Bro Joe O’Toole 1958-2009

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How did it happen?

Bro. Anthony Mcneill ofm

The Province was shocked and saddened to receive the news on Monday, 26th October 2009 that Brother Joe O’Toole had been tragically killed that day in a road accident in Zimbabwe.

He was travelling back into Harare after a day at a project where he was the chairman. As he approached a bridge a truck coming the other way dazzled him and he swerved to avoid it and went into the pillar.

There would normally have been a barrier there but a bus had recently crashed into it and it hadn’t been repaired yet. Although it was on the outskirts of Harare it was a reasonably populated area and there was a policeman and others that witnessed the accident and confirmed Joseph died on impact.

He was only 51 years old.  Only a month before he had been visiting the Province. (Picture shows Joe visiting the friars in Stratford Friary London).

Joseph O’Toole was born in Airdrie on 5th March 1958.

He spent some time at the Scots College in Rome with a view to ordination in a Scottish Diocese before he entered the Franciscan novitiate in 1978, making his first profession a year later and his final Solemn Profession on 5th January 1985.

During his years of formation in Canterbury he trained as a general nurse and became an RGN.  After his Solemn Profession he worked for six months as a Drug Rehabilitation Counsellor and then trained to become a Registered Mental Nurse.

When later in 1987 the Province decided to set up a new community among the poor in Gateshead, Joseph was made the friar in charge. While he was there he worked as a nurse, and was very involved in the Gateshead Credit Union moment.

In 1991 he became novice master at Chilworth which was the novitiate house for both our Province and the Province of Ireland.

In 1999 he volunteered to join the Order’s Thailand project where he learnt something of the language in a comparatively short time and worked in the care of AIDS patients.

In 2002 he was back in Glasgow until he was asked to go to Zimbabwe, a Custody of the Irish Province, as a temporary novice master. But he stayed on and was elected a Custodial Councillor at the last Chapter.

May he rest in peace.