The Durban University of Technology (DUT) in partnership with the Gandhi Development Trust (GDT) hosted the inaugural Memorial Lecture for renowned human rights activists, Paddy Kearney on Wednesday, 28 August 2019 at the Hotel School, Conference Centre on the Ritson Campus.
This memorial lecture was attended by leaders within the civil society fraternity, political and business leaders as well as academics.
Kearney was one of Durban’s most well-known religious and human rights leaders at the time of his death. He passed away on 23 November 2018, aged 76.
He was the founder and chair of the Dennis Hurley Centre, founding director of Diakonia Council of Churches (which he headed for 30 years), chair of the Gandhi Development Trust, and advisor to KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council, among many other important positions.
DUT’s Prof Darren Lorton extended a warm welcome to guests on behalf of the University. He added that it was important for the University to engage in community engagement through such initiatives. “Kearney was an inspiration and I hope he also inspired you,” he said.
The memorial lecture was delivered by Bishop Paul Verryn who worked very closely with Kearney during the “Hearings” project. He recalled some of their interactions when they visited different part of the KwaZulu-Natal province. “Through the ‘Hearings’ sessions we discovered that as a country we are still deeply wounded,” he said.
Bishop Verryn recounted some of the key observations about the character and principles of Kearney. “Paddy was very intolerant of church divisions even though he was a staunch Catholic. He was also very passionate about justice – he lived to give every person a place in the sun,” he said.
He bemoaned the disparity between the rich and the poor as well as the high level of intolerance between different racial and social groups.
He also called upon the older generation to play an active role in nurturing the youth. “Something needs to be done about the state of unemployment rate amongst our youth. Older people have a responsibility to help young people,” he added.
Bishop Verryn is known as an anti-apartheid activist, champion of the poor and warrior against social injustice. He is particularly renowned for sheltering destitute refugees in the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg, and for his fearless defence of their rights.
Pictured: Some of the guests who attended the inaugural Memorial Lecture for Paddy Kearney.