reprinted from IN TOUCH WITH CHURCH AND FAITH #162, a Jescom publication
Tony Berridge was born in Kadoma in 1950. He had a twin sister and a brother. He was educated at St George’s College and joined the Society of Jesus in the UK in 1969. He studied philosophy in London, taught for two years at St Ignatius College, Chishawasha, and did his theology again in London.
He was ordained a priest on 12 August 1979 by Archbishop Patrick F Chakaipa in his home parish Mabelreign. He spent his final year of probation before Final Vows in California (1986/7). Tony, himself an old boy of a Jesuit school, was primarily interested in the education and formation of young people. After teaching some time at St. Ignatius College he became its headmaster (1984 – 91). With this experience he was well suited for the post of education secretary working for the Bishops’ Conference. Later he served the Bishops as their General Secretary (1992 – 98).He was bright, efficient and competent as organizer and administrator. When leaving Africa Synod House, the headquarters of the Bishops’ Conference which he had built, he said, “Administration is also a charism. We must not forget that.” He certainly had that special gift and used it generously for the good of the Church.
But there was also Tony the artist. All his life he painted, and his work can still be seen in St George’s College chapel, St Ignatius College chapel and community chapel, the chapel of Arrupe College, the Redemptorist chapel at Alphonsus House, the chapel of the Jesuit novitiate in Lusaka, in Christ the Word Benedictine Monastery/ Macheke, and many other places. Africa Synod House was his creation and he turned it into an art gallery: the building is functional and practical and yet pleases the eye with its warm colours. He then taught young Jesuits from all over Africa at Arrupe College and played a central role in building up this Jesuit School for Philosophy and the Humanities as “minister” (administrator). Patient with his students, he could be irritable with others. His quick intelligence did not “suffer fools gladly”.
For years he assisted the provincial superiors in guiding young Jesuits through their studies as “delegate for formation”. For some time already he had been the province treasurer, teaching his brethren strict accountability. Here he could make use again of his ability as a builder and artist. Emmaus House, the Jesuit guest house, its warm colours and beautiful pictures offer the visitor a warm welcome.
Only the day before he left us so suddenly he inspected the renovation and rebuilding of the parish house at Old St Peter’s, Mbare. Fr Berridge was appreciated as a spiritual guide. Some communities of religious women expressed their gratitude for his assistance to them.He was well-known for celebrating the Eucharist and preaching homilies beautifully for children.Bishop Dieter Scholz SJ of Chinhoyi presided over the Requiem Mass in the Church of Our Lady of the Wayside, Mt Pleasant, with the Nuncio, Archbishop George Kocherry, Bishop Angel Floro of Gokwe, Fr Provincial Stephen Buckland SJ, many Jesuits, priests of other religious orders and diocesan priests co-celebrating. Fr Nigel Johnson SJ, a contemporary, gave in his homily a very comprehensive picture of this many-sided Jesuit. His twin sister from New Zealand and brother from South Africa were present, together with friends and faithful from all over Harare. Tony was laid to rest on Chishawasha Cemetery where his parents have been buried before him. May he rest in peace.
May your soul rest in peace Fr. Berridge; you were a great boss at the Secretariat; Panashe is now 16. Sher was only three when you presided over my marriage. I am happily married and this was due to my soul crossing paths with kind and loving souls like yours.
God bless your soul.