RepositoryJesuits in Britain Archives
Ref NoABSI/SJ/170
TitleFr William Francis Rea SJ (1908-1980)
LevelSub fonds
DescriptionThis collection primarily contains posthumous correspondence on Fr Rea's life with one exception, being a letter written by himself in 1979 (SJ/170/1/7).
Admin_HistoryFr William Francis Rea SJ was born 30 May 1908. His education began in Calgary Canada before being sent to England to attend pre-school for a year prior to his schooling at St John Beaumont Preparatory School. He entered the noviciate at Manresa, where he spent time researching the Juvenilia and Blandyke papers whilst at Heythrop, two influential Jesuit papers. Following this research, Rea was amongst the select few chosen to attend Campion Hall in Oxford, wherefrom he gained first class honours. He had an aptitude to learning throughout his life, as he was recognised as fluent in French, German and Shona, and attended many universities in a teaching capacity, including Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Fr Rea’s education was book-marked by his ordination as a priest 1941 which he later extended from 1947 into 1948 since he attended Namur (a South Belgium Province) for Tertianship, completing this qualification shortly after.

Prior to his ordination, he began to pursue his career as a teacher by becoming a history master at Stonyhurst College. He returned here in 1951 following his Tertianship and would remain there for another 7 years. Fr Rea adopted many roles whilst there, including becoming president of the debating society, and becoming a keen promoter of the Catholic Evidence Guild. By this point (1958) he had already been teaching for 17 years, which he followed by spending some time in Zimbabwe, teaching history at St George's College from 1967 to 1978. His academic career was also marked with various publications, including his thesis ‘the Economics of the Zambezi Missions’ which earned him a PhD from London University in 1974. Other key publications of include articles and reviews that can be found in ‘Fr Sutcliffe’s Bibliography’, as well as ‘The Catholic Church and Zimbabwe’, a co-authored piece written at the request of the Catholic Bishops and sponsored by the University of London

Fr Rea died 2 July 1980. His funeral mass was held two days later at Salisbury Cathedral in, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe).
Related MaterialFor archive see:
Blackett Letter Book Oct. 1929 concerning family to Mrs Rea. Vol.17, p.187
SJ/80/2/9/133/1 -Letter from Fr William Francis Rea SJ
SJ/80/2/9/133/2- Cut-out of a letter from Fr William Francis Rea SJ

For library see:
Rea, W.F. Article on 'Goncalo der Silverira, Protomartyr of Southern Africa' (The Month, 1960)
Dachs, A.J. & Rea, W.F. The Catholic Church and Zimbabwe, (1879-1979)
Gelfand, M. Gubulawayo and beyond. Letters of early Jesuit missionaries to Zambesia (1968)

For photographs see:
SJ/PH/1050 - 1 black and white photograph in clerical dress
AccessConditionsThe papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to archive material in the Jesuits in Britain Archives.

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