Brother John Conway was born in Brogue Lane in Ireland in 1920. He received his primary education at Strand Road School and started his first job at age 14 as a driver’s helper with the Shell Oil Company in Tralee. He continued to take odd jobs and took evening classes at a technical school in Moyderwell at age 16 before immigrating to England at age 20. Though he worked both in construction and as a long-distance lorry driver for several years, in 1948 he joined the English province of the Jesuits as a lay brother. His one and only mission abroad as a Jesuit was to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), where he worked at Saint Paul’s Mission in Musami from 1954-1977. It is said that he built the mission by himself: he not only built a school and a house, but he also served as a doctor, preacher, and even the mission’s lorry driver. During his time there, the mission grew from nothing to a mission of 2,000 people with a primary school, a secondary school, a farm, a hospital, and a social center.
On February 6, 1977, nationalist guerrillas arrived at the mission, rounded up the white staff (which also included five Dominican sisters), and took them a short distance away. In the words of Father Dunstan Myerscough, a priest who survived by throwing himself to the ground when the shooting began: “Finally, three of them turned on us and raised their guns…we didn’t know they were going to shoot us until the firing started…when the firing stopped I looked up and saw that the other seven were dead and that there was nothing I could do for them.” Brother John Conway was 57 years of age when he was killed.