Fr Senan Timoney died unexpectedly and quietly on 13 February. At the age of 85 he could look back on a life in four provinces, having quartered his years neatly between Galway, Limerick, Dublin and the North.
As he had covered Ireland in his residences, he covered many of the Province’s houses and ministries with distinction: formation (Minister of Juniors, Director of Tertians), teaching (of Irish, Maths, French, sociology, religion, rowing), headmastering in Mungret, administering (Rector, Socius to Provincial), spiritual direction, pastoral and retreat work, keeping the accounts for Brian Lennon’s chip shop in Portadown, and accompanying the brethren through it all, a good companion and sought after in every house. There was not a mean bone in his body; he had so little ego in his makeup.
With all his strengths, Senan had an eye for detail, and had an unofficial position as proof-reader of the Province status. He knew that the devil is in the detail. He was a formidable golfer, neat and accurate, with a trim figure which in recent months was wasted to the point of emaciation.
On Ash Wednesday five years ago they diagnosed the blood condition which required regular transfusions. He moved from Belfast to Cherryfield, where the staff remember his engagement with life, always interested, ready to talk about the TV programmes he had watched, alert to the sick and the suffering, welcoming his countless friends. Here is a measure of the regard in which he was held: among the crowds at his funeral was a man whom he had expelled from Mungret. “Best thing ever happened to me, he said, I preferred horses to Homer and was at the races when I should have been in class. Senan and my parents saw that schooling did not suit me. I’ve done fine without it.”
Senan consciously kept death – and any talk of death – at bay. He went to the Lord on Ash Wednesday, the ashes still fresh on his forehead. His Jesuit brethren feel a huge sense of loss for a man who so central to their corporate life, and such a dearly loved companion. May God be good to him.