Father Ganey was born in 1904 in Illinois, USA. He was a Jesuit Priest and very influential in the credit union movement around the world including in Australia. He entered the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1922 and was a missionary in British Honduras (Belize) from 1937 to 1953 where his evangelism of all things cooperative and credit union began. He is best known for establishing credit unions in Fiji (where he died) and the Pacific.
His initial social influences were religious but exposure to the credit union ideas of the Antigonish movement in Canada as well as the early American movement gave him practical experience in measures aimed at the amelioration of poverty.
Australian credit union pioneer Dermot Ryan was a contemporary of his and heard him speak on many occasions and had a tremendous regard for his abilities as a teacher of credit union philosophy and method. On his Australian influence Ryan noted:
His credit union influence really became evident in the 1960s involving him as a guest speaker, lecturer and credit union raconteur notably at the Newport and Warburton Credit Union Schools, and what memorable lectures and stories they were!
He had the advantage of a soft and melodious voice which he could pitch and vary with the true actor’s skill and much of his success as a lecturer was due to this. What is not generally known is that, though seemingly of the cuff, his lectures were worked upon and mulled over until they became distillates of perfection.
Father Ganey’s work in Fiji began in the mid-1950s and with his help by 1969 there were 288 credit unions operating in Fiji. An article in the Zealandia of 21 August 1958 described the awe of “Keith Young, a credit union expert from Sydney”, traveling with Father Ganey in Fiji near a Village when passing “a Fijian riding a bicycle Father Ganey stopped the car and called out, ‘Is that a credit union bicycle?’ The Fijian called back, ‘Aye, Father’".
Elsewhere the article notes that Young was struck by the Fijians’, “meticulous care and neatness in keeping the credit union books, with their enthusiasm for the credit union and with the way they have absorbed it into their daily life”.
In his obituary of Father Ganey, Ryan described him as “kind and loving, humorous and tolerant but in matters which he regarded as those of principle, totally uncompromising and totally inflexible”.
Furthermore, said Ryan, “He had become a legend in his own lifetime, recognised by State and Church authorities alike for what he was, a notable humanitarian and a great leader. He devoted more than fifty years of his life to educating people in the credit union ideal and this mainly in countries which were at best under-developed and, worse than that, pitifully impoverished”