CARDINAL WILLIAM CONWAY, who died on Sunday, aged 64, is to be buried in Armagh today. He died peacefully at 10.30 on Sunday evening with his two brothers, Fr Joseph and Fr Noel Conway, at his bedside.
He had suffered from heart-strain in 1975 and had had to cancel his engagements for six months. Although he started work again after a gall bladder operation in January, he fully from it. never recovered
He died at Ara Ceoli, the Cardinal's house next to the massive gothic Cathedral in Armagh. His body was moved into the Cathedral on Tuesday evening and lay in state until Thursday evening. He is to be buriednext to Cardinal D'Alton, his predecessor, in the grounds of the Cathedral.
Bishop Philbin of Down and Connor will be the chief concelebrant at the Funeral Mass, and will also preach the homily. Cardinal Hume will be among the 11 archbishops and bishops who will be going to the funeral from England and Wales.
William John Cardinal Conway was born in Dover Street, in the Falls Road area of Belfast, on January 22, 1913. His father was a self-employed house painter and there were nine children in the family four boys and five girls. Six still survive.
Two of the Cardinal's brothers are priests in Belfast — Joseph is President of St Patrick's College and Noel teaches at St Mary's Training College. One of his sisters teaches at St Mary's Training College. Another sister is on the staff of the City Hospital, Belfast. His mother, now 85, also lives in Belfast. She comes from Carlingford. Co Louth.
William was educated .at Boundary Street Primary School and by the Irish Christian Brothers in Barrack Street, near the Divis Flats. tie was a brilliant pupil, winning several scholarships.
He went on to Queen's University, Belfast, for three years, encountering there, he says, the only real difficulties of faith he has ever had. He took an honours degree in English literature at Queen's.
Then on to the national seminary, St Patrick's College, Maynooth, where he developed his taste for books -he reads voraciously. Ordained in 1937, he was awarded his Doctorate of Divinity in 1938.
He did six weeks' parish work at Ballymena, Co Antrim, before going to Rome for further studies in Canon Law in 1938. Ile was awarded a doctorate (DCL) from the Gregorian University in 1941. He then taught English and Latin for a year at St Malachy's College, Belfast.
In 1942 he was appointed reputation as a good, careful lecturer. He contributed regularly to The Irish Theological Quarterly. providing an expert's response to moral problems. They were later reproduced in his only published book. "Problems of Canon Law" (1950). He was appointed Vice-President of Maynooth in 1957.
When. in July. 1958, he became titular Bishop of Neve and Auxiliary to Cardinal D'Alton of Armagh, he was 45 and Ireland's youngest bishop. He had obviously been marked out as the Cardinal's successor.
From his base as Administrator of St Patrick's Church, Dundalk. he set out to learn about his new diocese, with which he had some acquaintance since his mother comes from Co Louth.
He read as much as possible of the local history of the scattered See. On his days off, it is said. he would drive to areas ill the diocese chosen more or less at random and, armed with an ordinance survey map, would set out to explore it on foot.
When he became Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland on September 9, 1963, succeeding the late Cardinal D'Alton, he had a reasonably
He might have been Pope
comprehensive knowledge of the diocese and its people. He was created a Cardinal on February 22, 1965, in the same Consistory that also brought into the Sacred College the late Cardinal Heenan of Westminster, with who he formed a very close friendship. As Archbishop of Armagh, he automatically became President of the Irish Bishops' Conference.
The Church in Ireland today, he maintained, ' would be unrecognisable to the faithful in 1960. but he said that the rhythm of change was different to elsewhere no dramatic bursts, but a gradual process of renewal.
Apart from his heavy responsibility for the affairs of the Church at a national level he was a very active leader of a large diocese which runs both sides of the border, from Magherafelt, Co Derry, to Drogheda, and east-west from Dundalk to within four miles of Omagh, Co Tyrone.
He achieved international prominence at the first Synod in 1967 when he was appointed by Pope Paul one of its three Presidents.
As a Synod Prstsident, he became known to his fellowbishops, and his was one of the names spoken about at that Lime as a possible outsider should the next Conclave of Cardinals produce a non-Italian Pope.
Cardinal Conway played a full part in the life of the Universal Church. He was one of Ireland's representatives at all the Bishops' Synods since the Vatican Council, and was a member of the Vatican Congregations for Bishops, for the Clergy, for the L.,vangelisaLion of Peoples, and for
Catholic Education. He was also a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law.
He was asked recently if he would like to be Pope. "Any man who would like to be Pope at the present time must be soft in the head," he replied.
The Cardinal was deeply concerned about the violence that has scarred Ireland, particularly the North, since 1968. He spoke out vigorously many times on violence, as well as on injustice and discrimination. In 1971, before the IRA campaign got off the ground, he said: "Who in his sane senses wants to bomb a million Protestants into a united Ireland?".
The Cardinal played a full part in all the initiatives for peace of the four Church leaders as well as participating fully in the Ballymascanlon Inter-Church talks.
For relaxation, the Cardinal enjoyed pipe-smoking, conversation and reading. He had a keen sense of humour and not infrequently his jokes were against himself.
One of his great ambitions was achieved in October, 1975, when his most famous predecessor as Archbishop of Armagh, the 17th century martyr Oliver Plunkett, was canonised by Pope Paul.
Cardinal Conway was to have attended an inter-Church thanksgiving service to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee in Belfast on June 5.
There is no obvious successor to Cardinal Conway in Ireland; a country where in the past successors have been clearly groomed for the job.
Archbishop Ryan of Dublin, Bishop Cahul Daly and Bishop Edward Daly, as well as the newly appointed Bishop of Kerry, Bishop Eamon n Casey, are thought to be likely candidates.