Fr Edward Holloway was a remarkable priest. When he died on 24 March 1999, Fr (now Mgr) Patrick Burke, then editor of Faith Magazine, asked five friends and disciples who knew him well to write these essays on him for the July 1999 issue of the magazine to give a tribute to his life and work. They represent a rounded view from several different angles. We present them to you now. We do so because there may be several people who did not know him and would like to know more about him.
There is a growing interest in the thinking of Edward Holloway, especially in the brilliant synthesis of religion and science he articulated so well throughout his life and writings. These essays show him to be a unique priest who struggled to get this vision across in difficult circumstances. Although he would probably deplore the idea of focusing on him personally, we nonetheless think it is time to do so, so that he should be more widely known.
The crucial importance of the Synthesis in Edward Holloway
A number of themes from these essays are the following. Firstly all agree about his synthetic mind and the importance of the “new synthesis” to his thinking:
“This note of Synthesis is in fact the key note to all his work. For him there is only one Wisdom — whether scientific, philosophical or theological — for they all come from the Mind of God.... A new ‘synthesis’ of revealed wisdom (in itself unchanging) and human science (where progress through discovery and reflection is always possible) is called for.” “Christ, then, who is the key who resolves the paradox, the answer to the whole meaning and purpose of creation. Holloway is able to show how Jesus Christ is the One in whom our supernatural destiny is uniquely granted as a gift, at the same time as showing how He is the centre upon which all the laws of nature are aligned from the beginning, and in whom the Unity Law itself is fulfilled.” (Editorial, Faith Magazine)
“In the synthesis he attempted to develop, the splendour of revelation and the beauty of creation, the teaching of religion and the knowledge gained through science and philosophy are all shown to arise from the one Wisdom of God, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
“Joined to Christ man is made divine, a son of God, a co-heir with Christ. In such a vision the centrality of Jesus Christ shines forth with a majesty and beauty that should make us deeply aware of the holiness of this cosmos.” (Fr David Barrett)
“And I began to learn that he had something profound and exciting to offer us: a new synthesis of science and the faith, which the Church and the world urgently needed... For the first time one ‘saw’ a coherent cosmic vision, with Christ as the Heir of the Ages.... I had never heard the Scotist view of the Incarnation before. How wonderfully it opened up the unity of creation and revelation. It unfolded for me an intellectual framework which has held good for the rest of my life... It was that pouring out of wisdom that was so striking. He had an extraordinarily synthetic mind: everything would be drawn together into that unified, coherent vision.” (Andrew Nash)
His personal qualities
“It is the opinion of many of us who are involved in Faith that he did indeed have something of importance to say and to offer to the Church and that his work does at least deserve to be taken seriously. ... Without Fr Holloway’s single minded and dedicated life of service to the Church neither the movement nor the vision upon which it is based would have come into existence. As such we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. He was a good and faithful servant of the Church.” (Mgr Patrick Burke)
“Holloway was by any measure a great and original mind, although he remained all his life a pastoral priest, still active even long into retirement, right up to a week before his death at the age of eighty-one. In the end it is how he would have wanted it. It was where his heart was, with God and with the people.” (Editorial, Faith Magazine)
“His temper was quickly roused but also passed quickly, and he was a man who did not find it difficult to apologise. And with that forthrightness, there went also great compassion and encouragement. People who never knew him - and that includes many of his contemporaries - do not know what a great man, and a great priest they missed. ... And that is how I remember Slim, who of all the priests I have ever met has left the most lasting impression upon me. At a time when the theological storms were beginning to be felt in these islands, long after they had been blowing a gale in the rest of Europe, Slim was for many of us like a rock, standing firm as all about us was moving and capsizing.” (Fr James Tolhurst)
A true and real priest
“Fr. Holloway was completely the priest. ... Yes, he could have the temper of a Jerome, but he had the lovability of a Philip Neri and the courage and the wisdom of an Athanasius.” (Andrew Nash)
“He was like a large oak tree under which we all sheltered and over the years received strength and support..... There is no doubt in my mind that God had chosen a strong and powerful priest, but also a humble one, with a most brilliant mind to give us this unique vision.” (Fr Roger Nesbitt)
“He is best known for his forming of priestly vocations, but he formed us in the greatness of the vocation of marriage and the family.... Thank you, Father, for what you did for us and for the Church.” (Andrew Nash)
“He had a love for the priesthood and a love for young people, and he was instrumental in helping numerous people to discern their vocations.” (Fr Roger Nesbitt)
His writings live on
If this pamphlet has interested you in Edward Holloway, may we suggest that the best result is to read his works if you have not already done so. A list is given at the end of his writings. May we suggest you start with his short pamphlet Christian Formation and move on to his major work Catholicism: a New Synthesis.
We thank God for him. In the words of Mgr Patrick Burke: “It is the opinion of many of us that he did indeed have something of importance to say and to offer to the Church and that his work does at least deserve to be taken seriously.”