A Tribute to John 'Tex' Hennessey

Tribute by Rev John Poole

I first met Tex almost nine years ago, whilst on holiday in Tenerife and here in Golf del Sur, long before I ever thought I would come and work here.  On the Sunday, there was no Anglican Eucharist for some reason so Rosemary and I attended the Roman Catholic celebration here.  Tex appeared to be someone who had some responsibility and I remember that he came forward and gave some notices at the end of Mass.  There was a visiting priest presiding so I suppose Fr Macario must have been taking a rare break!  I got to know Tex better after arrival here to take up my post as priest in charge of the Anglican community in south Tenerife.  He often stayed on to worship with us Anglicans and to accompany Val here at San Blas after the morning Roman Catholic Mass.

We discovered that we had two things in common, three if you include faith.  The first was football. Tex was a keen Chelsea supporter, and one of his first comments to me if we met on a Sunday, would be about Chelsea’s performance the day before.  There was always some friendly banter between us when Chelsea was playing my team, the mighty Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Tex loved other sports too.  He had a career in journalism, particularly as a sports correspondent.  He worked on two British national newspapers, firstly the Daily Express and latterly the Daily Mail.  He became a specialist as correspondent of a sport that still mystifies me, and I was always amazed at how my mother used to sit for hours in front of the television enjoying it.  I am speaking about snooker!

Tex wrote several sports related books including a biography of a British  snooker legend, Alex Higgins, nicknamed the Hurricane, and Tex’s book was aptly entitled ‘Eye of the Hurricane.’  In spite of my lack of enthusiasm and understanding for this sport, I enjoyed reading that book, really because Tex wrote it.  He had an attractive style that provoked interest and communicated his own knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject.

I also recently discovered that Tex and I had a mutual friend in England.  Tex came from Thames Ditton to the west of London.  If that name doesn’t mean anything to you, you have probably heard of Hampton Court, one of the palaces of our infamous king, Henry VIII, which is right there.  For many years, Tex’s home parish priest was a Father Eric Flood, a deeply spiritual priest with an attractive charisma.     Fr Eric had a great influence on Tex, and  he received much nurture and support from him.  Years later, coincidentally, I became acquainted with Fr Eric, as we were both serving in ministry in Lewes in East Sussex.  Val told me that she and Tex had visited him there.

Of course, it is always sad when a person with a sharp mind and a skill with words and facts becomes inflicted with a disease like dementia.  The former US president, Ronald Reagan, when diagnosed with that condition said that his life would now be like a long walk towards the sunset.  Tex began such a walk some time ago. 

But I am reminded of the first Easter Day of the two disciples of Jesus walking towards the sunset in sadness and confusion.   They too thought that the sun of their life was now setting, until this stranger appeared and walked alongside them, and when they later recognised him as the risen Lord, their fortunes changed, their joy returned.  William Barclay, the Scottish Bible commentator described the Emmaus walk as ‘the sunset road that leads to dawn,’ adding that, ‘The Christian goes onward, not to a night which falls, but to a dawn which breaks.’

That is our hope and our prayer for Tex today, that the fading light of his life and the darkness of death have given way to a glorious new dawn.