Toowong from 1939 to 1942. This priest entered the Society at Tullamore on the 10th September, 1909 and taught in colleges overseas before coming to Australia in 1923 to teach at St. Aloysius, Milsons Pt. for 2 years before undertaking parish work at Norwood and Sevenhill then back to teaching at Riverview followed by parish work at Lavender Bay and Richmond before coming to Toowong. I remember him preaching loud and strong from the pulpit at St. Ignatius using the parish notices book to bash the sill of the pulpit to prove a point. I also remember him working like a navy with a large hammer to break blue stone and fashion the rock walls of the top playing fields behind the tennis shed along with two parishioners Tom O'Brien and Harry Judge.
Rev. Father Leo Murphy, S.J., Teacher and Pastor, was born Cork on the 11th May, 1888 and died in Brisbane on the 3rd April, 1957 aged 68. Father Leo was Assistant Priest at Toowong from 1943 to 1957 during which time he endowed himself to the people, especially the people of Auchenflower and the Women's Sacred Heart Sodality.
I remember him walking from "Manresa" along Coronation Drive to the Carmelites at Auchenflower to say Mass at 7a.m. He would return by tram. Father Leo later had a Morris Tourer and would often pile all the Auchenflower school children into the car to bring them to school at Toowong. One day whilst doing the parish rounds he came across a family moving into a home. He bid them welcome to the area only to be told I'm sorry we are not of your faith. Fr. Leo replied 'We all have to live somewhere'.
He too had undertaken studies overseas before coming to Australia in 1912 to teach at St. Aloysius and then further studies in India, England and France until 1922, then further teaching at St. Aloysius and Riverview. The pipe organ in St. Ignatius' Church is dedicated to his memory.
Father Maurice Fitzgerald S.J. served 3 years as Assistant Priest from 1942 to 1944 and again from 1962 to 1964 before being appointed Parish Priest.
Fr. James McNamara S.J. was an Assistant Priest in Toowong from 1946 to 1948 and again from 1965 to 1966. He was born in Richmond, Victoria on the 5th October, 1907 and died in Melbourne on 27th July, 1977 aged 69. Father James entered the Society of Jesus at Loyola College, Greenwich on the 17th February, 1927 and after studying overseas he spent a number of years in parishes at Toowong, Hawthorn and Richmond as well as teaching in Seminaries at Werribee and Christchurch.
Whilst in Toowong from 1946 to 1948 he was in charge of Altar Servers. One day he treated us all to a tram ride to the City to see "Song of Bernadette". On arrival at the theatre the queue went down the road and around the corner. He said "Join on there boys and wait. I'll be back soon." Some time later he returned. "Follow me boys" he said. They were ushered into prized seats in the theatre. During his second term did not enjoy the summer heat which affected his health no end.
Father Arthur Burke S.J. was born in Armidale, N.S.W. on the 14th May, 1905 and died in Clare, S.A. on the 13th August, 1988. Father Arthur entered the Society of Jesus on the 18th February, 1922, on the 24th June, 1937 after being educated at St. Mary's Christian Brothers, Toowoomba and the University of Queensland. He undertook teaching at Riverview and St. Aloysius before becoming a Chaplain with the Second A.I.F. from 1942-1945, serving in the Middle East and Borneo rising to the rank of Major. Returning to St. Aloysius to teach he was then posted to Sevenhill, S.A. for the years 1947 to 1949. In 1950 he came to Toowong for 4 years until 1953.
I well remember serving his first Mass in Toowong. He was a very sick man. He had 3 attempts to preach his Sermon and was forced to give it a miss. His health improved quite considerably in Toowong and he endeared himself to the parishioners and he attended the local R.S.L. meetings where he was richly treasured. The people of Sevenhill petitioned the Provincial to have him sent back but in the meantime he spent time attending to many practical jobs around the church and school, including purchasing a long timber rod from Pattersons' Sawmill to which he attached a turkshead brush and set about cob webbing the ceiling of St. Ignatius Church. We still have that cobweb brush carefully refuged in the choir loft. After 4 years in Toowong the people of Sevenhill were to enjoy his return to them. He was sorely missed in Toowong.
In Sevenhil/Clare Jesuit Parish Father Arthur has a park and an old people's home named after him.
Father Joseph Connelly S.J., Teacher, was born in Blackall, Queensland, on the 13th April, 1913 and died in Sydney on the 10th July, 1989. He was Assistant Priest at Toowong from 1957 to 1961, followed by a year at St. Leo's, St. Lucia. After education at Riverview he entered the Society of Jesus on the 24th February, 1933. After studies in Australia he was ordained on the 5th January, 1946 and apart from his 6 years in Toowong and St. Lucia, he spent the remainder of his Jesuit life teaching in the Society's Sydney schools St. Ignatius and St. Aloysius. In the middle of summer he staged a sit down strike at the Carmelite Monastery, Auchenflower until he was provided with a light set of vestments. He was famous for his long-winded Sermons and the numerous newspaper clippings being waved around in the pulpit. He annually returned to Toowong for holidays and to visit his family members in Brisbane. Indirectly he was responsible in urging parents to become involved in their children's school affairs through the Mothers' Committee and the Parents & Friends Committee.
Father Joseph Hassan S.J. was an Assistant Priest to Father Les Harper and Father Lew Cardiff between 1954 and 1959. He was Chaplain to the Children of Mary and his area of pastoral care included the developing area of West Toowong where, in fact, Archbishop Duhig had purchased land in Sussex Street for a Church. This was prior to the motor car era. Father Joe gave valuable assistance to his pastor in sorting and packing documents, etc. for the move from the old "Manresa" in Holland Street to the new "Manresa" opposite the church. A loving and caring priest, Father Hassan has returned to Toowong after lengthy periods of Service in the Order's other areas of care and presently lives in retirement at Pymble.
Father Laurence O'Neill S.J., Pastor, was born in Caherconlish, Limerick, Ireland, on the 7th October, 1907 and died in Sydney on the 25th July, 1987. Father O'Neill came to Australia in 1946 and was involved in parish work around Australia generally, including Toowong from 1960 to 1965. His speciality was training Altar Servers and he convinced the Servers' mothers to make new Servers' garments. He used to take the boys on excursions to the "Oasis" at Sunnybank or down the bay on the "Mirimar". The two oblong holes in the Sanctuary floor in the High Altar area are reminder of his presence in Toowong when he convinced the then Parish Priest to install fans to turn the air up and around the Altar area. The project was a failure as the fan draught through the floor was so noisy that it drowned him out. He had a fiery nature and couldn't cope with noisy children in the church. Another passion of his was the Sacred Heart Pioneer Total Abstinence Association.
Father Kevin Carroll S.J. was an Assistant Priest in Toowong in 1965 and 1966 and was in fact appointed Parish Priest of Toowong for 1972 but died suddenly in Melbourne on the 1st February, 1972 before taking up duty in Toowong. Born in Dublin on the 2nd February, 1911. Entering the Society at Tullamore on the 2nd September, 1929, he undertook overseas studies before coming to Australia in about 1938. A bright, bubbly person with a loud voice, he created an atmosphere of love and concern as soon as he exited the presbytery.
His special interest was for the Sacred Heart Pioneer Total Abstinence Association to which he devoted much time among other roles of ministry, both pastoral and teaching.
Fr. Hugo Quigley S.J., Teacher, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on the 23rd April, 1903 and died in Melbourne on the 22nd August, 1982 aged 79. Fr. Hugo was only here for 12 months in 1967 and brought his motor bike with him. However he had many spills off the bike, particularly on tram tracks. Father Hugo had previously spent 25 years teaching at St. Patrick's College up to the time of its closure. Fr. David Strong records his non acceptance of Vatican II, quoting Hugo as saying "I have not left the Order, it has left me". Surprisingly, I came across Fr. Hugo relieving in Mt. Isa in 1977. The children used to think he was a man from Space in his motor bike rigout.
An appeal from Australian Superior Father William Lockington to the English Province for volunteers brought Father Hugo to Australia.
Fr. Patrick Morgan S.J., Teacher and Pastor, born in Melbourne on the 18th March, 1914, died in Adelaide on the 1st August, 1983, aged 89. His family farmed on the site of the Essendon Airport and Patrick attended St. Patrick's, East Melbourne. He entered the Society of Jesus on the 8th March, 1932. Fr. Pat spent 20 years at St. Aloysius, Milson's Point before taking on parish work in Richmond, Toowong and Sevenhill.
His presence in Toowong from 1968 to 1970 was much appreciated for his pastoral visitation and for his down to earth Sermons which at times caused some tut-tutting among the ladies.
I once heard him coming up my back steps patting the dog 'nice doggie', 'good doggie'. "Good afternoon Mrs. Hanlon, how are you Percy" and slowly at the same time shuffling towards the front door, chatting about all sorts of things. "Good-bye and God Bless". All over in about 3-4 minutes. 15 visits per hour. The wearing of the Biretta was compulsory for him, soldiering on as a Son of St. Ignatius.
Father Thomas Johnston S.J. In 1954 he was the founding Rector of St. Leo's College, Wickham Terrace, following takeover by the Jesuits and founding Rector of the new St. Leo's College, St. Lucia, he came to Toowong as an Assistant Priest quite by accident in 1967 where he remained until 1974. In the early days of T.V. he was a regular participant in religious programmes. Born in Ardglass, Co. Down, Ireland on the 28th August, 1897, he died in Melbourne on the 20th October, 1990 aged 93. Father Tom arrived in Australia in 1932 and after important positions in the Society's ministries came to Brisbane in 1954. His special ministry in Toowong was the Women's Sacred Heart Sodality and parish visitations which he carried out with great pastoral care. His pastoral ministry in Toowong was much appreciated.
Father Kevin Staunton S.J., Pastor, was born in Invercargill, New Zealand, on the 5th February, 1912 and died in Port Macquarie, N.S.W. on the 11th June, 1983 aged 71. Fr. Kevin entered the Order at age 33. A journalist by profession he was an Acting Major in the 2nd World War in Greece and Crete. During his 12 months in Toowong he attempted to rid the pigeons from the church building using a shotgun. He was reported to the Police who called to the presbytery and the Parish Priest of the day in 1972 persuaded the Police otherwise and they left satisfied.
Father Bryan Buxton S.J. was born in Melbourne on the 29th December, 1913 and died in Young, N.S.W. on the 4th April, 1992 aged 78. Fr. Bryan entered the Society on the 19th May, 1932 and after studies and various ministries for the Society came to Brisbane in 1954 as Assistant to the Rector of St. Leo's, Fr. Tom Johnston until 1971. After further ministries in various colleges and sabbatical leave he returned to Toowong in 1976 until 1981. During this time he never missed a St. Vincent de Paul Conference Meeting. Even later, he returned to be the caretaker of St. Leo's during the December/January period and frequently celebrated Mass at Toowong. His pastoral ministries were much appreciated.
Father Vincent Hurley S.J., a Queenslander, late Vocation. He was ordained in the Holy Spirit Church, Auchenflower. After completing a period as Rector of St. Leo's College, Father Vince came to Toowong as Assistant Priest for 3 years from 1989 to 1991. During this time he was involved with Jesuit Retreat Work and the Christian Life Community. Father Vince is presently based at Pymble and is the Promotor of the Apostleship of Prayer.
Fr. Edmund Bradley O'Connor S.J. was born at Yarrawonga on the 13th May, 1918 and entered the Society of Jesus on the 3rd February, 1936. I first met Father O'Connor at a Parish celebration at the Indooroopilly Golf Club in 1991 when we were celebrating 75 years as a Parish. It was also an Ignatian Year. In that year he was relieving the Parish Priest at Charleville. In 1992 he came to Toowong as Assistant Priest with special ministries to the Wesley Hospital and Stuartholme. Prior to that he had been at Sevenhill Parish and Retreat Centres for 18 years, 1973 to 1991.
A year after his Ordination on the 4th January, 1950 he went as a Missionary with the Australian Jesuit Mission to Hazaribag, India for some 20 years. He was Superior of the Mission for a time and excelled himself in organizing famine relief during a drought.
In Toowong he was loved and respected by everyone. He enjoyed walks to the City, or a drive to the country on his day off. He enjoyed companionship of fellow priests, the Monday Morning Counters who he prepared Morning Tea for. Just as John XXIII opened the windows wide to enable the winds of the Holy Spirit to embrace and renew the Church, Fr. Ted was to opening the windows wide to enable the winds of the Holy Spirit to embrace Ignatian Spirituality and Retreat. Father Ted died at the Mater Hospital, Brisbane, on the 18th December, 2000. He is laid to rest at Nudgee Cemetery.
Fr. Cornelius Finn S.J. came to Toowong in 1988, aged 78, at the graciousness of Father Gregory Jordan, S.J. He was a very sick man. He would sit in the Church anonymously for the 5.30p.m. weekday Mass. After some time he was encouraged to concelebrate the Mass, which he did. Progressively he volunteered to celebrate the Mass each afternoon on his own. He prepared his Homily on yellow post-its and delighted in sharing his thoughts with the congregation. Ann and John Forbes transported him to and from the 7a.m. Auchenflower Mass where he was much appreciated. Fr. David Strong records him as Teacher, Administrator, Retreat Director and Pastor born Mallow, Ireland on the 7th November, 1910 and died in Brisbane on the 29th August, 1993 aged 82. He entered the Jesuit Order at Tullamore, Ireland on the 1st September, 1928 and was ordained on the 31st July, 1939. Coming to Australia in 1942 in the middle of the War, he carried out many important Jesuit Ministries in their Schools, Colleges and Training Centres and was involved in the foundation of the Attadale Parish in W.A. He was laid to rest in Nudgee Cemetery.
Fr. Herbert Balding S.J. was born in Melbourne on the 7th September, 1918 and died in Sydney on the 8th November, 1995 aged 77. Entering the Society on the 16th February, 1936 and after studies he left for the Australian Jesuit Mission in India in 1951. Returning to Australia in 1960 he spent 8 years teaching in W.A., followed by 3 years at Xavier and 2 years in New Guinea. From 1979 to 1984 he volunteered as Parish Priest of Tennant Creek before coming to Toowong to rest. Gentle, kind and quiet he enjoyed his days with us before moving to Pymble as Parkinsons Disease took over.
A number of other Jesuits have ministered in the Parish as Assistant Priests or Jesuit Brothers. I record these as follows:-
Father Ray Chow, 1970, returned to Diocesan Priesthood, New Guinea. Now deceased.
Father George Belfrage, 1971, later Parish Priest, 1982 to 1985 (Has since left the Order).
Father Guy Carlson, 1974-1985, later Parish Priest 1986-1987. Now at Pymble.
Father Mark Raper, 1982, presently Provincial of Jesuit Order.
Father John Doenau, 1982, now at Pymble.
Father Jack Otto, 1985-1988, now in Melbourne.
Father Vu Du Tuong, 2000, later left Order and is now Parish Priest in Inala
Brother Peter Brady, 1985-1986, later left Order and is now Parish Priest at Loganholme
Brother Pham Minh Uoc