O’Connor, Walter Mary, 1910-1967, Jesuit priest

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O’Connor, Walter Mary, 1910-1967, Jesuit priest

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22 May 1910-26 July 1967

History

Born: 22 May 1910, Waterford City, Waterford County
Entered: 01 September 1928, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 13 May 1942, Milltown Park, Dublin
Professed: 03 February 1947
Died: 26 July 1967, St Anne's Hospital, Harare, Zimbabwe

Part of the Jesuit Novitiate, Mazowe, Mashonaland Central, Zimbabwe community at the time of death

Brother of Eddie O’Connor - RIP 1993 (their father Peter had been an Olympic triple jump champion)

by 1951 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, Northern Rhodesia (POL Mi) working - third wave of Zambian Missioners
by 1962 at Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (ANG) Socius to Novice Master

◆ Companions in Mission1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
He was born in 1910 at Waterford, Ireland, into a large family of nine children, son of Peter O'Connor, a local lawyer. Walter's elder brother Eddie had already entered the Society five years before that (1923) and Walter entered the Society in 1928. He was educated by the Christian Brothers and completed his secondary education at Clongowes Wood College. Ordained at Milltown Park in 1942, after tertianship he was appointed minister at Mungret College for a year and again as minister at Rathfarnham, the juniorate. He liked what was described as practical work and he was never short of ideas as to how this, that and the other might best be done – subjectively, and often opposed by others. Still his cheerfulness remained undiminished. He had a 'stick-to-it-attitude' in the projects he undertook. His zeal and enthusiasm were qualities that stayed with him all his life. While minister at Rathfarnham, he developed an apostolate in the promotion of the family rosary in Dublin. He collected and presented films and other aids for this apostolate.

As a scholastic at Clongowes during regency, he did much to build up the athletics, perhaps inspired by the fact that his father had been an Olympic triple-jump champion. His health was never very strong but his psychic energy was never low. He was passed by the doctors to travel to Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) as one of the nine Irish Jesuits who went there in 1950. As parish priest at Chikuni he entered into the new work with the same spirit that had always characterized him. A very familiar sight was Fr Walter on his heavy motor bike either coming or going on supply. He took a great interest in the condition of the lepers in the area and did much for them. His efforts to establish a leper settlement for them bore fruit after he had left the area.

Due to ill health, he returned to Ireland for three years during which he did retreat work and lectured about the Mission. This resulted in a number of benefactors who donated churches and other benefits to the mission.

He returned to Zambia in 1960 and moved to Harare (Zimbabwe) to assist the Master of Novices when the joint novitiate was set up. He gave retreats, established the Pioneers at Harare and developed a new apostolate for the consecration of families to the Sacred Heart. He was appointed Director of Vocations for the archdiocese of Harare and traveled a lot with Fr Regis Chigweduc on vocation promotion. Fr Regis paid tribute to Fr Walter at his funeral for his holiness and his work in promoting vocations; his zeal, energy and enthusiasm in everything.

On July 21st 1967 he was operated on at St Anne's Hospital in Harare but when opened up, inoperable cancer was found. He died five days later on the 26 July in the company of his brother, Fr Eddie and fellow Jesuits.

Tributes that came in after the funeral were many and sincere and they could be summed up by what a fellow Jesuit wrote about him, ‘He was always full of charity, cheerfulness and on fire with a zeal that consumed him; he was steeped in a spirit of prayer’.

Note from Eddie O’Connor Entry
Fr Ernest Mackey S.J. was a well known school retreat giver. The vocations of Fr Eddie 0'Connor and a few years later of Walter, his brother, were influenced by him. The father of the two brothers was Peter 0'Connor a local lawyer and former Olympic champion. The story has it that Peter, encountering Fr Mackey after Fr. Eddie had entered the Society, said
‘That man has taken one of my sons’. Fr Mackey's undaunted reply was, ‘And now, he is coming to take another (Walter)’.
His driving ability was not good, mainly because of failing eyesight. It is told that once when driving with his brother Walter, Walter suddenly shouted, ‘Look out for that cow’! ‘What cow’? says Fr Eddie. After that it was decided that he stop driving. How now to get around his far-flung parish? Easy. He got a horse and this worked extremely well. He became a familiar sight trotting near and far, in fact one of the local farmers used to refer to him as 'Galloping Jesus'.

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830- (1830-)

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-

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O’Connor, Walter Mary, 1910-1967, Jesuit priest

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IE IJA J/322

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IE IJA

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