At the frontiers

July 8, 2008 in General, News

Jesuits in Valentia, KerryThe picture shows five seasoned Jesuits at the edge of Ireland, with Valentia Island behind them. Left to right they have been working in: Milltown-Cherryfield (John Guiney), Zimbabwe (John Moore), Central Mental Hospital (Des O’Grady), Kenya (Cecil McGarry), and Zambia (Jerry O’Connell). Paul Andrews (JCC) was at the other side of the camera. When lumped together for a week in a house on a wild Kerry headland, the days were too short for all they had to exchange. JJM has weathered the madness of Harare remarkably well. He has had to alter his attitude to money. Inflation, despite being declared “illegal” by the Zimbabwean central bank, is running annually at over one million %. A loaf of bread now costs what twelve new cars did a decade ago. So when scholastics get their hog, they spend it immediately before it halves in value.

Jesuits there and elsewhere are sometimes embarrassed when Robert Mugabe, the architect of this chaos, speaks of his Jesuit education. In fact Mugabe attended a school run by French-Canadian Marists, not by Jesuits. When he is looking for Catholic votes or approval, he speaks of his friendship with Jerome O’Hea (a British Jesuit and parish priest, long dead) and Fidelis Mukonori, outgoing Jesuit Provincial, who was friendly both with Mugabe and with several others involved in the struggle for independence.