It is with sadness that we announce the death at 3.00 p.m. today, Sunday, 5th March in Nazareth House, Cardonald aged 81, of
Fr John Rooney
Mill Hill MIssionary
May he rest in peace
John Rooney was born in Whifflet Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, on 5th April 1935 to Thomas Rooney and Catherine (neé Bradley). He had one brother and six sisters. His early education was in Whifflet State School. From 1948 – 1951 John went to Lochwinnoch and from 1951 – 1953 to Burn Hall. John studied Philosophy in Roosendaal from 1953 – 1955 and in 1955 he entered St Joseph’s College Mill Hill to follow his Theology studies. After taking his Perpetual Oath in 1958 John was ordained to the missionary priesthood on July 12th in Mill Hill by Cardinal Godfrey.
A return to Lochwinnoch followed his ordination, but this time as a member of the teaching staff. After two years John was appointed to Jesselton, now known as Kota Kinabalu, where he remained as a missionary until his work permit was revoked, in common with many other Christian missionaries, by the increasingly Islamist Government. He then spent some years studying theology at Maryknoll and advanced mathematics in New York State University, preparing himself for further teaching ministry. At the completion of his studies John was appointed to the Teachers’ Training College in Nakuru, Kenya but after two years was withdrawn and re-assigned to the British Region where he served as Librarian at Mill Hill. In 1981 John was appointed to Rawalpindi but before taking up the posting he studied at the London School of African and Oriental Studies, obtaining a PhD. In 1988 John was appointed to the British Region but before taking up any apostolate he was appointed to the North American Region where he worked for two years as a hospital chaplain.
On his return to the British Region John worked, in part, for APF/Mill Hill. For six years he was resident in Mill Hill and then worked for three years as Chaplain to a Care Home in Kent. John celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his priesthood while in Kent and a few months later he retired to Freshfield where he stayed until failing health necessitated admission to Nazareth House in Cardonald. During his six years’ residence in Mill Hill, before moving to Kent, John had a second apostolate – writing the Society Mission History. Writing, in fact, had been a part of John’s life from the beginning. To say he was a writer, though, was surely an understatement. He was a prodigious publisher of material. This included histories of the countries in which Mill Hill had served; translations of classic religious texts such as the Imitation of Christ and works by St John of the Cross; CTS pamphlets on a variety of topics; unsigned articles in Kinabulu Sabah Times while he was Press Officer in the Diocese; and an archive of the General Chapters of the Mill Hill Missionaries 1875 – 1970. John also produced voluminous quantities of letters written back to the Society during his various mission placements.
For the last years of his life John was unable to use his gifts and abilities but this surely does not detract from the legacy he has left to the Society by, particularly, his historical records. He died in Nazareth House Cardonald on Sunday 5th March. His body will be received in the Chapel there on Sunday 12th March at 6.00 pm and his funeral will be there on Monday 13th March followed by burial in Lochwinnoch cemetery. May he rest in peace.