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Archbishop Thomas Morris


Archbishop Morris c1970

Archbishop Thomas Morris 1985

Born in Killenaule, County Tipperary, on 16 October 1914, Dr Morris received his early education in Killenaule N.S. and Thurles C.B.S. He entered Maynooth College in September 1932 and was ordained there on 18 June 1939. Receiving his doctorate in theology in June 1941, Dr Morris spent some months teaching in Glenstal Abbey before becoming a member of the staff of St. Patrick's College in January 1942. He taught theology there until 1960, being appointed secretary to Archbishop Kinane in 1947 and Vice-President of the College in 1957.

     Appointed Archbishop in 1960, Dr Morris attended the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, participating in some groups with the Archbishop of Kracow, Karol Wojtyla.

Old friends meet

     Dr Morris read widely, developing an impressive range of interests which he cultivated throughout his life. Indeed, one of the regrets of his life as archbishop was the lack of opportunity to devote more time to his favourite pastime of reading. He preserved a keen interest in various aspects of technology. He was an enthusiastic apostle of the Second Vatican Council's promotion of the media, instrumental in the founding of the Catholic Communications Institute of Ireland which trained people in the use of audio-visual media. He encouraged priests in the diocese to use such graphic, photographic and print media in their work. He began to use a computer late in life and would certainly have rejoiced in the opportunities presented by the internet as a means of promoting the message of Jesus.

     He was keen to address the social situation of an Ireland which was coping with the effects of the Economic War and the Second World War. His involvement with Canon John Hayes and Muintir na Tire over many years continued with his annual visits to Bansha which he maintained until shortly before his death.

     Dr Morris' cultural and historical interests were many and varied. He was a founder member and active participant in a number of local historical societies. His deep love of the Irish language found expression especially in his annual holiday sojourns in the West Kerry Gaeltacht of Corcha Dhuibhne. He served for twenty eight years as a much respected and admired Patron of Cumann Lúth-Chleas Gael (the G.A.A.).

     Dr Morris was the main visionary and driving force in restoring Holycross Abbey to its ancient splendour. His concern for heritage resulted in the cataloguing of the valuable collection of historical papers in Archbishop's House, Thurles, and the indexing of diocesan parochial records. In making the diocesan records available to the public, he ensured that doing so would provide training and employment of people in the Archdiocese.

     A man of exceptional qualities, Dr Morris impressed and influenced many throughout his life. He was, above all, a man of faith who always remained close to his roots which were deeply embedded in rural Ireland. He not only lauded the virtue of dílseacht, loyalty to one's roots, he also embodied it in his life. The life of Dr Morris was synonymous with love for all that was best in our rich religious, cultural and historical tradition.

     Endowed with exceptional dignity and poise, Dr Morris was noted for his capacity to deliberate and then persevere along the chosen path. Wherever he went, his was a calm and reassuring presence. Perhaps he will be remembered most of all for his exceptional generosity and dedication to duty. In this regard he led by example. He was a great conversationalist and was at ease in any company. Not surprisingly he was both popular and in demand in circles such as the G.A.A. and Muintir na Tire with their emphasis on the virtues and values of the local community. For years he faithfully visited pre-marriage preparation courses throughout the archdiocese to express his support for this work and to speak both formally and informally with participants.

     Dr Morris was a progressive and enlightened pastor who guided the Church of Cashel and Emly with a steady hand through the turbulent waters of the post-Vatican II era. He was a believer in the virtue of the small initiative, never faltering in his efforts to encourage the possible.

     Dr Morris enjoyed a pleasant and active retirement after moving to Holycross in September 1988. His death on16 January 1997 evoked genuine and widespread sadness. Many rightly sensed that his passing marked the end of an era. The moving demonstration of grief and sadness occasioned by his death but highlighted the great respect in which the archbishop had been held by so many. The large attendance at his lying-in-state and funeral was fitting testimony to the affection and gratitude which was widely felt for one who had contributed so much in his accustomed quiet and dignified manner.

     May he enjoy the rest of the blessed as his mortal remains lie in peace in the shadow of his beloved Holycross Abbey awaiting the final summons to the eternal banquet.


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