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At the Province Assembly in June 2011, Bruce Bradley, rector of Clongowes and newly named as the incoming editor of Studies, delivered an excellent account of the Irish Jesuits, who have been a Province for 150 years (before that, a Vice-Province, and before that, a Mission). Below is the full text of his address.

History of the Irish Province

Something must have been lost as fewer and fewer members of the province spent time abroad. Prior to the Suppression, Irish Jesuits had been – of necessity – formed all over Europe and worked in many locations around the world, as the ‘List of the Dead’ of the province since 1572, to which many communities refer at the Eucharist each day, eloquently testifies.

The modern period, with the revolution in transport and communications, has obviously witnessed a vast increase in the international reach and experience of the province, with corresponding benefit to the work here. It might be mentioned that, in the most recent times, significant influences have come from the Americas, north and south. Peter Kenney was twice a visitor in the United States in the early 19th century, where he established Maryland as a vice-province and Missouri as an independent mission. American Jesuits have returned the compliment in many ways since.

Of particular significance for the way in which the culture of the contemporary province has evolved were the workshops and other forms of guidance from American confrères in the early 1970s and later, which gave us help in the area of personal affectivity and the quality of our relationships with each other in community. Far fewer members of the province have studied or worked in South America but the emergence of a distinctive theology and spirituality in that part of the world in the latter part of the 20th century made its mark on those who did live there and, to some extent, on all of us, as symbolised by the naming of two of our smaller, inner city communities, after Rutilio Grande and Luis Espinál, respectively.

Over the period from 1860 until relatively very recent times, the number of houses in the province barely increased from the seven earlier referred to. Galway almost at once added a school to the church already functioning there. Mungret opened as a college and apostolic school in 1882.