Celebrating Irish Jesuit missionaries

September 6, 2021 in Featured News, News

Irish Jesuits International, the global development agency of the Irish Jesuit Province, are celebrating significant anniversaries of Irish Jesuit missionaries with the publication of their stories. These include Frank Wafer SJ on his work to preserve the culture and language of the Tonga people in Zambia; John K Guiney SJ who reflects on his years in Africa and the impact of the experience on his life; and Peter Carroll SJ who looks back on his time accompanying young people on their spiritual journeys.

The one who sings

Pádraig Swan, Director of Faith and Service Programmes in Belvedere College, reflects on the life of his friend Frank Wafer SJ who celebrates his 70th anniversary in the Society of Jesus this year. The Irish Jesuit missionary is known among the Tonga people in Zambia as maembo, meaning ‘the one who sings’.

Pádraig Swan reflects:

“In addition to writing and recording liturgical music – which is still in use today – Frank spent much of his priestly life writing dictionaries. He created the only Tonga-English dictionary available in the world. He also established the Mukanzubo Institute and Museum in Chikuni for the promotion of Tonga culture, music and dance for the next generation.”

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I am because we are

Reflecting on his years in Africa as he celebrates 50 years in the Society, John K Guiney SJ says:

“I am alive and well because of so many people I met along the way. There is a wonderful Bantu proverb in Ubuntu philosophy that says ‘I am because we are.’ It means that one’s life and work is made up of a tapestry of relationships and human connections from conception to death. I am, because of the love and kindness of so many. I have learned what I know from others on the way and I am still learning.”

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Accompanying young adults in Zambia/Malawi

Peter Carroll SJ has spent his life in Zambia and Malawi leading novices, fellow Jesuits and laypeople in their spiritual formation. He celebrates 60 years in the Society this year.

Referring to a major part of his Jesuit life, he says:

“On return to Zambia in 1976 and after a few years learning Nyanja and gaining some experience in parish work and hospital ministry, I was to spend more than 25 years in the work of formation of Jesuits and diocesan priests. During eight years as novice-master in the 1980s, the novices came from many countries, from Sudan and Ethiopia in the north to South Africa in the south.”

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