January 10th : S. G. PAUL GINHAC, SJ

Servant of God Paul Ginhac, SJ

Born : May 13, 1824
Died : Jan 10, 1895

Fr Paul Ginhac was born at Mazel-Serverette, Languedoc, France. He was the seventh of twelve children. At twelve he entered the Mende Academy but three years later his father enrolled Paul in the Chirac Seminary in the hope that the discipline would tone down his high spirit. Paul however was very unhappy at the seminary and complained bitterly and his father took him out and sent him back to Mende where he graduated two years later.

Initially Paul had wanted to pursue a career in business in Paris which his parents objected but when his sister, a Visitation nun in Mende suggested that he talked his plans over with a priest who stayed nearby, Paul agreed. The priest invited Paul to a mission run by a Jesuit at a local church. Paul’s heart was unexpectedly touched by the sermon and stayed to the end of the mission. During the procession on the last day, while Paul was looking at our Lord’s figure on a large crucifix carried by young men, it seemed to him that the rays of light from our Lord’s face penetrated his whole being. Trembling all over, he said in a loud: “From this moment I will belong to God alone.” From that hour, Paul Ginhac was dead to self and lived only for God.

Paul entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Avignon on January 4 1843 during which time he was sent to Ben-Aknoun in Algeria to take care of orphans. He returned four years later to begin his studies for the priesthood and was ordained on December 18 1852, earlier than other novices from his group because he was appointed assistant to the master of novices. In 1855, Fr Ginhac became master at Vals-pres-Le-Puy and was responsible for the formation of the young men who entered the Society. Although he was 31 years old, and young for this important task, Fr Ginhac’s virtue and good judgment made up for his lack of experience. He stayed on in this job for fourteen years and when the novitiate moved to Toulouse, he also became Rector of the community for the next eight years. In addition to guiding Jesuits, he was also director of two outstanding individuals, namely Blessed Mother Mary of Jesus (Emilie d’Oultremont), foundress of the Society of Mary Reparatrix, and Blessed Marie-Therese de Soubiran, foundress of the Society of Mary Auxiliatrix.

In 1869, Fr Ginhac was made instructor of tertians at Castres, a position similar to that of master of novices, but a position of greater responsibility since the tertians were mature, ordained priests and not mere youths. As their spiritual guide, his task was to instil in his tertians the spirit of St Ignatius and stimulate them in the pursuit of perfection.

In 1880, when the anti-clerical government of France closed the Society’s churches, schools and residences, the Jesuit scholastics went to Mourvilles to complete their studies and training until 1890 when the tertianship returned to Castres.

In 1894, whilst giving a retreat to the Carmelite sisters in Paris, an old wound in Fr Ginhac’s leg opened and caused him much pain. He however continued with all the retreats he had scheduled for the summer and when he returned to Castres, his wound became worse. When the infirmarian suggested that he go to bed to rest his wound, he would not hear of it. After Christmas, he caught a cold and one of his lungs became congested. When he developed a fever and a rash of large spots on his body, he had to be confined to bed but because of the intolerable itching, he was unable to sleep. Throughout his sufferings, he repeated: “May God be praised!”

On January 10, when it was clear that Fr Ginhac would not survive, he was given anointing. He blessed the community gathered in his room, bade them goodbye and waited for his end to come. Fr Ginhac, a model Jesuit gave his soul to God at 10.30 that evening in return for the love God had given him. He was 71 years old and had been a Jesuit for 52 years. His cause was introduced in Rome on February 27 1924.