Born: 08 February 1905, Glin, County Limerick, Ireland
Entered: 20 September 1922, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly, Ireland
Ordained: 31 July 1936, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1939, Loyola, Tai Lam Chung, Hong Kong
Died: 12 July 1967, St Francis Xavier, Kingsmead Hall, Singapore
Father FitzGerald came to Hong Kong in 1938. After two years spent studying Cantonese, he went to the Regional Seminary, Aberdeen, where he taught philosophy and later theology. Towards the end of the war he went to Macau to teach in the College of St Luis Gonzaga. After the war he taught English Literature in Wah Yan College, Hong Kong until 1955. For many years he combined this teaching with a vigorous chaplaincy to the R.A.F.
In 1955 he went to Singapore to lecture in the Teachers’ Training College. In 1958 he moved to Penang as chaplain to a very large complex of educational works run by the Infant Jesus Sisters there. In 1964, with seriously impaired health of which he took singularly little notice, he returned to Singapore, still ready for hard work. He suffered a series of heart attacks. In the last year of his life he took over the editorship of the Malaysian Catholic News and the wardenship of Kingsmead Hall.
The extraordinary variety of posts filled by Father FitzGerald – lectureship in philosophy and theology, secondary school teaching R.A.F. chaplaincy, convent chaplaincy, administration, editorship – and the success he achieved in them testify to his extraordinary power of concentration on the matter in hand, whatever it might be. He had a flair for languages – he knew Cantonese, Latin, Greek, Irish, French and Spanish. In ordinary conversation this concentration amounted to an endearing eccentricity – he would concentrate fully on the subject under discussion if he was distracted from that subject; he was totally distracted and showed no memory of the original subject. In his work this was no eccentricity, but an astonishing power of focusing all his remarkable powers on whatever task lay before him.
Even the onset of very bad health could not rob him of this invaluable gift, He was a sick man, already in his sixties, when he started his highly successful editorship of the Malaysian Catholic News, but he greeted the work with all the enthusiasm with which he had greeted the first work that had fallen to him as a young priest.
One day in July 1967, he felt a heart attack coming on and drove himself to Mount Alvernia Hospital. There, his condition worsened and he died soon after.
Book: 50 years of the parish of the Church of St Ignatius, 2012