St. Vincent's College: 1835-1840
1935 Centenary Record
“The Old House” 1835
THE OUTLOOK of the Community in Usher's Quay at the close of their first year was by no means satisfactory. Their school work had proved its efficiency; the clergy and parents of the pupils had shown a marked appreciation of the educational work of the Community; the numbers in the school had increased to a hundred and twenty, as many as they could accommodate. On the other hand the prospect of stability and development was doubtful in the extreme; their Superior had left them; Father Reynolds a most devoted member and one of their most successful teachers had gone home to die; there were rumours, day after day, that Father MacNamara would soon be recalled by his Bishop, who was badly in want of priests, to his native diocese; uneasiness began to be felt about Father Dowley, whom for various excellent reasons it was sought to retain in Maynooth. Difficulties and doubts notwithstanding, inspired chiefly by the herculean labours and cheerful example of Father MacNamara, they stuck to their guns. Nothing daunted they courageously took a step in advance, and came to the resolution of taking some residence which would give a more imposing aspect to their position, and in which with the patronage of the Archbishop, they might establish an ecclesiastical seminary.
This project had been discussed by the clergy of the Archdiocese for some time. It was observed that for want of a suitable education many young men entered Maynooth, and other establishments of the kind, without any very definite knowledge of the holy state to which they aspired, or the conditions necessary for it. The consequence was, that by far the greater part of them, finding in the course of time, that they had taken a wrong step, having no vocation for the priesthood, left the ecclesiastical Colleges having lost time and opportunities for securing a career in the world; and besides, having occupied places of others, destined in the designs of God for the Ministry. It was also considered that in such a work, the Community would become more identified with the clergy of the Archdiocese, and would, moreover, have the prospect of gaining recruits for themselves from the ranks of their pupils.
When the project was mentioned to the Archbishop, he not only approved of it, but presented a gift of £200, and promised to use his influence in every way he could to promote the undertaking. Another gift came from an unexpected source. A Mr. Burke of the Province of Connacht died in Rathmines leaving the Community £ 7 0 0 ; the legacy came on the suggestion of Father Carew of Maynooth, who as already mentioned, took an interest in the new venture from its start. Dr. Anglade of Maynooth had already given him £100. These bequests encouraged them to look for a new residence, which would be larger and more suitable for the purpose they had at heart. They found that the house and demesne of Castleknock was in the market, and saw that the situation was suitable in every way. They considered that there was a special Providence in such a place being for sale at the time, and having secured the advice of all their good advisers they purchased it. Father McCann devoted his property to this purchase, and in so far, as also for his outlay in fitting up the College in the city, he deserves to be reckoned amongst the founders of the Congregation of the Mission in Ireland.
The time had now arrived when the Community expected Father Dowley to come and take up the duties of Superior. But important changes had taken place in Maynooth, and the Bishops and other trustees were determined, if possible, to retain so valuable an officer. They promoted Dr. Dowley to the office of Vice President, with a considerable increase of salary. His faith, however, was pledged elsewhere, and a higher position with a higher salary, so far from retaining him, served only the more to signalise his love of poverty and humility, the counter attractions of the state of life which he had resolved upon embracing. He accordingly came away, taking with him the respect and esteem of all; and the trustees to mark their high sense of his distinguished merit, voted him a gratuity tribute of £100. In coming to take charge of Castleknock, Father Dowley brought with him an additional subject in the person of Father Kickham of the diocese of Cashel. Thus as to members, the Community found themselves in the same condition as in the commencement, Father Dowley and Father Kickham taking the places of Father Kenrick, who had gone to Philadelphia, and Father Reynolds who had died.
Although the purchase of Castleknock was effected early in the Summer of 1834, there was a considerable delay in clearing the title for a proper conveyance of the property, and it was late in the following autumn that the Community were free to occupy it. They entered into possession on the feast of the Archangel Raphael, the 24th of October, 1834. The day was held in remembrance as the date of their " transmigration," as they called it, from their temporary habitation to their permanent home. They at once named the place St. Vincent's College, recalling the ultimate purpose for which they had come together; and took to themselves the title of " Vincentians," following the custom of the Dominicans and Franciscans who were popularly called after their founders.
They immediately set about preparing the buildings which they had acquired for the opening of the College in the following autumn of 1835. These buildings were comparatively small, and as the Protestant school had been for some years discontinued, much work in the way of repairs and proper equipment, had to be undertaken. The Community, however, had hopes of substantial aid coming to them from various friends and well/wishers, who had promised them help in the event of their getting a larger establishment than the school in Usher's Quay. As things were, their funds were practically exhausted. Father McCann had spent all his money in furnishing the school in Usher's Quay, and in providing the bulk of the purchase'money for Castleknock. The hopes they had relied on proved fallacious to a most disappointing degree. Thus the Very Rev. Father Flanagan who had ample funds at his disposal, and who had formally promised to hand over a very considerable sum, changed his mind, and left the Community without a penny. So it was with others who had made promises or who had given them to understand they could be called on if required for subscriptions.
The Community found themselves within the bare walls of the buildings, almost resourceless as far as the expenses necessarily to be undergone for the equipment of the College. Early in 1835 they received two small sums—£.100 from a Mr. Maher of the County Meath, and Dr. Dowley found another benefactor who gave him £50. Hence they were obliged to borrow money, if the work was to be started. It would seem that works destined by Providence to develop and endure, must in the commencement, be blessed by hardship and poverty. In their straitened circumstances the little band showed almost heroic courage ; and in face of the greatest difficulties persevered in their efforts to have the College opened at the appointed time.
After taking possession of the College at Castleknock the Community still continued to carry on their school in Dublin. Fathers Lynch, Burke, Kickham, and MacNamara went in to the school every morning, and returned to Castleknock in the evening; on Father McCann rested the whole responsibility of fitting up the buildings with a view to the contemplated diocesan seminary. Father McCann was moreover given charge of the Penitent Asylum at Drumcondra, so far as to say Mass there on Sundays and instruct the penitents.
Besides the school work in the city, and the chaplaincies of two penitent asylums, the Community found exercise for the Ministry in the parish of Blanchardstown in which their new home was established. The venerable parish priest, the Very Rev. Joseph Joy Deane, had long before himself the idea of having the Institute of the Mission in his parish, and had actually built a house for the Missionaries. His project had failed, however, and the house at this time was a convent occupied by a Community of the Carmelite Order. As the parish priest was now of a patriarchal age, he was glad to welcome the service of the priests at St. Vincent's; and so, much of the work of the parish fell to the hands of the new Community. They not only supplied the usual Masses, and preached in their turn, but to the great delight of the old man, set about forming Confraternities for the teaching of the Catechism on Sunday evenings. These Confraternities established in both churches of the parish proved not only eminently useful for the children and the grown-up people who also attended in great numbers, but also suited subsequently as a magnificent training ground for the ecclesiastical students, who went regularly to help the priest in charge of this apostolic work.
Father Deane was a native of Belfast, and used to relate as the greatest wonder of his youth, how one morning in the year 1782 his father pointed to three men talking together at the end of what is now the Falls Road; and how he told his son, that these were the three Roman Catholic priests for the whole Catholic population of Belfast! After the Mass which was said once in the month at Father Deane's home, the people waited, and when the weather permitted, were taught the Catechism in a field behind the house. The venerable old man though himself too feeble to engage in active work was, by his sympathy and encouragement a great stimulus to the arduous labours of the young missionaries.
In the Lent of 1835, while still making ready for the opening of the College, the zeal of all, parish priest, curate, and the missionaries themselves suggested the giving of something like a mission. It could not be a mission in the proper sense of the term, owing to the small number of priests available, and the many laborious occupations which they had actually in hand. Chapelizod, a village about a mile from St. Vincent's, was chosen for the first little effort of zeal. The attendance was as might be expected very large, and the pressure on the confessionals so great as to occupy the missioners the whole night if they could remain. But engaged as they were in other work, all they could do was to come down to the church after dinner, and spend the whole evening preaching and hearing confessions up to a late hour of the night. Dr. Dowley their Superior was able to to attend during the day, and spend the most of it in the confessional.
As the year wore on, the old buildings were put in order, and accommodation of a kind provided for about forty or fifty students. The chief anxiety now was the insufficiency of the staff to cope with the work of the new establishment. There were, no doubt, some prospects of an accession to the community. At least two additional members were counted upon. One of these came, the Rev. Richard Shiel, of the diocese of Meath. But the gratification of prospect which this excellent young priest brought to the struggling community was soon changed into grief and disappointment, by his falling almost immediately into consumption. He was obliged to retire to his home, and died shortly afterwards.
It is to be noted that the new College was to be an almost ecclesiastical establishment, primarily for the Archdiocese of Dublin, but not excluding lay boys for whom accommodation could be found. The first advertisement—which may be considered also the first prospectus of the College—gives a good idea of the object which the founders had in view.
ST. VINCENT'S ECCLESIASTICAL SEMINARY, CASTLEKNOCK
REV. P. DOWLEY, President
THIS ESTABLISHMENT has been undertaken by the direction of His Grace The Most Rev. Dr. Murray, and in conformity with the expressed wishes of several of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Dublin. A course of studies preparatory to admission into the higher classes of Maynooth, or any other of the Catholic Colleges, has been adopted. The exercises of the Seminary and the attention of the Rev. Gentlemen who superintend it, are directed to obviate the evils which not unfrequently result from young gentlemen presenting themselves as candidates for the sacred ministry, without being acquainted with the nature of that holy state, or the dispositions required for embracing it. For admission into the lowest class of the Seminary, a knowledge of the following books will be required :
In Greek - The Grammar, the Gospel of St. John, and ten Dialogues of Lucian.
In Latin - The Grammar, Caesar's Com. de bello Callico (first and second books) Sallust.
The President is authorized to state that two free places have been reserved in Maynooth College, to remain at the disposal of the Superiors of the Seminary, who will award them as premiums for distinguished merit.
TERMS FOR BOARD AND EDUCATION
Twenty five Guineas per annum, paid half-yearly in advance.
Every young gentleman is to come provided with two pairs of sheets, two pillow cases, six towels, and all necessary bed clothes. Further particulars may be known by application to the President, at the Seminary, or to any of the Rev. Gentlemen of the Day School, 54 Usher's Quay, Dublin. N.B.—There is also accommodation for a limited number of Lay Boarders. For Terms, etc., application to be made as above.
The qualifications required for entrance in the above Prospectus, certainly, at this date, seem to be of a rather high standard, and may leave a doubt as to how many applicants would have attained the degree of proficiency required. The advertisement for the College issued in the following year (1836) seems to be less advanced, or shall we say, more conducive to attract candidates:
ST. VINCENT'S ECCLESIASTICAL SEMINARY, CASTLEKNOCK.
Principal.—REVEREND P. DOWLEY.
THIS SEMINARY was opened on the 28th of August, 1835, a t Castleknock, and is certainly one of the most healthy and delightful places in Ireland.
Rev. P. Dowley, late Dean of Maynooth College, is President, assisted by several ecclesiastics, approved by the Most Rev. Dr. Murray.
This establishment has been undertaken by the directions of the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, and in conformity with the expressed wishes of several of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Dublin. The study and exercises are directed to facilitate the entrance of Students into ecclesiastical Colleges, and to obviate the evils resulting from their presenting themselves as candidates for the sacred ministry without being acquainted with the nature of the holy state, or the dispositions required for embracing it.
With all the higher branches of languages—Greek and Roman Classics—Modern and Ancient History—Geography—Mathematics, etc.—the Study of the English Language—the principles of composition, and the practice of public delivery will be particularly attended to.
To create a spirit of laudable emulation, two free places will be reserved in Maynooth College, for such as shall deserve them by good conduct and superior talent. There is accommodation for a limited number of lay boarders.
TERMS FOR BOARD AND EDUCATION
Twenty/five Guineas per annum, paid half-yearly in advance.
Every young gentleman is to come provided with two pairs of sheets, two pillow cases, six towels, and all necessary bed clothes. Further particulars may be known by application to the President, at the Seminary, or to am of the Rev. Gentlemen of the Day School, 34 Usher's Qay, Dublin. N.B.—There is also accommodation for a limited number of Lay Boarders. For Terms, etc., application to be made as above.
The decided change in tone and manner of the two advertisements is significant, the latter was evidently inspired by a different spirit, or induced by a year's experience.
The opening day was awaited with a good deal of anxiety, but the result was very different from the opening on Usher's Quay two years before. The good name and reputation of two years' work was a sufficient guarantee as far as Dublin was concerned; in addition several of the Irish dioceses had not as yet their own seminaries and, therefore, bishops could be easily found anxious to secure preparatory training for their young ecclesiastics; added to all this the name of Dr. Dowley (as he was generally called) was in itself a good advertisement for the young priests. It is not then surprising that from the very first the number of students who came was as many as could be accommodated at the time.
Forty/seven names are found on the roll in the first year—the buildings could not receive more. These students came not merely from Dublin, but from widely separated parts of Ireland: John Lynch was from Clones; Patrick Power from Waterford. The latter was the youngest boy in the first year; the former was the first to arrive in the College. John Lynch at the time was about 18 years of age. He had already been at a private school in Lucan, and a boarder in St. Joseph's Seminary in Clondalkin. It is of interest to add here that he later on joined the Vincentian Congregation in Ireland, went out to pioneer missionary work in Texas, became Bishop, and later first Archbishop of Toronto. Many years after the opening day he wrote the story of his arrival and first days in Castleknock. His account may be repeated here:
" The first three days at the opening of the College of St. Vincent's, Castleknock had something providential, and I may say, wonderful about them. That it was formerly a preparatory seminary for the sons of Protestant ministers before going to Trinity College, was in itself a remarkable thing.
" I was one of the first to enter, with Mr. Andrew Brady, since dead. I came on the Sunday before the opening Monday, and had time to roam about the hills and inspect everything. On Monday morning about eleven o'clock some boys arrived; we became friends at first sight. Each had a supply of cakes and other good things, so that when dinner time came round, we had but little appetite. After dinner followed the distribution of places in the dormitories and study hall. We roamed through the ruins of the Castle, we walked in its moats and amongst the trees that covered the hill. We visited the Castle on the bare hill, and amused ourselves by trying who could run up and down most quickly. At the arrival of every car all sport was stopped to see the next boy. After a while he joined us with eyes red from weeping, but with pockets full of candies. Night came, and all were tired, and ready for sleep, but there was great noise in dragging about trunks and valises.
" The bell in the morning frightened all who had never left home before, and there was considerable delay about rising. We had to go to the wash hall. Afterwards came morning prayers, Mass, and breakfast followed by recreation all over the grounds. On the second day there were more arrivals, and on the third day the same. " Our studies and classes then commenced. Hitherto there were no limits to our recreation grounds, but we were told that, as work had begun, we should be content with more restricted space for play, and we saw a man planting posts, and placing a red streamer on top to show us our boundaries. This we found hard, but all discomfort was generally borne with a spirit of mortification, and but few grumbled.
" The Rules of the Seminary were read by the Dean and were found reasonable enough. Our Professors were kind and perfect gentlemen, and this smoothed over all uneasy feelings. We had bread and beer for lunch at twelve o'clock. We dined at three or halfpast three. Our breakfast was bread and milk, but the city boys, accustomed to tea, longed for home times. I could also write of the progress of piety among the boys, and of their charity towards the poor."
Another pupil of those early years has left some notes, written many years later: Father Malachy O'Callaghan. He was a boy in Usher's Quay School; came to Castleknock and became a confrere and colleague of the first priests. A few jottings from his notes are given:
" As soon as possible the various classes were formed and the little staff divided the work amongst them. The classes were distinguished by the names then in common use, into Rhetoric, Humanity, Sallust, Cicero, Caesar, and Rudiments, and these names remained, with some variations in different years up to the introduction of the Intermediate System in 1878. Two of the senior boys—Christopher McGrane and Michael O'Reilly—were chosen as the house prefects for the year (1835). Thus was introduced the system of prefects which has continued without interruption to the present time, and which has always worked out with satisfactory results. This system may be said to be a distinctive feature of Castleknock; two senior boys under the direction of the dean, practically have charge of nearly all departments in the house, and though their powers are somewhat restricted, at the same time they are perfectly adequate to secure order throughout the College. This trust in the boys by the Superiors of the College explains the feelings of personal intercourse and ease of approach and confidence which the students have always exhibited towards their teachers.
" Father Lynch was Dean; but also divided the Latin and Greek classes with Father MacNamara, in the Rhetoric division. In the humanity class Father Michael Burke got charge of Enghsh Composition and Elocution. Father Burke was a man of the deepest piety ; enthusiastic in the discharge of his duties, he possessed an extraordinary power for developing the talent of his pupils, who in later years spoke of him as a man and as a teacher with the greatest respect and reverence. (Lord Russell in 1897, at the Inauguration of the College Union—described Father Burke as "one of the most amiable men whom it has ever been my fortune to meet."—EDITOR)
" Father Lynch, as well as the rest of the Community, gave special attention to Religious Knowledge and Sacred History; but Father Lynch's instructions, especially those on Wednesday mornings, were long remembered by his hearers.
" Father McCann, owing to delicate health was not engaged in teaching, but as bursar he represented the College in all business transactions. He was the main spring of the working of the refectory department. He directed the management of the land and stock, provided all the necessaries for the house; with the help of an assistant kept the accounts in the most perfect order, did all the banking business and commissions in the City—which included also the affairs of the school in Usher's Quay till 1839. In everything he was systematic and precise. His principles were, to make every one feel at home, and happy. He made Father Dowley's wish his guide.
" The discipline of the College was admirably looked after by Father Lynch as Dean and Prefect of Studies. As he had taken out a course of medicine before becoming a priest, he was naturally made " Prefect of Health." He always retained a love for the medical profession, and under his watchful eyes, the health of the boys received the utmost attention and care.
" It must be remembered that the school on Usher's Quay had to be carried on concurrently with the work of teaching at Castleknock, this meant that some of the priests were not available during the day time in the College, and one or two had to take evening classes after returning from the city.
"The life in the College between boys and masters was from the first most homely and cordial. One of the priests always presided at the recreations, and frequently joined the boys in their games. One of them also headed the walks in the Phoenix Park and elsewhere. The Community dined with the boys in the same refectory, and a priest carved at the head and foot of each of the tables. There was a special table at the head of each refectory where the President and some of the professors, or visitors, and not infrequently the parish priest, and occasionally some of the younger boys, dined together. The refectory presented quite a family scene, and contributed to make all feel much at home and attached to the College.
" Father Lynch founded the Boys' Library at an early date. It assumed very large proportions even within the administration of Father Dowley. In the education and forming of the minds and characters of the boys, it had a salutary effect, and in occupying and amusing them in recreation hours it took a decided part.
"The lighting of the College began in 1835 with candles, but the aid of oil was soon called in, and finally in 1859 it had its own gas.
" The Excursion Day was quite a Castleknock fixture in the early days. It was looked forward to with great delight. All the Staff and, of course, all the boys, went on it. A pleasureTesort in the County of Dublin or Wicklow—a waterfall, and every provision made for the increased appetites of the excited company. Behold the cars on a fine day after Easter at an appointed hour—about 9—drive down the avenue. By this time Father Lynch, full of the importance of the occasion, sat in the study hall. He gave his directions to the boys, and called out the names of the occupants of each car. He of course led the way on the first car. As years rolled by ambition set in, and the cars had to give way to carriages. It was always a great and pleasant day for the entire house."
So far Father O'Callaghan.
The first scholastic year passed successfully, and at its close it was evident that more accommodation must be found to house the increasing number of applicants: funds were scarce, all available money had been spent in purchasing the estate and fitting up the buildings, and in their straitened circumstances the Community were forced to appeal to the good offices of friends and benefactors for assistance. A complete account of the successive steps by which the College increased will be given later on in this work; but it is considered necessary to indicate here briefly the course of events and the difficulties facing the rising Community.
The little flock, notwithstanding their difficulties, and gloomy prospects awaited in patience the dispositions of Providence, and began to consider how the works they had embarked on were the cause of God, rather than their own. In mutual encouragement, charity, and most devoted labour they passed their time happily, realising the opportunities they had for personal sanctification, and reflecting on the fact of their existence so far, and the work they had achieved, as a guarantee of Divine favour.
The first building they undertook was the east portion of the range now constituting the College, which was afterwards completed by successive additions. The means at the command of the Community at the time enabled them to roof this portion of the building, after which they suspended further progress in the work. It was then an anxious question as to what should be done for its completion. The generous statement made by Mr. Maher of Clownstown, Co. Meath, to the effect that besides the /TOO, which he gave then, he would at a later date supplement by a larger donation was, of course, remembered, and Father McCann had recourse to his charitable friend in the present difficulty. True to his word, he gave a very generous donation, and added a further sum as a loan, to be repaid at the convenience of the Community. Other sums came from unexpected quarters, and the first new addition to the existing old buildings was completed in 1837.
As time advanced, the numbers of students, especially lay students increased. The Community also grew larger, and by degrees, a kind of novitiate, and a department for the studies of aspirants to the Institute, necessitated larger premises; accordingly the building forming the centre portion of the range was undertaken. Even with the strictest economy, and the inclusion in the fund of some casual donations, the Community found it impossible to proceed with this portion of the building.
Providence came to their aid quite unexpectedly. In 1844 a mission was given in the parish of Ballytore. The Missioners resided with Mrs. Cullen, the mother of Cardinal Cullen, in the original house of the family. Others of the family came to Ballytore for the mission, and seeing the remarkable results of the Missioners' work these, with the Maher family to which they were related, gave the Missioners a sum of £3,000, for any works of the Institute to which the Missioners might wish to apply it. This sum together with some savings they had themselves collected enabled the Community to erect the eastern portion of the front range of buildings, together with the return building and the chapel. The chapel remained unfinished for a very considerable time owing to want of funds.
In spite of all difficulties the work of the Seminary progressed, and earned the warm approval of the Archbishop and indeed, of all interested in such educational projects. The students who passed through St. Vincent's, and who afterwards became priests, were ever loud in their praise of the training they received, and of the effect of the bright example of such devoted men on their lives. It is a matter for wonder how such a small band of associates found ways and means of coping with the many works which fell to their lot. In a way these numerous occupations were a blessing; for they kept these young men from despairing of the future. The years from 1835 to 1838 were years of unusual labour. The small Community had on hands the Seminary at Castleknock, the school in the city, three chaplaincies, for the care of Cabra convent had been added to the other two chaplaincies they already had from their start in Usher's Quay, and all these involved religious instruction at fixed intervals; they also did much work for the parish in which they were situated; add to this the numerous clerical retreats given by Dr. Dowley throughout the country, and it may be imagined that these were full years for every member of the staff of St. Vincent's.
Through these years and long afterwards there was no increase of numbers, with the single exception of Father Thomas Kelly of Waterford, who became a most zealous missioner, and a most unselfish worker. Various applications were made from time to time, and some actually came; but having had experience of the manner of life they found in observance in the Community, and observing the laborious lives of the young priests, and believing, as they had reason to believe, that such a self denying mode of existence was above the powers of human nature, and that consequently the new venture would prove a failure, they retired, not however without bringing with them a profound respect for those with whom they had lived for some months. These gentlemen were the Rev. Matthew Collier of Dublin, the Rev. Bernard Scott of the diocese of Ossory, the Rev. Dominic Murphy of the diocese of Cork, the Rev. Edmund Scully of the diocese of Cashel, and the Rev. John Hand of the diocese of Meath. Of these Father Hand remained three or four years till he found himself called to undertake the great work of a Seminary for foreign missions. His undertaking resulted in the founding of the great College of All Hallows, which has since sent its missionaries all over the world, and supplied Bishops as well as priests to America and Australia, not to mention the many zealous priests it has sent to England and Scotland.
It was Father Hand's most earnest wish that the Community at Castleknock would take over the charge of this College ; this, which was impossible in the worthy founder's lifetime was realised many years after his death, when Leo XIII at the suggestion of the Most Rev. Dr. Walsh, Archbishop of Dublin, handed over the charge of the College to the Vincentian Fathers. Father Scully alone, of those who retired, returned afterwards, and lived with the Community in quality of a friend. He took a part in the first missions, but left again to work on the English mission. Later on he was the means of introducing the Congregation into England.
When we consider the constant occupations and uncertainties of the first two or three years of the existence of the College, it is little matter of wonder that the idea of the proposed Community life appears to have been lost sight of. However that may be, a Father Toole from the West of Ireland, when returning in the Autumn of 1838 from vacation to Paris, where he was professor, called on Father Dowley, dined with him, and remained for the night. On the one side the intention of joining a religious community was unfolded, and on the other the fact of the suitability of St. Vincent de Paul's Congregation of the Mission, which had its centre house in Paris, was suggested. Father Toole undertook to introduce the matter to the Superior/General in Paris. Negotiations on both sides began, and ended in Father Dowley and Father Kickham being invited to Paris to make their novitiate. The Superior-General sent over to Castleknock a Father Gerard, an elderly and gifted member of the Congregation, to give all information and train on the spot the other priests who could not be spared to go to Paris. God blessed the work. Everything was successful. Father Gerard arranged that, as far as possible, all in future should pass the novitiate in Paris. Father Gerard spent about a year in Ireland, and carried back with him the admiration and respect of his new Irish confreres, and their lasting gratitude and blessings.
Dr. Dowley and Father Kickham having made their vows, the others continued their novitiate under the direction of their Superior Dr. Dowley, and on the Feast of All Saints, Fathers Lynch, Burke, MacNamara and Kelly became professed members of the Congregation of the Mission, thus forming a family of six spiritual children of St. Vincent in Ireland. Father McCann owing to his precarious health did not become a professed member, but remained with the others discharging the duties of procurator, in which office he rendered the most devoted and valuable services to the little company.
The work in Ireland now being engrafted on the parent stock, began soon to show signs of fecundity. A succession of most desirable subjects presented themselves from the College of Maynooth. Vocations also sprang up from amongst the students at St. Vincent's, so as to light up a most encouraging prospect for the future.
The postulants were sent to Paris to make a part of their novitiate in the Mother House ; they completed the requisite time at Castleknock. The kindness, care and generosity of the Mother House to the Irish members of the Congregation, must ever be held in grateful remembrance.
The duties of the church at Phibsboro' having by this time greatly increased, the Community found it impossible to continue any longer the work of the school in Usher's Quay. It was never their intention to retain this school but as a temporary occupation, until they were in a position to embrace definitely the purpose they had in view from the beginning. They left the school with regret, as they had held it for six years, and had educated a large number of boys who afterwards gave abundant proof of excellent training.
Castleknock College Centenary Record, 1935.