Bernard Darke SJ
Bernard Darke was born in 1925 and became a Jesuit in 1946, having served in the Royal Navy during the war. During formation at Heythrop Bernard maintained his involvement in the scouting movement and developed an interest in photography. He taught at Wimbledon College in the 1950s and following ordination in 1958, went out to Guyana (then British Guiana) in 1960, where he taught scripture and maths at St Stanislaus College in Georgetown. He transformed the local scout troop and took the scouts on many trips to the interior. Fr Bernard continued to develop his photography skills and built himself a dark room at his community house. His aim was to produce reliable documentation of people and events, which would improve communications between communities, people and cultures.
Fr Bernard was not a public figure and was never involved in politics or controversy; which is why his murder during a political demonstration sent shockwaves through the Christian community of Guyana and the wider Caribbean.
On 14th July 1979 The Working People’s Alliance was holding an anti-government demonstration at the Magistrate’s Court where some of their leaders were answering charges. The demonstration followed the police van carrying the leaders, past St Stanislaus College. Fr Bernard came out to take photos of what was going on. He met Mike James, editor of the Catholic Standard magazine, with his wife. Suddenly the crowd was attacked by a gang of young men armed with knives. Mike was attacked by three men, Bernard, on the other side of the road, was photographing the attack. The attackers turned on Bernard, chasing him until he fell whereupon they beat him and took his camera. As he was rising another man stabbed him the back. Fr Bernard was rushed to hospital but died that evening.
His coffin was carried to the packed Cathedral by a group of scouts. Crowds of ordinary people walked alongside. Hundreds listened to the service through a PA system.