Fr. Paul Surlis R.I.P.
The death has occured, on Thursday 29 May, at Crofton, Maryland, to where he had retired, of
Fr. Paul Surlis, who taught theology at St. Patrick’s College Maynooth from 1967-1972 and was a professor of Catholic Social Teaching and Theologies of Liberation from 1975 to 2000 at St. John’s University, New York.
Native of Monasteraden, Ballaghaderren, (Co. Sligo), ordained priest for Achonry Diocese in 1961,
his funeral Mass and burial will take place at St. Aidan’s Church, Monasteraden, at 4pm, on Sat. 14 June. RIP.
There is much of interest on Paul Surlis’s Blog – paulsurlis.com
There will be a Memorial Mass for Fr Paul in Crofton, Maryland on this Saturday, June 7th and, following cremation, his ahes will be taken to Ireland for burial. The Funeral Mass will be in St Aidan’s, Monasteraden at 4pm on Saturday June 14th, followed by burial in church grounds.
Sad to read of the death of Fr Paul Surlis. Indeed his blog is/was always worth a visit. I was a near neighbour of his in 1961-62, though he was seven years my senior: I had a room on the ground-floor of Maynooth’s Humanities House while he was reading for his D.D. in Dunboyne next door, along with other men of note such as Donal Dorr and Liam Ryan.
First encounter, not so happy. At Benediction (Remember that, folks?) one Sunday evening I was thurifer while Paul was the main man. Even after six years of weekly Benedictions in St Pat’s Armagh I had somehow never been asked to drive a thurible and so never got the swing of it, so to speak. The charcoal wasn’t really smouldering and I mustn’t have given it enough encouragement. By the time I handed it to Paul before the monstrance, it was dead out so no wafts of incense arose to ara coeli. Even in the pickle I was in, I could see that Paul was somewhat incensed, but we both went through the motions of swinging the thurible, watched by 200 seminarians trying to concentrate on the Tantum Ergo etc, and by my namesake Dr Thomas A. Finnegan, Junior House Dean and stickler for rubrics and liturgical niceties, decades later Bishop of Killala. By the time we got back to the sacristy, there wasn’t much to say as Sligo faced Armagh over the non-smoking thurible, but Paul stared at me and intoned slowly: “There’s No Smoke Without Fire!”. Later, my namesake was less succinct.
My later encounters with Paul Surlis through his writing were much more positive. I think the last I read was his article, “The Catholic Church’s Lost Hope”, which appeared the week before the conclave last year. It began with his praise of Joseph Ratzinger’s excellent ‘Theological Highlights of Vatican II’ and ended with his praise of much in Benedict’s encyclicals, but everything in between made clear where Paul Surlis stood on the ways in which the post-Council Popes resiled so completely from what he as a ‘peritus’ at the closing session in 1965 understood the Council to be about. That pre-Francis article is still worth reading:
Paul Surlis was a fiery and thought-provoking interlocutor during my theology days in Maynooth, 1969-72. Later we had great encounters in New York and kept in touch by email. He was a very loyal, generous, encouraging friend, and a very selfless, dedicated servant of the Lord.
I edited some of his articles for The Japan Mission Journal, such as “New Proposals on Priestly Ministry” (Spring, 2008); “Notes on Benedict XVI’s New Social Encyclical: Caritas in Veritate” (Spring 2010). He urged me to publish in English an essay on gay marriage I had written in French; I have downloaded it to my website with an extra section in memorial of Paul:
Thank you Eddie, for bringing this excellent article to our attention.
In his blog of August 2012 Paul gave us an expose of ‘Structural Change in the Church’.
“We must move from the hierarchical-Patriarchal pyramid to a Church seen as a communion of Communities of co-equal disciples, with all ministerial roles open to women; that includes the papacy.
Women after all have great experience in the role of servant of the servants of God”
Rest on Peace Paul.