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Archbishop Denis Hurley: A Personal Memoir


One bishop outside of Europe who was a major influence at the Second Vatican Council was Archbishop Denis Hurley of Durban in South Africa. He had some links with Ireland. He was born in 1915 to an Irish emigrant family and when he joined the Oblates of Mary Immaculate he came to Ireland to complete his noviciate here. He was ordained Bishop of Durban at the age of 31, then the youngest Catholic bishop in the world. I came to know him well when I was in Rome studying for a postgraduate degree in canon law. He came to Rome as a member of the Central Preparatory
Commission established by Pope John XXIII to organize the Second Vatican Council which he had announced on 29 June 1959.
Later, soon after the Council had ended, I spent some time with him in Durban. He was a mine of information with a colourful memory of all those personalities who had featured in the debates at the Council. It is true that we in Ireland did not learn as much about him as we should have in regard to his many important contributions and interventions in the debates.