Father John Shanahan born 1900 entered 1919 professed 1924 ordained 1927 died 1981 Biographical Note Denis Shanahan was born in Ballyfruta, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, on November 28th 1900 and entered Mount St Joseph’s Abbey, Roscrea on August 15th 1919. He was solemnly professed in 1924. Having been an honours student and a good athlete at the Abbey’s school, he returned there as a monk to teach Gaelic, Latin and Religious Knowledge for six years. From 1929 for ten years he was infirmarian, fulfilling the post with deep sympathy and tender care towards the sick. During the years between 1934 and 1943 he was much in demand as one of four confessors in the Abbey’s Public Church. In 1946 he was chosen and appointed Bursar for the new foundation in Scotland at Nunraw. After four years as Bursar, he began a seventeen year stint as Guestmaster; his warm welcome and humour remembered by many visitors hid much suffering and ill health which had dogged him from his noviciate days. He became a much sought after friend and counsellor through his work in the Guesthouse. Countless people found in him a rich sympathy and a deep understanding. In June 1977, he celebrated quietly his Priesthood’s golden jubilee. It was in these latter years that his health began to fail, and after a lengthy illness, patiently born, he died peacefully at 10. 15 a.m. on the 8th of April. Report: Regional Newsletter May 1981 NUNRAW. FATHER JOHN SHANAHAN. 1900 - 1981. Fr. John Shanahan was born in Co. Limerick in Ireland in the year 1900, and he liked to say that he came in with the century. He was educated at Mount St. Joseph, and entered there in the year 1919. He went through the usual steps of profession and ordination, and after being ordained taught in the College here. He then became confessor in the public church and after holding that post for some years, was appointed Infirmarian. In 1946 he went on the foundation to Nunraw, and was Procurator there until 1950, the first four years of the existence of the new monastery. Then in 1950 he was made Guestmaster, and held that position for about 18 years. During his time in the guesthouse he became known to a large number of people and many of these used come to see him in old age. In fact it would be fair to say that he was known all over the country, and there were few things he enjoyed more than talking with-old friends. His health was never great, but he was always up and about and took his place in all community activities, and was involved in whatever was going on. lie was assiduous in choir, and rarely missed the community mass. lie was a fluent speaker of Irish, and loved to meet those from the Highlands or Islands of Scotland who could speak Scots Gaelic. His family was long-lived, and he is survived by a sister. In the last decade of his life his health deteriorated, and he spent a good deal of time in hospital. But his good spirits remained unquenched and he still got about and was involved in community affairs as well as he could. Towards the end of February it became clear that he could not last too much longer and he died some weeks later. Scottish Catholic Observer 17th April 1981 NUNRAW ABBEY’S GUESTMASTER Fr. John Shanahan OCR, son of a Limerick farmer, one of the funding members of Nunraw Abbey, its bursar in the first few testing years and guestmaster for the next 17 years was last week laid to rest on a brilliantly sunny day in the green foothills of the Lammermuir surrounded by his Cistercian brethren and a host of friends. Cardinal Gordon Gray presided at the Requiem Mass in the chapel of Nunraw filled with the monastic community as well as visiting clergy and lay mourners from many walks of life and other churches. Abbot Donald McGlynn was principal concelebrant of the Mass and Fr. Ambrose, a contemporary of Fr. John’s, spoke the panegyric in faltering tones, re- affirming the Christian doctrine of hope in the face of death, a hope he said that did not exclude grief for the departed. Cardinal Gray also paid tribute to Fr.. John for his 35 years service in Scotland his influence in building the spirit of Nunraw. His Eminence said that his memorial was a living one in the memory of those who knew him whether for a long or a short time, and had experienced the richness of his faith, love and charity. Fr. John became known to the many visitors to Nunraw as a warm and welcoming host and there were many others helped by his sympathy and understanding as confessor and counsellor. His life was dogged by illness which began as a young man and threatened the realisation of his vocation in one of the most austere orders in the Church. Yet he completed. 50 active years as a professed monk and in 1977 there was a quiet celebration of his golden jubilee. Family mourners at the funeral included his 87-year-old sister Mrs Eileen O’Sullivan who travelled from her home in Rome when he was dying and was with him at the end. Readings at the Mass were by Sr. Gabriel a niece who is in the Congregation of the Presentation nuns and a nephew. Cardinal Gray's Tribute to Father John My Lord Abbot May I very sincerely express less the sympathy of many friends of Fr. John, than our gratitude to Almighty God for all that he has been to us. He entered into the lives of so many here at Nunraw, sometimes for a moment, sometimes for longer. But into every life that he entered he left a richness of deep Faith, a memory of great love and charity. He left us all better simply for having known him. I thank God that he was here for 35 years as one of the Founders of this Abbey, helping to set its future and to build up its wonderful spirit. Not one of us who comes here but feels that tranquillity and peace, an atmosphere of prayer that he helped with others to establish. My own knowledge of Fr. John goes back 30 years - the day when I came to Nunraw for the first time, to make my pre-consecration Retreat. Up till then I had been in more remote parts of the diocese, Aberdeen, and I had not visited Nunraw. But I received that warmth of welcome that all. who knew Fr. John will remember - not only a warmth of welcome, but he gave his whole attention to making one feel completely relaxed and at home. And his words always full of kindness and wisdom must be memories for all who knew him; and yet all the time a great sense of humour. The days when the great Cistercian Silence still reigned, when Fr. John told me I remember, at that Retreat, “Remember, you’re a Bishop and according to our Rule you can talk to anyone, so please do - you’ve a great opportunity!” And when I mentioned to him that before my consecration I would need to have a tonsure he made sure that I had one and truly a tonsure that could well have matriculated me to enter the Cistercian Order. A Great sense of humour - but he radiated that holiness that was truly infectious, and that deep Faith. And so, we thank God, for all- that he has done during his years, and 1 speak especially as years in Scotland, and thank God for this diocese. We thank God for that, and we thank God too, for all of you here at Nunraw, that Like Yr. t: John, are a source of strength and a channel of grace to us all. Fr. John lived so quietly and he passed to eternity gently and quietly too, sustained by that wonderful loving attention given to him by each and every member of the Community. For we know how during those weeks, the latter weeks of his illness, he was never left alone, always someone there to show the real- brotherhood of the Cistercian Community and to give the strength of shared prayer. And so, we thank the Community. for helping one who was our friend also, as well as your brother in Religion. The last thing that Fr. John would have liked was that we should speak of all- his goodness and virtues, and forget that he, like all of us, was human. The one thing he would wish is that we should remember him in our prayers, that any dimness through which he may now see Almighty God may quickly clear - until he sees his Lord and Master in the full beauty and fragrance of the Beatific Vision. We pray that he may pest in peace. (recorded and transcribed by Sr. M. Gabriel, a niece of Fr. M. John). Father John's Golden Jubilee Celebration of Golden Jubilee - 9th June, 1977 - Corpus Christi Appreciation by Abbot Donald “It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” There is no better way to give thanks than by this celebration of the Eucharist in which we call to mind and make present again the great saving, healing, sanctifying, works of God. And this morning, my brethren, Your Eminence, and my-brothers and sisters, we are helped in our thanksgiving by being able to add in a special way our gratitude for the specific good things the Lord has done for his priest and our brother, Fr. John, during 50 years of priesthood. It is his time of Jubilee to give golden thanks, and it is our joy to be able to share with him in this act of praise and worship. There is no better way of giving thanks than recalling the gifts of the Lord. Now at the time of life when the harvest is golden in its richness and preciousness no one is so aware that it is all a GIFT as is the one who has received. And what better spirit for the harvest than to gather up the sheaves of past years, as indeed we all can, and give them right back to God as our gift. Who can tell what the lord can do? Who can tell what he has done for you? (In the name of Jesus, we have the victory). The answer is that most of it is written in heaven, so I hope no one thinks I am going to attempt to give it. When Fr. John gathers up the sheaves for this gift of thanksgiving to God, the first one must surely be the great blessing of being born into life and into grace within a family where God’s love reigned. His brother and three sisters are still with us to tell us of the faith and dedication of parents who put God and his will before everything; or rather whose “delight was the law of the Lord,” whose delight was to be in the mainstream of God’s will and purpose, the thing which gave glory, and aim, and joy to their lives. Fr. John was born when the century was young. He heard the call to enter God’s service as a monk and priest, and joined the community of Roscrea in 1919. Was it a great struggle, a wrestling like that of David with the Lord to make the decision? Or was it less dramatic, like that of the young man who, with the thought of the future very much in his mind, prepared for bed. He sat on the edge of the bed and thought. He sat with one sock in his hand. The hours went by and then it was dawn and the sun was coming up when, still holding his sock in one hand, he finally said: “All right lord, you win, I will be a priest.” These were not the details of Fr. John’s vocation but at the age of 15 he already knew-what he wanted. The time soon came when the young monk felt the “vision splendid” not only fading in ‘the light of common day” , but in danger of being submerged in physical suffering and failure. He entered wholeheartedly into his training, austerity, strenuous manual labour, and monastic studies, but before the five years were out his health gave way. The doctors diagnosed advance pulmonary consumption. He had a terrible decision to make, either to continue, if allowed, in the monastery, his great wish, or, to leave, so as to prevent infection of others. As never before he was forced to pray. He enlisted the prayers of his family and friends without actually explaining his own plight, and the intercession of the Blessed Mother of God. Perhaps we are not aware of how incorrigibly confident we are in intercession of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Sometimes it takes the contrast of other traditions to make us conscious of it. This actually happened not long ago. A Moderator of the Church of Scotland was visiting a parish. He spoke to the children in Sunday School. He asked for questions. One little girl raised her hand and asked. “When are we going to hear about Our Lady?” He asked her why and what did she want to know. “Well”, said she, (from the lips of babes), “we are always being taught that the Church is a- family and we are all brothers and sisters together. But every family has a mother. And we have not been told about the Mother of Jesus.” She is now grown up and is very devoted to Mary. Anyway, in the young Br. John’s crisis, united prayer went up and Our Lady of Lourdes was invoked. I have not given the details of the seriousness of his condition, but the doctors could offer no hope. But at the next medical examination the symptoms had disappeared. Br. John was able-to stay and was accepted by the community. It may have been the first crisis in which he turned to out Lady, it was far from being the last.. Who can, tell what the Lord can do? In the name of Jesus, we have the victory. The years from ordination in 1927 to his coming to Nunraw in 1946 were, full of interest, increasing responsibility, and faithful service to the community. I will just refer to one part of it. He was much in demand as a confessor. When he was sent to Nunraw a layman remarked to the Abbot, “that he had ruined the Abbey” - that is, that the Abbot had ruined the Abbey by, sending Fr. John away - and he did not mean that he had ruined Nunraw, but the loss to Roscrea was great. Fr. John has helped many as confessor and counsellor and as Guestmaster. It is difficult to describe how this priestly role is so marked in some individuals. If I could tell you exactly hoe Fr. John has been a help to individuals, or if you could describe it to me - then we would know all the answers, and we would be the poorer for it. Is it the warmth that we find in such a priest when we have grown cold? Is it the clear eye and certain vision when we are confused? Is it the peace when we are in trouble? Is it just the sympathy and the sharing when we must carry our burden? Who can tell? Who can tell what the Lord can do? No one is so aware that it is the Lord using his servant, no one takes greater joy in the merciful working which he sees God doing in the hearts of souls as does the priest. And he is not done yet, “Fr. John’s intimations of immortality have been more blessed than those of the poet Wordsworth, and our thoughts today must lie too deep for tears. But as we give thanks we pray that in Jesus’ name he will have the true victory of grace and glory.