Father James Guadalupe Carney was born in 1924 in Chicago. He attended St. Louis University before he was drafted into the U.S. military to fight in World War II. In August of 1948, he entered Saint Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant and, in 1955, served a three-year regency in Belize. After being ordained a priest in 1961, he was assigned to a mission in Yoro, Honduras. In addition to saying weekly mass and offering the sacraments, he became familiar with the lives of the poor and began advocating for social and economic justice in Honduras.

However, in 1979, Father Carney was stripped of his Honduran citizenship and deported as a result of his political activities. After traveling to both Nicaragua and Cuba, he became associated with the Revolutionary Workers Party of Central America-Honduras, later resigning from the Jesuit order and accompanying a group of armed insurgents across the Nicaragua-Honduras border in July 1983. Though there exist several conflicting reports regarding his possible interrogation, assassination, and/or death, the one indisputable fact is that Father Carney disappeared in Honduras in 1983 with only his chalice and stole ever being recovered from deep in the jungle in the Olancho Department.