1. Fr James (Jim) Fitzpatrick

  2. Peter Jennings

  3. Fr John Miller

  4. Sister Mildred WS
    (Myra Spur )

  5. Fr George Aidan Elrington OP

  6. Andrew Mooney

Father James (Jim) Fitzpatrick

1922 - 2012

Written by Peter Joseph Cassidy
and reproduced with kind permission from the WFs' official website

Fr. James, as he was called by his family and friends, but simply Jim to his confreres both in Uganda and Ireland, was born on the 10th May 1922 in Rosscarbery, West Cork in the south of Ireland.

At this difficult time in Irish history, just after independance, we were establishing ourselves as a republic, people had very little to live on, but the Church and in particular the local parish structures helped to provide a sense of community and support for one another. This was a motivating force in Jim? vocation as he attended his local primary school in Rosscarbery.

Following his primary schooling, he went to Bishop? Waltham, England for his secondary education. He received his Missionary of Africa habit in 1944 in Sutton Coldfield and completed his Philosophy and Theology in Rossington Hall (Missionary Oath, 29th July 1947) and Monteviot, Scotland (Priesthood, 24th June 1948) respectively.

His formative years helped Jim to open up and appreciate the importance of community life and a relationship with God which was remarked upon in the evaluation made by his Superiors: ?ood character... with a solid piety?

Jim departed for the pearl of Africa, Uganda, in September 1948 to join his brother Tim. This was a journey that he captured with fond memories. He often talked about the 22 seat Dakota plane which took off from the Netherlands and took over two days to arrive in Entebbe. His first image of the African continent was firmly fixed in his mind, as he flew most of the journey over Africa at 8,000 feet. This gave him the opportunity to see Africa for the first time from the air, an Africa he referred to later as ?n immense, wonderful continent? He was to spend the next 53 years there.

He landed in Entebbe in the afternoon to be greeted with the full force of the tropical sun. After resting for a number of days, he departed for Mbarara. Like all of us who have travelled on African roads for the first time, we tend to remember the journey well and Jim was no different. His taxi driver was a French man (White Father-no name) and after stopping at a number of ?ission outposts?on the way, he finally arrived (with a better knowledge of French). After some days in Mbarara, Jim finally got his parish appointment to Masindi, 330 miles north of Mbarara.

His first reaction upon arrival was one of deep satisfaction and love for the people and this was reflected in one of his first letters he wrote home, ? was struck by the loving and simple esteem which the people had for their missionaries ... missionaries lead a life of utter simplicity and devotion to their people?

Jim had a number of responsibilities ranging from curate to parish priest to the seminary of Kitabi. His fifty three years of dedicated devotion to Uganda and its people brought him from the Diocese of Mbarara, to the Diocese of Fort Portal and finally to the Diocese of Kasese.

He often reflected upon the war in Uganda and its impact upon the people and the economy and indeed its impact upon him. It was at this point that he appreciated the real importance of community as he maintained that community life ?em>brought a sense of security and moral support so very necessary for all living far from home... International community brings with it a special joy as we come to realise the varied gifts and attitudes of each confrere.?

His pastoral attributes could be summed up by his nick name ?ut the corners? He was always quick on his feet and if he could cut the corner rather than go around it, he would.

He was attached to the people and his life project was dedicated to the plight of AIDS victims. He quietly responded to those living with AIDS and other projects by sending money on a regular basis. You would often see him on the mobile phone, calling Uganda and catching up on the news. Uganda was very much part of his life and prayer.

On the 25th July 2001, Jim returned to Ireland to face his retirement. As the Provincial of Uganda wrote at the time ?his is not just home leave but his retirement... This time he is serious? I can imagine that Jim found this decision difficult. In 2002, there was a further correspondence whereby Jim requested to return to Uganda for a number of months but sadly his request was denied. As hard as the decision was to retire, Jim found himself making good contact with his family and friends in Ireland. This helped him to settle and in his own quiet manner he kept in contact with his family. He would on occasion pay them a visit but he was reluctant to invite them to his home in Templeogue. It was only when Jim fell sick that we realised how important he was to his family. They came to visit him and it was beautiful to see the love and deep sense of appreciation expressed by them towards Fr. James as they called him.

In mid August 2012, Jim began to deteriorate and was transferred to our local hospital where he spent seven weeks. As he became weaker over the weeks, it was obvious that Jim had little time to live. I stayed with him till the early morning and prayed the breviary with him and at that point I realised a deep sense of peace where he gave up the will to live. He died on the 28th September 2012. In the words of the hospital staff ?his was a man of God? a beautiful testimony to a person who dedicated his life to God.

His funeral Mass took place in the local Parish Church of St. Pius X on the 1st October 2012. He is buried in the Missionaries of Africa plot in Bohernabreena Cemetery, Dublin.

I leave the last word for Bishop Nkaijanabwo of Kasese Diocese, ?e used to call him ?ara makona?that is ?ut the corners? likewise he was quick in loving and assisting people. Touching me personally, he was my teacher at the minor seminary, may the good Lord reward him for all his missionary labours and grant him Eternal Rest in Peace.?br>

Peter Joseph Cassidy

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Peter Jennings

1947 - 2013

From Mike Ellis, September 12th 2013

Dear Friends

I have just received this communication from Peter Johnson who has been in active contact with Peter Jennings since time immemorial. I spoke to Peter this morning to ask what had happened to Peter Jennings and he told me that he had died from one of the leukaemias either AML or CML.

The poor soul had been being treated for this condition for some years now. He had had been through some quite traumatic treatment modalities which had held the disease in check but not cure him. Sadly he died yesterday leaving his wife Stella and their two children.

If it is acceptable to you all I will prepare a ?ith sympathy?card and send it to his wife Stella on behalf of all of us who knew Peter.

He was a kind and generous man who had a great affection for the church. Those of us who participated in the 50th anniversary reunion which he organised and funded in London in 2009 (of our starting at St Columba? with him in 1959) will recall the event with fondness!

If you are still believers, please remember Peter and his wife and family in your prayers.

May he rest in peace!



From The Independent Catholic News, September 11th 2013

Peter Jennings, he well-known Catholic journalist, writer, broadcaster and Press Secretary to the Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, died on Tuesday 10 September after a brave battle against illness.

Our prayers and sympathy are with his wife Stella and their children, Sarah ?whom Peter proudly recently gave away in marriage and Joseph their son. Besides his other work, Peter was a regular contributor to ICN and wrote his last story for us days before he died.

Archbishop of Birmingham, Archbishop Bernard Longley said: "On Tuesday 10 September I was greatly saddened to hear from his family of the death of Peter Jennings, Press Secretary to the Archdiocese of Birmingham and to myself.

"Peter had fought bravely against illness over recent months and had continued to dedicate himself to his work until the last few days.

"Peter Jennings served as Press Secretary to Archbishop Vincent Nichols and myself during the last ten years with great dedication and loyalty and he will be very much missed. I pray for his eternal happiness and I assure Peter? wife and family of my prayers for them at this time.

(left: Peter with Archbishop Bernard Longley)

" The Archbishop of Westminster, Archbishop Vincent Nichols said: "I am very saddened by the death of Peter Jennings and offer my prayers and condolences to Stella, his wife, and their family. Peter will be sorely missed. Over many, many years he sought to serve the Church well in the challenging world of the media. His great love for the Church was always his key motivation and his determination never faltered.

? thank God for his steadfast work, which included the Official Records of the Visits of both Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom, fine and lasting tributes to his considerable abilities.

May the Lord welcome him with great love and mercy."

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Fr John Miller
1906 - 1977
(source: Peter Finn)

Fr John Miller was born in 1906 in Portsmouth, but moved with his military family (his father was a Sergeant Major) to Ireland and South Africa before settling in Bishop? Waltham in 1916. He went to the local primary school prior to attending the Priory from 1919 to 1924. He was ordained priest at Carthage, North Africa, in 1931 and was assigned to Uganda. After a short leave at home he left for Africa with all the instruments necessary to start a fife and drum band. Petit Echo described him as full of energy and fun and fond of sport. Five of his brothers served in the army, one becoming a Lieutenant Colonel. He, himself, was known for his authoritative voice and administrative skill, and served as Pro-Vicar of the Gulu Vicariate.

Except for two years in Britain when he was responsible for students at London University and St Andrews University, he spent his priestly life in Africa. He died at Entebbe in 1977.

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Myra Spurr (Sister Mildred, WS)
1910 - 1994

(source: Peter Finn)

Myra Spurr (Sister Mildred, WS), whose parents ran the Mafeking Hero Inn in Bishop? Waltham, was born in 1910 and joined the White Sisters in 1931. She trained in Algeria, obtained her teaching certificate in England, and from 1936 served for 19 years in Uganda where she became headmistress of Uganda? first Catholic Senior Boarding School for Girls.

She was awarded the MBE for services to education and was presented with it by Queen Elizabeth personally when she visited Uganda. She died in 1994.

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Fr George Aidan Elrington OP
1870 - 1942
(source: Peter Finn)

Fr George Aidan Elrington OP, the convert son of Lieutenant General Elrington of Vernon Hill House, Bishop? Waltham was the first Catholic priest from the area since the Reformation.

He was born in 1870, entered the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) in 1894, and was ordained priest in Belgium in 1900. He obtained a doctorate in natural sciences at Louvain University and thereafter worked as a professor at many institutions including the Angelicum University, Rome. He was the first Superior of Blackfriars, Oxford, and died at Cambridge in 1942.

He made a point of visiting the Priory whenever he came to visit his family home. His sister was also a convert and was a generous benefactor of the Bishop? Waltham parish.

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Danny O'Hagan, Martin Leonard and I represented the Pelicans this morning at Andy's requiem and his WF days and his continuing links with the Pelicans were praised in the eulogy.

I remember Andy who sat at the same table as me in the Refectory at St Columba? in September 1954. I was a prefect at the time and supposedly i/c the table. This meant that I had to go up and ask Fr. Tolmie, the Superior, for more bread when we had scoffed the regular serving.

Also at the table were: Dick McKenna, Danny O?agan, Sandy McLeod, Jim McQuade and 3 others. The bread connection arose again in 1955 when Andy had the tip of one finger cut off in the hand-operated bread slicer. I did not witness this, but Andy showed us the damage when he arrived at The Priory a couple of years later.

Andy and Sandy spent many a lunch time recreation playing 2-a-side football against Pat Shanahan & me on a pitch that we improvised on the field that was the house side of the ?lue Danube?

Ah Happy Days!

Rest in Peace, Andy
I remember well Andy losing the tip of his finger. I also recall some months later his being rushed to Peebles hospital. We heard him screaming in agony in the infirmary overlooking the chapel. We heard at first that it was thought he was suffering from stomach cramps while playing basket ball too early after a meal. As I recall, it turned out to be acute appendicitis. I'm sure these two incidents were responsible for causing him to fall behind in his studies and having to repeat his second year at St Columba's.

However, his loss was our gain. Frank Murphy and I (both now 2nd year) joined up with Andy for our most enjoyable weekly 'expeditions' under the 'command' of Dick (Brains) McKenna (who was also repeating his second year) - camping in the first valley, exploring the far reaches of the Tweed and swimming in it, scaling all 3 Eildon Hills in an afternoon not to mention commando style forays into Earl Haig's estate at Beymerside.

Some 40 odd years after leaving the Priory, I had the great pleasure of re-connecting with Andy and meeting his lovely wife and children. Although distance prevented regular meet ups , like Danny O'Hagan, we kept in touch by phone.

A very kind and down to earth man- much as he was as my school pal. A dedicated family man who touched the hearts of many and who will be greatly missed.

So dislike being the bearer of sad news. I'm sure those who joined with me in 1954 and attended St Columba's will remember with great fondness Andy Mooney.

Andy died last night (26/03/2014) having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few weeks ago. I met our good friend and colleague Martin Leonard at a Celtic game last week who let me know that Andy was ill. I visited him in Bellshill and he let me know the illness was terminal. As always Andy quite practical about his situation but thought he had a bit more time. I had planned to visit next week.

A great guy and a great friend for 60yrs. Despite the fact that I lived so far away and only could manage occasional visits we remained close friends and I will miss him terribly. Marie, Andy's wife, and children Arlene and Brendan were his pride and joy and my thoughts are with them.

(L-R) : Dick Tobin, Pat Rice, Martin Leonard (ex-Navy and now in Cumbernauld),
Andy Mooney and Eric Creaney

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