It is with regret that we inform you of the death on the 27th day of February, 2022 in Missiehuis Vrijland, The Netherlands at the age of 94, of
Father Jac Copray
Mill Hill Missionary
May he rest in peace
Jac was born on the 5th of April, 1927 in Utrecht in the Netherlands. He was baptised very soon after his birth in his local parish in Utrecht, where he also later received the sacrament of confirmation. He was one of ten children born to his father, Johan Copray and his mother, Marie Copray, nee Smit. His father worked as a bank inspector in his area of the Netherlands.
Initial schooling for Jac was obtained locally in Utrecht. However, since he felt called to the missionary priesthood with Mill Hill, his secondary schooling was achieved at Hoorn, Haelen and Tilburg, since these were the years of the second world-war, 1939-1946. As the war ended, and the Netherlands slowly struggled to recover, Jac studied Philosophy at the Missiehuis in Roosendaal, 1946-1948. He was then promoted to study Theology at Saint Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London, England, 1948-1952. As he completed his theological studies, Jac took the Perpetual Oath on the 5th of May, 1951, in the Chapel of St. Joseph’s College. The following year, on the 13th of July, he was ordained a priest in the same Chapel at the hands of Bishop Myers.
Jac’s first appointment took him to join the teaching staff at St. Peter’s College, Freshfield, Liverpool. Then for a very short time, he taught in the Mill Hill College in Freshford, Ireland. In early 1958 he received an appointment to the Archdiocese of Rawalpindi in Pakistan, where he initially worked at Nowshera Parish. In late 1958 he received an appointment to work as Chaplain to St. Mary’s School and Holy Family Hospital, Rawalpindi. By April 1962 he was appointed Headmaster of St. Edmund’s Catholic School in Bannu. In February1965 he accepted a short appointment at St. John’s Parish, Peshawar. By May that same year, Jac was ministering from the Bishop’s House in Rawalpindi. In late 1965 he returned to St. Mary’s School as Teacher and Bursar. He was installed as Headmaster there for a year in 1970. In February 1971, Jac was appointed Headmaster of the “Junior” section of Burn Hall in Abbotabad. While working in Pakistan he was committed to the Scouting Movement. In 1980 Jac followed a short Renewal Course at Marianella in Dublin, Ireland. By September 1980 he was appointed to the Missiehuis in Roosendaal to be Secretary to the Kardinal Vaughan Stichting, mission-support charity. Three times, between 1981 and 1991 Jac was appointed Regional Bursar in the Netherlands. In December 1991 until January 1998, he was Rector of St. Jozefshuis in Oosterbeek. By the middle of January 1998 Jac took up residence in Vrijland, supporting the house, community and Society as Librarian, Philatelist, Organist and often Chauffeur, roles he generously shared and were much appreciated by so many in the Vrijland community.
As Jac celebrated his Ruby Jubilee in the Netherlands in 1992, Fr. Maurice McGill, Superior General at the time write, “I wish to put on record the Society’s gratitude to you for forty years of faithful service in England, Ireland, Pakistan and in your home country, the Netherlands. May you have many more years of fruitful labour. Ad multos annos.” Throughout the correspondences in Jac’s personal file are compliments to his character such as, “Diligence, cheerfulness, kindness, and pleasant hospitality.” Jac’s Requiem Mass will take place at the Missiehuis, Vrijland on Friday the 4th of March at 11.00.am. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.