A ‘one-man meals-on-wheels’!
Brother Charley Connor SJ, affectionately known to all in Clongowes Wood College as ‘Cha’ celebrated his 90th birthday on 25 September 2023. Three birthday parties were hosted for him on the day. And Jesuits, friends, and colleagues joined in a celebratory Mass to mark the occasion, including local woman Cáit Cullen, a friend of Br Charles and a tireless worker for the canonisation cause of Blessed John Sullivan SJ. Cáit penned this Happy Birthday tribute below to Br Cha.
Marking an extraordinary life
Coming from a farming background in County Laois, Br Charley has had an extraordinarily
active and fulfilling life undertaking many tasks. He spent over 20 years from his mid-twenties in the Jesuit mission in Chikuni, Zambia, where he managed an 8,000-acre farm. In1978, he returned to Ireland and has spent all his subsequent life in Clongowes Wood College.
Initially he was responsible for transport and maintenance in the college, but his work took on a new and extended role when he succeeded Fr Brian Cullen, founder of the Society for the Relief of the Poor and Aged. During this period Brother Charley became a well-known figure in the area around Clongowes bringing food and fuel to the needy. In 2019, Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin when conferring Br Charley with the Papal Benemerenti Medal for his work in the local community, described him as “one-man meals-on-wheels”.
Br Charley also gives a lot of his time in service to the People’s Church in the college and in ministry to those who attend Mass there. He also has an involvement in assisting the public seeking spiritual assistance from Blessed John Sullivan SJ.
According to Fr Michael Sheil, Rector of Clongowes Wood College, “Brother Charley has a special apostolate to people coming to Clongowes for a blessing with the Blessed John Sullivan SJ cross. Everyone who comes receives an extraordinary welcome no matter what time of the day or night – and no one goes away without feeling consoled and uplifted by the generosity of his giving and wonderful gift of wise counsel”.
On 25 September, there were three birthday parties organised for Br Charley in Clongowes -one by the students, one by the staff, and one from the congregation that usually attend the 8 a.m. Mass in the Peoples Church.
As Charley enters this new decade in life, his many friends wish him a long life, good health