Today marks 30th anniversary of Bernard Darke’s murder
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the death of British Jesuit, Father Bernard Darke SJ, murdered as he took photos of a demonstration in Georgetown, Guyana. A gang of supporters of the Forbes Burnham Government had attacked demonstrators from the Working People’s Alliance and then turned on bystanders.
Among them was the assistant editor of the Catholic Standard, Mike James, and Fr Darke, who was one of the newspaper’s photographers.
Fr Darke at the time was a teacher at St Stanislaus College, a post he had held almost since he first arrived in Guyana in 1960. Prior to that, he had taught at Wimbledon College in South London. He had also been very active in the Scout Movement.
The headmaster of St Stanislaus College at the time, Fr John Hopkinson SJ, recalled shortly after Bernard’s death: “Fr Darke introduced many boys to the wonders of the interior of Guyana through journeys and camps. He made these visits to the hinterland instructive field trips, and they were not without apostolic intent.
“It is easy to label Fr Darke as a scout leader, as a photographer, as a teacher, as a priest, but the labels should not mask the unity and motives of a likeable and hardworking Jesuit striving to do all for the greater glory of God.”
Bernard Darke’s funeral Mass in 1979 was celebrated in a packed Brickdam Cathedral, with Bishop Benedict Singh preaching. In his homily, the bishop addressed the young people in the congregation and said that Bernard Darke would not want any memorial except the young people themselves.
“Bernard would want you to become men and women who would never let hatred govern your actions,” he told them, adding that they should be sorry not for Bernard but for the violence that caused his death and for those who supported violence by failing to speak out.”