reprinted with additions from IN TOUCH WITH CHURCH AND FAITH #172, a Jescom publication
based on information provided by Fr Tony Bex SJ
Fr James Berry SJ died after a short illness on Sunday, 4th March, at the House of Adoration where he was chaplain to the senior Dominican Sisters.
He was very well-known in the country for his 20 years in the educational apostolate, as headmaster of St Ignatius College and Rector of St George’s College. When he retired from teaching and school administration he became a parish priest. He served the people of Braeside Parish and then moved on to the Cathedral as the last Jesuit Administrator there.
Fr Berry was born in 1932 in India where his father was working as a mining engineer. His family was from Scotland. He was educated in Britain, joined the Jesuits in 1949, did a degree in mathematics at Oxford and came to Zimbabwe to teach at St Ignatius College in 1970.
He was known as a courageous man. When he was asked by Rhodesian Criminal Investigation Department if he was assisting “terrorists” he answered, “Yes.” This was at the end of the liberation war, and nothing happened. When students staged a protest march he insisted on coming with them all the way to Harare.
As parish priest, he listened to all who came to see him. He was a most competent chairman and finished meetings in time. He touched the lives of many, not just Catholics.
May his soul rest in peace!
I had the very good fortune of being taught by Father Berry at St. Aloysius College in Glasgow. This was in the late 60’s. He inspired so many of us who were otherwise cynical of the strict regime imposed at that time. Although he was not officially a maths teacher at the school, he took a class of hopeless causes where he taught me the wonders of calculus. A great and genuinely good man who will be sorely missed.
Thank you for your comment, Christopher
All those who had the fortune of being in the presence of this great man remember his sharp memory where he knew each pupil by name, even if you wee facing the other way. A pleasant man who contributed in his own way in making us aware of the oppression felt in Zimbabwe at that time and how we had to fight for what was right. He marched to town with students in a demonstration against Ian Smith and his regime. He moulded many of today’s intellectuals who passed through his hands at St.Ignatius College Chishawasha.
He had his innings and may his soul rest in eternal peace.