reprinted from IN TOUCH WITH CHURCH AND FAITH #163, a Jescom publication
based on information provided by Fr. Tony Bex and Fr. Johnson’s homily at the Requiem Mass in Mt Pleasant parish church
Fr. Patrick ‘Paddy’ Moloney, SJ (1920 – 2011) was editor of Mukai, the Jesuit in-house publication for theological reflection, now published by Jesuit Communications. Fr Moloney was extremely well read and very knowledgeable in theology right to the end. He was not a pure academic though: he used his great intellectual gifts as a pastor and socially very concerned person.
Patrick Moloney was born in Ireland, Co. Tipperary, on 16 April 1920. Little is known about his early years and education. As a young man he went to work in Britain, as so many Irish people did in those days. He worked for Maples in London who were selling antique furniture, and matriculated at Osterley, the school for late vocations. He joined the Society of Jesus together with Anthony Bex at St Beuno’s, Wales, where the novitiate was in those days. He studied philosophy at Heythrop College, Oxfordshire, and theology at Fourvieres, Lyons, France. In between, he spent two years teaching at Wimbledon College. He fell quite ill with tuberculosis which was the reason why he was sent to France for his theology; the southern climate was considered better for his TB than cold and wet England. He remained very fond of France and all things French, including her cuisine, all his life. He was a great admirer of the great French theologians of that generation, e.g. Henri de Lubac, SJ, and could become very indignant still in his old age about the mistreatment they received from the Roman authorities.
He came to Zimbabwe in 1957, where he was at first secretary to Archbishop Ignatius Aston Chichester, SJ, before a spell at Chishawasha Seminary. He was parish priest at Marondera where he built the church. He recalled those three years 1958 – 61 often. This first intensive pastoral experience meant much to him.
In 1962, he went back to the seminary, where he taught systematic theology until 1981, with an interruption of one year, 1975, during which he obtained a Master’s in Christology in Southampton. He was minister and librarian for a time and took great care of the health of the seminarians. These were politically difficult times which were also felt in the seminary and made life there sometimes quite stressful. He was also very active in the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace. Matters of justice were always close to his heart all his life, and he showed great courage working in this difficult field.
In 1981 he moved to St Paul’s Musami and, though over sixty by now, did fine work with the Youth and the Sodality women. He developed a close friendship with Bro. Canisius Chishiri, SJ, who worked in those days with the handicapped in Peter Arrupe Centre.
In 1992, Fr. Patrick moved to Prestage House and became chaplain to St Anne’s Hospital and Emerald Hill where he celebrated Mass for the Sisters and children most days. When there was political violence in the country (2000) Fr Moloney got to know many of the victims who received medical treatment at St Anne’s. He felt very deeply with them who suffered for their convictions, and this caused him great distress.
His last years he spent at Richartz House, the house for senior Jesuits no longer able to be actively involved. By now the oldest member of the Zimbabwe Jesuit Province, he died on Saturday, 25 June, and was buried in Chishawasha. Together with Fr. Anthony Bex SJ he completed 70 years in the Society of Jesus this year.