Fr Joseph Mallin SJ
On Sunday 10th April, Fr Gerard Gallen SJ celebrated Mass for the students of Imperial College resident at St. Thomas More House in South Kensington.
He told the story of Fr Joseph Mallin SJ in his homily. Fr Joseph Mallin SJ was born in 1913. Now about to turn 103, he is the oldest Irish Jesuit and still works as a missionary in Hong Kong. His father was Michael Mallin, who commanded the fighting at St Stephen’s Green on Easter Monday 1916 with Countess Markievicz as his deputy. Michael Mallin paid the ultimate price and was executed in Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin on May 8th, 1916. On the centenary of the Easter Rising in Dublin, this year, Fr Joe was awarded the Freedom of the city of Dublin.
Fr Gallen relates “After Mass, the student altar server (Aidan) was beaming with joy. He proudly told me that before coming to study in London he used to serve Mass for Fr Joe in Hong Kong where Aidan comes from and where Fr Joe continues to live and work! Aidan, who hears news of Fr Mallin regularly, told me that he’s still very happy and never takes a lift but always walks up and down the stairs, indeed he walks everywhere!”
The night before his father’s execution, Joseph was taken to Kilmainham Gaol by his mother, then pregnant with their fifth child, to say goodbye. Fr Mallin was only two and a half years old and does not remember the occasion. His father wrote to his little boy in his last letter: “Joseph, my little man, be a priest if you can.” He recalls his mother as a wise woman, who tried to let her five children experience as normal a family life as possible.
Fr Joe Mallin often played his father’s flute that Michael Mallin had played in Liberty Hall in the Workers’ Orchestra on the eve of the 1916 Rising. The flute and his father’s watch are now in the National Museum in Dublin.
In a greeting on Fr Mallin’s 100th birthday, Senator Mark Daly wrote:
“As a nation we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the sacrifice made by many men and women through the generations. The price paid by your father in laying down his life, the price paid by your mother who lost her husband, the price paid by you and your siblings who grew up without their father is a debt un-repayable by any nation.
The proclamation whose ideals they tried to fulfil contains concepts that are both timeless and universal. Those aims are as relevant to people struggling for rights all over the world today as much as they were for the people of Ireland in 1916.”