Former Archbishop of Cashel dies, aged 82


TRIBUTES have been paid to the former Archbishop of Cashel, Dr Thomas Morris, who died yesterday after a long illness, aged 82.

The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Dr Sean Brady, said he was "very saddened". Dr Morris had been "a kind, thoughtful and humorous man - a great pastor who loved his and was loved by them".

The former primate, Cardinal Cahal Daly, said he had lost "a good personal friend of many years". He said Dr Morris was very much a bishop of the Second Vatican Council", whose work "for rural community development through Muintir na Tire and other bodies was in advance of its time".

The Archbishop of Cashel, Dr Dermot Clifford, said Dr Morris would be "remembered especially for the restoration of Holy Cross Abbey, which has become a place of pilgrimage". The late archbishop was "held in high esteem by the priests, religious and people of the archdiocese".

The president of the GAA, Mr Jack Boothman, also paid tribute to Dr Morris, who was a patron of the association. He was completely in tune with the GAA and right up until last year he rarely missed an opportunity to attend a game," he said. Dr Morris, he added, "was a man of peace and vision who had a profound love for his people, for his country, its culture and Gaelic games".

Dr Morris retired in September 1988 after 28 years as archbishop.

Born in Kilkennybeg, Killenaule, near Thurles, Co Tipperary on October 16th, 1914, he was educated at Killenaule National School and the Christian Brothers School, Thurles.

After ordination in June 1939, he did postgraduate studies at Dunboyne Institute, Maynooth, until 1941. He taught theology for a short period in Glenstal Abbey, Co Limerick. In 1942 he was appointed to the staff of St Patrick's College, Thurles, the Cashel diocesan seminary, and was also secretary to Archbishop Jeremiah Kinnane from 1949 to 1959.

His appointment as Archbishop of Cashel in succession to Dr Kinnane was announced on Christmas Eve 1959. He was ordained bishop in Thurles Cathedral on February 28th, 1960.

The diocese, mainly rural has 78,862 Catholics in a general population of 79,800. There are 46 parishes and 86 churches served by 137 priests.

One of his great achievements as archbishop was the restoration of the medieval Cistercian Abbey of Holy Cross, near Thurles, which came back into public use in October 1975. Archbishop Morris spent his retirement in Holy Cross.

Another's achievement was to oversee the development of media communications in the Catholic Church. He was chairman of the Bishops' Commission for Communications for many years and oversaw the development of the Communications Centre in Booterstown, under the direction of the late Father Joe Dunn, and the establishment of the Catholic Communications Institute.

Asked once if he was conservative or liberal, he said he believed in the Fabian principle of "the inevitability of gradualness". Implementing the changes introduced by Vatican II occupied much of his episcopal ministry.

Dr Morris was a fluent Irish speaker, and took a keen interest in local and diocesan history. He made the Cashel archives available to Dom Mark Tierney biographer of Archbishop Thomas Croke.

The remains of Archbishop Morris will leave Holy Cross Abbey at 6.30 p.m. today, arriving in Thurles Cathedral at 7.30 p.m. His body will lie in state tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The funeral Mass takes place at 2.30 p.m. on Sunday and burial will be at Holy Cross immediately afterwards.