Irish Jesuit Bishop’s Remains Returned to Africa

June 5, 2012 in 2005

The remains of Bishop James Corboy will be flown to Zambia for re-interement in the diocese of Monze where he was Bishop for thirty years. Bishop Corboy, a native of Caherconlish, Co.Limerick died in November of last year and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetry Dublin. But since he had spent the last 30 years of his life as Bishop of Monze, the people of his diocese along with the order of Holy Spirit Sisters founded by Bishop Corboy, wanted his body returned so he could be buried in the country that had become his home close to the people who loved him. The Bishop’s family and the Jesuit Community here agreed to their request and the Bishop’s remains will rest in the Cathedral at Monze during the celebrations to mark one hundred years of the Jesuit presence in Zambia.

 In a series of interviews in The Sacred Heart Messenger, given shortly before he died Bishop Corboy spoke of his appointment as Bishop in 1962. “That was a crucial year in my life. I was living in Milltown Park where I was teaching the theology of the Church. Then literally out of the blue for me I was made bishop of a new diocese in Africa.”

That appointment was just before the Second Vatican Council began and he attended the Council and found it a life changing experience. “I knew little about the role of the bishop and I knew nothing about Africa…but in the Council I was listening to the bishops of the world talking about their work… there was a danger of people like me going to Africa and setting up an Irish Church and I had to learn that we were going there to help Africans to set up a church of their own”.

The Council’s vision of Church as ‘the people of God’ was a guiding principle for Bishop Corby. “The whole notion of community affected me deeply. I was to work not just for others but with them and I was to consult”. And according to Conall Ó Cuinn SJ who worked for many years in Zambia with the Bishop, it was this great respect and love for the people of Monze that made him so special to them.  “That’s why they’ve gone so far as to ask for his remains to he exhumed in Ireland so he can be with them in death as in life, on their native soil. May he rest in peace there.”