Fr. Ken McCabe (Westminster Diocese) died peacefully on the evening of Wednesday, February 6th. In recent years, a series of strokes left Ken struggling with severe health issues. Since 2010, he received wonderful nursing care from the team in Cherryfield Lodge. He had an unusual history, as Kevin O'Higgins recounts.
Ken had life-long links with the Irish Province. He was educated at Mungret College, and entered the Jesuit Novitiate in 1952. As a scholastic, he spent several years teaching in Belvedere College. During those years of Jesuit training, the plight of disadvantaged children became the main focus of his concern. In the mid-1960s, his efforts to sound the alarm about the mistreatment of children in Industrial Schools led to difficulties with both Church and State authorities. The upshot was that Ken departed from both Ireland and the Society. He was ordained to the priesthood for Westminster Diocese in 1967.
For the next 40 years, Ken devoted his energies to working on behalf of children from distressed families. He founded the Lillie Road Centre, which offered education and residential care to over 400 such young people. His final project was to establish a branch of this Centre in Edenderry, near Dublin.
During all those years in London, Ken maintained close links with many Irish Jesuits. Thanks to Fr. Joe Dargan’s decision to send novices to work with Ken on summer placements, those links transcended Ken’s own generation. It is wonderful that, in his final years, Ken returned to Milltown Park and the loving care of the nursing staff in Cherryfield. Fittingly, his mortal remains were laid to rest in the Jesuit burial plot in Glasnevin Cemetery. Ken was a great man, and a dedicated priest. May he rest gently in God’s love.