Saturday, March 31, 2012

Unusual Role Models

It's great when causal conversations move from the polite to the interesting. So it was this morning with Father Keith our Jesuit parish priest. He is  USA American  but being PP of a parish in English Wimbledon naturally our conversation started with grumbles (by me) about how the lovely  warm sunny weather during the past working week had changed  typically just in time for the week end  into grey cloudy cold windy conditions. Upon his then asking how the family was I happened to mention that maytrees min was ending her gap year travels in Fiji where she was bemoaning the weather there too making it  sound like today in Wimbledon only much more so and wet too.

That precipitated a  response from Keith about a great (late) Jesuit priest of the 1940/50s era  who like  Keith is now,  was  a qualified accountant as well as a priest.

 His name was Father Marion Ganey SJ. Father Ganey had worked tirelessly in the Jesuit community in Belize when a British colony, setting up credit unions to facilitate with the relief of poverty there.  The governor of Belize was obviously impressed with Father Ganey's knowledge and dedication because when he became governor of Fiji before its independence, Keith told me that the new Fiji Governor requested the Jesuit Provincial leader  to  transfer Father Ganey to that then very poor country, to facilitate the setting up of credit unions there too. The rest as they say is history for as reported on the credit union history of New Zealand website:


A Jesuit priest, Father Marion Ganey introduced Credit Unions into Fiji in the 1950s. He saw credit unions as a method by which poor people could organise their own affairs, by the promotion of thrift and provision for low-cost finance to their mutual advantage.
In 1954 the World Extension Department was created to give international direct assistance with credit unions, often in collaboration with government programmes. The World Council of Credit Unions was created in 1971 and it now has members and affiliates in 97 countries who serve more than 172 million credit union members.

Father Keith told me how wonderful it is when individual talents whatever they are, can be put to such beneficial effect. Father Keith was apparently a young Jesuit scholastic when Father Ganey was using his accountancy talents for the ordinary people  in that way which made me start reflecting on whose lives  have affected my own to the extent that they might in the same way have been or actually currently be, role models for mine. Paula Radcliffe certainly for  jogging and marathon running but as regards people outside the family for other aspects of life, some reflection is required...

 Keith believes that Father Ganey's work is very much appreciated in Fiji and commemorated appropriately on his grave in Fiji when he was buried there so I will see if maytrees min can find the grave memorial and email me a photo for me to pass onto Keith.

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