Mícheál Mac Gréil SJ: RIP
The well-known Jesuit, sociologist, and social justice activist Mícheál Mac Gréil died peacefully this morning, Saturday 21 January 2023, after a short illness. He was 92. He joined the Irish Jesuit Order on 7 September 1959 and was ordained ten years later. He had spent nine years in the Irish army before joining the Jesuits. (See burial details below)
Paying tribute to him today, the Irish President Michael D Higgins said that Mícheál had made a “deep impact on the lives of many people”.
Mícheál Mac Gréil was born in Clonaslee, Laois, Co Kildare in 1931 but considered himself a proud Mayo man, growing up and living in Loughloon for many years of his long life. He was an important figure in the rejuvenation of Westport and the surrounding western area », working with the tourist board there until very recently.
The Church in Westport paid warm tribute to him today, saying he was a devoted priest and unique individual who was also “an activist and voice for the marginalised and underprivileged. …Although in his 93rd year, he lived life to the full and to the end”.
The Tuam Archdiocese also paid tribute, saying that he was “a great part of the life of this diocese and of its priests”.
Mícheál was a sociologist who lectured at Maynooth University. The Tuam diocese noted that in Maynooth, “He showed particular kindness to the seminarians of the archdiocese. With annual outings to his home in Loughloon for bacon and cabbage and taking time with the students in Maynooth, his kindness will never be forgotten”.
It was there in Maynooth and later in UCD that Mícheál did his seminal sociological research, three surveys that were to be published collectively under the title Prejudice and Tolerance in Ireland. It was not merely a ground-breaking work of academic interest but also a reflection of the deep concern that Mícheál had for justice.
In the words of President Higgins today, Mícheál Mac Gréil was a man who “truly gave authenticity to the importance of linking life and value”. The President continued: “Throughout all of his work, Micheál Mac Gréil brought a sense of the urgency of recognising justice issues of compassion. His was an early and constant call for the importance of overcoming social prejudice”.
Micheál campaigned on many issues throughout his life, including Travellers’ rights, prison reform, and the Irish language. He also fought for the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
In 1981, he chaired a special working party on the Jesuit Catholic Workers College, which later evolved into the National College of Ireland. In 1996 he returned to the survey and updated it. It was again published, this time under the title Prejudice in Ireland Revisited: Based on a National Survey of Intergroup Attitudes in the Republic of Ireland.
In 2014 his autobiography, The Ongoing Present : A Critical Look at the Society and World in Which I Grew Up, was published by Messenger Publications and launched by actor Ardal O’Hanlon ».
As President Higgins concluded in his statement, Mícheál will be greatly missed by all of us who knew him.” Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Wednesday 25 January 2023:5pm: Reposing at Cushlough Community Centre (F28 HY30)
8pm: Removal to The Church of the Sacred Heart, Cushlough.
Thursday 26 January 2023: 9.30: Removal to St. Mary’s Church, Westport
11.00-12.30: Reposing in St. Mary’s
1pm: Funeral Mass followed by burial to Aughavale Cemetery
For additional information see https://rip.ie/death-notice/fr.-m%C3%ADche%C3%A1l-mac-gr%C3%A9il-sj-westport-mayo/523564