Pope appeals for aid to Lebanon, still suffering one year after blast
August 11, 2021
Don’t go down path to legalise marijuana – Churches tell gov’t
August 11, 2021

Priest expelled in 1980s dies in homeland


Fr Patrick ‘Paddy’ Connors SJ died peacefully at around 8.30 p.m. on Friday, July 2 in the St Wilfrid’s community house in Preston, England. His health had been failing for some time. He was 86 years old and was in his 69th year of religious life.

Catholic Standard reported that Fr Connors was born in Leeds, England, July 23, 1934. He was educated at Wimbledon College and joined the novitiate in Harlaxton in 1952.

After taking First Vows he did a year’s juniorate in Manresa House, Roehampton, and then moved to Heythrop in Oxfordshire for Philosophy. Regency followed between 1958 and 1961, the first year at Mount St Mary’s, and then two years teaching at St Stanislaus College in Georgetown, in what was then British Guiana.

His first year of Theology took place at Heythrop, but he then did three further years at the theologate in Poona, India. He was ordained in the Sacred Heart, Wimbledon, by Archbishop Thomas Roberts SJ August 1, 1965. Next came tertianship at St Beuno’s, Wales, after which for two decades he worked in Guyana in a number of parishes in the interior and on the coast.

The diocesan weekly said that on March 8, 1980, when Fr Connors was the parish priest of Lethem, fully armed riot police surrounded the priest’s house in Aishalton, South Rupununi and ordered him and Fr John Bridges SJ out of the region.

“The charges were that the priests had incited persons to rebel against the Government, had termed the government atheists and had assembled Amerindians armed with bows and arrows and other weapons,” the article said. The priests denied all the charges.

In a letter read in all parishes on March 9, Bishop Benedict Singh of Georgetown declared that the accusations were false and were simply an excuse for the wrongful expulsion of the priests.

The article mentioned that a group of Caribbean bishops led by Archbishops Anthony Pantin of Trinidad and Tobago and Samuel Carter of Jamaica travelled to Guyana intending to provide “spiritual solidarity” to Bishop Singh, whose home was searched following the expulsion order issued against Fr Connors. The homes of several other religious leaders in Guyana were searched following a protest issued by the Guyana Council of Churches, which condemned the expulsion of Fr Connors.

According to the Catholic Standard report, he was by no means the only priest who was being harassed in this way as a direct result of the stand the Catholic Church had taken in defense of people’s rights.

Frs McKenna, Maxwell, Kene, and Petry were among others who were ordered to leave interior locations. Many protests and petitions were also made by Amerindians at the expulsions of their priests.

Fr Connors was eventually forcefully expelled from the country on January 1, 1986. For the next ten years he worked in Barbados, Jamaica, St Vincent, and in Venezuela.

In 1996, he was able to return to Guyana and spent some time as Jesuit Superior and parish priest at Hosororo, near the border with Venezuela. He returned to Britain in 2001, and the following year was appointed parish priest at St Francis Xavier Church, Liverpool.

He moved to St Ignatius, Stamford Hill, England in 2011, doing supply work, and then to the Corpus Christi community in Boscombe in 2016.

Finally in 2018, he joined the community at St Wilfrid’s, Preston until his death.