Brother Francis Waddelove RIP

I met Brother Francis Waddelove many years ago when visiting the home of Claire Waddelove who was professed as a nun at St Cecilia's, Ryde in the same year that I was ordained. Brother Francis' sister, Mary, lives in my parish. The death of his sister Agnes was the occasion of my first celebration of the Classical Roman Rite of Mass. Brother Francis was a Jesuit brother of the old school and his life shows how traditional Catholicism went hand-in-hand with genuine work for social justice.
This obituary of Brother Francis Waddelove is from the Jesuit Province of Zimbabwe Newsletter for August 2007.

Brother Francis Waddelove on 8th June, 2007, had a fall outside the dining room in Richartz House and fractured the top of his femur. A week in St Anne's brought the decision there should be no operation: his age and a kidney problem suggested rather not an operation, but six weeks in bed in traction in Richartz House. In the end, just too much for him, and at the age of 92, 74 years of them as a Jesuit, 70 years in this country, he left us to see his good God whom he had served for so much of his life.

Bro Francis Waddelove was born on 6th April, 1915, at Leigh in Lancashire. He was educated at the Brothers' School in Bolton. He joined the Society at Roehampton, London, on 7th April, 1933, and shortly after First Vows he came out to this country.

In 1938 Waddy (as he was always known) was at Monte Cassino; 1939 to 1943 at Chishawasha; 1944 to 1948 at Driefontein; 1949-1951 at Monte Cassino; 1952 to

1957 at St Michael's, Mhondoro; 1958 to 1969 at Chishawasha; 1970 to 1995 at Campion House; finally retirement first at Canisius House till 2001 when he moved to Richartz House.

In the first years Waddy was involved in a great deal of building work and in his time at St Michael's, Mhondoro, he built the church which is presently used. But he would be involved in the agricultural work, too, of the missions, and he was moved to Chishawasha for the second time to see if he could get the farm going properly.

It was while he was at Chishawasha on this second stint, with the encouragement and backing of the Regional Superior, that he inaugurated the Credit Union movement, beginning with Chishawasha Outschools. Waddy was very much helped by able laymen like Pat Arnold, the Jackson family and others who gave him every support. The strictly run Credit Unions were changed into Savings Clubs when it was found that at that time it was too much to expect members to understand and accept responsibility for lending each other money from the branch "homwe".

However, even at the Savings Club level Waddy was able to help people by gathering groups to buy, say, building materials for housing in a new township near the Hunyani river, Seke, at a very reduced price because they bought in bulk. He set up clubs all over the country - it grew into a national project. In his latter active years it was to the Savings Clubs that he gave his full time and effort. Two Jesuit General Superiors, Fr Jansens and later Fr Arrupe, wrote warmly commending the work.

In its time expansion brought problems and Waddy wanted it to remain small until it was well proven. By 1972 there were 210 Savings Clubs and Credit Unions with 7200 members, by 1998 7 000 Clubs - 100 000 members. He moved his operations to Seke and soon Savings Clubs started in neighbouring Mhondoro and then in Makumbi, Chikwaka, Mutoko, Rusape and farther afield in Matebeleland. And the clubs soon spread to the Salvation Army in the Mazowe area and to the Methodists.

Over the years his work caught the attention of the Adenauer Foundation who nominated him for the Adenauer Prize. He did not win the prize but the Foundation set up for him in Hatfield a Credit Union Centre which still exists today. Until very recently Waddy went regularly to help with the finances, to oversee the production of stamp cards and other stationary needed for running the Union. Even towards the end he would be picked up at Richartz to have a morning at the Centre.

To see Waddy engaged with simple people, old ambuyas even, who could not read or write, teaching them how to read and keep the simple accounts the savings club needed was a revelation - humour and patience and relationships which lasted for years. Waddy was one of the best speakers of Shona among the European element of the Province: one of the editor's earliest recollections was of Waddy when he was at St Michael's Mhondoro - Waddy was coming out of the dining-room after supper and he remarked that he would be spending an hour with Fortune's Grammar, and he didn't mean the red shorter volume but the larger volume, and this after a full day on building the new church.

Waddy also had a deeply spiritual side: a man of prayer, loving the rosary and Holy Mass. He had decided views on his faith which could not fail to impress because of his simple sincerity. His gruff manner and his dissatisfaction with too many liberal views could mislead you.

What people did not realize was how kind and generous he was. How often Tony Bex and Tom Jackson remember him taking them round town to do shopping more easily as he knew where to go and how to park easily; they would leave their cars at Campion House at some other suitable place. When you were ill how caring he could be, not only in visiting but in obtaining for you what a long stay in hospital required. There was the occasion when, not finding Fr Des Dale in the dining room, the editor/author sped up to Des' room to find him splayed out on his bed. Down fast to the dining room to get help from Waddy. Waddy leaves his lunch and comes up to Des' room, perhaps cursing and swearing a bit. Open the door and it is "Hello father, how are you? Let's see what we can do for you". And everything was all right then.

He was of help, too, to the Braille Institute in Fife Avenue, donated by Sr Catherine Jackson OP, and to there and the Savings Club Centre he went until his health broke down. He was a loyal friend and a caring one. (Tony Bex/Gerry McCabe)

Bro Waddelove's funeral Mass took place at the Cathedral on the morning of Wednesday 11th July, 2007. Fr Provincial was chief celebrant and he was assisted by Bishop Dieter Scholz and Fr Paul Edwards. There were about 30 concelebrants:

Gerry McCabe gave the homily. Considering his age and that Bro Waddy would not have been too well known, there was quite a sizeable congregation, and with Peter Joyce at the organ, it was felt to be a fitting tribute to Bro Waddy. The burial took place later at Chishawasha Mission and was conducted by Fr Provincial.

There have been the following messages - "I received the news of Bro Waddelove's death and I want to send you my sincere condolences. I have known him for a long time, going back to the time when he and Cedric Myerscough were stationed at Chishawasha. They were good friends and often visited us at the Convent. "Waddy did much for the local people through the establishment of Credit Unions and he was appreciated by many people. I always enjoyed his sense of humour and will always remember his deep faith and commitment to serve the local Church. May he now enjoy the fullness of life and be our intercessor in heaven." (Sr Reingard Berger, Mother General OP.)

"I am very sorry to hear about Brother Waddelove's death. I first met him at Campion House in 1993 as a novice. Chiedza and I stayed at Campion House and used to go to Baines Avenue for our experiment. I actually met Brother last day of our stay at Campion House because we had our breakfast very early in the morning. Two things about him though: he would not speak to a novice directly, and he knew his Shona very well." (Stephen Silungwe)

"Thank you for the notification of Bro Waddelove. He surely gave his life and energies to the work of the Province and his passing is a time of sadness for us all." (Peter Edmonds) May he rest in peace.

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