Thursday, December 04, 2014

Fr Peter Garvey O.Cist. #RIP

The President of Cistercian College Roscrea while I was a boarder there from September 1972 to June 1977 was Fr Peter Garvey - he passed away last Tuesday. He was new to the role and we were his first class to go all the way through the then five years of secondary school. He was an extremely intelligent likeable man and a fine priest who was passionate about the education of generations of CCR boys including myself. The 1970s were a time of great change. While the Church still dominated society and education, questionable fashion style and long hair seemed to help us rebel against the norms of the time. Think about it - we entered the 70's mourning the break-up of the Beatles, and ended it with the break-up of the Sex Pistols. During all of this Fr Peter had a school to run.

My class had him for Religion in 1st year, but I have little memory of his classes. In those days, religion was far more accepted than it is now and we were less likely to question faith. Fr Peter was just one of several Cistercian priests who helped turn us from boys into men and I can only look back at that time with good memories.

I'm certain I did not come into Fr Peter's radar at all until I got to 6th year. I never got into trouble, largely because I was afraid to do so - no drinking, smoking, bunking, robbing apples from the orchard for me! One thing I do recall was that Fr Peter did not tolerate bullying, and cracked down on it quickly in a time when bullying was more tolerated (especially in an all-boys school). In 6th year I found studying difficult and as this was graded I started to get poor marks. A "2" (out of 6) for study meant an automatic visit to the President's Office. The first time I got one I didn't go to his office, hoping that he would not say or do anything. He called me to his office one day later looking for an explanation - he was not cross, did not get angry, nor did he add any further punishment. We just chatted and he offered to help and advice - which I ignored. This resulted in more "2s" for study which meant more visits to his office, more chats, and more advice. Later I was caught reading a "dirty" book - more visits to the President.

Fr Peter Garvey on left.
Image source: Dublin and Glendalough United Diocese.

The lifestyle of a monk living in a monastery appeals to very few people today, and I often wondered how Fr Peter and his fellow monks kept going. Today is his funeral at the Abbey in Roscrea and it is time to say goodbye to him. I am reminded of the last few lines from the film "Goodbye, Mr Chips":

Pity he never had any children.
What was that you were saying  about me?
Nothing at all, old man.  Nothing at all.
We were just wondering when you were  going to wake up out of that beauty sleep.
I heard you.
You were talking about me.
Nothing of consequence, old man.  I give you my word.
I thought I heard you saying  it was a pity
Pity I never had any children.
But you're wrong.
I have.
Thousands of them.
Thousands of them.
And all boys.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips.Goodbye.


Goodbye, Fr Peter.

1 comment:

  1. I was deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Fr. Peter.I was in CCR with Peter from 1950-55. Myfondest memory was when we appeared in the Christmas opera "ThePirates of Penzance" Peter was the leading Lady cast as Mable the daughter of the Major General and I as a mere pirate. He was a great guy and I still have good memories of him today.He will be sorley missed.