Veale, Joseph (‘Joe’) (1921–2002), Jesuit priest and teacher, was born 7 March 1921 in Dublin, younger of two children and only son of William J. Veale, civil servant, and Mary Veale (née Mullholland), both of Dublin. After primary education at St Patrick's national school, Drumcondra, Dublin, and secondary education at CBS Synge St., Dublin, he entered the Society of Jesus 7 September 1938. He studied arts at UCD (1940–43), philosophy at Tullabeg (1943–6), and theology at Milltown Park, Dublin (1949–53), where he was ordained as a Jesuit priest on 31 July 1952, spending his tertianship at Rathfarnham (1953–4).
Veale taught at Belvedere College, Dublin (1946–9), and at Gonzaga College, Dublin (1954–72). As a teacher of English and religion, he was central to the conception and development of Gonzaga College as a school with exceptional academic standards, in which the emphasis, in practice as well as theory, was on education and expression rather than on examinations. He was the founder and inspiration of the school debating society, An Comhdháil. While working as a teacher, Joe Veale wrote several influential articles about education which were published in Studies, as well as a number of articles in the Irish Monthly including a number on literary criticism. His article ‘Men speechless’ (Studies, xlvi (autumn 1957)), which set out his philosophy and vision of education, was widely influential. During his years as a teacher he also made an important contribution to the recasting of the national English curriculum for secondary schools. However, his principal contribution as a teacher, and probably his most enduring significance, was where he would have wished it to be – in the classroom itself. A teacher of exceptional insight, ability, and dedication, he inspired in a generation of pupils a capacity for independent thought. His rare understanding of language, and his skill in using it, equipped a great many of his pupils with a greater ability than they could otherwise have had to analyse the spoken and written word, to evaluate ideas, and to express their thoughts effectively.
From 1972 to 2002 he was based at Milltown Park, where his activities included study, research, lecturing, and spiritual direction. He became an authority on the spiritual exercises of St Ignatius, which he directed in Ireland, Britain, and the United States. He lectured on spirituality at the Milltown Institute, gave retreats and conferences in many countries, and was widely regarded as an exceptional spiritual director. From 1976 to 1985, and again from 1986 to 1988, he was director of Jesuits in their tertianship. He spent extensive periods every year at Boston College in the United States.
While based at Milltown Park, he wrote extensively about Ignatian spirituality, including Saint Ignatius speaks about ‘Ignatian prayer’ (St Louis, 1996; published as part of Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits); contributions to three books on the subject; and numerous articles in The Way, Studies, Milltown Studies, Religious Life Review, and The Furrow. In an article (Catholic Herald, 24 Jan. 2003) Anthony Symondson wrote that Joe Veale ‘had a profound understanding of the exercises, went below the surface, and extracted the spirituality from a specific historical interpretation. He emancipated it from an encrusted tradition buried in the nineteenth century and allowed St Ignatius to re-emerge. He strongly resisted the tyranny of ideology.’
Joe Veale also wrote several articles for Interfuse, including ‘Eros’ (no. 102, summer/autumn 1999), and the penetrating and timely article ‘Meditations on abuse . . . ’ (Doctrine and Life (May/June 2000)). He died at Loughlinstown hospital, Co. Dublin, 11 October 2002. Joe Veale's integrity and commitment to seeking the truth in all its paradox and complexity obliged him to have an open mind and encouraged a similar aspiration in very many of those who knew him.