Our brother, Fr Hyacinth (Jimmy) Ennis died peacefully on 27th September in the Holy Cross Nursing Home, Suderberg, South Africa.
Jimmy was born in Tullamore in 1940. He joined the Franciscan Order in 1958 and received his religious name, Hyacinth. He celebrated his First Profession in Killarney Friary in 1958 and was ordained a priest in Rome in 1968.
After volunteering for mission in South Africa, he was sent for higher studies in moral theology to Leuven, Belgium. In the coming decades, up to his retirement, he lectured in St John Vianney National Seminary in Pretoria where he was held in the highest esteem and affection by generations of future priests and bishops.
Hyacinth was also involved in parish ministry, serving as parish priest of St Pius X parish. In addition, at times, he was called upon to work in the formation of young South African friars.
Hyacinth’s fruitful ministry and his Franciscan witness brought blessings to many and build up the Church in that nation.
May his generous soul rest in the peace of Christ.
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier OFM passed on a very warm and revealing tribute of Hyacinth made by Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of uMthatha Diocese, the President of the South African Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Bishop Sithembele Sipuka writes: “Sad news indeed! An all-rounder formator. I am told that during his young years as professor at St John Vianney Seminary he was a great soccer player with the students, more by noise than the actual ball touching his foot, calling for the ball which apparently was not getting closer to him.
‘As such’ was his cliche. Friendly but tough in the oral exams. I recall in one exam which I thought I was answering well, he interjected and ended by saying ‘to answer the question for you’. I left the room thinking I had failed.
He was very explicit on how sex should happen or not happen and scandalized those of us who were innocent until he spoke.
Yet a very good spiritual director and confessor, and an inspiring example of hard work with well-prepared notes, in those days typed in a manual typewriter, and he was a person of simple life.
A very dedicated person to formation and teaching. Very grateful to him and the Franciscans for having had him in the Seminary. His departure marks an end of an era. May he rest in peace and may those of us touched by his life be consoled.”
The Cardinal adds: “The Bishop knew Hyacinth extremely well as a professor, then as a colleague and obviously a friend. He says everything there is to say about Hyacinth, omitting only that quiet interior part of Hyacinth where Jesus was alone with his good and faithful servant!
Family and Friars
He is deeply missed by his brother Michael, sisters Rufina Recks and Barbara Canella (predeceased by brother Patrick), and by nephews, nieces, relatives and friends, and by his Franciscan brothers in South Africa and Ireland.
Funeral Mass will be celebrated in Saint Pius X Church, Waterkloof on Thursday 5th October at 8.00am (Irish time).
Burial will take place in La Verna Franciscan Retreat Centre, Vanderbijlpark.
“Welcome Sister Death!”
The Funeral Mass can be viewed via the following link: