There is a real joy in celebrating the life of Con Jordan today. He was such a good man. Of course we are a bit disappointed he couldn’t wait for another week to celebrate his 100th birthday but then you know him and how much he hated any fuss!!! He has been “ready to go” as he has said for some time now and couldn’t work out why he was still here!!
As you know....there is a file kept on every priest and religious and reports go way back 90 years ago when he first arrived at Douglas Park as an Apostolic School student. There is a beautiful letter there he wrote to the provincial at the end of his time saying that how grateful he was for accepting him into Douglas Park even when his parents were very poor and were unable to pay anything. In asking to be accepted into the Novitiate he thought his mother could provide most of the clothing “but not the blacks”.
Every year there were annual reports on his progress through the seminary years and these are just a few of the very consistent comments throughout those reports:
- “well balanced type with abounding good will.”
- “he has general all round perception and common sense above his years”
- “cheerful and bright character; has good judgement and imagination and good initiative”
- “he should prove a very valuable man”
However, there is one report which is quite out of character written by Darcy Morris. He must have got on the wrong side of Darcy the day the report was written (or Darcy got out on the wrong side of the bed!). This is what it says:
- “He has not very bright intellect and memory and in inclined to laziness, self gratification and self respect, with the result that he often careless in some respects, such as deportment, perseverance in study and attention to his confreres...He should make a very good priest.”!!!
Only Darcy and Con would know what that was all about.
As you know Con remembered his years as a teacher in our schools with great affection. He particularly loved his time at Downlands College. When I was there as Principal he was always spoken about most affectionately at past students gatherings. I was at Downlands only yesterday and one of his past students, Phil Fitzgerald, who is also here today was telling me that his nickname during his time was ‘Drake’. At that time his hearing was failing and he spoke in that high pitched monotone we all became used to and the kids pick up on those things and thought he sounded like a duck. When it was raining the kids would run past and say “Morning Father, great weather for ducks!!” thinking of course he didn’t know his name.
He showed great promise as a teacher and it was a bit unusual for the time he studied for a BA. He got his Teaching Certificate and also a Bachelor of Education. It was a great sadness for him when he was asked to leave Downlands and run a “crash course” in teacher training at the seminary at Croydon to prepare young priests and seminarians for teaching.
The onset of deafness became quite a challenge towards the end of his time in schools. There was little could be done for him. It was even contemplated sending him to the US to try to do something for him but the nerve damage was too great. In 1978 he wrote a letter to the Provincial about this: “My deafness does not worry me that much except in so far as it is a trial for my confreres more than for me. Providence has always been kind to me and I have no reason to think my deafness is anything other than God’s way of helping me to be faithful to the end.
Because of the deafness - He spent the 27 years of his life as Mission Procurator where he was able to work alone a lot of the time chasing up pieces of machinery, organising monies to be transferred to remote missions and so on. He was tireless in his efforts for the men and women in remote communities and this was truly appreciated by them.
During these years he also worked at the Catholic Inquiry Centre in Maroubra and when he finished there the Director of the Centre wrote to the Provincial:
“I write this letter to express something of the immense debt of gratitude to Con for his truly selfless years of work for us and to ask you to pass on to your community the very special esteem in which all of us here at the Centre hold him.
Of all who might read it, Con would be the least comfortable with this small tribute, but it would be made all the same: he has a real personal concern for everybody he writes to which makes their cares and their worries become his burden. He is held in unqualified admiration by the staff here. They have a deeply felt personal affection for him.”
In the last years he was plagued terribly by scruples and many tried to allay his fears about many things. This could well have been because of the isolation that his deafness brought to him and the many hours left with his own thoughts.
Through his life Con was a wonderful religious. A man of great kindness. A selfless man. A man attentive to the needs of others. He lived his life for others. A man of deep prayerfulness. A man who allowed the life of God to grow within him throughout his 100 years of life. We thank God for his life amongst us and know that he is resting well with the one who loved him and whom he loved deeply.
Eulogy, John Mulrooney MSC, Provincial Superior
Photos courtesy of Fr Adrian Meaney MSC,