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Second World War chaplain remembered

Irish Jesuit and Second World War chaplain Fr Michael Morrison features in the Irish National Teachers Organisation’s InTouch magazine for the January/February 2019 issue.

Fr Morrison was born in Listowel in County Kerry, was educated by the Jesuits in secondary school, joined the Society and taught at Belvedere College SJ in Dublin. He enlisted as a chaplain with the British army, initially ministering in the Middle East and later transferring to the Derry Regiment of the Lancashire Fusiliers.

He arrived with British and Canadian forces to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Northern Germany in April 1945, which was the first camp to be liberated on the Western Front. At that time, there were 60,000 individuals within the camp with conditions described as ‘hell on earth’ – 13,000 people died from sickness and starvation in the weeks after liberation.

While at Bergen-Belsen, Fr Morrison administered the last rights, held Mass for people of different religions and conducted a joint service over a mass grave with, for example, the Jewish British army chaplain. In a letter home, he wrote: “What we met within the first few days is utterly beyond description”, and it was reported that he spoke very little about what he witnessed in later years. He is buried in Glasnevin Cemetary.

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