Peter Hannan SJ: ‘Gentle, courteous, gracious’

December 19, 2023 in Featured News, News

Fr. Peter Hannan SJ died peacefully on 7 December 2023 at the Blackrock Clinic in the company of family members and Fr Willie Reynolds, superior of Manresa. His funeral mass took place at St Francis Xavier’s, Gardiner Street on Monday 11 December at 11.00 am.

Peter was born on 21 August 1934 in Dublin. On 7 September 1957, he entered the Society of Jesus at St Mary’s, Emo, County Laois, and took his first vows on 8 September 1959.

From 1961 to 1964 he spent time in Zambia studying and working in the area of education ministry and Catechesis .

On 28 July 1967 Peter was ordained at Milltown Park chapel, Dublin, and on 15 August 1974 he took his final Vows at Canisius College, Chikuni, Zambia. In 1978 he returned to Ireland, and was Assistant Director of Spiritual Exercises and the Director of “Religion in Ireland Project” in Tullabeg. In 1985 he was made Assistant Director of Spiritual Exercises and Ecclesiastical Assistant for CLC in Manresa House, Clontarf, Dublin where he remained until 2023.

Always gentle, courteous, gracious

Willie Reynolds SJ was the chief celebrant at the funeral Mass. Peter’s cousin Father John Hannan SM gave the homily. Father John said his cousin was “always gentle, courteous, gracious, and deeply interested in one’s ‘story.”

He noted that when Peter came back to Ireland in 1977 he began his life’s major work in the study of the nature and purpose of the spiritual life. Father John said that this was “all facilitated by his beloved Jesuit Order, one of whose admirable characteristics is to allow its members to develop their potential in the pursuit of excellence.”

Peter published nine books between 1993 and 2007. One of his best known was Follow Your Dream : Restoring Lost Intimacy and The Search for Something More : A Journey to Human Fulfilment.

According to John, Peter loved being a ‘companion’ in a person’s search for a more profound relationship with God. “He relished the search for the divine, seeking to understand his own and others’ life stories through prayer, the use of the Scriptures, and Ignatian know-how. Being a spiritual guide was very important to him. Peter was there to encourage the other and enable them to open new pathways that might set them alight in their own search of a deeper relationship with God.”

In concluding his homily Fr John asked that people never forget “Peter’s example of fervor, fidelity to his Jesuit vocation, and the spiritual heritage which he leaves behind. These are the virtues that I understand Peter to have most exemplified”.

After the Mass, Peter was laid to rest in the Jesuit plot in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a ainm dílis.