PAGE 13

Click on the item you wish to view:

Mrs Ella Mack

Bro. Kentigern Walsh WF

Fr Stanley Lea WF

Fr John Conway

Fr Tom McKenna










Mrs Ella Mack - 1970
(taken from the White Fathers' / White Sisters' magazine April-May 1971)

Mrs Colin Mack
, better known to most Scots White Fathers as Ella, sister of Father Jack McSherry, passed to her reward early on Boxing Day, 1970. Although she had in recent years suffered from her heart, the end came rather quickly and tragically. Along with her husband Colin and some members of her family, she had been out with friends in Paisley for Christmas Dinner. Returning home about 9 p.m. she complained of feeling unwell and went to lie down. Later, she herself thought it advisable to send for the doctor, but died peacefully just after midnight as one of her sons in the States was on the phone with his Christmas Greetings.

A real missionary
Ella was a real missionary. Her life was devoted to her family, five sons and two daughters. But her family also included every White Father at home and abroad. She was an extremely active member of the White Fathers Parents and Friends Association from its earliest days, and when the Paisley "Buddies" opened a branch of the Association, she and Colin really came into their own. Never a function was held but Ella was present, surrounded by friends she had coaxed along in support of the Missions whist drives, beetle drives, harmony nights, bring and buy sales, reunions, retreats and, of course, the Garden Fete.

The esteem in which she, Colin and their family were held, was reflected in the packed Church at her Requiem at St. Charles', Paisley, and the huge number who received Communion. We, the Fathers in Scotland, along with the Association, will miss her kind words of encouragement and wonderful nature. Yes, her passing is a loss on earth but we've certainly gained another intercessor in the Court of Heaven. Pray for the repose of her soul.

May she rest in peace.

Return to Top















































Bro. Kentigern Walsh WF 1914 - 1968
(taken from the White Fathers' / White Sisters' magazine April-May 1968)

Brother Kentigern
came home on sick leave last October and entered the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in December from where he was removed to the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, for an operation. The surgeon diagnosed cancer, and Brother Walsh died a few weeks later on 6th February. He was buried two days later at St. Kentigern's Cemetery, Glasgow.

Born in February 1914, he went to St. Roch's primary and secondary schools in Glasgow. He did his postulancy at Newtown St. Boswells and took the habit at Maison Carree, Algiers, in October 1937. He was professed within a few days of the outbreak of the war and worked on the farm at Thibar, Tunisia, until he came home on leave in 1947.

For the next twenty years he worked in various mission stations in Tanzania as a builder, mechanic, electrician, and diocesan treasurer general. The last years of his life were spent at the Social Training Centre at Nyegezi, Mwanza, on the southern shores of Lake Victoria.

On the occasion of his Silver Jubilee in 1964, Bishop Siedle, of Kigoma, Tanzania, wrote in appreciation: "The most endearing quality of Brother Kenty is his everlasting and unfailing good humour. . . . He is one of those people who has really understood religious life. He gives himself to God wholly and entirely, with a wise-crack on his lips and a smile on his face."

May he rest in peace and revel in the reward Tanzania assured to a loyal and faithful servant of Christ.

Return to Top






























































Fr Stanley Lea WF 1907 - 1983
(source : Petit Echo)

Stan was born on 12 November 1907 in Bantry, Cork Diocese, in the south of Ireland. His parents later emigrated to England and stayed at Grantham in Lincolnshire. After his secondary studies at Bishop's Waltham, Stan went to the British Seminary of Philosophy at Autreppe, Belgium, where he studied from 1926 to 1928. He received the habit at Maison-Carree Noviciate on 16 September 1928, and began his theology at Carthage the following year. Stan had suffered from dysentery at the Noviciate and a weakness had developed in the intestines which obliged him to interrupt his studies in 1931. Pale and thin, he obviously needed a rest. Returning to the United Kingdom, he stayed at Bishop's Waltham where he was able to rest and render some small services at the same time. In September 1932, he was sent to Rome to continue his studies of theology at the Angelicum. He took his oath at the Rome Procura on 15 July 1933 and was ordained priest in St. John Lateran's on Holy Saturday, 31 March 1934.

Stan, of an above average intelligence, had a good judgment with lots of common sense. Thanks to his gentle and calm character, he was a good factor for fusion. Appointed to Britain, Father Lea began by teaching at Bishop's Waltham (1934-35). Then he spent one year at the Heston Provincialate and in July 1936 he went to teach in Autreppe. Of a nervous disposition, he worked very hard, moderating himself only with difficulty. This led to over-exertion, since his health remained frail. But he was a good teacher and a director well liked by the pupils. In 1939, it was decided to transfer the British house of philosophy from Autreppe to Rossington Hall in England where the Province had acquired a big spacious house, which was standing empty. Since Father Lea had to avoid too sedentary a life and any prolonged study, he was appointed bursar at the new seminary. Everything had to be done: repairs to the roof and the building, repainting, installing water and electricity, finding furniture . . . War broke out just as classes were resuming and the house was taken over by the army. The students went to Bishop's Waltham to begin their philosophy. Meanwhile Father Lea packed up the furniture to store it in the other houses. He completed this work in December and went to the Provincialate at Heston as ´propagandist '.

The German army's advance had caught the British philosophers at Kerlois. They were interned for the duration of the war. But in September 1940, the British Province reorganized a course in philosophy with a new contingent of students at St. Helen's farm in Newtown St. Boswells. Stan resumed his classes of philosophy. When Rossington Hall was evacuated by the troops in July 1943, the students returned there with their teachers.

In August 1944, Father Lea was appointed Superior of Bishop's Waltham. At that time there were a dozen pupils living in the old house, built on the property thirty years before the college was put up in 1913. These buildings had been requisitioned for the survivors of the Dunkirk debacle. The Royal Engineers occupied the buildings for four years, causing a lot of damage to the walls and furniture. Military regulations do not foresee any compensation when the occupants are not fed at the owner's expense. Father Lea did not give in. With the help of the bursar who had continued to live in the college building, he drew up an estimate and was so persistent that he managed to obtain a certain compensation for the damage.

In October 1946, Stan had serious trouble with his health, a perforated ulcer. Fortunately for him, he was operated on within two hours of the onset of the attack. ´You've been very lucky' the surgeon told him. The school carried on without him. After some months of convalescence, he was appointed Superior at Heston and pastor of the parish. Since he had been able to go home to Ireland to rest, he returned to the attack to persuade the Mother-House to set up a community in Ireland. On several occasions already he had taken advantage of the holidays at the seminary to go and do some ministry in his native land. The main difficulty was to obtain the permission of the Bishops to open a house, because they felt there were already more than enough Orders in the Country.

This trouble with his health had providentially freed him from any definite duty. Father Lea profited from this to suggest he might go out to Africa before he was too old. In June 1948, his name was on the list of appointments as teacher at Katigondo Major Seminary, Uganda. After doing his long retreat at Thy-Ie-Chateau in Belgium, he left for Uganda in January 1949. Father Lea spent two years at Katigondo, but he did not limit himself to classes. He had noticed that access to the football ground was not easy and the ground itself was not level. He therefore decided to level the ground. He profited from his contacts with a road building team working in the neighbourhood to ask them for bulldozers, rails, tip-waggons and any other machinery they had. Soon the whole hill had been levelled and the seminarians were able to play comfortably, without having first to climb up a slope.

In March 1951, Father Lea was able to leave the Seminary ´for the mission ª. He was appointed to Mbarara where he got down to studying Runyankole at Butale and Rwera. In June 1952 he was appointed to teach at St. George's Teacher Training College in Ibanda. He found it hard to adapt to African realities, which did not necessarily allow the punctuality and precision to which he was accustomed. In 1957, he taught for some time at Kitabi Minor Seminary. He was a good teacher and an excellent counselor.

In August 1961, Stan became Secretary to Bishop Ogez, and one year later Secretary at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat in Rubaga. In 1964, he returned to Europe. He stayed some months first at the Brothers Scholasticate in Marienthal, and then at the Blacklion Seminary of Philosophy

in Ireland and finally at Sutton Coldfield in England, where he was asked to look after the University Circles. He did not quite know where to begin, but he ended up by finding his way even if results were long in coming.

Father Lea gave himself enthusiastically to whatever he was doing and his confreres knew they could ask him anything. He never refused a service, but helped out willingly with a big smile. He was a charming confrere and a real gentleman. By temperament, he let himself be easily impressed by the annoying side of things to begin with. After reflection, a more balanced appreciation enabled him to locate the problem properly. All his work was well finished to the last detail. During this period his health kept up, despite another operation on his stomach.

Stan returned to Mbarara as Bishop Ogez's Secretary in March 1968. In August 1970, he was again teaching at Ibanda TTC and from April 1971 to June 1977 he did ministry in Kagamba, Rushanye, Rwera and Rubangizi. During his home leave, his usual residence was Longford in Ireland. Some difficulties with his health required the removal of a kidney. After his convalescence, he helped out for some time in the chaplaincy to Overseas Students in London before getting permission to return to Africa in December 1979*. He stayed at Lourdel House, the Regional's residence in Kampa[a. On his arrival, he was asked to look after the Joint Medical Store, a joint undertaking by Catholics and Protestants to provide medicines for the hospitals (27), maternities (26) and for dispensaries (34). Father Lea had to prepare the shipments according to a prearranged plan and keep the accounts. Six months later, he rejoined Father Jim Smith who was looking after Cardinal Nsubuga's office. There he worked with his usual care till the day he died, always as discreet and efficient.

His death took everyone by surprise. During his last weeks it had been noticed that he was more tired than usual, but he had refused to take a rest or even see a doctor. ´ Don't worry ª, he had said, ´I'm all right '. On Monday, 25 May 1983 he went as usual to his work in his black suit, a black hat on his head and a black half-broken attaché case in his hand. His neighbours heard him that night restless in his room. In the morning he still drove himself to tell his secretary that he would not come to work. Then he asked a confrere at Lourdel House to take him to hospital for a check-up. Neither the electrocardiogram nor a chest X-ray were very alarming, but he was given a bed. Around 5 p.m. somebody came rushing to Lourdel House: 'someone should go and give Stan the Sacrament of the Sick '. The Regional found Stan perspiring and breathing heavily in the middle of a heart attack, but without great pain and fully conscious. He participated in the celebration of the Sacrament and still answered 'Amen' to every Hail Mary of a decade of the rosary. A few minutes later, as they held his hands and prayed he very peacefully, hardly noticeably, passed away. ´He went the same way he lived, ' the doctor said, ´not wanting to make any trouble for anybody'.

Father Lea never wanted people to bother about him. Even a few moments before he died, he had suggested they should all go away, saying everything was all right. This humility and this discreet thoughtfulness which intended to express his sincere gratitude for all that was done for him, had always been appreciated. He would offer his thanks five or six times over, for the slightest service. He did this even in his final moments. He surely did so when he arrived close to Him from Whom he had received everything.

That same day, Bishop Mukwaya, surrounded by a dozen priests, celebrated Mass at Lourdel House. The Auxiliary Bishop of Kampala compared Father Lea to the Venerable Bede who had also worked right up to the day of his death. Cardinal Nsubuga was in Rome at that time, and before leaving he had concelebrated with the Generalate community a Mass for the repose of the soul of him who had been a much loved and appreciated collaborator. Arriving in Kampala on the day of burial, the Cardinal concelebrated the funeral Mass with four Bishops and 70 priests from Mbarara, Katigondo, Mityana and the archdiocese. Many Sisters and many of the faithful assisted.

´Happy that servant if His Master's arrival finds him at his employment' (Mt. 24,46).

May he Rest in Peace


*Robbie Dempsey writes (July 2008) :
" Fr. Stan was TWICE superior at the Priory. This obituary omits his second stint at the Priory from Sept 1966 through July or August 1967. At that point he was appointed to Blacklion until Christmas but was back in Uganda by March 1968. "


We are indebted to Fr Roland Champagne M. Afr and Robbie Dempsey for their work in securing this tribute.

Return to Top
































Fr John Conway WF 1924 - 1972
(source : Petit Echo)


Father Conway, though of Irish nationality, was born at Armadale in Scotland on the 1st August 1924. He began his secondary studies at St Boswells in 1938 and finished them at The Priory Bishops Waltham in 1943. During his last year at the Priory he suffered his first attack of rheumatic fever, which cast a certain doubt on his continuing with the White Fathers. John, however, went on studying with the Society. First of all he did his philosophy at St Columba's College in Scotland from 1943 to 1945, and then a first year of theology at Rossington Hall from 1945 till 1946. He then joined the first group of novices to take up residence at Broome Hall, Dorking, which had just been acquired by the province as a novitiate. He returned to Rossington Hall for a second year of theology and then finished off his Divinity studies at Monteviot in Scotland. Here he made his oath on the 1st June 1949 and was ordained priest on the 1st June 1950.

John Conway had great qualities, a good intelligence, a retentative memory, a strong will and a sound judgement. His character was made for community life; he was gay, courteous and always ready to render service to anyone: a man popular with his own colleagues. The doubtful point was always his health. He had had a series of attacks of rheumatic fever during his years of formation, and was incapable of furnishing any rather intense physical effort. A slightly defective heart seems to have been the cause of this state of affairs. The doctors thought that his condition would remain stable for many years without getting much worse. So John was allowed to join the Society, the intention being to give him work suited to his qualities and his physica1 condition.

Thus his first appointment was to Palace Court as secretary to the then provincial, Fr A.E. Howell. The latter had known him when he himself had been superior at St Boswells, and in this way he could keep an eye on his health. He soon discovered that he had a first class secretary, who worked very efficiently and never complained when asked to do extra work. This office work, however, did not make him forget Africa, and throughout the two years when he was the Provincial Secretary, he learned all he could about it. As soon as the doctor approved his going to Africa, he was ready to go.

Father Conway reached Uganda in December 1952, but spent the first six months at Tabarca, Villa Maria in order to learn Luganda. This was an ideal place in which to learn the language as Father Henri Le Veux resided there as chaplain to the Bannabikira of Bwanda, and Fr Le Veux was an expert in Luganda, whose books are still the authoritive textbooks for the study of that language. John was a talented student with both a natural bent and a remarkable gift for languages. Already in December, the month in which he arrived there, he passed his first exam which allowed him to hear confessions, and in April 1953 he passed the second exam which allowed him to preach in public.



(photo source : Patricia Hawkins de Medina)

(L-R) : Fr John Conway and an unnamed colleague —taken in Bukalagi, Uganda

In June 1953 Father Conway took up residence as a professor at Bukalasa, filling the place vacated by Fr J.D. Murphy, who had left the seminary in the previous January to work in the United States. It may well be that his old students remember somewhat wryly his rather tough attitude toward discipline, but they would be the first to proclaim him as a very good teacher. Certain it is that Fr Conwvay rendered invaluable services at Bukalasa as choirmaster and sportsmaster as well as a teacher. He was a friendly sort of man who enjoyed visiting the Europeans, the Asians and the Africans who lived round about. He soon made many friends in the Masaka district. His agreeable character and his thoughtfulness won their hearts: they felt at ease in his company.

His health however was far from good. The doctors thought his trouble was caused by stomach ulcers. In December 1956 John had to return to Great Britain to receive medical care. He stayed for six months at Dorking, where the courses on the British way of life had been organised. He then went to Rutherglen in Scotland and did promotion work for a year. In August 1957, Father J. Maguire, then provincial, remembered John Conway's great qualities and recalled him to London to act as his provincial secretary until the end of his mandate. From 1959 till 1962 he taught at St Columba's College and it was while he was there that he formed his famous boys choir, which was affiliated to the Petits Chanteurs a la croix de bois and which he brought from St Boswells to Rome on the occasion of the great international reunion of the Chorales des Petits Chanteurs in 1961.

Eric Creaney writes (July 2008) :
" I have had a good read through the latest obits,especially John Conway's as he spent some time at Blacklion while I was there and I cannot listen to anyone singing 'She moved through the Fair' without thinking of him. "

In his honour, then, click here to hear Josef Locke's version.

 

After making his thirty days retreat at Rome in 1962, Father Conway returned to Uganda. For a while he was posted to Kisubi to enable him to brush up his knowledge of Luganda. In August 1964 he moved to the Bukalagi mission and stayed there till September 1965. In point of fact his health was steadily deteriorating. After resting for two months at Nakasongola, he had to go into hospital at Rubaga and then at Mulago. Here he underwent a major heart operation, a valvectomy. He spent some time convalescing at Virika (Fort Portal) and at Mitala Maria, and then had to return to Mulago Hospital for a check-up. The surgeons showed their satisfaction at his condition and told him that he ought to be good for several more years of work, but that he should come back for a periodical check-up. He did this once or twice and then did not bother any more. John returned to Mitala Maria until he went on leave in September 1967.

The leave was not a real rest for him. Fr Conway was run down and felt very much a stranger in his own country. Father Provincial visited him and both agreed that the best thing for him would be to return to Uganda. Fr Regional appointed him to work in the Regional house during the absense of Fr Smith, and on the latter's return he went to Mubende in November 1968, where he also taught in the secondary school.

In June 1970, the Archbishop of Kampala chose John as his secretary, and he came to live at Lourdel House, the residence of Fr Regional. From every point of view, these last years were the most fruitful and active of his whole missionary career. It was evident he felt quite capable of doing the work and accepting the responsibility which are part and parcel of such a post, and liked it very much.

They had plenty of visitors at Lourdel House and he received them all kindly and was the perfect host to all of them. He had a charming way of receiving anyone who came to see him on business in his office at Archbishop's House. He found time for everyone, and chatted away with them in Luganda, French or in English as the case might be. This first contact enabled him to sum up his visitor and to get a good idea of the situation. In the end he knew all he needed to know in order to decide either to introduce the caller to the Archbishop or to deal with the business himself. When the pressure of work was great he would remain in top gear, and although he might suffer from sleeplessness in consequence, he could start again next morning and repeat the performance, if necessary. One of his outstanding qualities, especially noticeable in his last years, was his deep loyalty to the Archbishop; he was a great supporter of his policy and a staunch defender of his character and person. In fact he had formed a deep attachment to him and many thought that the worries of his last few working days caused the heart attack which brought him to his grave.

Father Conway suffered a slight heart attack in the evening of the 11th of September, when he was visiting the Apostolic Nuncio. It soon passed off and Fr Conway decided to call on some of his Goanese friends. The improvement was, however, of short duration and a serious attack obliged him to stop his car and ask some passers-by to call a doctor. Dr Mukasa came at once and drove Father to Lourdel House, as he was unwilling to go into hospital. John's condition was serious; he was cold and clammy. Fr Regional gave him the sacrament of the sick. Next day at Mulago Hospital the doctor diagnosed a serious infarct of the myocardium. After this grave warning, John's condition improved and he was able to leave hospital and go for a rest to Ibanda. He had only been there three days when he developed a pleurisy, which again affected his weak heart, and on the 5th October he had to be re-admitted to hospital. His last days were very difficult. He had to remain seated in his bed, supported by pillows, as he was unable to breathe if he lay flat. After another attack on the 15th October he improved considerably until the end of the month. In the after-noon of the 1st November, however, the doctors had to be summoned urgently. It was a serious attack and in spite of everything done for him, it was evident that the end was near. Fr Regional went to see him and asked him if there was anything he wanted. "Bob", he replied, "I can't speak any more . . . give me your prayers." He received a last absolution along with the sacrament of the sick. Then Fr Regional recited some of the prayers Fr Conway liked best. He died at 17:20.

The funeral service made a deep impression on all. It was presided over by Archbishop Nsubuga, with whom several bishops and eighty priests con-celebrated. The cathedral was crowded with people who had come to pay tribute to all the work done by Fr Conway. This dense crowd was also a proof that they had all realised how close the Archbishop and his secretary had been to one another. They felt the need to show their sympathy to the bishop of their diocese as well as to pray for the soul of the departed. They linked these true friends together in a single intention.

Many who lived and worked with Father Conway will remember him as a person who, on first acquaintance, was the personification of charm, companionableness, high spirits, gaiety and dynamism. Then they wondered what had hit them. Unwittingly someone had triggered off an explosion of temper. When the smoke cleared, in many cases, the damage was slight and repairs quickly carried out; in other cases the bridge of communications lay in ruins. John was well aware of this weakness and would say it was the paddy in him. He revelled in an argument and what with his wide knowledge, his quick wit, his persistence, not to say his stubbornness, it took a good man to best him in it. Because of his views, his moodiness, and his outbursts of temper, some may have judged him rather severely. One had to know the other and better side of his character. Where he met with understanding and tolerance, he could rise to incredible heights, which proved how valuable was this life of his entirely consecrated to the apostolate.

May he Rest in Peace


We are indebted to Fr Roland Champagne M. Afr and Robbie Dempsey for their work in securing this tribute.


Return to Top
























Brother Bernard Black 1924 - 1972
(Brother Amadeus)
(source : the international website of the White Fathers—
From Father John Gerrard, Provincial of Great Britain).

 



With regret we inform you of the death of our confrère

Brother Bernard Black .
(Brother Amadeus)

Bernard Black died last night on the 17th February 2007 in Ealing hospital.

Remember Bernard in your prayers and all of those who are grieving for him.

At the age of 78 years of which 50 of missionary life
in Luxembourg, U.S.A.,in Uganda, Zambia, and in Great Britain.

Nationality: British
Diocese:
Leeds
Born :
Castelford
16-11-1928
Spiritual Year :
Monteviot
15-08-1954
Taking of the Oath
Onchiota
15-08-1962


Date
Fonction
Lieux
Pays
01-09-1956
Brothers Tr.Centre
Marienthal
Luxembourg
30-06-1958
  Alexandria Bay
U.S.A.
01-04-1963
Teaching Br.Novices
Franklin
 
01-12-1963
Apprend Langue
Mushanga CELA
Uganda
04-06-1964
Garage Mbarara
 
01-01-1967
Garage Mbarara,Nyamitanga
 
27-06-1973
Congé, etc.
  G.B.
Juillet Oct 74   Mzuzu Malawi
01-01-1976
Garage Mansa
Zambia
04-03-1984
Session-Retraite
Jerusalem  
01-01-1987
Water Supply System
Lwitikila
Zambia
01-03-1988
Mechanic
Mulanga,D.Mbala
 
15-09-1988
Water Supply System Lwitikila  
01-01-1989
Temporarily at
Lubushi,Seminary
 
01-09-1991
Gen.Services
Kasama,D.Kasama
 
13-09-2000
Session 70+
Roma, M.G.
Italy
01-11-2000
Gen.Services
Kasama,Residence
Zambia
01-05-2004
Residence
London,Corfton Road
G.B.
01-10-2006
Residence H.C.:
..London/Greenford
 
17-02-2007
Back to the Father (78)
London
G.B.


Return to Top










Fr Tom McKenna WF 1923 - 1994
(source : Petit Echo)


Tom was born in Glasgow on 20 October 1923. He had four sisters and one brother, and they were all still living in 1995. He left school at 14, and this curtailed education affected him throughout his life, although it did not prevent him from being a competent teacher. Perhaps in fact it even helped him to understand better his pupils' problems.

After leaving school, Tom first worked in a warehouse and then, in 1942, joined the Navy. He remained a sailor until 1946 and took part in the D-day landings. In later years he often spoke about his war experiences. After leaving the Navy he went back to work, but in 1948 he applied to join the White Fathers. He had in fact long wanted to become a priest, but his mother had persuaded him that it was his duty to stay at home and help the family. He was first sent to the Junior Seminary at Bishop's Waltham to study Latin for a year. At this period he was a robust and healthy man, with a strong character and sound judgment, and he was a good influence in the Seminary. He studied philosophy at Broome Hall, Dorking, from 1949 to 1951, and then went to  's-Heerenberg for the Novitiate and the first years of the Scholasticate.

Tom's lack of academic background was a matter of concern both to him and to his professors, but it was felt that his outstanding character outweighed these considerations and he received personal tuition. He was ordained deacon in 1955 and proceded with his year to Monteviot for the final year of theology. The strain of the long years of unfamiliar study however now began to tell and he had to go to Ireland for treatment for a nervous condition. Apparently he became obsessed with the idea that his lack of knowledge would make him a bad priest. He finally made a complete recovery and was able to return to Monteviot. He was ordained on 16 May 1957 at the age of thirty-four. 

His first appointment was to St. Columba's Junior Seminary in St.  Boswells. He remained there for three years and was a considerable success. He had a great deal of common sense and natural kindness and the boys trusted him. Those whom he guided during this period still speak of him with respect and affection.



 In July 1961 Tom went to Uganda. After slx months of language study in Rubaga he was appointed first to Kisubi Parish and then to Mitala Maria,  before going to Kisubi Junior Seminary at the beginning of 1963. In all these places he was greatly appreciated as a dedicated and deeply spiritual priest.

Tom did not enjoy good health during his years in Uganda. A stomach ulcer was suspected and he spent seven weeks in hospital in 1963. He returned to the Seminary but then had to be hospitalized again with amoebic dysentery, on which occasion all his teeth were extracted.

During the brief visit of British troops to Uganda in 1964, Tom acted as their chaplain.

In 1967 Tom fell sick again and an operation was performed to remove a large part of his stomach. He came back to Britain to recover and then in May-June 1969, made the Long Retreat at Villa Cavalletti. When he returned to Uganda he went first to the  parish of Nyenga and then back to his former post in Kisubi Seminary. He next spent some time as curate in Kisubi Parish and then in 1971 he went to Nabbingo as Chaplain to the Girls' School. By this time Uganda was under the Amin regime and Tom found it all a great strain.  In May 1972 he returned to the United Kingdom for good.

His first position on his return to Britain was as bursar in Rutherglen in Scotland, then a centre for mission animation. He acted as superior of the community for a year in 1976, but he was still not really well. After a spell as Superior of the visitors' house in 14 Holland Villas Road he went as bursar to St. Edward's College, Totteridge. There it was finally discovered that he was suffering from alcoholism, and was obliged to undergo treatment in a special centre. This experience was to prove a real turning-point in Tom's life. Not only did he come out of it personally strengthened, but it gave him an insight into the needs of those similarly afflicted.  The weakness he had himself experienced turned into a real source of strength for others.

In November 1979 Father McKenna, now a new man, went as Superior to the recently-opened house at 44 Woodville Gardens, Ealing, and, along with Brother Richard Dellaporta, made it into a very happy house. From 1980 he worked as a counsellor at the Priory Centre Roehampton, where he had himself received treatment.

Tom was now approaching sixty. His long years of ill health had aged  him considerably, but he had finally come through all his troubles and the  last ten or fifteen years of his life were probably both his happiest and  most fruitful. He became an expert counsellor and had a great collection of clients, mostly addicts and the depressed. Hundreds of people, including some confreres, passed through his hands at the Priory Centre and many would say that  they owed their life to Father McKenna.  In time he became well known and superiors and provincials of religious communities sought his heIp for their members in need. The extent of this counselling and comforting work was manifested in the number of letters and cards received after his death expressing gratitude for his support and guidance.

Tom was elected a member of the Provincial Council in 1983 and remained in office until his death.  In September 1985 he moved from Woodville Gardens to the new house in nearby Corfton Road to become Superior of the house for elderly confreres. In March 1987 he went to Jerusalem to follow the Biblical Session and to make a second Long Retreat.  In all the places where he lived he created a happy atmosphere and made everyone feel at home.

In 1991 the community in Corfton Road had to be dispersed for a time to allow renovations to take place.  When these were completed in 1992, Tom returned but no longer as Superior.

Although Tom lived a full and rich  life during these last years, he was burdened by ill health. He suffered from emphysema which, among other things, prevented him traveling by the Underground, as well as from the continuing effects of the stomach surgery he had undergone in Uganda. When asked how he was, he might say that he felt fine, but he looked anything but.  In fact in 1992 he was discovered to be suffering from tuberculosis and had to spend a long time in hospital.

At the end of October 1994 Tom collapsed in Corfton Road with internal bleeding. He was taken to hospital as an emergency case. For a while the bleeding stopped and he seemed to be getting better, but then it started again and he had to be operated on. He struggled to breathe for a week after the operation, but finally the strain was too much for the heart and he died on the morning of 7 November at the age of seventy-one.


May he Rest in Peace



Return to Top